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Meet our BOTW: LAW

There’s something truly enchanting about the way Edinburgh’s Lauren Holt operates as LAW. Within the rustling beats and intensely honest lyricisms of her debut EP, Haters and Gangsters, lies a songwriter not only at the top of her game, but unafraid to live in the now, documenting the instant with all its blemishes and beauty perfectly intact. It’s a philosophy partly rooted in practicality but also with a firm foot in encapsulating the emotion of the moment: something indelibly marked upon the EP by the instantaneous nature of its recording with Holt’s fellow Edinburgh residents, Young Fathers.

You’d have to imagine that this spontaneousness contributed to the fire present in Holt throughout. Haters and Gangsters is flush with moments in which you can easily imagine the lofty-lunged vocalist completely immersing herself in the now: take, for instance, the repeated chants of “play it down yo, break it down slow” that topple ‘Scrambled‘ like humongous waves against a cracking stern, or the entrancing coda of EP finale ‘OG‘, which sees Holt gently coo her farewells atop percolating synths and a faintly audible organ drone.

Over a crackly phone line, we caught up with Holt midway through preparations for a show that night with Young Fathers to find out about why the two are such a good fit as musical compatriots, how most singers don’t know what they’re doing these days, and what’s next for the ascendant Miss Holt.

PlanetNotion: Were you quite a musical child? How did you first get into singing?
Lauren Holt: I just fell into a group of people that were doing that thing when I was about 16. I did what I could to develop my chops: going to open mic nights, joined a choir and some cover bands, working with producers and writing my own stuff. It was all about getting that experience of being on stage and just trying to get better all the time.

PN: The natural progression.
LH: Yeah, because it’s good that when you’re doing it at your own speed, you can control what you want to do with it a lot more.

PN: What sort of records would your parents play around the house while you were growing up?
LH: If I’m honest, my mum and dad haven’t got the best taste in music [laughs]. My dad will listen to anything, mostly Frank Sinatra or Barbara Streisand which isn’t really my kind of thing. Oh, and there was a lot of Elvis and jazz too. My mum would play a lot of ‘90s music, a lot of reggae. I mainly found music myself as I was growing up. When you’re a teenager, you become a little more reclusive so you find music yourself.

PN: I think you want to develop your own identity at that age.
LH: Of course, especially when you’re trying to sing because you want to listen to as many things as possible to learn your craft.

PN: Was there any particular moment of epiphany in which you realised that music was 100% what you wanted to do?
LH: I’d known that I wanted to do it for a long time, but that and actually making it a reality are two very different things. The music industry is so tough to crack. I don’t know if there was any specific moment but more just not wanting to have to do the same mundane old job for the rest of your life.

PN: In the press release for the EP, there’s a wonderful quote from you about embodying the beauty of the instant with reference to ‘Coins For You’. How does that philosophy of capturing the instant apply to your overall process as a musician?
LH: That’s just how I work. You go into the studio and you hear a beat for the first time and if you like it, it gets recorded. That’s how it’s done. The whole EP was done in that way. ‘Coins For You’ was recorded in my living room. That’s the kind of thing that Young Fathers and myself try to do: you go in and listen to the beat, you write together, you put down the lead and backing vocals and that’s it. That will be the last I hear of it until it’s mixed and put on something.

PN: What artists embody that philosophy of instantaneousness for you?
LH: Not that many nowadays [laughs]. I don’t think young people these days see performance in the same way. This might sound like I’m getting old but most singers don’t really know what they’re doing [laughs]. I feel like Young Fathers and myself are the only people pushing things in that way.

PN: Initially, you chose to give the EP away as a free download. What inspired that decision?
LH: It’s a good thing to do to try and make it available. We put ‘Hustle’ out and then we didn’t really do anything for nine months or so, so I thought it would be good to try and introduce people to do the music – which is quite unusual – and wean them onto it slowly [laughs]. It’s a way to keep things moving: people are more inclined to listen to something if it’s widely available on the internet.

PN: I remember an interview of yours a little while back in which you were speaking of an album that was almost finished. What can you tell us about that? Where are you at with that?
LH: We’ve got a bag full of tunes that are ready to go; it’s just a matter of when we decide to release them. We might put another EP out and then we’ve got a few videos to come. We’ll just keep pushing on with it. There are a lot of things in production that we’re just waiting for the right time to put them out.

PN: So hopefully 2014 will be quite a big year for you then.
LH: [laughs] I hope so! We’re going to push it and keep coming. We’re getting a wee bit of buzz right now and we’re on tour with the boys, everything’s coming along nicely. We’re trying to do something innovative and new.

PN: Speaking of being on the road with Young Fathers, I imagine the two of you make great touring partners. What do you think makes you well suited to heading out on tour together?
LH: With those guys, we’re all trying to do something different and push things forward. We’re people that take the craft of pop music seriously; it’s not throwaway or anything like that. We’ve got substance. We’re trying to change ideologies about what pop music is, about what hip-hop is. Also, they do my production so we’re quite a good match in that the beats are all made in-house.

PN: If you had to choose one lyric from any of your songs to encapsulate what you do musically, what would it be and why?
LH: “All I give you, it’s merely smoke. Don’t criticise fools, they’re just a running joke,” from ‘ComicStrips’: essentially a love song but one with a fire that I want all the songs to encompass.

- Alex Cull

Header Image: David P Scott

You can hear the Haters and Gangsters EP in full, via Soundcloud, here.

Law and Young Fathers are currently on tour. Catch them at the following dates:

Wed 12 Feb – Louisiana, Bristol
Thurs 13 Feb – Electrowerkz, London
Fri 14 Feb – Twisted Pepper, Dublin

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