One of the weirdest things about the emergence of musicians today is that you get to watch them grow up online in real time. This sits at the forefront of my mind when I chat to singer and producer Lauren Auder over the phone, because he’s a good example of an artist whose trajectory exists on the internet. We first spoke in 2015 when he was 17 and living on the outer edges of a small village in southern France, then again a year later right before he left school and moved to London, and again now, almost two years after that. When I first heard him he was a teen making weird, brooding beats in his bedroom and uploading them to Soundcloud. Now he’s 20 years old, signed to True Panther Sounds (home to King Krule, Abra, and SHLOHMO) and has his first proper EP, Who Carry's You, out March 16. We’re premiering a track off that EP, “Choices,” below. What a difference three years make.
“To be honest, since we last spoke it’s been kind of crazy,” he says, his familiar drawl crackling down the phone line, this time with a very slight but noticeable London twang. I’ve caught him just after breakfast—he spent the morning at a caff having a full English with all the trimmings—and now he seems kind of energised. Or maybe it’s just the prospect of this new EP. “Back then I was in discussion with True Panther, and after that it all came together. Then I spent a while in New York trying to invent what my music should be. At the time I was unaware of what I truly wanted to do, and where I wanted to go, so that was the main process. Since then I’ve moved to London and built a certain network of people who I want to work with, and friendships I want to have. And I think—I hope—that this is the best music I’ve made so far.”
He’s right: it is the best music he’s made so far. Consisting of five tracks, the EP is a concise brushstroke of religious imagery, heartfelt strings and intricate, spidery electronics. Auder’s voice is still deep and meandering, with a touch of King Krule about it, but it’s bolder now somehow; perhaps the result of getting older and more confident, or maybe just the result of cleaner production. “Choices” is the record’s opener and it’s also arguably the richest and most atmospheric of the collection, with sparse vocals that gradually build into a crescendo of organs, horns, electronic strings and distorted beats. “To me it felt like a true introduction to the timeless, spaceless world I wanted to create with this record,” Auder tells me, speaking about the track. “There are various things [in “Choices”] that you will find across the record, like the orchestral elements. I wanted it to answer some of the questions people have been asking me – to set the scene. It’s also co-produced by DVIANCE, who is my main collaborator for this record.”
Lyrically, Auder is just as romantic and folkloric as ever, spinning narratives that could exist in any context, from ancient Roman mythology to what your mate regaled about their Tinder date last weekend over pints. “I think it’s just my way of trying to make sense of things I can’t really comprehend in a normal light,” Auder says, when I ask why he’s drawn this dreamy, often biblical imagery. “I’m trying to find comprehension, but possibly in a way that’s poetic or grandiose. I’m also just drawn to these ideas in the old traditional sense of myths and using these grand narratives to explain things, whether it’s natural phenomenon or elements of one’s own life. That’s really where I’m coming from; I like blending the old and the new.”
While Auder has been working towards this EP for quite some time, he doesn’t view it as a full stop, or even as a precursor to a breather, but rather the first in a long and productive process. “When you start to do what you really love, it ends up being a constant thing, there is no defining work,” he says in answer to the question of how he will spend the summer ahead. “I’ll just keep making more and more music, working towards more and more shows and try and stay as productive as humanly possible. That’s how it’s going to go.” And coming from somebody who I have seen cultivating and curating his own sonic universe from the age most of us are learning how to inhale our first joints in between GCSE coursework, I really don’t doubt it.
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You can catch Lauren at Rye Wax in Peckham, London, on Wednesday 28th March
This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.