Por Jessica Vispo
Foto por Michelle Shiers
Often we don't stop to wonder what would become of us without music? We could not imagine the world without it, but neither could art in general, since music, such as painting, photography, writing (among others), are forms of expression of being. In this way, at the end of the eighties, in Baltimore, Mercyland was born Lauren Ruth Ward, a first-rate artist, with a kind and sweet heart. She was born and raised there. When she was a girl, she sang and danced. When she was older, she dabbled in a career as a stylist, although she had been working for the last few years. In 2012 she auditioned for The Voice, and soon after, decided to try luck in Los Angeles. There she began playing the guitar in various parts of LA, and it was then when she met the guitarist who have accompanied her ever since, Eduardo Rivera.
-¿What can you tell us about your relationship with music and art?
It has always served as a cathartic hobby for me. I started writing songs and playing guitar when I was 13. I experienced a lot of hardships around that age and combined with being a teenager in general, this outlet was desperately needed. Creating art / music still serve as this.
Lauren releases her first self-titled EP in 2016, which contains five songs (I Fell Cool, Pretty Please, Heart In The States, Untwist In Time and Burden, of which we can have a video). With this work, soft melodies are revealed to us, guitars that accompany us on that sonorous journey and take us to a context of the 60s, so memorable and so pleasing to the senses.
In 2018, Well, Hell, the artist's first LP, comes out. In it we can detect a varied universe, which is divided into nine pieces of a sound that draws us back to the 60s / 70s, but with the originality and skill of a voice rooted in the heart of the time.
Currently, the singer delights us with her latest record work called Vol.II, composed of eleven songs, which reveal experiences close to daily life, love and freedom.
-¿Although your records have varied in terms of sound and melodies, how do you feel this influence on your last album Vol.II? What can you tell us about it?
I don't think about what genre I am creating. Melodies must always change per song or else they'll sound too much like each other. Sounds happen naturally. I'm sorry, I'm not sure what this question is asking so hope this answer will suffice.
-¿What are your biggest musical influences and how do you feel this influences your artistic career?
The artists I admire and the artists whose art I don't think much of but still respect all have the same thing in common, they're original and hardworking. That is something I consciously take from them. I naturally love rock and roll from the 60's and 70's but there ins't one band or artists that has influenced my sound (consciously). I like that my music doesn't sound like one genre. Some of the first bands I was exposed to : The Jackson 5, Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Cranberries, Alanis Morissette, The Carpenters.
-¿Your art comes in a really liberating and healing way. How do you feel about this?
Thank you! It is an honor to liberate and heal. My intension is to share my experiences in hopes to do just that; heal and lift. It's euphoric being seen the way I want to be seen. So thank you <3
In 2018, the album Happy Birthday Jim is released, a work of art that unfolds in seven songs by The Doors, versioned by Lauren. At the same time, this work is accompanied by videos and watercolor paintings.
-what can you tell us about Happy Birthday Jim and the art that accompanies this great work?
"Happy Birthday Jim" was a super fun project I created with my bandmate Eduardo. We both love the Doors. I stated listening to them when I was 17. My stepmom and dad gave me their vinyl collections at that time which were filled with merely full catalogs of so many R&R legends from the 60s and 70s. I also love birthdays and numbers and am always looking for a way to combine them with music. We created this 7 songs EP for Morrison's 75th bday in our spare time. The 8 paintings were a part of the (new) beginning of my watercolor exploration. All 7 music videos were created by my favorite LA visual artists. The only prompt I gave them was a color. I saw their video interpretations for the first time when uploaded to YouTube . It was a very exhilarating project.
-All your record works are unique pieces, although they are intertwined with each other. What can we say about this?
I would guess it's because they all come from me. All my layers are rooted into one core.
-What did separating from your previous record label mean to you?Since then, are you your own producer? What can you tell us about this?
I self-funded and created my first album. Then the label signed me after. Separating from them didn't change much other than being able to release my music at the faster rate I wanted to. When we were with them, we weren't able to release much. We were only signed with them for one year. As far as producing went, we of coursed would discuss with the label things like: who we wanted to record with, send them new songs we wrote.. But a simpatico relationship never formed. We ended up having the last say on all things creative. Distribution was their job. And like I said, not much was released the year I was on the label. Thankful to be self-releasing again as well as open to that changing. I now have a better understanding of what kinda of label would be right for me. There are sooooo many options. Very thankful for this learning!
-Finally, will there be possibilities of seeing you in Argentina someday? Do you have a message that you want to transmit?
I would love to! There are so many things that contribute to an artist being able to play in other countries. If it were solely up to me, I would have been there already. Rest assured, I have a great team working on getting me to Argentina. Hope to meet you when that day comes!