Låpsley‘s critically acclaimed release, Understudy EP, has set the tone for the rest of her career. She started at the young age of 12, writing songs like “Station” and added a few live shows to her resume before being uncovered by blogs, and ended signing a record deal with the mammoth XL recordings label, home to some of the most successful artists around these days, Jack White, MIA, Adele are just a few of the many who make the prestigious roster.
Låpsley rose to the attention of music blogs around the world (including Sodwee.com) with her sensational debut tracks she posted on Soundcloud at the time. Holly Fletcher, her real name, then came to the attention of the career accelerating machine that is Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 and quickly had to shift from studying Geography in Liverpool to being a full-time creative artist jetting around the world to support her recent songs and start working the upcoming album. Not bad for an 18 year old in this world.
Holly Låpsley Fletcher is a real bubbly teen. As you would expect from a person who just landed in Paris, without her parents in sight [ 😉 ], not shy of a silly dance move in between two interviews as well as a mouthy bunch of obscenities thrown in for good measure. She is tall, and has that infamous Liverpudlian touch on life. Not only with her accent but with her body language. She radiates as she walks through the Beggars Group office space in Paris. We (Sophie, Michela and myself) were treated to a live acoustic on the upright piano in the hallway as Sophie’s chat with her came to an end. Of which, still resonates the simple notes of her instant classic “Falling Short” (clocking in at a staggering million plays on Soundcloud alone as I write those lines). Not mentioning the rather loud, communicative laughter to her singing finale followed closely by an intriguing -off the record- conversation about the bonzaï tree sitting atop one of the desks at the French Beggars branch (might of been a cactus…).
Låpsley is one of those singer-songwriter slash producer you’ll need to get accustomed to for the foreseeable future. She’s bound to take things on a very large scale before the end of the year. And has plans for a huge tour this summer. Discover what Sophie and Låpsley talked about in the interview below. Kudos to Michela Cuccagna for the great pictures.
Interview by Sophie, Photographs by Michela Cuccagna.
Sophie : Let’s start with your stage name. It’s actually your middle name and you’ve added a Scandinavian touch to it. Why ?
Låpsley : It’s a Scottish name and I thought it was cool !
In all your songs you manage to kind of duetting with yourself. Why did you decide to use that process and not take a man for a real duet ?
I’ve always prefered the male’s voice, I think the tone is very lovely and it’s smoother. I wanted everything to be from me so I decided to electronically change the pitch of my voice.
And if you had to pick an artist for a duet, who would you choose ?
Arthur Russell ! [Watch “Let’s Go Swimming” on Youtube]
You’ve been writing songs since you were 12. When did you realise that you wanted to do it professionally ?
“Every song could be a single” – Låpsley on her upcoming album.
Probably about a year ago… I just made music without the intention of having a career path in this, I never went to music school or anything. And then someone offered me a record deal. I was a very academic person and worked very hard at school. I was meant to go to university to study geography but you know, deep inside I loved music. I studied music outside school but it was never something that my parents would consider as an option. It was like « dentist, doctor », blah blah blah….(laughing) So when I was offered that opportunity I couldn’t say no !
You wrote “Station” a long time ago and you reworked that song. How has your sound evolved ?
When I started writing songs I was 12 and all I had was a classical background. I started listening to Bon Iver or other acoustic stuff. As I got into 13/14, I listened to the complete opposite, like heavy industrial, heavy techno, very ambient and experimental music. I kind of met somewhere in the middle when I started writing my own things because I had these different influences.[separator type=”space”]
Most of your songs are very delicate and soft but on your latest EP, Understudy, there’s this song Dancing, on which you sound more aggressive. What is different about this song ?
I think I was just trying to get across a certain point. I write things a lot fresh after some things happened, obviously I was quite angry and I wanted to share that whereas when I wrote “Painter” or “Station” I wasn’t even sure myself how I wanted them to be received. There’s a jazz influence and they’re more soulful. I think I’ve experimented in both ways.[separator type=”space”]
It might be too early but can you give us some hints on your first record ?
I have nearly finished it. I wanted it to be out by the end of summer but because of touring and other stuff I’ll probably have to push back to Christmas or after. It’s about something big that happened. I’ve worked so much on the songs that I don’t feel like there’s a filler track. Every song could be a single. Some are experimental but there are some that have more of an old-fashioned popular music influence like Fleetwood Mac. I wanted to have some happy songs and reach different emotions. It’s definitely more advanced.
You recorded two songs (“Need You / This Woman Works”) with Océaan. They’re from Manchester and you’re from Liverpool. How did you come up with this idea for a Northwestern duet ?
I’m really good friends with their manager and he told me « You should listen to this » and I was like « Bitch ! I’ve been listening to “Need You” for ages ! » (laughing) It came two years ago and it’s really good ! I joined them for one off in Copenhagen and a few months after we recorded it. “This Woman Works” is my favourite Kate Bush’s song. Now they’re really good friends of mine ![separator type=”space”]
You produce all your songs. Would you be interested in also shooting your videos ?
Yeah, I always co-direct my videos and I will never stop that. The only one I didn’t direct was “Falling Short”. You know when you write songs like “Dancing”, it isn’t literaly about dancing and you don’t get it straight away if you think that. So I feel like co-directing is important.
You’ll come back to Paris at the end of May for a festival called We Love Green. Are you excited ?
Yeah, I’ve never played in front of a French audience ! In my tour at the moment there are two new songs.
What’s on your playlist right now ?
The only time I get to listen to music is in the morning when I’m having breakfast (laughing). There’s this track of the Young Fathers’ first album, I heard, it’s so sick ! I also like the song “Cheerleader”. I also listen to Fyfe, Frank Ocean, Alt-J and Arthur Russell a lot ! The Smiths too. There’s an instrumental called “Oscillate Widly”, it’s amazing.
Finally, you’re part of a band of young artists signed on Beggars like Soak or Shamir. Are you friends with them ?
I’ve met Soak a few times and I’m really good friend with Shamir. We have like sleepovers everytime we see each other ! They’re really lovely people, I’m so glad we’re on the same label !