Image courtesy of Lauren Tsai

Lauren Tsai's playlist of music to make art to

The ‘Terrace House’ and 'Moxie' star talks us through this eclectic mix of creatively-inspiring music.

by Frankie Dunn
06 August 2021, 10:11am

Image courtesy of Lauren Tsai

A little over a month ago, having wrapped promo for her latest Netflix show Moxie, artist and actor Lauren Tsai left Los Angeles. “Since then, home’s been nowhere,” she tells us, “but it feels really good.” She’s been staying in Massachusetts, where she lived as a young child before moving to Hawaii. It’s a place where she “loves how things look”. Taking some downtime to reset before travelling for an upcoming acting job, 23-year-old Lauren has been spending her days drawing and listening to music

“I feel a lot lighter this year,” Lauren tells us. “A lot less internal pressure. I think this is the first time that I really feel my life passing… not in a depressing way, but in a way that makes me want to care for myself and really enjoy the moment without any expectations. I feel a lot more connected to the world.” 

It will come as no surprise to those who got to know Lauren through Netflix’s 2017 series Terrace House: Aloha State — on which she first shared her ambitions of pursuing a career as an artist — that she’s got a number of creative projects in the pipeline. She’s part of an exhibition opening at Santa Monica’s Richard Heller Gallery on 7 August called My Sweet Doppelgänger, and has an exciting new artwork on the go at the moment. “I’ve been working on putting a story of mine down onto paper,” she says. “It’s been knocking around in my head for the past few years, so I’m excited and nervous to see how it comes out when I draw it.” Lauren’s work typically manifests as creepy beautiful scenes depicting her doll-like alter figure in landscapes of twisted mythical creatures. It’s pretty special.

What kind of songs are soundtracking the creation of such magic, you’re probably wondering? We were too, which is why we asked Lauren to make us a playlist of exactly that. Press play and read on as we catch up with the talented artist.

Hi Lauren! Tell us about the playlist you curated for i-D.
This is a bunch of stuff I’ve been listening to recently while I draw! Or drive. I wanted it to have some sort of a theme or flow of emotions between the tracks, but I ended up putting in an array of things that I think speak to how I’ve been feeling recently in one way or another.

Do you have a favourite track from your selection? 
I’m really into tricot right now! Their music makes me feel nostalgic and eager for the future. I also really like Space Art. I’ve been listening to a lot of French music from the 70s and 80s recently, mostly movie soundtracks. 

How do you set up the right environment to create in? How does it look, sound and feel? 
I love being alone to work, but I also feel especially productive when I’m around people at a coffee shop. I missed that during the lockdowns, so I’ve been spending a lot of my time at cafes working. Now that I’m back to travelling again, my iPad, notebook, sketchbook and headphones are my safe constant. Normally I work at my desk at home, but it’s in storage now. I miss that too. You always miss what’s gone, lol. I felt at peace there with the things I collected.

And if your art isn't flowing, where do you look for inspiration? 
The past, usually. I try to dig up things I haven’t fully processed and want to revisit. I think you have to just let your mind go where it craves. Without judgement. There’s always truth there.

On top of your work as an artist, you act and have modelled. Do you think your other jobs have influenced your art and vice versa? 
Modelling took me to so many places and put me in so many situations that taught me about who I am. I definitely would not be me right now, doing what I’m doing right now, if the path had been a different one. Through acting and being in the presence of other artists here in LA, I‘ve broadened my view of myself as an artist. Watching people dive into their own worlds, in whatever medium that may be, has inspired me to believe in my ability to reach towards what I ultimately dream of creating. Sometimes my ambitions are clear to me and sometimes they’re not and what remains is just a feeling, but it all makes me feel alive.

What do you now know about the act of creation, and working in the creative industry in general, that you wish you had known when you were starting out?
Put yourself into everything you do. Even jobs you don’t care for and projects you find yourself doing for the money or as a means of getting somewhere else. Every job is an opportunity to show who you are to whoever it reaches. There are a lot of projects I wish I had given more to and put my own voice into. Also, oftentimes I am just filling the spaces of my life with art, not making anything necessarily moving to me. But I think that anything you want to make is worth making. And will lead you to incredible things. 

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