Photo: Courtesy of Supercat PR

Brits in Hot Weather Presents: Lauran Hibberd

There is a palpable buzz surrounding Isle of Wight singer-songwriter Lauran Hibberd. Throughout 2019, she has been capturing hearts with her electrifying live shows, chock full of whip-smart, playful indie-pop songs anthems infused with her wonderfully twisted, caustic wit.

Welcome to the second interview in our spin-off from PopMatters’ Brits in Hot Weather feature. The idea is to get inside the creative minds of up-and-coming British artists to see what makes them tick. This week we are delighted to present the incredible Lauran Hibberd.

There is a palpable buzz surrounding Isle of Wight singer-songwriter Hibberd. Throughout 2019 she has been capturing hearts and rocking bodies with her electrifying live shows, chock full of whip-smart, playful indie-pop songs anthems infused with her wonderfully twisted, caustic wit.

Signaling her talent with 2017’s spiky debut single, “Hunny Is This What Adults Do?” and its follow-up, the fizzing indie-pop of “Call Shotgun”, Hibberd’s career has really pushed on this year. With tours, the length and breadth of the UK, and the release of her debut EP Everything Is Dogs back in September, Hibberd promises to be one of the breakout stars of 2020.

It’s obvious to see why. Hibberd is an artist who articulates the ridiculousness of life, love, and relationships with her razor-sharp, observational lyrics which leave you lolling around on the floor one minute and reaching for the Kleenex the next. That’s one of the reasons she shares such a profound bond with her audience. Like us all, she is just trying to navigate life by putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best. For that reason, every victory, however minor, feels like a win for every single one of her fans. She is an authentic and instantly relatable star in waiting.

Hibberd spoke to PopMatters about the making of Everything Is Dogs, directing her music videos and some of her career highlights to date.

What was the first album you fell head over heels in love with?

I used to be and still am a huge fan of folk music. I have always been obsessed with words and lyrics and could memorize the whole Mr Men catalogue from eight years old. The first album I studied and totally fell for was Laura Marling, Alas I Cannot Swim. I remember it lyrically blowing me away, and I’d just been given an acoustic guitar, and I learned to play the whole thing from start to finish.

When did you know you wanted to pursue making music as a career?

Maybe yesterday, haha! No seriously, I think if you love making music, it doesn’t feel like a career. I’m just pushing for a life where I can do that as much as possible and still survive financially. It’s really the only thing I LOVE doing.

Was it easy for you to let people hear your first compositions?

I was so nervous initially, but that was when I was like 14 and had just started writing songs. Now, at 22, I send my demos around to anyone who will listen. I love hearing people’s thoughts on things. Music is such a collaborative thing, and I rely heavily on the people around me to make sure it’s the best it can be and to be honest with me.

At what point did you think you could make a go of it as a solo artist?

It’s always been my ‘dream’ I guess, but it’s started to feel a bit more real now. Probably about 12 months ago, when I took on a manager and agent – everything really opened up for me. And I was excited about all the opportunities that were coming along. I was like, “ah, is this actually happening!?”

What’s been the reaction like to Everything Is Dogs?

It’s been AMAZING. I woke up on release day and cried because I always cry hahaha. I couldn’t believe how many people were excited by what I was releasing, and it’s the debut EP. My first baby. So it was really important to me. It had some great press and radio support and reviews too, so the response so reassured me.

What are you most proud of with the EP?

I think for me, “Shark Week” was a real turning point. Lyrically, it represented everything I was aiming for, and I felt like it glued the rest of the tracks together. It’s the first song I released in that vein, and it made so much sense to me. I think it was important for me to show I wasn’t just a funny songwriter, and there is a lot of depth to all the tracks. For me, it’s the tracklisting, lyrics, and overall 1990s nod.

Now, you’ve had time with the songs, what is your relationship like with them?

We are pretty tight. I genuinely love the tracks and am super proud of them. So I love playing them live. I love hearing them on vinyl (a purple one). It’s weird because you write stuff in your bedroom and then all of a sudden it’s in loads of other people’s bedrooms. It’s surreal but dead cool.

Do you allow yourself to have favourites?

Yes definitely! Favourites come and go as well. It’s all a phase, really. Today “Hoochie”, tomorrow “Frankie’s Girlfriend”. For me, my two favourite tracks on the EP are “Hoochie” and “Shark Week”. Sentimentally, “Shark Week” has me in its pocket. But “Hoochie”, is the song I always wanted to write. It’s everything I wanted to say that I sounded like in one song.

Is there anything you’d change about any of them?

No, I don’t think so, we play them slightly differently live, but that’s just for fun. I’m so pleased with the production. I work with BOE WEAVER in my hometown on the Isle of Wight. And we spend a lot of time ensuring they are what we want them to be.

What lessons have you learned to take into the making of the next EP/album?

Don’t overthink. I think you have to write and record in the moment you are in, and not think about ‘is this an album track?’ or ‘is this Weezer enough?’ It’s important to give every idea the time of day and worry about all the other stuff later. I spent a lot of time in my head trying to write based on, I need a more commercial song, or I need to write something that Smashing Pumpkins would like.

Also, it’s cool to make mistakes.

Who is your go to quality controller? Who do you look to to give honest feedback?

My manager Matt. He’s one of my best friends in terms of the fact I talk to him more than anyone. And also, he’s always upfront with me. And we have a good thing going on, where I also tell him that his quality control is wrong and I want to do this.

You encouraged people to phone you and make requests/have a chat in the run-up to the release of the EP. Can you give us a flavour of some of the things people asked you?

Yes, of course! It was a lot of, ‘Is this track going to be on the EP?’ from people that are regular Hibberd gig-goers. I play loads of new material live. It was also a lot of vinyl-based questions, and overall what’s my favourite song on there. But the main question will always be, “Why is it called Everything Is Dogs?”

You also direct your videos. Have you had any ideas that have been just too out there to film?

Yes, but we have filmed them anyway! I have a really dark sense of humour, and that comes across the most in my lyrics, which I like to portray quite literally to film. I think the “Hoochie” video is my favourite to date. The mock-up, call girl, with the real phone number.

Given a huge budget, what would your concept for your dream music video be?

I would have Rivers Cuomo of Weezer play me, and I’d want it to be F1 style. Lots of fireworks and reality TV stars and I would only be in it for a second at the start – waving the flag.

What’s been your most memorable show so far?

Glastonbury! It was such a highlight, nothing compares. It honestly was an honour to play and a real pinch-me moment. Huw Stephens even introduced our set. On the downside, we did clash set time-wise with David Attenborough.

What’re the best and worst things about being a touring artist?

The best is playing live, hands down, the greatest feeling in the world. This is what I love the most, and to do it every day and have that feeling is incomparable.

The worst is service station food (too many McFlurry’s) and the tiredness.

Have you had any surreal moments in your career to date?

I met Simon Pegg the other day at Mirrors Festival, I just said “Shaun of the Dead” at him, and he nodded and walked away. That’s a really bad example. The Hippo Campus tour in February was surreal. I had no idea how incredible that was going to be, and to play Shepherds Bush Empire was a dream.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

You have to work harder than hard and be more driven than drive. Take the no’s and smash the yes’s, and believe in what you do. Most importantly, make excellent music. No one can argue with an amazing song.

What advice have you been given by other artists?

Just keep swimming. A drummer I know said this to me once: If you work really hard, for a really long time, there’s a really small chance you’ll make any money, so you may as well love what you do and do it well.

That’s always stuck with me.

What’s next for you in terms of touring and recording?

I’m on tour with the Regrettes now until December. So exciting. And I have a headline tour in February next year, followed by a truckload of new singles and maybe even another EP.

Which British bands/artists would you recommend to our readers?

Zuzu, Squid, Penelope Isles, Happyness.

Who would be your dream collaborator(s) and why?

Phoebe Bridgers is my Icon. I would love nothing more than to sit and write the saddest song with her. Lyrically, it is something else, in my opinion. It’s all a conversation, and normally a conversation I have already had with myself.

What would be your three desert island records?

Weezer – Blue Album

Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

How do you cope in hot weather?

I don’t, I melt. I hate the sun and am the palest person in the UK.

Hibberd’s new single, “Sweat Patch” is out now.