M: Interview w/ Lauren Rantala

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When it comes to Lauren Rantala, I don’t even know where to begin. This chick is cute like Betty Boop, her style screams cherry lips and smooth vintage leather, her voice is sultry and classic, yet at the same time she’s edgy as fuck. But the best part is that she brings to the table what so, so, so many “pop” artists are missing these days: a whole lotta human. Everything about Rantala, from her self-written songs to her self-recorded youtube vids, is all just so relatable, so open, and so real.

Seriously doe, how many artists do you know that can bust out a worldwide online hit  from the comfort of (what appears to be) her bathroom, steezin’ with a giant pink plastic horse-but-probably-actually-a-unicorn-hat on her head? Yeah. I know. Suddenly, your mouth isn’t quite sure if it wants to giggle with her at her quirks, or drop to the floor because a bubbly 5ft something chica can belt out a voice like that.

I first caught wind of Rantala when her tune, This Means War, was picked up by producer Sohella, remixed with a bit of heat and heavy, and gifted to all the music keeners of the world – and I’ve since become a gigantor fan of every other tune she’s lined up. Here’s my interview with the lady herself:

1. To start off, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Lauren Rantala, I’m freshly 21, and I’m a Nashville local. I’ve been writing since I was 13 and singing since I can remember, but I haven’t been producing for too long. I started dabbling with it in December. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some wonderful producers who know a whole lot more than I do. I love sour patch kids, margaritas, and my cat, Keira Knightley.

2. What first sparked your interest in music and music production?
In kindergarten, there was a school wide talent show that anybody could enter. The only song I knew all the words to was “Jesus Loves Me.” So I got really dressed up, my dad bought me a corsage, and I mumbled through this little religious jingle. But that’s when I knew I wanted to sing on a stage for the rest of my life. Jeffrey Garrison, the producer on my first EP was fairly new to production when we started working on it. But he did such an amazing job; he was the one who sparked my interest. I always figured production was one of those things I’d just never be good at because there’s so much that goes into it. Especially in a DIY situation, which is what I normally do. It’s a lot of recording in bathrooms and bedrooms trying to make it sound like a million bucks. But after I saw him produce everything on his own, I went out and bought a bunch of gear and went at it.

3. Who are your musical influences and where do you look for inspiration?
My list is really long and really weird, but my major inspiration especially for writing came from a childhood of being serenaded by The Beatles. I know everyone likes them and listens to them, but my dad was a huge Beatle-head and had me singing along by the time I could talk. I wrote my first song after listening to the White Album on repeat for a day. As far as general sound goes though, I absolutely love horns, tambourines, just general make-you-dance music. So obviously Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, every 60s girl group ever, that kind of deal.

4. What musical genres do you hope to explore in the future?
I’m starting on a new project in about a week that I’m really excited about. I finally found an amazing support system in Diamond Eye Music, who have really become my family. They believe in my vision and have set me up with a lot of incredible writers and musicians to make it happen. The main reason I’m so excited about this new EP is because I have a lot of say in it. You can expect an funkier, jazzier, brassier sound from this kid. The first EP (Lauren Rantala) was kind of me testing the waters, trying to communicate the sound I wanted. And the collaboration EP with SOHELLA [Ladykiller, check out the first of it here] was exactly that – a collaboration. So it’s going to sound like both of us, instead of just me. I’m also working on a few features with different DJs in LA and Nashville, so look out for those in the very near future.

5. Tell us about the “This Means War” remix and how have things changed for you since it’s release?
“This Means War” was actually my favorite track from the first EP. I got a message from SOHELLA about a few weeks after I had released it asking permission to release a remix he had made. Keep in mind, I had never met Soheil at this point, total stranger. So I was expecting a so-so, okay remix. And then he sends me this “This Means War” 2.0 masterpiece. I was blown away. After that he asked to work with me and I jumped at the chance. Hahaha my life is pretty much the same-still living off of ramen noodles and working as a hostess at a local restaurant. So glamorous, I know. But through working with SOHELLA we came up with about 4 awesome tracks I can’t wait to release to the public and I met the folks at Octal Sound who have really helped introduce me to a different part of the music world.

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sing Katy Perry songs into a hairbrush on the reg

7. If you could be any one of The Transformers, which one would you be and why?
Hahahah probably Chainclaw- just because I would get to be a bear in a hat. Who doesn’t want to be a bear in a hat?

8. If Lauren Rantala wasn’t a singer/songerwriter, she would be…
A warrior assassin like Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill! No doubt. No doubt.

9. Tell us a little about your sense of style, how would you describe your fashion sense and what is one item that you could not live without?
Let’s just girl out for a minute and talk about how wonderful of a thing the pin up style is. I’m obsessed with everything 50s glamor-from pin curls, to red lipstick, to high heels. I also really love cutesy things, I’m a sucker for anything with a cat on it. I do like mixing femininity with a little edge. So it’s not rare you’ll see me all done up with a leather jacket completely covering this outfit I tried to put together. I could not live without my Lolita sunglasses. I love them. They are my children. Well not really, but they might as well be.

10. Do you have any words of wisdom for other young singers/songwriters entering the music production world?
DO NOT GIVE UP. Everybody’s going to say you can’t do it, or they don’t like what your doing, or that you’re not good enough. People are going to say “No” like it’s their job. That’s when you make them sorry they said “No” by working your butt off and making awesome music. Use their negativity as a motivator-don’t be discouraged by it.

11. Do you have a message for your fans in Hong Kong?
I love you I love you I love you!! I can’t wait for you to dance to the new EP! I only wish I could party with all of you guys! If you’re feeling up to it, next time your listening to a track of mine and getting down with your bad self, take a video and send it to me on facebook or youtube! I would love to see you guys boogie!

***

Thanks for the interview Lauren, you seriously are a gem and a half – keep werkin’ the pink horse/unicorn hats and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got coming up next!

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