Singer-songwriter LP recalls the first time she heard someone else sing one of her songs. It was “Love Will Keep You Up All Night” sung by the Backstreet Boys, and it was truly surreal hearing it, she says. She wrote that song for them in 2007, and in the years that followed she would write for Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Cher Lloyd, and many others.
Becoming a professional songwriter was an unusual turn of events for the alt-rock musician born Laura Pergolizzi, who got her start in 2001, released two indie albums, and got a major label deal with Island Def Jam Music Group in 2006, though they ultimately never released any of her recordings.
“I was always being told my songs weren’t big enough or good enough. The irony of all ironies was I turned into a songwriter for other people. I guess they were wrong,” LP says.
She worked with Island Def Jam for three years, and estimates she wrote approximately 135 songs in that time. Though she never released her own material during that period, she stumbled into the career of songwriting for others. After that she thought she might be a songwriter exclusively, but, a few years later, she got the bug to record an album again. This time she made a deal with Warner Brothers and released the live EP Into The Wild in 2012, and then two years later the studio album Forever Now.
Forever Now proved to be another frustrating experience with a major label. While they actually released something this time, she wasn’t happy with the results. It was overproduced, and the label talked her out of including her more emotional tunes.
“I hope people understand, the second I signed with Warner Brothers, they put out a live EP that was organic and really well received. Then two years after the fact, I put out a record that was like slick as fuck, with songs that had live versions of them that sounded great,” LP says.
But she wasn’t discouraged. In fact, she felt like her time working with majors did yield some positive results—not only did it help her carve a career in songwriting, which she continues to do today, but it also made her more prolific.
“The volume of songs that I wrote proved to me that I could do it. Before that, in my indie days, I probably wrote about 13 songs a year. I was like, ‘yes!’ And every single one of them went on my album. Yes. I rule. That was it,” LP says.
She left Warner Brothers and released the Death Valley EP in June, on the much smaller Vagrant Records. The production is toned down significantly, and it’s filled with a lot more dynamics. Plus, she got to put on every song she wanted.
They were intensely emotional, written as a long term relationship was dissolving and her relationship with Warner Brothers was falling apart. She didn’t hold back, or try to write a pop record.
“I was just a little overwhelmed. It was just a dark time. But also I feel like those songs were like somewhat of a release for me,” LP says.
These days, it’s as if LP has two successful careers: One writing songs for other folks, the other expressing herself in her own music—for instance, one of the songs from the new record, “Muddy Waters,” was used in the emotional final scene of Orange Is the New Black’s fourth season. She is constantly writing and demoing material—sometimes she knows who the song is for, and sometimes she doesn’t, but she has freedom to go in whatever direction she wants to at this point.
“I’m focusing a little more on my stuff now, because I feel like I want to sing however I want to sing. I tone it down when I write for other people,” LP says. “I like to use my voice however the hell I want to use it these days. It doesn’t change my life on the daily, who I’m writing for. It just feels a little different, but I like it. I like a break from my own melodic style, my type of music. That helps me stay sharp and fresh.”
INFO: 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 10 at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $13/adv, $17/door. 479-1854.