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LAUV on his newest albumAll  4Nothing

press conference

WORDS by Tessa Swantek  TALENTLAUV  PR°1824 ALBUM ART Hannah Lux Davis 

Ari Staprans Leff, better known as Lauv, sits on Zoom in his signature white tank top paired with stacked Louis Vuitton silver necklaces to discuss his upcoming album All 4 Nothing while his Zoom name “Lauvyyyyy” captures a child-like charm. This is a fitting presence as much of his album is based on his experience practicing “inner child meditation” to find himself again. As he starts talking about his album and dances to unreleased content, he is almost giddy as he says “I’m genuinely so happy. This is so good. I woke up anxious this morning and now I feel cured.” For him, All 4 Nothing is an expression of his journey towards groundedness; saying, “Having a spotlight, you only want to show the lighter sides but I got exhausted with that. My life, fully honestly at the time [of creating the album], was 50% healing and 50% party. Those were the two things I was doing to cope and find groundedness in myself.”

When I asked Lauv what setting he imagines would be perfect for listening to the album he says, “I’m thinking of a combo of beach and forest and pasture and mountains all in one. I see this scene in my head of grass and mountains in the background and somehow there's the beach there too. I don't know how it's possible but I think that would be so sick!” This setting, like a beach on the Scottish Highlands, is a fitting imagined home for the album’s tracks that ebb and flow; Some songs are stripped back and raw like the hushed silence left behind as the sea recedes allowing his vocals and lyrics to travel wide, trembling on the wind, while some crash in with the power and depth of a tumbling wave drowning his voice in rippling sound. Similar to Lauv saying that his life at the time was 50% party and 50% healing, each track seems to express different manifestations of vulnerability- sometimes it’s frenetic and other times it's still and meditative.

blue ocean lauv.gif

"I see this scene in my head of grass and mountains in the background and somehow there's the beach there too" 

On writing the album, Lauv says, “It was a huge confidence building journey for me. I didn't trust myself and didn't think I deserved happiness inherently. The album was finding confidence, peace, and gratitude and more of a spiritual side of myself that I felt before my life became complicated. I just need to feel okay as a person no matter what happens on the outside.” All 4 Nothing’s opening tracks see solitude and loneliness in wide verdant pastures, endless blue waters, and towering mountain peaks, while many ending tracks see freedom and relaxation in open air. “26,” which he released back in February, opens the album with a reflection on the past few years of his life and a present sense of loneliness.

"26"

Can I tell you a story
About a boy who broke his own heart?
And he always blamed everybody else
But the truth is that he did it to himself
Made a couple songs and they got big
And thought that he could do whatever he wanted
But it all left him with a hole in h
is heart
 
And I'll never admit it
But I wish that I was younger
Yeah, twenty-six and rich
How the hell did it come to this?

“Stranger” similarly focuses on the past while recounting negative habits. The opening tracks show his loss of himself, as if he’s sitting on his imagined beach surrounded by stretches of pasture and ocean feeling empty, like his true self had been pulled out to sea. He says, “I had this big dream in my life and I reached this certain level but I felt really empty on the inside. [This album was] basically me on a journey to find my own inner light again.” In Track 3, he seems to try to find his North Star which he describes as “just being in the moment and expressing myself openly.” “Kids are Born Stars” is a conversation with his younger self, which was “an effort to get in touch with my inner child and feel stress free and just fun and loving.” The music video features his manager’s son, Joshua, who “during lockdown would come in and be like ‘Ari don’t worry it’s all gonna work out’ and he was really sweet and encouraging which was so thematic…” When asked about his favorite childhood memory, he recounts  being in his best friend’s backyard saying, “we built a skate ramp and they had a trampoline. I just remember summer days skating, eating popsicles, jumping on the trampoline, hanging with their dogs, and playing video games. I return to those memories daily.” I imagine “Kids are Born Stars” as his first steps off the beach towards finding himself- did he get sucked out with the tide? Is he still skateboarding under the summer’s sun with a melting popsicle in hand?

The album’s titular track, “All 4 Nothing” is the moment of release. He says, “‘All 4 Nothing’ is like coming out from all that loneliness and starting life. I feel like my life didn't really start until I went to college and as soon as I went into college I fell in love and was in a relationship all throughout college. So, after that, my mind was filled with what it was like to be in love in New York and that journey. From there, because the music I made out of that blew up, I got taken on an insane journey that led me to a place of loneliness. ‘All 4 Nothing’ was me being like ‘I'm not happy as a person.’ I was so unhappy on the inside and my next journey was defining what happiness was for myself.” The tone of the song matches the album cover and official video in which he is sprawled out on the water letting every muscle in his body loosen under the sun’s warmth as he is able to let go in stillness. The nature of this track defines the entire project well; On creating the album, Lauv says, “I think just the process for the album, I felt like I really didn’t filter myself…it’s very straight up and all there without trying to be polished...Now with my friends I’ll put on instrumentals and just freestyle in the car. It makes me trust myself a lot more because before I would always be scared to be in the moment. ‘What if i say something stupid?’ I realized I'm gonna have so many bad ideas and so many good ideas too and I just have to get through it all. I needed to find more fun in it.”

"All 4 Nothing (I'm so in Love)" 

I'm so in love, I'm so in love
I don't ever wanna stop this ride that we're on
I don't ever wanna say goodbye
'Cause then all of those nights
They would just be all for nothing
Yeah, I'm so in love, I'm so in love
I don't ever wanna stop this ride that we're on
I don't ever wanna say goodbye
'Cause then all of those nights
They would just be all for nothing, yeah

He found this fun in several songs, particularly in “Better Than This,” “I Don’t Have a Problem,” and his personal favorite, “Bad Trip.” In these tracks, he seems to stray from loneliness and finds a sense of freedom. When speaking of tracks of this type he says,  “The lyrics are a little less polished and pretty and I love those songs a lot. I tried to recount what was going on in my life and not think ‘Oh I shouldn't put this in a song. Even in ‘Better Than This,’ the lyrics are a lot more off the cuff and direct. There wasn't any intention behind the lyrics other than to say what came to mind.” Many of the songs are very different from Lauv’s typical sound, which he owes to his decision to let go of his desire to have total control in terms of sound and production so he can focus on free-flowing lyrics. He says, “I actually took more of a zoomed out approach focused mostly on the songwriting and singing- writing the songs on the microphone. ‘Bad Trip’ and ‘I Don’t Have a Problem’ are produced so differently because I had people that I trust bring a new producing sound.” These songs bring him a little closer to finding his “inner child,” one who isn’t weighed down by his fears.

The album ends with a ballad, “First Grade” that is completely stripped back and unlike the tracks that precede it. The piece sounds as if he climbed to the top of a mountain that surrounds him in his imagined world and just sings honestly and beautifully without restraint. He is grounded by the mountain’s stillness and elevated by inner spirituality. He tells us, “I now have a love for the exploration of the mind. For this album, I've delved into the spiritual side of things.” Lauv has come a far way from 2019’s “Sad Forever” with lyrics: I don't wanna be sad forever/ I don't wanna be sad no more/ I don't wanna wake up and wonder/ What the hell am I doing this for?/ I don't wanna be medicated/ I don't wanna go through that war/ I don't wanna be sad, I don't wanna be sad/ I don't wanna be sad anymore.

"The lyrics are a little less polished and pretty and I love those songs a lot. I tried to recount what was going on in my life and not think ‘Oh I shouldn't put this in a song. Even in ‘Better Than This,’ the lyrics are a lot more off the cuff and direct. There wasn't any intention behind the lyrics other than to say what came to mind.”
 

All 4 Nothing is essentially him letting himself go through “that war” to find himself and his happiness. When talking about the future he imagines one where he does what makes him feel happy and connected saying, “I love guiding meditations but I also feel really self conscious like people are gonna be like ‘why is he doing this?” One of the things that happened to me over the pandemic is I became increasingly afraid of social media. I'm trying to find my way back to being more interactive. I see myself as a very personal person- I love connecting with people.” Like his imagined island conjured up with a child-like fantasy, happiness is not a real destination that he can reside in forever, but he now knows what flight to take to get there through connection with himself. For this reason, he says he knows his next album will be his best one yet, but for now listen to All 4 Nothing out August 5th 2022!

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