Alternative Power List winner, Lau.ra is one of the rising stars of house music. Based in the UK, her dominant basslines and infectious melodies saw her awarded ‘Self Producing Artist of The Year’ by the UK MPG last month (an accolade previously won by Four Tet and Jon Hopkins). Growing up in a small town in the midlands she talks to shesaid.so about finding a home in dance music, juggling parenting, support from the BBC and putting in the graft.
shesaid.so: Tell us more about your artist journey and how your sound has developed to where it is today?
Lau.ra: I’ve been a self-producing artist from day 1 but I entered the music industry making pop music as growing up in a small town in the midlands the only successful women I’d ever seen in the music industry were pop stars so I naturally gravitated towards that world. I was in my mid-twenties before I met other women producers and women in technical roles in the industry. I remember that Mandy Parnell, the mastering engineer in fact, was the first woman I worked with who was successfully dominating and taking up a lot of space in her field. I found that very inspiring. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve realised my home is in dance and electronic music. Feeling supported and celebrated as a self-producing artist in this scene has been a game changer for me. I’m no longer met with confusing looks when I tell people in the industry that it’s me producing all the tunes, instead people are impressed and excited by it. I feel believed, finally! Thank fuck.
shesaid.so: 2022 has been such an exciting year for you so far! What have been your personal highlights?
Lau.ra: Playing Radio 1’s Big Weekend recently was a real buzz and in fact all the BBC radio support that DJs have shown my music this year has been unreal. I started the year DJing at Circoloco at DC-10, Ibiza on New Years Day — the absolute best way to kick off the year. I think that lit a rocket up my ass for the rest of the year ahead. And then just recently I won a UK MPG award for ‘Self Producing Artist of The Year’ — an accolade previously won by Four Tet and Jon Hopkins. To win that award knowing it’s voted for by peers and alongside the absolute best in the UK music industry feels very validating.
shesaid.so: On your Reprezent takeover you spoke about the barriers you faced getting into music production. Could you share how you’ve overcome some of those?
Lau.ra: I’ve just quietly kept on going. Actually not even that quietly most of the time. The beats have gotten bigger and better and I’ve just grafted away. Mastered my craft but still learning all the time. I’ve just put the hours in and surrounded myself with people who absolutely know my truth and story and will speak up if they hear anyone twisting that or making assumptions that aren’t true.
shesaid.so: We have a brilliant, active, parenthood committee. As a parent, are there ways you’d like the music industry to evolve to support parents more?
Lau.ra: Visibility is important and goes a long way to making people feel supported. It’s been refreshing seeing some other women in the scene share their parenting journeys and open up a little more about the challenges that come with young children and a career in music. It’s only very recently (post pandemic?) that I feel people have been talking about this. Up until the past few years it’s still been very taboo or just not done. Or maybe I just wasn’t looking for it? Not sure.
Following Annie Mac, Anna Lunoe, Logic1000 and Jamz Supernova have been very inspiring to me and made me believe that I could do this. More support for self-employed parents in the industry would be great.
One thing that’s become apparent since becoming a mum is that blocks of creative time are going to be very hard to come by during these early years. I barely manage to record an hour’s live mix without being interrupted! Perhaps a fund where parents could use the money to cover childcare costs and book themselves into a residential studio for a week? That would be dreamy. When your babies are small you don’t want to be seperated from them but equally there is a pull to ‘get back to it’ and a need to be creative and keep those juices flowing so you don’t touch out and lose yourself completely. A fund or support that might enable parents to do both these things alongside each other in those early days would be brilliant.
shesaid.so: shesaid.so is a community guided by intersectionality. In your opinion, how could the music industry do better in terms of inclusivity?
Lau.ra: I’m seeing more women and gender minorities coming through and rising the ranks but still very few black people taking up the space they deserve. Both on the artist side but particularly on the technical side and executive roles in the industry. I don’t think I’ve ever had a label or publishing meeting with a black woman sitting on the other side of the table, which is absurd when dance music is black music. House/Techno/Garage/DnB, all of it comes from black culture and creators, we owe everything to the black and queer scenes that the sounds evolved from.
shesaid.so: Has community played a role in your evolution as a creative?
Lau.ra: To some extent. I produce and create most of my music alone or remotely from the artists that I work with and my studio is at my house so I don’t get to experience community in my work environment but it plays a big role in everything else. Artist communities like The FAC and PRSFoundation have been so important to me as I’ve been navigating my way through and carving a career for myself in music. Also Instagram! I have some fans that have followed me from day one, from project to project and grown up with me. Even though we aren’t close IRL there’s a sense of community that’s very supportive knowing some people have chosen to take an interest and stick with you as you’ve been developing and evolving as an artist over the years.
shesaid.so: And finally, could you share three bullet-point top tips for artists just starting out? What would you have loved to hear?
“Keep going. If you can afford to ride out the lows and it’s still bringing you joy. Keep going.”
Trust your gut, if it feels too good to be true it usually is. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. A lot of people in the music industry rely on artists not asking the obvious questions. Transparency is everything. A few awkward moments may save you a lot of money/sanity.
Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. It’s frustrating for everyone. Better to be the person that says they’ll have something done in a couple of weeks and deliver it in one rather than be the person everyone needs to chase. This is not always easy or possible, as I’ve discovered since becoming a parent. But it’s always something to aim for!