One of the first new talents we ever introduced on these pages was Laurel Arnell-Cullen, or simply Laurel. In her teens she possessed a maturity of voice and word that blew us away, and it’s been a pleasure to see that develop over the years. As she releases her latest – and arguably most confident – track Hurricane, we finally managed to question her on music, inspirations and, er, Greggs…
Crikey, we feel like we’ve been with you from day one. What’s the journey been like from Blue Blood to Hurricane?
Feels like a whole other lifetime. I wrote Blue Blood four years ago now and the change in me as a person and the stuff I’m writing, and I guess what I stand for now, is immensely different. Even my voice is so different, it feels like another person to me.
You’ve been writing from quite early on – 12, was it? What do you even write about at that age?
The first song I wrote was called My Star about someone going to heaven and watching over you. I couldn’t even play the keyboard or anything then so I would just write lyrics and have to try to remember how they went. Probably sung differently every single time I sung it – to probably anyone who would listen too.
Who were you inspired by growing up?
Britney was my first time inspiration as a kid, like everybody else, I always thought I wanted to be a popstar. Then when I was 13 I heard Laura Marling, I guess she wasn’t even that much older than me at the time – her lyrics were so beautiful and poetic and that’s when I realised really what I wanted to do. Through her music I found loads of other similar acts like Johnny Flynn and Jay Jay Pistolet and that’s when I bought an acoustic guitar! Well, Father Christmas did.
A lot of your stuff does have quite an emotional heft and a dark undertone. Where does that come from?
I tend to feel quite hard. Most creative people do. I guess I blow things out of proportion, indulge in any sort of feeling, whether it be happiness, or sadness. Contentment is not my friend, nor my songwriting mind’s.
What about writing for other people – is it something you do or would consider?
Yeah I have written a few things for other people before. I enjoy it, it’s quite nice because you don’t have to focus so heavily on what it is you want, and your vision, but to be honest with mixing, producing and writing on my own I just don’t have time to even finish my record.
“Contentment is not my friend, nor my songwriting mind’s”
Speaking of other artists earlier: did the early Lana comparisons ever bother you?
Yeah, it’s hard to forge your own career when you are being so heavily compared to a huge massive star. It’s nice to see these days people don’t have so many comparisons for the music and just seem to write about it for what it is. Happy days.
Tell us about Hurricane, its video, and the forthcoming collection it’s part of.
The video I shot with my mate Felix, we literally just messed around. I had a gnarly hangover, we ate Greggs, drunk some wine and ended up shouting poetry to each other across Greenwich Park. Music videos seem to be quite stressy things to make sometimes, it’s like making a short film on no budget in a day, so I just didn’t want to do that, so me and Felix just hung out with his camera instead.
The song itself I’m not sure how it ended up sounding like it did. With songs I feel like they each have their own vibe from the start and you have to just let them happen and flow with whichever direction they take you, and with Hurricane this is how it ended up! The whole collective on the EP is actually I guess a little rockier too, they follow a story from start to end of a little section of my life recently, so listen carefully for the lyrics.
Side note from the early-day tweets: do you still love mozzarella to death? This is important to know.
I’m actually onto prawns now. I have little food obsessions and then I run them dry and never eat them again. I eat prawns in every meal now, I can’t believe at 22 I have only just tried them. Never do anything by half measures.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Father John Misty, lots of him. Lots of Mac DeMarco, some Talking Heads always, and obviously some Fleetwood cause Stevie Nicks champions every single voice in the world.
Finally: what’s your favourite Beyonce song?
Ah, dont hate me but I’m just not really into that sort of music!