For some conversations you need a proper partner. You can bullshit with practically anybody, but for something real, there are only so many people you can talk to. The same goes for interviews: irrelevant, secondary, generic, superficial – how many of them clog how many countless YouTube channels? Sure, they’re needed, the stars need them, the media need them, and the fans and followers need them, too. Just for fun, for the media appearances, for the audience’s light pleasures. But what if you have someone waiting to be interviewed who has something important to say and who would actually like (or even strive) to share it? And what if you have an interviewer who has something to say, too? What if these two personalities meet and get to sit down to talk. Ever saw two people talking with bursts of sparks jumping in the air between them? If you like this kind of energy, you’ll appreciate the interview Nic Harcourt did with LP back in 2016.
Still frame from the video of Nic Harcourt interviewing LP
The interesting thing about Nic’s programme is that his guests are invited to exactly the same set of 21 questions. Meaning, every single person is asked exactly what the others were. One could think that this might turn out generic, that it’s a gimmick, a journalist’s clever idea, easy to get away with, to invest little and to get a huge return. Well, maybe sometimes that might be the case, but so not here. The thing is, these questions may be the same, but they are in fact a tool for something more. And it doesn’t seem like the goal is to get the answers for these 21 questions, but that they are, rather, merely a good pretext. They are there to open the interviewee for their stories. And whenever allowed, Nic digs deeper into each answer but, once he senses some vulnerability, he respects his guest’s boundaries and lets them say only however much they want to share. Now, that is a bit of beautiful journalistic work.
The questions are tailored to be relevant, yet not heavy. And so, in their conversation, LP laughs a lot, but in the meantime talks about her attitude, her mindset, her dreams and her memories, and the difficulties she has faced. Then she goes on to talk about heroes, happiness, the importance of music… For us, this is definitely one of the most interesting interviews LP has ever given. Again, we can’t help but notice that beautiful synergy between LP and an experienced journalist, one who really has something to say. It’s always exciting to observe that. And always a pleasure to watch.
Nic Harcourt: I’m Nic Harcourt and this is Transmissions coming to you from the WorldArt stage in Los Angeles, California and our guest is LP. Thanks for coming and playing.
LP: I’m very happy to be here.
NH: 21 questions.
NH: You’re ready?
LP: Fantastic. Yes.
NH: OK. You sound really excited. Your first musical memory.
LP: Well… Oh, I think singing some little song in nursery school or something… Some song you had to sing in America, you know.
NH: You don’t remember what it was?
LP: I think it was “This Land is Your Land” or something like that. And my mom singing to me, for sure.
NH: When was the moment that you knew that music was something that you wanted to do?
LP: It was a little bit after my mother passed away and I just felt like… I don’t know… I just felt like life was short, and that I could do better in life, just emotionally, and win my own psyche in life if I just did what I loved instead of doing what my father wanted me to do, like be a doctor.
NH: Do you mind if I ask how old you were when that occurred to you?
LP: I was a teenager, about eighteen.
NH: And had you already been doing music, but not thinking it was something…?
LP: No… I mean, I sang, you know, I knew I was good in singing, but I did a lot of different stuff and I was decent in school. I have an older brother who is a brain surgeon, so that’s the kind of family I came from.
LP: Very much about academics.
NH: What was your first musical instrument?
LP: I guess, guitar. I really wanted to play guitar. The problem was, I feel like I got a late start, because I had that problem in bands. If you could sing really well, they just want you to sing. Your friends want their job to be secure, I guess. So, yeah, guitar.
NH: Do you remember the first song that you sang or played, apart from the nursery one?
LP: On guitar? Geez, on guitar. Probably, “Hard Day’s Night.” Yeah.
NH: Who is your favorite artist, dead or alive, that does what you do?
LP: I have so many it’s hard to do it definitively, like “That guy, or that woman.” But I feel like… I feel like Robert Plant kind of really… I like how he gets really possessed.
NH: We were just talking about Robert Plant before we started rolling cameras. It’s the flat stomach.
LP: It’s the guy that plays him on final that I really think is the guy.
NH: Robert Plant’s got a unique voice, obviously, is that why?
LP: Yeah, he’s got a unique voice and he just epitomizes that kind of rock and roll… Lost in it, kind of completely, like taken away by the rock gods, I guess. It’s such a sexy band to me.
NH: Led Zeppelin.
NH: I had an opportunity to interview him, a few years ago now, and I just can’t get his character from “Almost Famous” out of my head whenever I think about Robert Plant.
NH: Yeah. Upon the rooftop…
LP: Oh, oh that. Yeah, is that…?
NH: That’s supposed to be him.
LP: That’s him?
LP: I mean, there were a lot of drugs involved, I mean…
NH: Yeah. If you didn’t do this…
NH: Sure. If you didn’t do drugs, ‘cause you’re high now obviously…
LP: So high.
NH: If you didn’t do what you do, if you didn’t sing, play guitar, ukulele, what would or could you do?
LP: I probably would be a doctor, to be honest with you. I find it interesting. I hated school, but you know… And I also think I might have gone back to… I might have done something else, something random, you know, business-wise and then… come back to school and be a doctor. I feel like music helps people and I like to be involved with people’s well-being. So I’d like to do something along that line.
NH: What’s your idea of happiness?
LP: I think having people around me, first and foremost, in my personal life, that make me feel at ease. And that I’m safe and happy, and it’s good. Really good friends, wine, women and song, basically. And I really have to say, when I feel I’m on to something with a song and I’m in that stage where I’m gonna have something that I’m gonna love. That’s a really happy moment, ‘cause I write songs for other people and I think there’s so many songs that… I don’t think in my head, like “Ah, it isn’t going anywhere,” but I know that probably 80% at least of the songs I’m writing are possibly not gonna see the light of day. So when I’m on to what I know – sometimes I don’t know and they do, anyway – they see the light of day, and then some… But when I know that something is really good, that’s happiness. For sure.
NH: What’s your idea of misery?
LP: Oh, take away all those things. Negate all those things. I mean, I went through a really bad break up and that was pretty miserable. You know, doubting yourself and not feeling loved properly. Pretty miserable. Losing people.
NH: Are you somebody whose confidence can get hit by that kind of stuff?
LP: Yeah. I can go into a sinkhole if I’m not careful, I have like… I have this (shows a flat line), but I also have a (shows ups and downs)… I have to be careful with that.
NH: Let’s talk heroes. Male hero.
LP: I will go with James Baldwin. The author. Love that guy. Badass.
NH: Ok. Female hero.
LP: My mom, for sure.
NH: Tell me why.
LP: I think because she definitely had a difficult life and was not happy a lot and put a lot of love and joy and happiness into my brother and I. She taught me a lot of stuff.
NH: What’s your favorite place on earth?
LP: My favorite place on earth – the happy place. I don’t know. My favorite place on earth. I like Mexico City right now, it’s fun. It’s a cool place.
NH: If you’re on a desert Island, you’ve got one thing, what is sit?
LP: Oh my God! I guess I’d like to have my guitar, my ukulele. I guess it gets really boring.
NH: If you run the world…
LP: If I run the world!
NH: You could do anything…
LP: I can do anything…
NH: What’s the first thing you do?
LP: Oh my God. Mandatory happy hour! Or no! Four day week day!
NH: Four day work week.
LP: Four day work week. It doesn’t matter to me, ‘cause my life is basically a vacation, it feels like, half the time. I mean, I’m the luckiest bastard alive.
Still frame from the video of Nic Harcourt interviewing LP
NH: If you had a super power, what would it be?
LP: I think I would love to be able to time travel and be a… Occupy any body I wanted to, you know. Fly, be an eagle. Turn into things.
NH: So, like a doctor who could become something else?
LP: No, that guy was… that he could become other things?
NH: He’s a time traveler, man.
LP: All right, yeah. But I wanna become like other animals and stuff. You know, just rock into an eagle and go over the Grand Canyon.
NH: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
LP: I’m a night owl, but… I’ve got a dog recently, so I’ve become more of a morning person than I would have liked. But it’s nice to experience both sides, you know.
NH: Is it easier to write a love song or a revenge song?
LP: I think when you have something actually real to write, like, a revenge song, it’s easier. If you’re, making it up, like sometimes you’re not feeling those emotions, I can’t go really deep on them.
NH: Do you work shit out through your lyrics?
LP: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, actually, probably the happy song is the easier song, ‘cause when I’m stoked I can, you know, but I… I feel like it… It really depends on where I’m at and what the experiences were. I need to process things, you know, like when I’m in the thick of being super happy or super sad, I can’t articulate properly, musically or lyrically.
NH: Digital or analogue?
LP: Well… I think analogue is great for when I’m actually recording, but digital is so helpful in the writing game. It’s like we were saying earlier about adapting. I can go all day long about: “yeah, vinyl!” but, you, know, it’s not like the speediest operation in the world. I’m glad they both exist.
NH: Do you have any preferred program or system that you use?
LP: Pretty much cool between Logic and ProTools, it depends.
NH: Do you have a before-show or before-recording in studio ritual, when you’re about to create?
LP: I have to do vocal warm-ups. I studied opera and stuff, so I’ve got scales and there’s this half hour that I absolutely have to do. I have that crazy nightmare that you get when you have to go on stage and I can’t find my phone to do my warm-ups and I’m just like “Aaaaargh, man!” Yeah, so I have to warm up. But other than that, once I warm up, I can hang with people or I can do whatever.
NH: Have you ever seen anything backstage or on the road that you wish you hadn’t?
LP: I think I sometimes see people not being grateful for what they have.
NH: Expand on that a little. You don’t have to give names.
LP: People a little bit bogged down with “Aaah, this is not right” or “This is hard.” And I’ve had, myself, to deal with a lot of pretty junky situations and now, when I see people, that have it good or a little, like, you know… I’m like – I don’t like to see that, it bums me out.
NH: What’s the title of the movie of your life?
LP: “The Longest Winding Road?” Who knows.
NH: What’s your current state of mind?
LP: I feel good. Yeah, I feel really good. And just… I feel really lucky and good.
NH: ‘Cause you’ve been talking to me, obviously.
LP: Oh yeah, man! It’s blowing out of you, thanks!
NH: Thank you.