Hailed from Southampton, 22-year-old Laurel Arnell-Cullen is a Welsh-British chamber pop and indie musician whose career started from her bedroom studio in London. Following the long tradition of British female singer-songwriter who turns the vulnerability and emotion into something that sounds powerful and honest, Laurel’s sophisticated and sultry vocals, melancholy melodies, and lovelorn lyrics are reminiscent of awkward adolescence and first loves. Here, Laurel talk about her songwriting process and sharing her 10 favorite songs.
Hi Laurel, how are you? Where you are right now and what are you doing before answering this email?
I’m at my home in London making my first ever vegetarian curry to the sounds of my boyfriend playing Call of Duty. Standard Monday. Before this I was finishing off my next single in my home studio.
What really prompted you to start making your own music and what are the early influences for you?
I just always wanted to do it really, I don’t remember why but since I was a child it’s all I’ve really wanted to do. Hearing the first Laura Marling album was something that inspired me on to get a guitar and start writing folk music and then from there every moment has just been me evolving into the Laurel I am now.
Which came first for you: the lyric or the arrangement?
The chords come first and then the vocal melody which all happens pretty fast and then I spend hours and hours trying to figure out what I am trying to write about and fit the lyrics to the melody I’ve written.
Your music has been described as alt-pop, do you agree with it or you have your own description about it?
Yeah I guess so, I would find it quite hard to distinguish my sound as a genre to be honest, and as I think most musicians would. I think I hear it in a different way to other people.
Do you remember your very first gig? How was it? Do you still feel nervous before performing?
Yes it was in Southampton. I was 14 and I had to sell 20 tickets else I wouldn’t get another gig and the promoter said he would tell other promoters not to book you! It’s a harsh world the up and coming music scene haha. I was so nervous though, I have sound on stage since I was a kid in school and stuff but singing your own songs to people is something totally different, not only are you getting judged on your performance but also your songs which are basically heart felt diary entries.
What’s been career highlight so far?
I reckon just right now is a highlight, every day getting to wake up do whatever I want and make music if I feel like it. That’s my biggest achievement and I’m pretty happy with that. This is my dream way of living.
I heard you’re going to have new single, would you mind to tell us a bit about it?
I wrote it when I was really angry. It was such a quick one, I had to go play a gig that evening and I had half an hour before I had to leave but I just had this song in me that I needed to get out. I can’t really say much more than that as I don’t want to give too much away.
What about full album? I bet everyone’s been asking for it, do you feel some pressure or you just ignore it and go with your own flow?
I’m just going on my own time really but of course I want my album out as much as anyone else does. It’s just a lot of work I think people underestimate how much time and energy goes into something like that! It’s very close to being done though and I’m really proud of it so far so I can’t wait for people to hear it this year.
What’s your plan for the rest of 2017?
I have a bunch of tour dates all over the place. Gonna try and get over to America at some point too. The album is going to come out too so it’s going to be a pretty hectic one. I feel like it’s already going by too fast.
Last, please pick your 10 favorite songs and short description for each of them.
Mac DeMarco – “Only You”
This song speaks to me quite a lot, most of his songs do.
Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place”
This is my favorite song in the world.
Laura Marling – “New Romantic”
This is the song that inspired me to get a guitar and start writing properly.
Kita Alexander – “Like You Want To”
It’s rare I like anything this poppy but I am obsessed with this girl she’s amazing.
Tyler, The Creator – “IFHY”
The lyrics in this song are just incredible.
Yppah – “Never Mess With Sunday”
This song just has all round good vibes.
Girl Band – “Paul”
Love the punky vibe of this.
Idles – “Divide and Conquer”
Played just before this band at a gig the other day, they where one of the best live acts I’ve seen in a while. So much energy on stage.
Virgin Kids – “My Alone”
Saw these guys last gig the other day at the Shaklewell in London, also such a great gig everyone was so involved.
Beach House – “Silver Soul”
This is one of my favorite songs! It just makes me feel kinda funny.