LP believes there’s no new music without combining genres
LP has had a wild career. One where she’s amassed millions of streams, most notably on her 2015 breakout hit “Lost On You.” But prior to this came several major-label signings, a plethora of songwriting for other artists and a handful of her own albums. With her powerhouse vocals proving to be an indomitable force, LP has since been on a constant rise, and she’s ready to get going again with her sixth album. After spending the better part of last year itching to hit the road, a place she confesses where she “processes everything,” finally it seems Churches is ready to taste that freedom.
Let’s head back to last January. What was your headspace coming into the year?
Suspect. [Laughs.] At that moment, I was coming out of a really bad breakup… I mean, all breakups are bad. I was just on some weird footing living alone for the first time in a very long time. So, my personal life was all in turmoil. So, I had my hands full with that, and I was still writing and doing all the things, but I was feeling… I don’t know… We moved my American tour like four times. It was a year of uncertainty, and getting out on the ice, is it hard enough to not fall through? It still feels like that a bit. I feel like I knew I was, but I’m definitely an adaptable person. I just deal with it.
Do you look back on yourself at the time to see how you’ve grown?
Oh man, I’d like to say I’ve learned something. But sometimes I don’t really know. It’s not very promising, but I feel like I’m ready to start again. I’ve often started from, like, “phoenixed.” Can you use it as a verb? Like I phoenixed out of the rubble. [Laughs.] I’m at the ready always for getting back to it and rebuilding. So that’s what I’m doing.
Were you bringing Churches into 2021 fully formed?
It was completed for the most part. We were still producing and finishing shit up. We were throwing more bells and whistles, and it was nice to be home to [be] able to do that instead of notes from the road. It’s nice we had that luxury of overlistening to it.
You mentioned at the beginning that you use the road to process things. Without that, how has Churches sat with you?
Oh, that’s a good question. Like I said, I’m adaptable. I’ll do it anywhere. Sometimes there’s more of a fog when I’m home because I’m in it, so there’s not as much distance. On this record, I feel like I’ve expressed myself the most succinctly I ever have. I felt like I went up a notch as far as my expression of what I wanted to say that was in my head and my heart.
Do you still feel that way now?
Yeah, you know what sucks? Now that the record’s coming out, I just have all these ideas. I already feel like I’m behind. I have a bunch of songs that didn’t even make the record that I love, but it’s inspiring. I’m working on some shit now. I hope I’m always inspired to write. I don’t put any pressure on myself with that shit anymore. I spent many years, doing what I call “gun to your head” songwriting where you’re locked in a room. Now I just try to let it flow more.
How does it feel bringing Churches into one year and then still taking it into the next one?
Well, that’s what I think I’m feeling. It’s not out yet, and I haven’t even started playing these songs for people yet. I can’t wait. It’s a behemoth bunch of songs to perform, I’ll be honest with you! [Laughs.] That’s a lot of singing right there. My setlist? I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! I get used to it, but I’m excited.
Do you want to always be pushing yourself to find what that next limit is?
I’m just obsessed with songs. I’m trying to not really repeat myself, but also, I can’t help staying in the confines of who I am and how I sing. I’m still waiting for Radiohead to make The Bends again. [Laughs.] I just want to keep writing songs that people can come to me or my music to get what they want from it. I’m gonna push at the confines as much as I can. But I think it’s nice to know what you’re getting from an artist. Instead of always going on these explorations.
Albums tend to cement a place in time, and that’s what Churches will be doing for you.
Yeah, it seems I tend to release records in December. I didn’t mean to on this one. This was supposed to come out like October of 2020. Then October of [last] year. And now it’s in December. It’s a little annoying because then everything’s coming out in 2022, and everyone’s like, “Oh, this is old news.”
Are you someone who believes that things happen for a reason?
I believe in flow. I believe in not forcing anything. I learned that it’s the worst thing you could do. I always explained it like Back To The Future, where he has his brother and sister in the picture, and they start fading because he’s altering the future. That’s what I feel like getting too attached to what it has “to be” does. If you just let it flow, you can feel good about [it].
The massive trajectory you found yourself on a few years ago suddenly was plateaued, physically at least. How did that feel?
I think I got lucky. It feels weird. Especially even in this situation because at least I felt like I had a solid foothold before we went into lockdown. I feel like that if this had happened in 2016-2019, my whole trajectory would have been different because I don’t know that my song would have spread all over the place the way it did. I saw a few people that were about to fucking blast off, and they got nailed by this time period. I feel so bad for them. At least I was able to damage control a bit, and I got more time to do my record. I’m eternally grateful for the time I had to make what I think is a better record. But you can’t unring that bell. You’ve got to deal and push forward.
This slightly altered trajectory, did it allow you to take stock of any potential bad moves?
I think it’s more like a certain amount of momentum lost in some ways. But I wish I accomplished more, but what I did accomplish was… I wouldn’t say fixing my personal life because I don’t feel fixed at all. [Laughs.] But like getting through something that I had to get through that wasn’t really easy to do from the road. And then also taking more time for my art and stuff like that. I wish I’d learned a language. I wish I’d cured cancer. I wish I did a lot of fucking things. But it didn’t happen. It’s OK.
Were you noticing other people achieving things during this downtime?
Yeah, the things that people get done. I feel like I get a lot done, but then I’m not compared to like Idris Elba. I was reading some article about him in GQ. [Laughs.] This fucking guy. Wow. I can’t believe the things that he does. But that’s not me.
What’s been the most noticeable change you’ve seen in the world?
I think there’s a weariness and awareness. That’s always been there, but some people were in a happy oblivion, and I think a lot of those people have really changed. In some ways, there’s also, I hope, a rise in empathy because we all went through this together. That’s what I found so inspiring about this time, really, was that we’ve never been more connected as a planet, and there’s never been, to my knowledge, a planetary experience like this. Where everybody knew what was happening.
Yeah, it’s all about that unifying experience, which felt necessary. Like the world was in a bubble about to burst.
It felt like things were running out of control before this happened. The sound of it would be like a Rihanna remix or something. I felt that was definitely like that expression, riding this thing and the wheels were falling off.
Music — and Netflix, let’s be honest — felt like an underlying force that held things together.
Music is of the utmost importance and also not important at all, in some ways. I think that we don’t realize how important the arts are. Music definitely goes to a place that we don’t even really understand sometimes. I have people that listen to my music that don’t even know what I’m saying, but they listen to it for comfort. I do the same. I have no idea what opera is talking about, but I love it. I think live music in particular is one of the most unique things we could do as strangers. You have like 1,000 to 10,000 strangers in a place, and they don’t know each other, but they’re coming together, standing painfully close to each other and have a common denominator that they love this music. It’s unlike anything we do.
How is it being an artist in 2021 where things — especially music and genre — are moving at breakneck speed?
I feel right on time with that movement. For years people have been like, “I don’t really know what to call your music because it just conjures up a bunch of different things.” When you come to a show of mine, I hope that one of the things that it leaves you with is that I’m kind of a rock singer, ultimately. It’s got a rock element to it. I’m wailing all the time, so I wouldn’t call it a pop experience, really, even though some of my songs lean pop. But it’s all in the combinations to me. They say there’s nothing new under the sun, but I believe the combinations can be new and interesting.
It feels like it’s been a year of fluidity.
Yeah, it’s like being gay! [Laughs.] But for everyone. Who cares? You can look how you want and like whatever, fuck who you want. But music.
What are you taking forward into 2022?
I’m optimistic, man. I’m gonna try to get back out there and try to be the song that comes in and comforts people, I hope. I’m just gonna bring my renewed gratitude and empathy into the next thing. That’s all I can do. I had appreciation already, but I’ve renewed appreciation of how lucky we are to have live music and get together like that. So I’m just gonna keep rockin’ in the somewhat free world!
And what are you leaving behind?
I hope my glutton for punishment in my personal life! [Laughs.] I hope I take a minute and reflect on the good things more and not worry about that bad shit that’s happening. I can still talk about it in songs sometimes, but just my renewed appreciation for how life is so fleeting and so fragile. I feel like I always knew it, but this time really made it sink in. I’m just gonna try to keep being a force of love in the world as much as I can. That’s it. I plan love.
This interview appeared in issue 401 (the AP Yearbook), available here.