You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find greatness in a retail setting, but sometimes you just get lucky. That’s exactly where Lauren was when I met her. Both of us there in the fitting room of a store we’ll call Hell & Murder folding clothes, hanging clothes and generally living the dream. It took maybe 30 seconds before I was lost in the giggle fit caused by Lauren’s very apt assessment of some of the greater hot messes. 30 seconds later we establish that sweatpants are not acceptable outerwear (as Hell & Murder’s mannequin suggested). 5 minutes into our friendship we realized we both have a high tolerance for lace and vintage, we’re both in bands and we’re both writers. Okay clearly this woman is amazing.
I’m serious. Talented people are just everywhere in Seattle. And I’m serving em up for ya, one at a time. What can I say? It’s what I do. Ladyfriends, gentlemens, meet Lauren.
State your name for the record, please.
And what do you do?
Currently I’m organizing everything around being a student at Bowdoin College where I’m double-majoring in English and German with a minor in music. On top of that I’ve been a music journalist since I was 16. We don’t have to do the math on how long that’s been. I’m a cellist, singer, songwriter, and part-time model on occasion. Yes. I think that’s it.
Being that you started…we won’t say SO long ago, but briefly ago when you were 16, what was your first passion?
My first passion was cello. I started on piano lessons and absolutely hated it. I made no connection with it. I thought it a was very cold instrument. I found cello through watching an all female string quartet and fell in love. That opened the doors for my independent music tastes; finding things on my own began there. The next venture was writing. I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to do with words, per se, but I interviewed this band, Bleed the Dream, who I later toured with. Smash Magazine saw the article in the school newspaper and offered me a job.
And you’re still at it?
I am. My last article was with Dumdum Girls. Before that was the cover story on the Falling in Reverse/ Escape the Fate tour.
Nice! But Lauren is more than an impressive writer and musician. She’s also a major animal lover. You grew up with horses, yes?
Yes, I started riding when my mother and I lived in Germany in Würzburg. I started riding horses there and brought that interest back with me to the States. My mother got me a horse for my seventh birthday–which is the best birthday present ever.
So I’ve been riding horses ever since. Right now I have a thoroughbred named Foxwood Belle, or Foxie for short. She’s at home in Washington. I’m very happy when I get to go home and see her.
Right you’re almost done with school. Preemptive congrats!
Yes, two more months. So I have spring break and then two months left. I guess I should find a job or something.
Well, sure, you could, but you already have job(s).
That’s what I’m thinking, you know, wherever I end up I proved it to myself when I was in Berlin last semester that I can pretty much finance myself wherever I am. I ended up writing for a blog there and modeling. I’m okay with floating for a while and doing whatever creatively makes me happy because ultimately that makes me happy.
Is modeling more a job or a full-blown passion?
Both. It depends on with whom I am working. Like my wonderful artist friend Tuffer Harris in Seattle, it’s just really fun working with him. We each push our boundaries and limits and so that, to me, is a passion–creating with friends and collaborating. It’s the same with Keith Johnson whom you met last time I was there. I love taking photos with them. But if it’s just a gig, it’s more of a job.
How do you balance that? How often do you initiate collaborations?
Whenever I feel a little restless I usually travel or start an art project to work on. The anxiety builds up and I need to produce something and I need to create. It’s a way to handle that extra energy.
Speaking of creative projects and collaborative projects, how are things with your awesome sleazy band, Creem City?
I’m not sure. I’m in touch sometimes, but I don’t know.
I’ve started playing with a punk band here in Maine more for fun than anything serious. We’ll be playing a Battle of the Bands which’ll be interesting because I don’t mesh well on a pretentious liberal arts college campus and I’ve made a band with other people who don’t really mesh well. So… I think it might be a little chaotic. Last time we all wore pasties with see-through shirts and everyone else was like “ehhhhh?”
Haha haha! This is why we call you Rockstar Lauren in my house.
I don’t own a polo.
They’re probably not ready.
Probably not. That’s okay because I’m not ready for them. Ever.
How do you plan to use English, German and music? What one thing soothes your soul in as many ways as possible?
With less than 90 days until graduation that’s a question I’ve been pondering a lot. I’ve been looking into moving to Berlin. I’ve never felt so emotionally, mentally and creatively at home as I have there. Thinking about getting an artist visa, but then the horse poses a problem. Shipping a horse overseas is cost prohibitive. I’ve applied to a teaching fellowship in Austria so I can use my German. I’ve also looked into a music program with children, although I don’t like children. I’ve been studying medieval German literature. And I’ll never abandon writing. I’m working on a collection of short stories that I’ll probably self-publish. On Monday I submitted a proposal for the 33 1/3 series to do a book on The Adolescents. I’ll always pursue my writing, especially music writing. But I don’t know, to me, the logical conclusion is to move overseas and do everything that I already do.
60% of the senior class here already has jobs, but they’re applying for traditional work like banking. I can’t survive or exist in a cubicle. The jobs I would be applying for are immediate hire situations. So I might just have to wait.
What advice would you give to an up-and-comer, someone who faces that same restlessness?
It’s okay take time off if you need it. Don’t be scared of straying from the path set for you in high school. It’s okay to veer off and do your own thing for a little while. You just always have to make sure that you’re feeding your soul and allowing it to exist in a calm state. The minute your energy feels off you have to do something to fix it and if that’s straying from the path, then stray, but it’s okay. I took 5 years off from school. It’s okay.
I think it’s amazing that you made it back after so long. Many students take breaks and then never finish.
To be honest I wasn’t thinking about going back, but the school called and asked if I wanted to. I thought if the universe was presenting me with this opportunity that was probably what I should be doing. And it’s been a great decision. Intellectually, I’m very happy. It’s just socially that it’s been a little weird. I’ve had to remind myself that it’s normal, being a little older than other students. And I’ve found a lot of comfort in just being at home in my pink apartment. There’s Andy Warhol quotes over here. You can carve out little niches for yourself where you can be you. My cat helps a lot.
I’m wondering if that’s part of what’s so intellectually stimulating, that it’s a (socially) uncomfortable environment.
That’s highly possible. I’m having to more deeply define who I am which can be a very scary and revealing thing, but it’s absolutely necessary.
What have you learned about yourself most recently? What’s the scariest thing Lauren found out about Lauren?
I’m probably terrible to live with. I’ve created all these weird habits and obsessive compulsive tendencies. I hoard ginger ale. I have 15 in my fridge. And when people come over I’m just like, “yeah, I have ginger ale.” But, like, I’m not gonna offer you one. So, I’ve learned stuff like that, but I’ve also learned that I don’t like being alone all the time. I’m super self-sufficient and really independent. I have a strong sense of self and it’s very important to me. But I’ve also come to realize that being alone all the time isn’t great. It would be nice to have a someone in my life. Maybe I need other people or a special person on occasion. It’s really scary for me to admit. I know a lot of people settle just so they can have someone but I can’t do that. So if it means being alone, then it means being alone because I’m not willing to waste my energy and time into someone I’m settling for.
You got that right, lady. Is there anything stirring around in your head? Are there answers to any questions that I didn’t ask?
I suppose my life goal is to avoid labels and just exist as me. And to not allow anyone else to define who I am.
So avoiding outside labels. But you still have to make your own, right?
I don’t. I don’t have to. I’m Lauren. When you define things, you lose things. You lose meaning, you lose layers, you lose intricacies so I like to steer away from that.
That’s really interesting to hear! Most artists I interview are working toward a state of marketability which involves a lot of labeling. Who you are, what you do and the type of audience that they would appeal to are all important in creating a successful career. There’s that dichotomy between being a free-floater, not wanting to be pinned down or limited and also making your work available and recognizable to the people who’d appreciate it most.
Yes, that makes sense. But not to be narrowed into one, that’s key.
Isn’t she a doll?! I know! That was a rhetorical question. Want more Lauren?
Thanks a million for sipping wine with me and letting me ask you questions, Rockstar Lauren. It’s always a pleasure to see you!