Laurel Sorenson, front-woman of the band Laurel and the Love-In, has a unique bluesy-rock voice that flows beautifully within the context of her lyrics. Laurel and the Love-In is a Nashville based band that just released their first album “Don’t Love Nobody,” which exemplifies a perfect entrance into the Nashville music scene. Also the co-founder of Babe Booking, an event planning company that focuses on women breaking into the music industry, Laurel Sorenson spoke with Inspirer about her passion for music, new album, and what it’s like to be a female starting out in the music industry.
You’re from California, what brought you to Nashville and how is the music scene different in Nashville than California?
Well, I came to Nashville because I knew that it was a scene that would be different, and that would be more of what I was looking for. I had listened to a lot of interviews from musicians that I had admired, and they had all said that Nashville was a community that they really loved and that being in a place where everybody is moving there for their art is a really supportive place to be. The scene that I grew up in California, outside of coffee shops and stuff there wasn’t really a scene for me to play in. Especially for someone who at the time was under 21. I kind of hadn’t found my people musically and so moving to Nashville was this whole other vibe where it was competitive, but we’re all going to help each other do our best work.
How long have you been passionate about music?
Really since as long as I can remember, it’s always been something that has been moving for me and that I’ve been just really drawn to. I started playing piano when I was nine and then around when I was 16 is really when I started to sing and write songs.
As a young and talented female, how has it been breaking into the music industry?
I realize that not everybody, especially female musicians, gets the opportunity to be in bands so young like a lot of the guys do, but I had always kind of hung out with a lot of dudes in high school. So, I had the good fortune to be in a couple of different bands when I was in high school. But then when I got to college, I realized that while there are a lot of female musicians, a lot of them might not have the same resources to be in a band. There were a lot more female solo artists who I had met and in putting together a band when I first moved to Nashville, there were a lot of people that definitely had a lot of misconceptions about me because I’m a chick and they thought that I would be an acoustic guitar girl, or a folk singer, or not want to be in a band, but just want to be a solo artist. That was so not who I am. People would put me and the band that I was in on bills with people just because they were also female, even though the music did not vibe. We wouldn’t be a consistent, cohesive lineup. That’s where my roommate, Emma Morcroft, and I started this thing called Babe Booking because we wanted to put together shows by women, for women, that would be about the music and not just “Oh, let’s let the girls play for once.” We really wanted to empower this community of women that weren’t getting heard.
Your debut record “Don’t Love Nobody” was just recently released. What was the inspiration behind it?
There were a lot of things. A lot of it was my own experiences and going through different periods of times with boyfriends and being single, and realizing these misconceptions that were fed through books and movies, and music about how things are supposed to be. How if you behave one way then you’ll feel a certain way. Realizing that those things were just not true, I wanted to make a record that was really honest about what it’s like to be in and out of various relationships. As well as being an empowered single woman, because there are a lot of woman that I know that are really strong and independent but they’re afraid sometimes to be without a boyfriend because they think that being single is being alone — which isn’t true. A lot of the record is that kind of self-discovery of it’s okay to be vulnerable and it’s okay to accept however you’re feeling. It’s all different personal experiences and this illusion that was a lot of the stuff that I’ve heard in music, read, and seen in movies.
The record was recorded at Blackbird Studio in Nashville. What was the experience like working in the studio on your first album?
Oh my gosh, it was amazing! Blackbird is such a historic, important studio. They really do treat the artist kind of in the old school way. The artist is the star and we’re going to provide only the best for them. So, I was really appreciative to be there because they have really great gear, really awesome rooms, and everybody who was working there was really supportive of us. It was weird just being this rock and roll band that are normally in nasty clubs and venues where the bathroom door doesn’t always close and now we’re in this super nice studio with people bringing us food. We where like “Oh man!”
I’m sure the experience working in Nashville in the studio would have been definitely different than say LA, or New York. How do you think it would have been different working elsewhere, and are you happy that you chose Nashville?
I’m beyond ecstatic that I chose Nashville! This is absolutely the place to be for our kind of music, and for my personality as well as the personality of our band. We have all the different members because everybody has a project and everybody is really passionate about it. In terms of the studio, the reason that we were able to record at Blackbird at all is because of friends that we knew. So, being able to build up that community has been really important for us, and I know that that’s pretty Nashville specific about everybody being so willing to help one another.
What made you decide to introduce “Got A Light” and “Gonna Do” as singles off of the album?
In writing “Gonna Do”, that was when we really found our sound. I had written a bunch of songs that we had been playing in an old set and I was kind of bored of them. It was making me really disillusioned and angry because these songs that I used to really care about all of a sudden, weren’t conveying what I felt. When we wrote “Gonna Do,” it was like “This is our sound!” — and we found who we were. From “Gonna Do”, it spawned “Got A Light,” and “Can’t Wait.” Those were all written within a couple of weeks of one another. That became our signature, and with “Gonna Do” and “Got a Light” it was like “Hey world, here’s who we are now!”
What was the most challenging part of creating this album?
Probably getting everybody to be there and arranging seven people’s schedules from who is recording to our producer and engineer Don Bates; who is amazing, and really accommodating, but getting everybody in the same room to record together was tough. At the time I was working a lot — I would go from school to work and then to record. I’d be recording until midnight or one, you have to wake up and do it all again. It was really physically straining trying to go, go, go for all of those hours, also emotionally draining. Even the honesty of the record, and having to revisit all of the stories that make up the concept of the record was tough. That was probably the hardest part, actually getting into the studio to record and getting it done especially because we didn’t use any pitch correction. I wanted it to be raw, honest, and real. If there were notes that I hit that sounded wacky — that’s how I sing it and that’s how it’s going to be. So, not having that to fall back on was definitely a big push.
Out of the 11 songs on the album, do you have a favorite or is that too hard to choose?
It depends on the context. For songs that I’m really proud of, like “Let My Heart” is one that I’m really proud of because I was really honest with myself and that was hard. “Want You For Your Body” and “Big Bad Wolf” are my favorites to play live sometimes just because the reactions they get are so fun that I get to really be a part of it.
How has the feedback been since you released the album?
The feedback has been awesome! The people who we’ve been getting the most feedback from are people who have been part of the process the entire time. I had been working on writing all of the songs for about a year and a half. So, to have all of the people who heard the songs in their earlier stages, even if there wasn’t any melody and it was just the lyric, being able to show them the full album they were just blown away. I’m so grateful for all of the people that were a part of it because it wouldn’t have gotten done without them.
Who are some of your influences in the music industry?
I’m definitely heavily influenced by Jack White. When I was younger, probably like 16, I got really into his music because I had grown up with classic rock. Hearing the stuff that White was working on I was like “Oh my God, this kind of music can exist now in a current form!” Looking at his influences and the influences of different rock and roll people, it really helped me find the blues, which ended up being super important for my development not only as a songwriter but as a singer and as a person. Just being able to be in situations that are dark, hard, or sad and be able to make light of it and laugh about it, have a good time with it. He’s definitely somebody I look up to as well as Grace Potter from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, I think she is a fantastic musician. I love her songs.
Artistically, where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a good question. It’s interesting because the creative development is so organic, and I’ve always known what I wanted to sound like but it’s never really happened until this record, and this band. This dream of this sound was never fully actualized and now it happened — it’s crazy. Now the only thing that I can really aspire to and hope for, and realistically think about now is just maintaining where we started off being — just really honest, raw, and real. There are a lot of bands that after they write a really cool, raw first record start to get into stuff that’s a little more pretentious, not to say it’s not good, but it might just be the same spirit of where they started and I want to maintain that spirit.
Laurel and the Love-In’s new album is available now on Itunes and Spotify.
You can also check out their website http://www.laurelandthelovein.com.