UK singer-songwriter Lauren Ray has just released her second studio album titled ‘Woman In The Arena’ & has taken the time to speak with Fierce & Fabulous Revolution about her latest release, along with getting to know more about the artist herself.
Hey Lauren, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself?
Lauren: My pleasure! I am an independent pop-country singer & songwriter based In London. I was born in the UK but grew up all over the place; in Poland, in Austria and then eventually back to the UK. I have been writing songs since I was a teenager and then I have been writing good songs since my twenties. After university where I studied Anthropology, I went to Nashville to write and met producer Neilson Hubbard through another artist out there. I went back and recorded my debut album “We Will Need Courage” with him which I then released in 2016. I have since been touring the UK and Europe supporting bigger artists such as Rebecca Ferguson, Lucy Spraggan and Paul Carrack which have been such great experiences. I have now independently released my second album “Woman In the Arena” which I am super proud of.
When did you first discover your passion for music & knew that it was a career you wanted to pursue?
Lauren: I have loved music since I was a little kid and was always singing around the house and in the car (sorry family). I started playing the piano mostly so I could accompany myself and start writing songs. I am not sure I can pin point when exactly I knew it was the career for me, I think it’s just something I can’t stop doing and as long as people still want to hear my music I will keep going.
You have just released your brand new album ‘Woman In The Arena’, which sounds phenomenal by the way. How did the idea to create this album come together?
Lauren: Thank you so much! The experience of writing, self-funding and releasing my first album back in 2016 was such a huge learning curve for me. Then I was lucky enough to start touring which allowed me to grow in confidence as an artist, a writer and a performer and get a better feel for what works in my set list night after night. I reached out to producer Julian Emery as a long shot (he is known for his work with Lissie and Nothing But Thieves) but he agreed to work with me on my next project which then pushed things forward for me. I knew I wanted my second album to have a bigger range in sound and emotions to my first and knew he was the right fit to produce it.
What are the main influences behind the songs featured on this album?
Lauren: The songs are inspired by real life stories and experiences; either my own or those of the people close to me (although I usually don’t tell them about it). The only exception to that is “Letting You Go” which was inspired by a book I read called “I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh.
How would you compare the creative process behind this album to your first album ‘We Will Need Courage’?
Lauren: The biggest difference between writing the first and second album is time; I was in completely different places as a woman and as a songwriter for each. Since writing LP1 I have grown in confidence as an artist and writer, I have been co-writing a lot more too which has developed my writing. My first album was mostly written on my own growing up so much of the lyric choices were super personally specific and self-indulgent to a degree. Then the few co-writes on the album were mostly with male writers which I think limited how open I was about sharing the female perspective on an experience. Whereas for my second album, whilst all the stories are still personal, I wanted to keep the lyrics slightly more open to be relatable to more people. I also enlisted the help of song writing friend Beth Keeping, who you have featured before, to write half the album with me. It was great having another strong female influence to bounce off and shape these stories.
What are some of your favourite tracks to feature on your latest album?
Lauren: Some of my favourites are; “It Was Worth It”, “You Saved My Life”, “What We Came Here For”, & “Irreplaceable”.
What message would you like listeners to take away from your latest release?
Lauren: The whole album is about being more open, vulnerable and honest with yourself and your experiences and being all in with people (who deserve our trust). I hope that those listening can be inspired by that in some way. The album title is inspired by Theodore Roosevelts speech “man in the arena” but I first learned about this and the message in Brene Brown’s book called “Daring Greatly”.
When you are not performing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Lauren: Podcasts galore! I am a full obsessive. Currently I am addicted to “My Favourite Murder” and “Armchair Expert”.
What was the first album you ever purchased & do you still listen to it now?
Lauren: The first album I ever bought was probably a Spice Girls album to be honest with my pocket money. So nothing super ‘cool’ but certainly was a huge influence growing up in all the girl power and mini dresses. I don’t listen often but occasionally a 90’s throwback is required.
Which song do you always keep on your playlist & why?
Lauren: Right now it’s Emilie Nicolas’ latest single “Who’s Going to Love You”. I discovered Emilie when her first single “Grown Up” came out in 2015 and was lucky enough to see her live in St Pancras Old Church shortly afterwards. I love Emilie as an artist and always have at least one of her songs on my playlists. This latest single has been on loop the last few weeks though. I definitely recommend checking her out if you don’t already know her.
If you could perform a duet with anyone on the planet, who would it be & why?
Lauren: Oooh this is hard!! Not someone super ‘classic’ or considered legendary to most but I really admire Sara Bareilles and her voice and songwriting so if she was to slide into my DMs right now and ask for a duet I would jump out of my skin at the chance.
What would you consider to be your all-time favourite movie?
Lauren: I don’t have a favourite and can never answer this question. I love watching different movies and listening to different music completely depending on my mood so I couldn’t pick just one.
If you could appear on any TV show, which would it be & why?
Lauren: VEEP! It’s so funny and they’re just so mean to each other so it would be really fun to be part of that for a day. Plus Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an icon!
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you about pursuing a career in music?
Lauren: If you wake up in the mornin’ and you can’t think of anything but singin’ first…then you’re supposed to be a singer girl” – Deloris Van Cartier, Sister Act 2.
Finally, is there a message you would like to share with the readers of Fierce & Fabulous Revolution?
Lauren: If I can get your readers to do one thing today (After listen to my album of course) Is watch this Ted Talk by Brene Brown which has influenced me so much.
Check out the full album on Spotify below.