Earlier in my Vada journey, I was lucky enough to snag a few questions with up and coming singer of song, Lauren Aquilina. The 18 year old talent has been active on YouTube for years, with a strong following gradually turning into a loyal fanbase. We discussed her school life and musical inspirations along with her first self-released EP, its success and her hopes for EP #2. Fools, her debut release, shot into the UK charts with no label or promotion and continued blazing a trail, even overtaking Adele and co. on its rampage. Her songs combine thoughtful, raw lyrics with genius melodies and hooks, resulting in a passionate appreciation of music which stretches far beyond her years.
Evidently time flies when you’re having fun – this tiny popstar has finished school, become a full time musician and just released Sinners, her sophomore EP. With time comes experience, something which Aquilina has put to great use writing and recording this time around. Fools‘ success resulted in great expectations when the singer announced Sinners was arriving swiftly, but in 8 short months of writing and recording comes this four track gem – a bold and confident entry into the charts.
Artist growth is present in every sense: Lauren’s voice is much broader and stronger, notes executed perfectly without losing any of her token control. Her songwriting is honed and deepened, with proof of gradual and natural maturation. The melodies feel thicker and more immersive whilst the core style is still evident throughout each song. To many, Sinners could be seen as Fools‘ older sibling, as its songs often feel like developed, artistic sequels to the debut’s tracks – Sinners‘ layered, ethereal feel echoes the same sentiments as Fools while ‘Irrelevant‘, the EP’s highlight, isn’t light years away from the beautiful ‘Wonder‘. This shouldn’t be confused for a negative – did we complain when Toy Story 3 was released and blew its predecessors out of the water?
Continuing her unflinching attempt to stay in touch with fans and critics alike, the songstress was gracious enough to answer a few questions about her new music, life changing decisions, sexuality, inspirations and future.
Vada: Firstly, congratulations on your second release. As we speak, it’s been out less than 24 hours and is currently sitting comfortably at #5 in the UK album charts, without any label or promotion. That an amazing feat – well done!
Lauren Aquilina: Thank you! Yeah, the whole thing is pretty insane. A lot of people have said to me ‘you must be so happy’ and I am but it’s mostly just shock!
Sinners, as a whole, sounds a lot more mature – almost like Fools’ older sister. You’ve branched out into new musical areas and embraced a sense of diversity in your songs. Where have the inspirations from this EP come from?
A lot of this EP is inspired by a very recent relationship that I was in, whereas Fools was inspired by things that had happened to me when I was younger, so I think the situations I was writing about have matured in themselves, and that’s reflected in the songwriting. I always write what I know; my own life, or my friends lives. Honesty is so important to me in terms of lyrics.
Your use of the internet and social media is unparalleled: the interaction between you and your fans is still regular, honest and heart-warming, something which undoubtedly benefits not only you, but also them. How do you find time to make an effort with such a diverse collection of people?
Honestly? I purposely make time. For example, I cancelled a writing session tomorrow so that I could sit online all day and talk about the EP and thank everyone who’s buying it. My manager and I purposely leave days in the calendar to make sure that it happens! It’s a big part of who I am and I really enjoy it.
We have to talk about your voice on this release. During Fools there was a sense of comfort and familiarity in the safety of your voice whilst on every Sinners track you’re channelling an inner diva. What inspired you to take the plunge and hit those big notes?
Haha, I think I said to you before about my voice on this one! I just really wanted to step it up a notch. It was only when I went on tour that I realised that Fools didn’t show my voice to its full ability at all. I had so many people come up to me afterwards and say ‘Wow, I didn’t realise your voice was so powerful’ so I just played on that this time! The songwriting is really pure and honest so I like that the voice and lyrics are the centre of attention.
You are very open about your sexuality and opinion on the matter, something which instils faith into a lot of your fans. Could it be argued that Sinners’ title track regards a struggle with sexuality? How does it feel knowing you have such a strong, loyal, gay fan-base?
Completely. Sinners was partly inspired by a same-sex couple I know who have to hide their relationship because their parents don’t approve, and I’ve seen how much they’ve had to go through just because of other people’s perception. Love is love! I try not to be too ‘in your face’ about gay rights and all that because it’s something that’s genuinely really important to me, not something that I use in order to be liked online. I wasn’t aware I had a significant gay fanbase but if I do that’s awesome! I love everyone who supports me equally, I just feel really blessed to have such a lovely group of people on this journey with me.
‘Irrelevant’ is the stand out track from the EP, a beautifully honest and heartbreaking tale of worthlessness and insecurity. It’s no secret that your songs are raw and emotional but how did you find yourself writing about such an upsetting circumstance? Are your songs cathartic to you?
Honestly, I started writing Irrelevant because the guy I was pretty much in love with didn’t text me back, but I saw him tweeting from his phone! Hope that hasn’t ruined the song for you! It had all been building up for ages and at that exact moment I started to realise all the other things he’d done. I’d created such a twisted mental image of him where I only saw the good, but in reality he wasn’t interested at all. It was a really heartbreaking moment. ‘Irrelevant’ was finished about 10 minutes later, it just all came pouring out.
Finally, having finished your exams, you’ve courageously decided to follow your passion and take music on full time. How has your life changed since making this momentous decision? And what’s next in store for Lauren Aquilina?
I just feel completely free. Its actually euphoric. I’ve been waiting 2 years to finish school and do music full time and now I get to do what I love every single day. If anything it’s made me appreciate it more and I just count my blessings every morning! I’ve got a busy summer coming up with UK festivals, headline shows in Malta and New York, and then my September headline tour! Its all go from here but I honestly can’t wait. I’m the luckiest person in the world.
Sinners is a wonderful little collection of well written, masterfully composed, emotional, reflective, overtly personal songs. Relevant and relatable to anybody who has a heart, the accounts reach far beyond Aquilina’s 18 years and, with a new sense of clarity and assurance, merge together to form a strong second EP. If Lauren’s adolescence can produce tracks such as ‘Ugly Truth’, a near perfect pop song that wouldn’t be out of place on a new Taylor Swift record, with baited breath we wait for what her adult years will inspire. At £1.80, I recommend you purchase Sinners and experience what great unsigned talent there is out there – 2013 has already offered us a spectrum of great music and Aquilina’s efforts only add to this quality collection.
Sinners is available on iTunes now.