Riley Keogh's best mate is deeply talented, covered in colourful tattoos and determined to spread the love with her music.
Born and raised in Tennesee, Lauren Pritchard moved to LA aged 16 to make her musical dreams come true. Friends were made, games were changed and the talented teen scored a lead role in Broadway’s Spring Awakening for a three-year stretch. In 2008, aged 20, she chose not to join her former castmates in the happy-clappy world of Glee, instead opting to move to London and write Wasted In Jackson, a record featuring the likes of Ed Harcourt on piano and Marcus Mumford on production. Now back in NYC with with a new name and a more developed badass yet soulful style, Lolo hits up her old friend London for a few shows as she gears up to release her second album.
Looks like you've got some impressive tatts there! Can you talk us through them?
Well I have about 25 now - and they all have specific meanings. All of the animals have to do with my family’s various Chinese zodiacs and the peace symbol is made up of their initials. One of my very, very best friends and I wanted to get something to celebrate our friendship, so we got matching tattoos. When we first met we were really obsessed with 50 Cent’s Candyshop, so we got lollypops, obviously. Me and my best girl friend Christie got matching Mayan calendar birthday symbols because our birthdays are a day apart. This other one is yellow so it’s really faded. Then there’s a drawing that a really good friend did. These birds I got done in Scotland with a Glaswegian friend of mine and I have some ivy on the back of my ear which is a little tribute to living in England. There’s a warning sign on the back of my neck which I got cause one of the songs I wrote with Mark Batson was called The Bomb and one of the lyrics was ‘you should have a warning sign around your neck’. Then I have a birdcage, my lucky number 13, the state of Tennessee, the first bar of my favourite hymn and there’s some Latin on my back too.
So tell us about moving to LA, back in the day…
I moved there with my mom and wound up with a really fucking funny group of people. I wound up making friends with all these young Hollywood actors from TV like Hilary Duff and people like that. It was weird. But my best friend who I got the lollypop tattoo with was really close friends with this guy who was dating Riley. So we were all always together! I actually had no idea who her mother was or anything like that, I just knew that she was really fucking pretty and we became best friends. Going to her house was so much fun because obviously they love music so much. I would definitely say that one of the reasons that I’m still fucking doing this now is that I happened to be lucky enough to be in this group of people that were really so fucking supportive of what I was doing.
How did you end up living with the Presleys?
So my little brother lived back home with my dad and he came to visit and got in a really bad skating accident and completely broke his shoulder and collarbone and he had to get on a plane that day and have major surgery. So I was going to have to move home and went around saying goodbye to everyone. Then Lisa called my mom like ‘You can’t move her back. She’s just gonna come back here a few years later and she’s gonna have to start over and she’s working really hard and we really believe in her… so she can just stay with us!’ and that was the craziest shit that we’d ever heard, but we did! It’s a pretty huge statement to say that I owe everything to them, but in a huge way I do. I never would’ve been there to audition for the show that I did in New York and I wouldn’t know any of those people which would be devastating. It freaks me out when I think about how serendipitous life is. They’re very much like a surrogate family and I’m very thankful for them. They’re wonderful friends to have. They’re a very mysterious family but they are truly the most wonderful people - honestly just unbelievably caring and I’m very lucky to have them in my life.
How do you feel your sound has changed since you started out?
I think that there’s a running theme in what I do in that the music is very real and there’s nothing fantastical about it. It’s all very true to my life and things that have happened. So I think that whether the songs are folkier or bluesier or poppier or whatever, they still come from the same very honest place. I’ve recently started to realise that I need to start honouring what my first music loves do – people like Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson and Eminem - a random group but a very soulful and upbeat group of people who I have fucking admired my whole life.
So how did Panic! At The Disco find you for the Ms. Jackson feature?
I think it was a management hook-up… but I’ve been very thankful for it. I found out on Monday that our song is in the Top 10 Billboard chart, which is awesome! So stoked about that and so thankful for the opportunity. I’m doing a few gigs with them too, which is nice.
And if you’d been asked to feature on Outkast's Miss Jackson instead, what would you have said?
I would’ve said yes! I think it’s a fucking great song. Everybody loves that song! It makes me think of middle school.
I wish you had featured on that…
Me too! My god!
You’ve made some pretty big decisions in your time. What’s the secret?
I feel like some mentor of mine along the way must have said this to me because it’s always really stuck with me. It’s very fucking cliché, but life presents doors of opportunity that open, and if you say no then that door closes and I believe that by closing that door, it cuts off something in the universe. So unless the door opening is somebody asking you to do crack or something, you should say yes to the opportunity. Because what is there to lose? You’re gonna do something and meet people who are probably gonna be cool and friendly and make you happy or introduce you to other people who are going to do that. So I feel like that’s maybe why I’ve been able to just do things. I told myself that that’s the way life works. You’ve just got to keep on saying yes to the opportunities because they’ll probably keep on leading to more really great things.
So embrace every opportunity?
Yeah, cause they’re gonna take you all over the place, and that’s awesome. We’re not meant to stay in one place. I feel like we’re supposed to do and see as much as we can or else it wouldn’t be here for us.
Your second album is due out next spring. What can we expect from it?
A lot of honesty and strength. I’ve had a really fucking weird life with a lot of chances to do a lot of cool things that I am thankful for every single day. And the thing that I’ve learned is that we’re all really strong, cause we’re all constantly dealing with things that we don’t wanna be dealing with. It makes us really fucking strong and that’s what I wanted this to be about. It had also been a really fucking long time since I had heard a record about enjoying your life but also honoring the shitty moments too. I wanted to create something resembling the strength that I know I’ve gained and that we’re all gaining, especially living in the weird in-between that we’re at right now.
How do you mean?
It’s a really weird time right now with life and economy and politics. The government shutting down in America - what does that fucking mean? The whole thing is such a weird in-between. It’s been this way for a couple of years now and I just wanted to make something that makes people happy. Everyone just needs to love each other. I know that’s all like Janis Joplin hippy-dippy shit but it’s so true. I feel like there’s all this negativity floating around trying to fuck up everybody’s mojo, and I feel like music is maybe the only way to combat it. You know, cause music is so genuine and so sincere – it comes from a place that’s not trying to be too spiritual or too this or too that. But actually, it ends up being the most spiritual thing 'cause it’s just so genuine. I’m trying to make people feeling fucking awesome all the time, and I hope that’s what the album does.