Canadian singer-songwriter, Gianna Lauren recently stopped off in Cornwall as part of her UK tour to promote her current EP, On Personhood. We caught up with the singer to find out more about her music.
How long have you been singing/ performing and how did you get started?
I started taking guitar lessons when I was 10, and studied guitar in jazz school before my family relocated. After playing in rock bands for a while, I started writing and recording my own songs in 2007. 2. Who are your musical influences? I grew up on classic rock – I have very fond memories of my father and I driving around in an old Volvo blasting Cream, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, etc. Over the years I’ve incorporated all kinds of diverse influences from PJ Harvey to Joni Mitchell to Lauryn Hill to Radiohead.
Where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from?
Inspiration comes from keeping my eyes open, and socialising. I find human behaviour so interesting. I love challenging people and digging deep into why we are the way they are. My songs also draw on personal experiences, whether that be struggles or celebrations.
When and where was your first gig?
My first performance was when I was 12; I performed a Sarah McLachlan song for my guitar school. It was so nerve-wracking. Others that come to mind are performing Greenday’s ‘Time of Your Life’ for my junior high graduation, and doing a full set with my acoustic duo Lampshades and Cereal in high school. My first Gianna Lauren gig may have been in Ottawa in 2007…
Who did you listen to growing up and what was your first album?
My first tape was New Kids on the Block’s Step by Step. Apparently I had done well on a Grade 4 report card!
Tell us about your new EP On Personhood
On Personhood was recorded live-off-the-floor for five days with a band of friends at a magical studio called The House of Miracles, which was originally constructed in 1860 as a horse stable. It’s absolutely stunning, and studio engineer/owner Andy Magoffin converted it into a beautiful place to make music.
It was really important to have a special atmosphere around this record, and to surround myself with people that I love and trust. We ate, drank, rehearsed, recorded, and basically lived this EP for five days. It was new for me to have it all done in that short period of time – usually I am labouring over recordings for months!
Where is your favourite place to play?
I enjoy a good challenge, and I’ve played in all kinds of venues, but I tend to prefer the alternative or ‘pop-up’ venues, like a backyard garden, or the library, or a living room. One of the neatest gigs I ever had was performing on the national train coast-to-coast.
What is your favourite song to perform?
All of them!
What is the best gig you have ever been to?
Well, recently actually, we were performing Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg and we saw Haushka, a genius German piano player who opens up a grand piano and puts noise-makers like bells and tape and wooden spoons on the piano strings, and the piano is connected to effect pedals. He makes the most interesting music, and for this particular show it was at MoJo Club, which was previously a WW2 bunker and just an absolutely amazing space. I had a bird’s eye view of him and the piano. It was an outstanding show.
What is your most memorable gig?
In October 2013 I was invited to perform with the local orchestra in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The 60-piece orchestra learned five of my songs and we performed two sold-out shows in a beautiful theatre. What an experience!
Do you have any pre-stage superstitions/ routines?
Sort of…I like to warm up my voice, sip a little whiskey, and make sure not to eat too much before a gig.
What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to you while on stage or playing at a gig?
So far, nothing I can think of…I always fear I am going to sneeze mid-song!
Who are you listening to on your iPod/ MP3 Player at the moment?
Currently I am listening to new albums from Shabazz Palaces, Megan Bonnell, FKA Twigs, WarPaint, and The War on Drugs.
What are you most looking forward to about your UK tour?
I am so looking forward to exploring the south western parts of England, which I have never been to before and heard so many nice things about. I am looking forward to discovering more of the local music scene as well, and so far I have been paired up with some fantastic local artists. It’s such a pleasure to be here and be welcomed by so many lovely people.
What are your aspirations and plans for the next 12 months?
When I return to Canada, we are doing a three-piece band tour in the central part of Canada, and then I have fall showcases with the Halifax Pop Explosion and Nova Scotia Music Week. Following that I’ll be focusing on the release of our new album, hoping for the spring of 2015!
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would be?
Great question! If only I could imagine another way of life….well, I have a day job managing a community radio station, and luckily they are so supportive of the music. I have had past careers owning a catering business and working in bars, but I think in another life I would like to be a pilot.
If you could play on stage with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Erykah Badu! I’d want to sing back-up vocals and play a little guitar. I’d also love to sing with Leonard Cohen. The lyrics are so beautiful.
Name a song that makes you hit the dance floor
Motown hits! Without a doubt.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists looking for success in the music industry?
Be professional. It’s work, so treat it that way. And be open to different opportunities.
And finally, how would you describe your music/ style in three words
Atmosphere, guitars, niceness.
Gianna Lauren’s EP On Personhood is available to buy from http://giannalauren.bandcamp.com/album/on-personhood-2013