The Isle of Wight native talks debut albums, small-town life and future plans
Lucy Harbron
14:13 1st June 2022

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“I’m just Monday-night chilling!” Curled up in a colourful fleece and tackling a poor Wi-Fi connection with the kind of cheerful Zoom etiquette we all wish we had, Lauran Hibberd is having the best time. As her dog comes to interrupt our chat, the topic of her newly-recorded debut fills her face with a smile—”I’m my biggest fan right now” she says, without a dash of ego or arrogance, just pure excitement. 

A complete embodiment of her music, Lauran’s humour-soaked lyricism suddenly makes sense, seeing her laugh away from her Isle of Wight living room. Coming straight out of finishing recording her debut and heading into another exciting year as she tops multiple Ones to Watch lists, we caught up to reflect on her beginnings and predict the future.

…before that, though, her Wi-Fi freezes up again—“yeah, the Isle of Wight isn’t exactly an internet hot-spot” she laughs, just as it comes back. But while the Isle might compromise her connectivity, she credits it for a lot. “I definitely wasn’t raised around music. Even though my mum loves music, she just listens to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack; so she was never really like ‘Oh my god that ‘90s grunge wave was sick’. It was very much my own discovery in terms of finding music. And I think the Isle of Wight helped me with that because there’s a distinct lack of things to do.” Having visited the Isle, I can attest to that. Made up of a couple of seasides, a scattering of villages, a garlic farm and not much else, it’s not exactly a cultural hotspot. “It’s a lovely place to grow up, but as a young person, especially with a creative interest, its lacking opportunity so we sort of make our own.” Referring to the likes of Wet Leg and Coach Party, as well as the recent wave of Isle of Wight artists making it big on the mainland: “there’s a really great circle of people from here doing cool things and using being from the Isle of Wight as an advantage and not an obstacle,” she says. “I think we should buy a ferry company and do Isle of Wight tours, playing for people as they go back and forth from Southampton.”

But while the Isle was a challenge to a younger Lauran, the pandemic found her thanking her hometown, adding it to the list of things to be grateful for when her debut is released. “There’s a lot of space down here, there’s a lot of time, the pace is slower. I’ve lived in London for a little while and it’s totally a different life. Writing and getting inspiration at a slow pace is a benefit creatively: you can reach weirder places in your mind due to boredom.” Locking down at home, the chance to return to old habits was invaluable. Having previously spoken about how she used to write two songs a week in her bedroom, the chance to return to the pattern was an exercise in growth and reconnection. “I used to just regurgitate songs, they weren’t all good, like 1 in 12 were okay, but I went through a point where I could churn them out,” she laughed, “I used to have a tally on my door like ‘I’ve written 80 songs now’. I think it was a good technique though. I got a lot of the rubbish out of me, fast. But it’s less about numbers now, more about the quality and taking time.”

“I was young and thought I knew everything like, ‘oh I’ve written two songs a day since I was 14 so I think you’ll find there’s nothing you can teach me’,” she explains, talking about the change in her process. “Then I started writing with friends and getting in bands, and when I stopped thinking I was the only person in the world that wrote songs and started inviting other people in I realised it’s a very collaborative process, and me being on this hamster wheel writing songs in my bedroom isn’t going to elevate me. Do I want to make an album based on the techniques I used at 15? Not at all.”

 

But the old days, scribbling in her bedroom, are still recalled with nothing but sweetness. Remembering when the music bug started to set in, Lauran describes the classic scene of living room guitar lessons with some local guy her mum knew—and instantly falling in love. “When I was in high school I was trying to find my thing. I knew it wasn’t going to be sixth form or uni, and my mum really encouraged me to go do something a bit crazier”. Hooked from the get-go she said, “As soon as I could play one song I was like ‘Oh my god this is the best thing ever’ and then I started writing songs”. 

“I think that’s when I caught the bug—when I started having guitar lessons and using it to benefit my writing and it became one whole thing. It wasn’t like I was just singing in my bedroom to my mum, I was singing a song I wrote in my bedroom to my mum…”

Now surrounded by a team of solid collaborators and her own band that stretch beyond just her and her mum, her debut was recorded in the best possible way at the perfect time for her. “When you find the right person it makes everything worthwhile,” she says, gushing about her producer. “I did the record with Larry Hibbitt, and as soon as I met him I knew that he got it: the first sentence he said, I’d made my mind up. Coming out of the pandemic you forget what it’s like to get that feeling: you can’t really get it over the phone.”

But on stage, she credits a shift to a cross-continental friendship. Talking about her collaboration with Lydia Night of The Regrettes and their 2019 tour, she thanks the experience for her recent boost in confidence on stage. “I think Lydia taught me subconsciously how to perform. Before that I was like ‘Oh I’ll stand here with my electric guitar and I’ll play these songs and then I’ll leave’, and Lydia managed to get people who probably didn’t even want to be there dancing. It’s a real skill.” Seeing a shift in her performance persona post-pandemic, Lauran’s act is reinvigorated with the help of her band and a bit of existentialism—“If the worlds going to stop again, I need to make sure I’m giving everything I possibly can.”

While her process and performance has changed, the Lauran Hibberd world remains a new one. Combining her small village beginnings with a love of Lizzo and a kinship for American suburb slacker rock, her sound is an amalgamation of pieces you’d never think should go together, all tied up with a funny streak. “When I was growing up, like every teenage girl in the world, I was obsessed with Avril Lavigne. And I still am. But songwriting-wise I picked up so much from Weezer: I loved how they could make me laugh.” Recalling childhood nights when the music bug was starting to set in: “You grow up watching X Factor where people sing a song and then they cry, and that’s cool but I think there’s something in making people laugh.”

As something that’s always remained in her writing, Lauran’s music sounds like the inner voice of a coming-of-age protagonist. Singing about fancying an older man and accepting that you won’t be getting a dog with your deadbeat teenage boyfriend, everything is done with a snigger and a light-hearted touch. “I’m very deflective, you know, if something horrible happens I’ll make a really dry joke about it and make everyone else feel uncomfortable as my way of dealing with things. And that pours out into my songwriting”. As a trait that keeps her connected to her younger self, scribbling away in her room, she concludes: “I’m writing about the same things from a more mature perspective, being aware of how I am rather than trying to change it.”

“I guess as soon as I start to get wrinkles, I’ll have to drop the whole tongue-in-cheek talking about old men being hot thing”, she laughs as I ask her to predict the future. Having only just finished recording her debut, Lauran already has a solid view for the future, musing on what she thinks she’ll sound like three albums in the future. “Most of what I sing about is about naivety on the edge of youth, so I want to get more angsty as I get older. I’d like to take some PJ Harvey-ish turn.” 

Referencing major women of rock as she discusses visions and hopes for the future, she says “everywhere I look there’s a powerful woman holding a guitar, and that makes childhood-me very happy”. Building connections with her peers across the oceans and making music at a time when women dominate the rock categories in award shows, and girls with guitars seem to have the monopoly on electric angst, Lauran and her Isle of Wight comrades are amongst the most exciting of them as the small island is providing some of the hottest upcoming names in new wave, punky sounds—”it’s a really good time to be a woman in rock music.”

With an incredibly impressive back catalogue behind her, and a lifetime of songs crafted in her bedroom, Lauran’s debut is anticipated before it even has a name. “I cringe at an outfit I wore yesterday. My worst trait is that I get over things so fast,” she explains, telling me about the unexpected challenges of recording her first long play over the past months. “So I needed to do the album in parts so I could make sure I’d like it for a little bit longer”. Recorded in two sections over a couple of months, she’s shocked that she still loves what she’s made. “It’s like an amalgamation of my career so far, on crack”, she explains when I ask for a tease: “I’ve been keeping things close to my chest, and people will be pleasantly shocked”. Extending out her usual playlists of ‘90s grunge, she references hip-hop, big pop queens and the front runners in slow, sad angst. The record in three words? “Every 90s subgenre (ever)… it’s three words if you say it really fast…”

Finishing up our conversation by circling right back to the start, she says: “Once you’ve exhausted all the other things there is to do on the Isle of Wight, I think settling on being a musician and starting a band is ultimately a really good decision.” Full of excitement over not only her own career but the current Isle of Wight hey-day we’re seeing; she’s predicting big things for even more of her local friends. One for us to look out for? “The Pill—they are three girls playing trashy punk music. They’re awesome.”

Looking forward to another year of touring and embracing her new high-kicking-on-stage persona, she tells me about big plans for tours, festivals and even pub quizzes to celebrate the birth of her debut: “I love the idea of being in local dodgy pubs putting on a little quiz”. These ideas of a good time perfectly sum up Lauran’s space in the scene, taking her down-to-earth attitude and small-time origins and using it to add something so charming to her ever-exciting climb right up to the top of our radar.

Garageband Superstar arrives 19 June.

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