Lauren Pritchard is one of Island
Records’ latest signings. Hailing from small town Jackson,
Tennessee she’s been penning her own songs since the tender
age of fourteen. After moving to LA at just fifteen in
order to kick start her career in music she landed a gig
playing keyboards and singing backing vocals for a reggae
band and hit the musical theatre audition circuit.
herself suddenly broke and homeless, she was thrown a life
line by her friends mother, Lisa Marie Presley, who gave her
a place to stay until finally landing the role of llse, the
'15-year-old runaway outcast kid' in the super successful
New York stage show Spring Awakening, where she stayed for
two years until 2008.
After a false start
with a record label who’s plans for Lauren’s future were
very different to her own, she met Eg White who was signed
to the same publishing company and loved her version of his
song ‘Who I Am’. After further collaboration with Eg and
several trips to London, she was picked up by Island Records
and signed in spring 2009.
Ahead of her UK tour
to promote her debut album ‘Wasted in Jackson’, I chatted to
Lauren about leaving the security of home in Tennessee and
how her home town and moving to London have influenced her
MU: Being so
close to towns that have spawned some of the best known and
best loved music, growing up in Jackson must have been a
huge influence on you musically
LP: It’s a funny
situation growing up in a place that’s really close to
Nashville or Memphis. Jackson is right in between: it’s two
hours from Nashville and hour from Memphis and the
interstate, which is interstate 40, the piece that goes
between Nashville and Memphis is called Music Highway so it
is a funny place to grow up because there’s a lot of music
going on and the other thing that’s really cool about it is
that, in Tennessee, they never stop reminding you of the
great artists that have made Nashville and Memphis famous
for what it is.
They always give credit to those people so it’s a cool thing
to grow up around. There’s a massive appreciation about it
without having a big ego about it. It’s more of a
humbleness and an appreciation for the music and the people
and I think that’s a good environment to grow up around and
for me to have even a quarter of what those people have
accomplished would be great.
With such a vast catalogue of
music coming out of Tennessee, what particularly inspired
and influenced you?
I grew up listening
to a wide variety of things. My dad was really in to the
Eagles and Steely Dan. The first two songs I ever learned
all the words to were ‘Black or White’ by Michael Jackson
and ‘Black Cow, by Steely Dan, ha ha! My mother was like a
massive Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson fan and the Who,
she loved The Who, so there was quite a lot of that going
on, and then there was always Refeer playing in the house
and Al Green and Hall and Oats but then I loved bands like
the Spice Girls and N Sync and Britney Spears. I definitely
went through my pop music faze growing up so, I don’t know,
I always listen to everything, I mean literally everything.
I was always really in to classical music growing up too, I
danced ballet ‘till I was fifteen so always had a love and
appreciation for that as well.
What actually got
in to writing music?
I guess what
actually started making me write music was listening to a
box set that my mom and dad bought off the TV of the
greatest hits of the 70s when I was like twelve and I spent
three months solid, like I just stole them, well, not stole
but they weren’t allowed to listen to them: I had them in my
room on lockdown on constant repeat.
I was listening to these songs every single day, all day,
all the time and it was about then that I realised these
were artists writing music and singing songs that they had
worked on; that they had written; that they played and
that’s what they were doing for a living and I think that’s
when it really began to click so I would credit the 70s CDs
that my parents purchased and let me steal for several
months as the jump start for that.
Then, when I was
about fourteen I wrote my first song and I went “mom, I
think I wrote a song” and she was like “really” and I said
“Yeah, do you wanna hear it?” ha ha ha, she was like “OK”
and when I finished playing it she said “you did write a
song and it wasn’t half bad actually” ha ha, so that kind of
started it all.
So is there
anything you wrote back then that you still play now?
There’s always been
a couple of songs that have over time stuck with me. When I
first moved to LA, all of my friends that I made out there
were amazing for the simple fact that every single one of
them had a piano or a keyboard at their house and I would
just sit around and just tinker at the piano and one day it
just got out that I sang and they were all like “sing us a
song” and it would be at someone’s birthday party and would
be like “do you want me to sing someone else’s song or do
you want me to sing a song that I’ve written?” and then I
did and they were like” oh! that’s really good” and then any
time we’d go anywhere and there was a piano I got roped in
to singing all the time, ha ha, which was good, it was
really good for practice.....