ABOVE: LAUREN PRITCHARD, A.K.A. LOLO. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER GABELLO
LOLO is no stranger to the weird and wonderful world of entertainment. After a brief stint living with the Presley family in Los Angeles, she made a critically acclaimed debut in the Broadway rock musical Spring Awakening at just 18 years old. A debut album, Wasted In Jackson, released in 2010 using her birth name Lauren Pritchard and co-written with superstar songwriter Eg White, then followed. Now, she unashamedly returns as LOLO (all in caps, no less) with an explosion of raw, fiery soul that couldn’t catapult her further away from the world of musical theater.
Born and raised in Tennessee, and currently residing in Brooklyn, the 25-year-old has been on the Billboard charts for almost four months alongside Panic! at the Disco, on whose comeback track “Miss Jackson” she features. Soon to release her impressive album Weapon For Saturday, not only has LOLO found her new voice—it is louder than ever.
HOLLY RUBENSTEIN: You moved to L.A. when you were 16, and ended up living with Lisa Marie Presley. How did that come about?
LOLO: Her daughter Riley is one of my dearest friends. They knew that I was writing and singing, and I was trying to do everything I could to make it. Then my younger brother suffered an injury, and I was going to have to move back home. Lisa caught wind of it and called my mom two days later, saying, “You can’t take her home, we love the songs that she writes. We really believe in her.” They are like my surrogate family and are truly wonderful. My journey wouldn’t have been what it was had it not been for them, as I never would have been there to audition for Spring Awakening.
RUBENSTEIN: Why do you think Spring Awakening produced so many stars?
LOLO: We definitely all had a fire about us, individually and together. Each of us had things we really wanted to do, all over the spectrum. So you had people like Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff (Glee), Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect, Wreck-It Ralph) and John Gallagher (The Newsroom) who are now huge TV and movie stars. Their dream was L.A.—working steadily and being able to create monumental roles. Then you had people like myself, where acting was the second thing I wanted to do. Music was always my first and foremost, and any spare time I had on days off I was always doing gigs or at writing sessions. We were all incredibly determined and ambitious.
RUBENSTEIN: Your own music is very far removed from musical theater. How did you get to the sound that you have today?
LOLO: It’s definitely a process of creating so much over time. The more writing you do and the different kinds of people that you work with, the more you learn about what you actually like to hear. And also what you really fucking hate! I made an album before called Wasted In Jackson, which came out three years ago. I don’t think anyone has any idea what they’re doing the first time round. But I wouldn’t change anything about that record—I love it and worked really hard on it—and there’s no way I could have gotten to this record had it not been for that one. I’ve always had a loud and very big voice and one thing that I learned from the first record was that I didn’t feel like I was singing at my maximum potential. Now my sound is extremely energetic, extremely full of balls and fire.
RUBENSTEIN: Was it a big decision to rebrand yourself and stop using your name?
LOLO: It was, in the sense that there is quite a bit that goes into a decision like that. But it’s not like I’m trying to disown the past years in the industry. What was frustrating was that I was always first and foremost associated with Spring Awakening. I needed the separation so I could say: this is LOLO the singer, and Lauren Pritchard is the chick who goes and does stuff on the Broadway stage.
RUBENSTEIN: Who have been your major musical influences?
LOLO: Growing up, my parents listened to very soulful music—Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, and Prince. There’s a bunch of blues festivals in my hometown and we were always at things like that. My favorite songwriters and lyricists are probably Eminem, Neil Young, Billy Joel, and Joni Mitchell. I’ve always loved the way that they tell stories and they don’t hold back.
RUBENSTEIN: What is your songwriting process like?
LOLO: I usually write a song quite quickly. If it takes me more than an hour, then the song probably isn’t going to happen.
RUBENSTEIN: Who have you been working with on the record?
LOLO: Mark Batson, out in Los Angeles, who is extraordinary. He’s worked with all kinds of people from Eminem and Dr. Dre to Alicia Keys and Dave Matthews Band. I’ve also worked with Justin Parker, who is known for the Lana Del Rey stuff he worked on. What’s great about them both is that they’re there to create and not judge.
RUBENSTEIN: Can you pick a favorite track from your upcoming album?
LOLO: It’s hard, because they all do different things for me. There are a couple that make me feel evil and joyous, especially “Hate U 2″—not about the band!
RUBENSTEIN: There’s such a thriving music scene in Brooklyn at the moment. Is there anyone you’re particularly tipping?
LOLO: ASTR. They’ve definitely had some chatter about them already. It’s two people—Adam and Zoe. They have a couple of tunes which I’m obsessed with, in particular, “Operate.” I saw them at a Neon Gold night.
RUBENSTEIN: Finally, what are your plans for the next few months?
LOLO: Loads of gigs, stuff on the radio, and getting the LOLO music out there. The live shows are just one big party. During the process of making this record I’ve been through a lot of drama and personal bullshit. It’s nice to be able to put it out and not be sitting on it anymore.
LOLO‘S SINGLE, “YEAR ROUND SUMMER OF LOVE,“ IS OUT NOW, AND HER ALBUM WEAPON FOR SATURDAY IS DUE OUT SOON. FOR MORE ON THE ARTIST, PLEASE VISIT HER WEBSITE.