I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Hoffman shortly after her latest release with The Secret Storm, Family Ghosts, January 21st. Give them a listen on their Bandcamp
Have you felt any pressure, having written music for a long time to try and keep up with the ever growing music industry? Personally, I think you have a timeless sound and evidently you have stuck with that with your previous releases and newer ones (which is awesome.)
Thank you! Well, when I am writing and arranging and producing songs, I don’t think about the world and how it will be received; I think about the song and what it needs. It always feels like a very organic process of the song being revealed to me, and when I (or now, we, the band) get it right, it just seems obvious. As in, the drum beat should be like this, or the guitar sound should be like that, because that’s “what the song wants”. So, no, not in that way I don’t try to keep up… But the music industry has changed a lot since I started. When my first album came out it was the first moments of Napster, and MTV still played videos and broke bands. It was a very different game back then, but much of how the industry works now is still built on the old game. But I just do the best I can to keep up and make sure I do what I can to let people know about the music.
When did you first discover a love for music, do you remember that specific song or artist that set it off or was it something that you’ve felt has always been there?
My dad was obsessed with music when I was little, and we didn’t have a TV in our house, just record players and guitars. So the first music that I remember loving was The Beatles and Bob Marley, stuff that my parents played. Then in about 1984/1985 when I about 7 or 8, I became got into artists like Cyndi Lauper, Tears For Fears, and Prince. ’80s pop and new wave were MY music, and I loved that my parents hated it! But yeah, that’s a way of saying: it’s always been there. My love for music and drive to write and play music is the central pillar of my life.
You seem to have a fantastic way with words when it comes to your lyrics, what would you say inspires you the most when writing new songs?
Oh thank you so much!! In many ways I would say that I have more of a ‘writer’ personality than a ‘performer’ personality. I’ve learned to love performing, but for me the real magic has always been in the writing. Songs are a special kind of writing because the words are only a part, and you use the music – the key, the tempo, etc – to help convey the emotion of the story. But what inspires me the most is simply the human experience. We humans have so much in common and yet we are each unique. We feel life must have meaning, and yet we know that we all will die. Life itself is a crazy thing to grapple with! And I think that’s what art and music are for, they are places to grapple with our existence, and to feel big feelings, and as unanswerable questions, to feel connected and known, but also special and unique, as each of us are.
Have you got any moments that have stuck with you from when you’ve done shows, something that’s made you laugh or made you have to compose yourself?
I am often laughing between songs at shows! Which is slightly weird I guess because the music is mostly quite serious… But a moment onstage that was really funny and awesome all the way through was one Halloween when we dressed up as early Guns N Roses and played several songs off of Appetite for Destruction. I had so much fun being Axl! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to sing and I didn’t do a great job because the whole thing was so bizarre and awesome I could barely breath!
In one sentence, what’s the obscurist way you can describe your music?
John Lennon reincarnated as a woman who writes soundtracks to movie adaptations of Milan Kundera’s books.
What would you say have been your main influences through the years of making music?
My dad, my relationships, existential angst… But if you mean musical artists, I would say The Beatles, PJ Harvey, The Cure, Sinead O’conner, Nine Inch Nails, Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday, and Jeff Buckley.
What has been you favourite show you’ve ever done?
Well, I didn’t really enjoy playing live until I put together this current band. I used to mostly play solo and it wasn’t nearly as satisfying. I’ve loved so many of our shows, but my favorite right now is the Pajama Dance Party we played on New Year’s Eve. We played a short set and debuted our new song “A Friend For The Apocalypse”. The crowd was SUPER into it and we had a blast!
What song represents you best, be it one you have written or a song that has been done by another artist?
“Chelsea Hotel #2” by Leonard Cohen