Before taking the stage at The Anthem this month, the musician spoke to District Fray about their journey to current success.
No one would ever accuse LP of being reticent. Chatting from their home in L.A., the singer-songwriter pauses briefly while telling a story, trying to find the right word.
“I’m not firing on all synapses this morning,” says LP. “I had a wild weekend.”
While wild weekends are nothing new in the music industry, LP, a veteran of said industry for over twenty years, has definitely earned the right to cut loose. Theirs is a story of multiple big breaks which turned out not to actually be breaks but stepping stones; a slow build to a solid career courtesy of a ukulele, melodies for days and a singing voice so powerful you wonder if out of their 5’3”, 100-pound frame, 90 pounds of it is their diaphragm.
From their start, the born and raised New Yorker put in the necessary work, taking voice lessons at Carnegie Hall, studying opera scales (their mother was a former opera singer – the ability to belt is indeed genetic) and learning how to control their voice.
“My mother…when I was young, encouraged me…if I ever wanted to sing, to try to get some lessons because I had to get it under control because I’m a belter,” says LP.
Despite the early encouragement, LP’s parents tried to persuade them to pursue a ‘normal career.’ But with their mother’s passing from breast cancer while LP was in high school, the thought of pursuing a normal life quickly went out the window.
“We’re so conditioned and so brain washed into the whole ‘we’ve got do these normal things,’” says LP. “There’s that f—king ‘come to Jesus’ moment where you’re like ‘I’m going to do what I want and f—k all these motherf—kers.’ It was a long path that most people would’ve given up on but I had nothing else to do.”
Gigging in NYC at spots including Arlene’s Grocery, The Bitter End and Mercury Lounge (“I sold out the Mercury Lounge like 25 times when I was younger.”) the run of big breaks that weren’t actually that big started.
LP signed to their first record label in 2001 but success eluded that release. An appearance at SXSW in 2006 lead to a bidding war, which Island Def Jam won. They didn’t know what to do with LP either. Then off to Warner Brothers they went. You can probably guess how that ended. Success was always within reach but just out of reach.
“I was always kind of right there,” LP says. “I was always kind of like, so close.”
While labels didn’t know what to do with LP’s talents, other artists did and they started writing hits for the likes of Cher, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” which they wrote on a ukulele they were playing just for fun on the side.
Just as they were settling into writing songs for others, an actual big break occurred in 2011 when Citibank used their song “Into the Wild” in a national campaign. 2015’s “Lost on You” brought LP worldwide success — although when LP played “Lost on You” for Warner Bros. they subsequently dropped them.
With the release of their latest album “Love Lines,” LP pulls influences everywhere from the Shangri-Las to The Strokes. These influences will be on display when LP performs at The Anthem on Nov. 7.
Though their climb was a long, slow journey, LP now finds themselves having attained more fame and notoriety than they ever imagined.
“I always wanted to reach more people,” says LP. “It was a tremendous sense of ‘Oh wow, I got past whatever I hoped for.’ So yeah, it’s a good place to be.”
LP will play The Anthem on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35-75 and can be purchased here. To learn more about LP and their music, follow them online at iamlp.com and on Instagram @iamlpofficial.
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