Interview: Lauran Hibberd

The Mic chats to the Isle of Wight singer-songwriter who’s taking her listeners for a crash course in sarcasm with playful, condensed indie-pop packing a dark-humoured punch.

The deft weight of balance between humour-led anecdotes and carefully deconstructed social commentary has helped Lauran Hibberd excel already beyond some of the very best songwriters in her genre. Her recently released debut EP Everything is Dogs is a smattering of sharp-tongued wit and charisma dipped in the retrospective honesty of an islander destined to make sharp inroads on the mainland. Released just a few weeks ago, Hibberd spoke to Ben Standring to give us an insight into her first body of work

Image credit: Press

What can you say about the making of the new EP?

Lauran Hibberd: It’s been in works for the last six months really, so having it there is something to be proud of. Seeing the vinyl being pressed was lovely. It’s been a good experience really, because I’ve only released singles beforehand; it’s nice to focus on a body of work instead of releasing more singles. It’s good to think about it in the grand scheme of things and really package it up as opposed to separately releasing the odd song here and there – I wanted it to be a real piece of work instead of four or five tracks grouped together. It’s almost quite coming of age for me as a product – it feels like an indie movie soundtrack where all the songs fit together and all the song topics fit together; it’s all about your first love and your first loss, that sort of thing. I’m really pleased with it as it’s been my first go at everything on this EP as well!

You’re gaining fans for your no-nonsense take on tongue-in-cheek wit, how do you tend to approach song writing?

LH: I kind of just sing what I see and what I feel – I get quite a lot of nice comments about my lyrics, I really love them and they’re my favourite thing to receive but I guess sometimes I don’t really think about it. I have a funny way of talking about things and have a bit of a weird knack with words, so I normally write lyrics how I tend to speak to people in conversations. That’s maybe why some of the little quirks come out; people wouldn’t normally see stuff so bluntly or phrase it in a certain way, but my humour dips in and out, which is really cool I think.

Frankie’s Girlfriend is quite a dramatic take on an earnest friendship, how did the track come about?

LH: The track is kind of based on a true story and I do have this friend called Frankie. Basically, I had a really weird dream about him one night and I told him about it, thinking it was funny and he found it funny too. His girlfriend didn’t think it was funny at all though – she kind of lost her head a little bit and it rolled on from there. I just thought it was a really funny little story. It was just different people’s perceptions of a situation and there was definitely a song there; she probably doesn’t like that either, but it’s out and about! I don’t think she’s a fan, she probably won’t be championing that song in the future!

'I'd say I'm a confident musician but I'm not a confident person. I would always adhere to what other people said or did and it was a really nice flip of confidence with this track'.

Hootchie is a defiant track filled with snappy, confident lyrics. What inspired the track?

LH: Hootchie for me was another story about an old friend of mine who I’m not really friends with anymore. It just simplifies that, even though some people can be a part of your life and they mean something to you for a couple of years, that friendship can fizzle out and you realise that some people aren’t worth your time. I guess Hootchie was a funny little spin of confidence. I’d say I’m a confident musician but I’m not a confident person. I would always adhere to what other people said or did and it was really a nice flip of confidence with this track, just me being like, ‘actually you’re going to regret this’, that kind of thing.

There’s been a great representation of female talent in guitar music and on festival bills, what do you make of this?

LH: It’s really great. Now we go to festivals and there are loads of females from the industry that are playing. One of my best friends Zuzu is absolutely killing it and it’s great to see her on all these festival line-ups, and I think it’s a really good time and it’s really exciting.

Have you noticed a change in atmosphere as a female artist in the current #MeToo climate?

LH: I think so – I only really associate myself with really nice people so I wouldn’t hang out or take anything from anyone who suggested otherwise, so for me nothing has really changed. I think you can see in the grand scheme of things that there’s been a shift and it’s definitely celebrated now and encouraged, as opposed to the opposite.

'We've ended up in a kind of slacker pop-rock situation, but I'm really happy with it and I think it's a really nice blend of influences'.

Lyrically and tonally, your style matches a lot of artists from the folk scene like Laura Marling. What first inspired you to become a musician and what influences your music still?

LH: When I started learning guitar I was really into folk, and artists like Laura Marling really paved the way for me when I was fifteen or sixteen. I suppose I got a big folk influence in terms of lyrics for sure, as I used to be a more acoustic-based artist. Then I discovered bands like Green Day and The Smashing Pumpkins and since then have tried to combine the two in a strange way. We’ve ended up in a kind of slacker pop-rock situation, but I’m really happy with it and I think it’s a really nice blend of influences.

Whilst Call Shotgun and What Do Girls Want? come from quite a humble and simplistic place in life, the new EP seems more expansive. Do you feel like you’re finding your feet a bit more stylistically or has this always been the natural path to follow?

LH: I think I’ve found the happy balance of knowing what to be involved in and what not to be involved in and I think I’m onto quite a good swing at the minute. I’m writing and I know what I want that to look like, sound like, feel like and where I want it to go, so I feel like I’m kind of finding my feet at the minute – this is what I want to do right now. I’m definitely more conscious as to what I’m writing and what I want it to sound like, whereas before I’d sit in my bedroom and write Call Shotgun in an hour and be like, ‘is that any good?’.

For someone so used to laughing along with your provocative, humour-laden tracks, Shark Week was something of a surprise to hear, yet it offers this beautiful sense of serenity and honesty. How did the track come about?

LH: I basically wrote it out in one afternoon, and I was just really excited to write a sad song to be honest, because I felt like I got a bit carried away. Call Shotgun and What Do Girls Want? are both spritely tracks, and then after Sugardaddy and Hootchie, I didn’t think I could write anything like [Shark Week], but I did, and it came about really naturally. There’s just something about it and personally, I think it’s my favourite song I’ve written. A lot of people have said that as well. It’s a really nice contrast because lyrically it maintains that humour whereas it is quite an honest story. The melodic capacity of the track definitely harks back to folk origins; I’m really into artists like Phoebe Bridgers, with that folk sound but really cool vibe as well. There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about it, it is what it is and lyrically it is really honest. I just wanted to do a track like that, and I think I’ve done it.

Shark Week explores a sense of vulnerability and projects a more personal scope into your sound – was this a challenge for you, or something that felt relatively natural?

LH: I was always a bit nervous about this track as I’ve got a bit of a reputation for writing funnier, trashy rock songs and that’s what I love and who I am, but I was really nervous to also do something like Shark Week. It does work, but I was definitely nervous about showing that other aspect.

Are you an artistic person in general?

LH: Yeah, I’d like to think so. I’m always thinking about the artwork and tour posters. I direct all my own music videos, so I suppose I know what I want with this project. I wouldn’t say I could be any kind of artist in any sense. I just know myself and what I’m after, so I think sometimes there’s no one better to do that than yourself, as you have the distinct vision. I like to be involved in all aspects of this thing really. I think when I’m writing, I’m instantly imagining what the video would be doing as well, or what people would be thinking right now. I love using random objects to describe a feeling, instead of being a bit corny with it.

Do you feel like sometimes it’s easy to hide behind the humour of your tracks?

LH: Potentially, yeah, in life I think that’s something I tend to do; I like to joke about everything even if it’s dark. In my songwriting that comes across as well, so maybe that works in my favour a bit. It’s nice to have a track like Shark Week where it is just stripped back, more ‘this is what happened, and it sucked’.

'I just know myself and what I'm after, so I think sometimes there's no one better to do that than yourself, as you have the distinct vision'.

You’ve got a tour coming up as well, what can we expect from that?

LH: I’m really excited about the tour because I’m so used to being the support act, so I only really get a half hour or twenty minute slot, which isn’t a lot of time to fit in anything. I’ve written so many tracks that I haven’t been able to play live until now, so I’m really excited to be able to have a good length set and fill it with funny jokes in-between. Maybe you won’t find it funny, but then you shouldn’t come if you don’t enjoy the humour!

Good luck with the tour, will catch up with you soon.

Thanks Ben, have a good day!

Lauran Hibberd embarks on an eight-leg UK tour beginning in Birmingham on 8th October, playing Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester, Guildford, Brighton and Bournemouth, before finishing in London on 2nd November.