Hot off the release of his 21-track debut album, ~how i'm feeling~, Lauv, is dominating the pop scene with an impressive array of versatility and talent. 25-year-old Ari Leff, known simply as Lauv hit the ground running with the chart-topping track, "I Like Me Better," and his latest songs have garnered the attention of artists from all over. Lauv continues to showcase a more vulnerable and emotional side to modern pop and explores complex emotions through creative expressions and artistically-motivated music.
Given May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, allkpop sat down to chat with Lauv on the global expansion of pop, songwriting, BTS, Eric Nam, and more. Check out the interview below!
allkpop: As Asian music works its way into the forefront of American culture, we frequently have found you in the limelight as a collaborator and supporter of international artists. Share with us a little about your perspective on the globalization of music like K-Pop.
Lauv: I guess I’ve never really thought that music should be looked at differently depending on where it’s from. I think it’s really special that in today’s world, different cultures can come together all over the world and be appreciated through their art. I think the best part of the globalization of everything in the world is that things (like music) can be appreciated from all over the world and cultures can have a light shed on them no matter where we are. So I think that’s really special.
In terms of my collaborations, I’ve never set out to do anything in particular. I always feel like collaboration should happen in as natural a way as possible. For example, when I worked with BTS, that happened as a result of me meeting them.
akp: Tell us about your experience of creating these songs on a cross-cultural scale. What makes the music unique? Does the songwriting and production process differ when working with artists outside of the US mainstream?
Lauv: That’s a good question. I feel like my process is always pretty similar. It’s: have fun and do what comes naturally. Whether that means it’s a song just myself or if it’s with somebody else. (I just) Let them do what’s natural to them, you know? And it comes together in whatever way it does. I can’t think about things too much and differentiate them because then I get really in my own way and it becomes really forced. So I just try to keep the same process.
akp: Have you ever had a hard time navigating the industry when vouching for yourself or your international collaborator’s music and ideas?
Lauv: I’ve actually mostly experienced that people are really accepting. I haven’t personally experienced a lot of xenophobia. Maybe at its worst, people are like, “Wow I don’t know how this happened.” I think a lot of people still don’t know a lot about K-Pop culture. But, for the most part, people that I’ve spoken to in interviews and friends, family, other artists have all been really supportive. I feel like a lot of people and people I surround myself with feel the same as me in that they don’t think people should be looked at differently or the music should be looked at differently because it’s from a culture that’s unique from ours. It should be appreciated and accepted for how it is and that’s mostly my experience.
akp: You’ve also worked with other artists that have their roots in K-Pop. From what I understand, you lent a hand in the composition for Eric Nam’s “Runaway”. Share with us the process of writing that track!
Lauv: Yes, Eric is super sweet, very talented. That was a song that I started with some friends of mine and I think Eric heard a demo of and loved it. We didn’t get a chance to actually be in the studio together sadly. I think it was around the time that I was moving, probably. But, I think it turned out amazing and I got to see him play it live a couple years ago and it was super special. Yeah, (I) just think he’s super-talented.
akp: K-Pop fans worldwide were highly anticipating your collaboration with BTS on the track, “Who” off your debut album ~how i'm feeling~. How did you find time in both yours and BTS’s schedule to create this track and how did the creative process work between you all?
Lauv: So, yeah it’s really crazy. I was totally not expecting that song would happen. It was something that kind of came up after they asked me to do the remix of “Make it Right”. It (Make It Right [Lauv Remix]) was such a huge opportunity and a huge honor, so I did that and then I found the demo of “Who” that I made with some other friends of mine and sent it to them. They loved it and recorded it on their own time. We didn’t get a chance to be in the studio together sadly, because obviously the schedules are crazy. I just cherish the opportunity and am really stoked on it.
akp: Share with us a little about "Who" itself - the concept, the message, the execution! This song's release was a hit as soon as it released, were you expecting that given the scale of this meteoric collaboration?
Lauv: The song is about being with somebody who no longer seems like the person you fell in love with. I think the song kind of speaks for itself in that sense. It was a song that I actually wrote with some of my friends in Why Don’t We?, who are really special and super talented writers and obviously artists as well. The song was just a day with some of my friends just honestly having fun. I think we had written another song earlier that day and then “Who” came and I sent it to BTS and Jimin and Jungkook absolutely destroyed it in the best way. They killed it and it was amazing and I’m super stoked on it.
akp: How was working with BTS Jimin and Jungkook?
Lauv: Working with them was amazing. We didn’t get the chance to be in the studio together. But, I choose not to look at stuff like that as a negative. Everyone got a chance to do their thing and it was just an honor to work with them!
akp: Speaking of "Who", K-Pop veteran sensation and all-around diva, Hyolyn recently did a phenomenal cover of “Who”! What did you think of it?
Lauv: It was amazing, it’s really cool to hear a female vocal on that song and just kind of give it a different vibe.
akp: Many Korean artists have done covers of songs by Western artists, if you could cover a track from a Korean artist, what would it be?
Lauv: I actually don’t know. To be honest, I don’t cover songs a lot unless it’s something that I listen to nonstop. So, I think that’s something that could naturally happen in the future and could be really cool and different for me. But, I don’t necessarily have a song that I’m listening to right now that I feel like I could authentically cover and do justice.
akp: Fair enough! So, what’s next for Lauv?
Lauv: I’m working on a ton of new music. I know I just put out my album, but I’m working on a ton, a ton, a ton. Some tour dates (as well) and just vibing and being appreciative of life. Thank you guys so much for the interview!
Many thanks to Lauv for lending some time to talk about K-Pop, globalization of international music, and his latest releases! Check out Lauv’s debut album, ~how i’m feeling~, and be sure to follow him on his Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to stay updated on the latest Lauv releases and announcements!
~how i'm feeling~ is out now in stores and available here on every major streaming platform!