If we had to put a face to songs with melodies that make one feel good but with an underlying emotional quality to them, Lauv would definitely make the cut. The 26-year-old American singer-songwriter is highly skilled at writing songs about heartbreak and mental health, and then crafting them out as synth-heavy hit songs one would unknowingly groove too.
Chatting with us from his home in Los Angeles, California, Lauv shared with us his journey thus far with respect to his burgeoning musical career, mental health advocacy, how he creates those irresistible hooks, as well as what's in store for the future. Here are some of the things we learned about Ari Leff, better known as Lauv.
He recently went on a group therapy retreat
"Yeah. I've had a few low points where I have just gotten into bouts of depression and stuff. I went away to a very small group therapy retreat. That was like super important for me—social-distancing and all, which was really interesting," Lauv reveals.
The mental health advocate looked to meditation and being present in appreciating the positives, to keep spirits up while socially distancing at home. In addition to that, Lauv says that he's been focusing on his personal life—reaching out to friends and making an effort to talk to them more. But, as with most of us, he admits to "working way more than I like".
Being home has afforded him time to write a lot of songs
Which has been a positive for him creatively. "This next album I'm working on, I'll probably have written at least 50 songs for it; I've been writing so many songs! In a good week, I'll write like maybe more than five songs," Lauv reveals.
But don't expect to hear the album anytime soon. His first full album, ~how i'm feeling~, was only released March of 2020 and because of the pandemic, Lauv hasn't had the chance to tour the album yet. And of course, like a true artist, he tells us that the next album will be ready and pushed out when it's ready.
Sensitive but also honest and real
The person behind those upbeat sad songs is as sensitive as the softer nuances in his voice. Lauv got real and honest when talking about having pressure for himself to be successful at a young age, and consciously wanting to appeal to others at the expense of his true self.
"When I was probably going from 8th grade into high school, I started to not feel very cool. And I started to be like 'I need to start working out; I have to look better; I have to do this and that'—I think a lot of people go through that. I think I just kind of got stuck in this loop of trying to be something for somebody else instead of being who I am," he admits.
Now, the musician is as authentic as one could possibly be and continues to work on it. His ever-changing fashion sense and hair colours (he says that they're done on impulse) is perhaps a reflection of that attitude.
He keeps others informed if there are songs that have been written about them
"And I try not to do it just to do it, you know? The songs that I put out that might be about certain people, I do them because I play them for other people and they're like, 'Oh my god! I resonate with this so much. The world needs to hear it.' And that's why I'm here," Lauv reasons. "If a song can do something cool for somebody, like meaningful, then I've done my job."
Collaborations with other artists are usually organic
Lauv is no stranger to collaborating with some of the biggest names in the business. He's written for pop legends Celine Dion and Backstreet Boys, and have also released singles with Ellie Goulding, Troye Sivan, BTS (only the biggest K-pop boyband right now) and most recently Conan Gray on 'Fake'.
Yet, he insists that they're mostly the result of meeting and then having connections, rather than a calculated move. His latest single with Gray for example, happened after the two appeared on an online festival together and Lauv became a fan of his talent.
He's forged a friendship with a Singapore-based photographer
"I love him! He's like one of the best people on the planet, and so talented. I forgot how we met; I don't remember but we worked together a good amount. And he's just such positive energy," Lauv says of photographer Lee Yik Keat, better known as YK.
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He used to "suck at singing"
That's clearly hard to believe, especially when one listens to the acoustic versions of his songs or even from watching his live performances. Lauv took vocal lessons and then learned how to use his voice the way it was meant to be. "I used to try to force it to be something, and then I kind of learned how to work with my own voice," he says.
And it's evidently worked, if the more than one billion streams of 'I Like Me Better' on Spotify is any indication.