EUPHORIA. caught up with Canadian-born musician renforshort where she discussed her debut album, her start as an independent artist, her dream live gig, and what it was like working with her all-time favorite singer, Jake Bugg.
Hello Lauren, thanks for speaking with EUPHORIA. magazine! To start, how would you define yourself? I’m Lauren aka renforshort, I’m an artist from Toronto. I make music that I think resonates with people and I like that!
Growing up in Toronto, how did the city influence your musical tastes and style? Unknowingly, it did. Some of the most influential artists in my life are Canadian and I didn’t realize this until I left Canada. I was like, “Oh yeah, Joni Mitchell, she’s Canadian!” I guess there’s some sort of commonality in their music. It could be the accent, I think there’s like comfort in the accent. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always been drawn to Canadian artists and also British artists in a way. The surroundings that I grew up around and the experiences I had in that city you can’t really have (or have again) anywhere else in the world. It inspired my music in many ways.
As a genre-bending pop artist, who is a pop artist in today’s music scene that inspires you? Dora Jar, I think Dora is really cool and inspiring. They’re so fresh, interesting and different.
You started out releasing your music independently online; an ongoing trend for artists who start out in the digital age. What was the biggest challenge of starting a music career on your own? The biggest challenge in the beginning, was it being something that was so new to me on top of not having the support of a big label behind me along with the opinions of people who have been putting out music for years. It was me at sixteen and my manager, not having so much input. You can’t really set expectations for yourself. We can have goals, but achieving those goals is hard. You don’t know how anything really works at this point, but you learn over time.
If you put a certain amount of hours into anything, you become a master. if you have been in the music industry for three years and you live and breathe it basically every day of your life, you’ll get better at it. So, I think it’s funny to think about like where I started versus where I am now knowledge-wise. It’s changed a lot.
You released your album, dear amelia, last year. What inspired you to take an honest, raw approach to the record? I think it’s something that I’ve been doing for as long as I could write. It’’s been the only way that I’ve been able to kind of express every one of my emotions as best I could. I’ve leaned towards writing really true, raw emotional music. Not everyone likes hearing it, but some people do, and I like writing it. It’s cathartic for me and I think it’s cathartic for others. I want my music to be more than just music.
I want to be able to help people. I’m not necessarily saying that my music is to pull people out of dark places, but you know, it’s kind of that “you’re not alone” feeling; another person feeling this way to talking about it. It’s not so bad, it’s adding to the conversation that’s going on. It just feels right to write like that for me.
Jake Bugg is your all-time favorite artist, how did you react to confirming his involvement in the project? I cried a lot. I went kind of numb, basically. It was a manifestation that I made. Me and Jeff, the producer that I worked with that song on, we’re like “We’re making a song; we’re not writing a second verse. Jake Bugg’s gonna be on it.” It was a wild manifestation. We put it somewhere to be received. Months go by, and nothing. My manager sent me an update of the song, Jake Bugg starts singing. I go, “Okay, I’m out!” I’m in the car with my dad, and my body goes numb, crying, can’t breathe. It was unbelievable! Since I was young, he’s always been, you know, my artist that I just love. It was very, very phenomenal, it was a crazy moment.
Speaking of collaborations, you recently collaborated on a song with The Maine, box in a heart. How did this song come to be? They spoke to my team and they were like, “Hey, we have this song I think [Lauren] would be great on it!” and I was like, “Dope. Would love to do that. You guys are great. This is fun.” I recorded this verse and it was so easy. I spoke on the phone with them, we talked about what they wanted it to be, and what they wanted it to sound like. It’s a weird thing now, if you’re doing a collaboration a lot of the time you’re doing it over the phone. The first time I met them was in New York when we played the song together, and it was amazing. They’re so talented, and they’re so kind. I’m very, I feel very thankful to have been thought of for that.
Mental health is a prominent topic in your songwriting. Has becoming a musician given you new perspectives on this subject? I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t expressing myself through music or through art in any way. I don’t remember a time when that wasn’t a thing for me. It’s always been what I gravitated towards. If I was feeling a certain way I write a song, if I were feeling another way I’d paint a picture. It was how I got these emotions out of me. That was my coping mechanism, I don’t think it’s changed. I think I have less time to pull out a canvas and acrylic paints to paint something, but I have all the time in the world to write how I’m feeling at that moment and turn it into a song. I think it’s been like that forever for me; it’s always been really easy for me to express how I’m feeling through music.
You’ve toured alongside many notable artists such as Tai Verdes and Alexander 23, along with your own tour! What is your fondest tour memory? There are definitely highlights from every tour I’ve been on, but it’s always on that first headline show that you do. That’s the one that’s always gonna be, at least for me, the craziest memory. It’s the first time you really see the people in the room and the people that listen to your music, know the words, are happy to be there, etc. It’s an unbelievable feeling, and it’s just every time it just reaffirms why I do what I do, it’s unbelievable. You’re gonna meet these people that you’ve known online for so long. You got to hear their stories, you get to know more about them, where they grew up, and their families. It’s such a unique experience for musicians in that way.
You played a few festivals in 2022, such as Hangout, Firefly, and Riot Fest. What is a bucket-list festival gig you want to play? Glastonbury. That’s it for me.
As someone who is a multi-instrumentalist, what is one instrument that you haven’t learned but want to? I’m trying to think of something that’s so sick. Probably the trumpet, like I mean like wind instruments, I can’t, I mean, don’t know like what I would use it for, but I would find a way to use it and I think it’s very cool. I just don’t have the lung capacity. Um, but that’s probably what I’d do if I could trumpet or something or like the upright bass. Every time I see people play those, How on Earth did you do that?
Lastly, what would you say to your past self starting out in the industry? “Be patient, love.” I was really bad at that. Just be patient; soak everything in and enjoy. Don’t rush, just sit back and enjoy.