Having spent the last few years building up her reputation for bright and uplifting releases, Brighton-based singer and songwriter Lauren Alex Hooper is now showcasing her latest EP with the collection's title-track 'Honest'.
Channeling a rich and textured nods to the 90s alt-pop sound, 'Honest' makes for a wonderfully fresh and vibrant return. Filled with sweeping tones, subtle eccentricities, and her own stunning vocals at the helm, this new offering is just what we need to brighten these ever darkening days.
So with the new EP available now, we sat down with her to find out more about her background and what has inspired her most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
I think it was probably the piano. My Mum’s Mum is an incredible pianist and I have so many childhood memories that involve hearing her play or playing with her. I took lessons for a bit and then didn’t play for years before picking it up again. I love it: I find it so calming to just sit and play.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
I think the thing that ultimately motivated me to start writing songs was the fact that I couldn’t find any music that I related to. There was music that I liked, that I loved, but I just couldn’t find anything that felt real to me, that I emotionally connected to. And I thought that if I felt like that, there were probably other people who felt like that too. I’d already started to write songs for fun, experimenting with words and singing – two things I loved – but I think that feeling like there weren’t any songs that fitted my experiences was probably the thing that inspired me to really dive in. ‘If I can’t find the songs I want, I’ll create them,’ was my thinking, I guess. And once I got going, I was hooked.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
It took me a long time to find the music I really loved so I was listening to a lot of quite different artists and bands, from Leona Lewis, to MIKA, to P!nk, to The Hoosiers. I was also listening to people on YouTube, singing to their cameras with acoustic guitars or pianos. I loved (and still love) the music of Alyssa Bernal, and Megan & Liz, and Lauren Aquilina. So it was a bit all over the place. And then I discovered Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles – and so many of those incredible female songwriters – which I think was a big turning point in so many ways.
What inspires you to make music?
It’s probably not the most interesting of answers but anything that makes me feel something can inspire a song. Emotions are so intangible and turning them into something that is tangible and shareable has always been really helpful and rewarding to me. I take a moment or a situation that really made me feel something and try to find exactly the right words and exactly the right order of those words to describe it. Then I’ll shape the music and production to really amplify the emotion I’m trying to translate from intangible to tangible.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
I’ve listened to a lot of new music over the last few months but I definitely have my favourite artists and albums that I’ll listen to on repeat for days. Right now, I’m bouncing between Halsey’s ‘Manic’ album, Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’ album, and Kalie Shorr’s debut album, ‘Open Book.’ They are three of my all-time favourite albums: they’re all so detailed and layered and so beautiful (the lyrical ability, in particular, displayed in all three is just amazing). I swear I get something new from them every time and I learn so much, from the albums themselves but also the artists in general. I find all three very inspiring on multiple levels.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
The vast majority of songs I write are about things I’ve experienced and as I said, the moments that really made me feel something. A lot of those involve the people around me and interactions we’ve had. I’ve written songs about family members, friends, the first person to break my heart… But then a big area I’ve focussed on in my writing has been my personal growth, my experiences with mental illness, and with Autism. It’s hard to tell really. I couldn’t give you an exact number but I think it’s safe to say it’s a lot.
What has been the most unusual moment in your career so far?
At one point there were several months of discussion about a pretty big act using one of my songs for something but ultimately, nothing came of it. It would’ve been a very cool experience though and my career may well have been completely different from that point forward but the music industry can be hugely unpredictable, so it was an excellent lesson in that regard.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Oooh, this is a hard one. There are so many people I could choose. The artists I’ve previously mentioned – Halsey, Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles, Lauren Aquilina, and Kalie Shorr – all immediately spring to mind. Opening for any of them would be a dream come true. For the sake of choosing just one though, I’ll go with Sara Bareilles. Her music has a very particular special place in my heart and she’s had the most amazingly varied creative career, which is something I really aspire to.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
Music means so much to me that it is hard to imagine but I think I probably would’ve studied Psychology and gone into research because I find human beings so fascinating: how our minds work, why we behave the way we do, how and why we feel the way we feel, and so on. I’m always reading into these things but I think studying those things in great detail and adding to the collective knowledge through research would’ve been an amazing career path.
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
I’ve had a lot of good advice over the years but one moment that’s really stuck with me is something one of the speakers said during my graduation ceremony at UEL: “You are strong. Don’t ever, ever forget that you are strong… Never, never, never, never, never, NEVER give up on your dreams. It is not an option. It is not a choice.” That’s always been really inspiring to me.
Lauren Alex Hooper's new EP 'Honest' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to the title-track in the player below.