Essential Listening

  • Adelaide

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Lauren Ann Higgins, or simply Lauren Ann, is a busy lady of late. Speaking to us from Analogue Catalogue Vintage Recording Studio, Lauren Ann is working on her debut EP which she assures us will be out “very, very soon.”

The Northern Irish singer-songwriter has generated a lot of buzz in the last couple of years for her alternative rock tinged pop music. However, despite not coming from a particularly musically inclined family, her early forays into music were somewhat more traditional.

“I started off playing the fiddle and the violin when I was 10” she recalls. A mere few years later, though, her world would would change when she discovered Nirvana.

My older sister loved music but she didn’t really play any instruments. She wasn’t really serious about it, she just liked heavier music. When she was 15 or 16, she used to play music videos on Kerrang and MTV when we were getting ready for school, and I remember watching the Smells Like Teen Spirit music video come on and I thought it was amazing.

“I thought it was so cool because I’d never really seen anything like it. I became obsessed. I think the song Drain You is one of my favourite songs ever – it’s really simple, but it’s still super hooky and super catchy. I love their stuff so much.”

Photography by Roisin Murphy O’Sullivan

This provided a sonic template for Lauren Ann, whose own material can be similarly described. Her output flits between the tried and tested soft-loud dynamics of the grunge era and dreamy indie pop, with both aspects of her sound retaining a solid, radio-friendly sensibility.

Encouraged by the resurgence of these elements in more mainstream artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Phoebe Bridgers, and by the uncertainty of the new normal, Lauren Ann started to write her own music.

I always wanted to write music but was always kind of too scared. I was more worried about what people in school would think of me if I started releasing so I didn’t do it. Then, COVID hit and my mum said to me one day “well, you might not even go back to school. You don’t know what way this is gonna work out, so you might as well just release something, see how it works.” So, I did, and it all sort of just went from there.”

This turned out to be sage advice as on her last day at St. Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, County Armagh, Lauren Ann signed with Faction Records.

My manager was like “oh, come around” ‘cos he had his own studio, so I came straight out of my last day of high school, went over to him, and signed my contract and that was it. To me, it kind of felt like I had closed one chapter and started a new one straight away.”

Of her relationship with the label, Lauren says They’re a really cool label, they’ve got some really cool artists. They’re working with Skinner now, I saw him at Ireland Music Week in October. They work with Sorcha Richardson as well, and James Vincent McMorrow.

“I was drawn to the artists that they work with and I thought the stuff I was doing sort of fit a similar vibe. I honestly couldn’t have asked for any better. I love the label that I’m on.”

"I honestly couldn’t have asked for any better. I love the label that I’m on”

Collaboration is something Lauren Ann is keen to explore in the future, too.

“I would love to collaborate with Just Mustard. I think they’re amazing. Their new album is fantastic, it’s one of the best I’ve heard. Cherym, I think they’re great, I think they’re really cool. I think Skinner’s really cool. Cruel Sister, I love her music as well, I think she’s great. There’s loads of artists.”

Lauren Ann has already bagged herself slots supporting some well established acts on these shores, having opened for Ireland’s own Sprints and NewDad (“Those guys are the best. The first time I supported them, they were just so welcoming. They treated me like I was doing it as long as they were.”) as well as acts from across the Irish Sea like Scottish pop punks Twin Atlantic and chart-topping singer-songwriter Tom Grennan, a personal highlight for Lauren.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was working at the time, I had a part-time job and my manager rang me and I didn’t answer the phone, I had like 20 missed phone calls and I came out of work and I was like “What is wrong? Why are you ringing me?”

“He asked “are you free?” and I was like “what do you mean?” and he says “you’re supporting Tom Grennan” and I sort of just like freaked out a little bit but it was amazing, that whole experience was great and to get on a stage like Custom House, it was great.”

With so many impressive highlights in such a short space of time, Lauren has recently added another personal best – she will perform as a featured artist at indie music Mecca, SXSW.

“That was what I was working towards for so long. I really wanted it. I was like, “that’s what I’m gonna do.” and put my mind to it. I actually didn’t think I was gonna get it. The first round came out and I didn’t know that there was more, so I was devastated.

“That night, I called my manager and said “I don’t think we’re gonna get it, the first round came out and my name’s not there and I didn’t get an email or anything”.

“20 minutes later, he called me back to say “you’ve just got an invite for SXSW.” I was over the moon! That’s been the biggest highlight so far, because it was something that I wanted for so long.”

With so much already behind her and more yet to come, Lauren Ann doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. With her debut EP in the works, she has her sight set on an Irish tour in 2023.

“A goal would be to do an Irish tour thing for the EP, or even get on a supporting Irish tour, just to get out and travel a bit more with music.”

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