Lauren Carter’s American DreamLEFAIR
Above Image: PHOTOGRAPHER: Kesler Tran HAIR: Dustin Von Osborne MAKEUP: Nathan Heijl
Sitting at a table beside a white picket fence at The Beverly Hills Hotel’s Cabana Cafe, petite and adorable singer-songwriter, Lauren Carter, obeyed California state law’s liquid diet enforcement and sprung for a pinot grigio and a juice. She wore a short, flirty blue and white Poupette St. Barth jumpsuit. The sun was in her eyes and she put her hand to her forehead for cover as she spoke, “My identity revolves so much around being a woman,” she said. “Mostly I write songs about my experiences as a woman in Los Angeles. I like to call them sexual politics, the power dynamics in romantic relationships.”
LEFAIR – MR: Tell me about your latest album.
LC: I started writing and recording my latest album, American Dream, two years ago. It took me awhile to release it. It took awhile to finish the video and finalize everything.
Two of the tracks, American Dream and Million Dollar Baby, were with Andrew Williams who has written and produced for multi platinum albums and Studio1Zero. The producer, Josh Monroy (Igloo), is the Grammy award-winning producer who worked with Ludacris for nine years. He also produced Mad Love, the title track of JoJo’s latest album. There is one final track on my album which is a Leonard Cohen cover called Everybody Knows. My friend, Kevin Dippold, who did a lot of mixing for the Smashing Pumpkins did the beat for me, and Andrew Williams mixed the vocals.
When it was released, I signed with a label in Switzerland called Turn Up The Pop and with them we commissioned Thomas Godel, formerly known as DJ Cosmo, to do a remix of the title track, American Dream. He had a couple number one dance hits in Britain. We released that and a few weeks later we released the full EP, which was my first EP. The remix hit number six on Swiss dance charts. It also charted in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It has 40,500 plays on Spotify and it gets more every day. The remix was my first charting track. I’m already back in the studio doing new stuff.
LEFAIR – MR: What’s next for you?
LC: In the future, I am interested in going in a more electronic/ pop direction but still indie, with my own flair. I want it to head the direction that a lot of music is going these days. I want to get more involved with collaborations. It will be a lot more beat-driven with more riffing and belting. I want to get a little more dynamic with my vocals but stay true to myself.
LEFAIR – MR: What is it like to work in music in this digital age?
LC: Today is both a great and a frustrating time to be in music. On the one hand, anyone can create an entire album on their laptop from their bedroom and distribute it worldwide with the click of a mouse, no need for a label or distribution deal. Anyone can do it, which is incredibly inspiring. The downside is streaming sales— it really is a travesty. .005 cents per stream on Spotify, seriously? These days the money successful musicians take in comes from tours, licensing deals, and sponsorship deals. And for most indie artists, those kinds of income streams are a pipe dream.
But I always say to people who pursue a career in entertainment, do it for the long haul. Do it because you love it. Do it because you can’t do anything else. If you’re really ready, one day your break will come. There is no overnight success in this industry. Most overnight successes are actually ‘ten year successes’ when they finally get their break and come out of obscurity.
I just found out I’m nominated for an award at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and about a year ago I had my first licensing deal for Volkswagen. I was on the verge of securing the opening spot for a tour in Europe with a pretty big artist, which ultimately hasn’t been confirmed. I hit the charts for the first time this summer, and I signed to a label. Each achievement and opportunity builds upon the last, and I’m hoping to open on a larger tour soon – that would be an amazing thing for me to accomplish next. Clearly my motivation is not all this money I’m making on Spotify! You have to see the big picture and create something over time and stick with it.
LEFAIR- MR: Is it challenging to balance relationships and your music career?
LC: I’ve struggled with my relationships with men because they didn’t like me pursuing this career. The weird thing is, even if a great opportunity comes my way, rarely have I been with a man who has been supportive or excited for me. My current partner is in entertainment and I’ve had a lot of conversations with him and he thinks I’m a good singer and he thinks I’m talented, but when I really have to focus, he gets annoyed that I don’t have time for him. That’s an unfortunate thing for women. I can relate to Rihanna. You wonder, was Chris Brown just super jealous of her? Diana Ross and her partner, Sonny and Cher, the list goes on, especially in music for some reason.
LEFAIR – MR: What inspires you?
LC: A lot of strong female artists from the past decade inspire me—Lana del Rey, Rihanna, Lady Gaga…
LEFAIR – MR: Is there anything that inspires you that most people couldn’t
LC: I’m into quantum physics and concepts of time, space, and eternity. Did you see the film Arrival with Amy Adams? It’s amazing. It explores those themes. Some of my songs explore those same themes. For instance, there’s a line in my song, American Dream, which goes, “…even when we’re dead and gone, I’ll still love you baby.” I find that concept really fascinating. Somehow things live on through energy. Everything is connected. I’m not religious, but physics shows how no energy is ever lost. It just transfers. Our experience with time in our life is finite time, but in the scheme of the universe, time is not finite. I like thinking about memory. Everything imprints on you somehow. I have had a lot of relationships that have ended and they’re still affecting me even from the past.
Niko from the velvet underground – wrote a song called Chelsea girls. I am interested in that concept and I wrote something similar but I never finished it.
LEFAIR – MR: Describe your personal style.
LC: I feel like I’m a combination of old Hollywood meets California casual. I like mini things— mini skirts and mini dresses. I like to show my legs. When I throw down on clothes, the money goes to shoes, like Saint Laurent heels. I love Louboutin but Saint Laurent is a close second. I have a pair of Saint Laurent ankle boots that are very rock-star. Dior is one of my other favorite shoe designers. Those are my top three.
MR: You are also a vocal coach?
LC: Yes, I’ve been teaching for fie years. I’ve had a lot of different clients and seen a lot of different scenarios with singers. My star student was just scouted for the front of the line audition for American Idol. I coached her audition for two months so I’m really proud of her. She sent me a message today that said she couldn’t have asked for a better coach. That made me feel great. I teach beginners too, of course. I just love teaching music.
MR: Do you think bad singers can ever really become good singers through
LC: I do believe people can be really bad singers and become good singers. There may be a few things that are hard or impossible to teach. You either have a beautiful instrument to begin with or you don’t but everyone can be taught vocal technique with the instrument they’re given. I’ve seen people improve massively over the course of a year or two— to the extent that they walked in with low ability and became good singers. Some of them are even pursuing it professionally and they’re prepared. I had one student who was literally tone deaf. He tried to hit a pitch and it would waver to another pitch. He was tone deaf. I tried a bunch of ear training with him but he couldn’t improve. It was genetic. That was extreme. I’ve had students come in with vocal nodules but that really just requires a healing process and then learning how to sing a bit differently.
MR: What other problems have you come across in your vocal coaching?
LC: I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t have an innate sense of rhythm. You have to get them dancing around to the beat, try to get them to read and clap, clap to an eighth note. A lot of people have trouble with syncopation. Like when you come in on the offbeat, they can’t hear it. It’s a struggle but it’s not impossible to teach.
MR: Do you have advice for young people who want to be in entertainment?
LC: I like to tell people it’s a numbers game and you will always experience rejection. There are A-list celebrities fighting for the same roles. If you’re at least getting callbacks, that’s a good sign. If you’re getting callbacks, keep going. Callbacks mean they like you but it might not be the right job. Just stick with it and you’ll book something soon enough. For music, rather than acting, you can make your own project and put it out into the world. That’s really empowering. No matter what industry you’re working in, you just have to respect yourself. No one will respect you if you don’t respect yourself. As you grow, you learn to create boundaries. People will offer you things or ask you for things, but you have to make sure it’s worth your time always.
MR: Respect is such a key ingredient to making it in the music industry. How
do you know when people respect what you do and how does it affect your
professional and personal relationships?
LC: When other industry professionals show an interest in working with me, that’s the ultimate sign of respect, or when people randomly message me and tell me they love a song. I feel like I get a lot of respect through my music. In general, LA is a hard place to earn respect and it’s a hard place for relationships. It’s hard to trust men and women here. People are slow to commit and they usually have a lot of secrets. Even the layout of the city and the traffic provides a lot excuses for liars and flakes. You have to find people who you believe in and who have a sense of loyalty. In general, a lot of people are out for themselves, like anywhere else. But I feel like LA is an amped up version of the rest of the world in a way. I love LA though and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. You can find lots of good people in LA who are fiercely loyal but you have to be careful with who you give your time to.
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