From a distance, you might not recognize Lauv. The 27-year-old San Francisco native has traded in his signature tennis ball green hair for a more muted, earthy brown tone. The change in hair is undoubtedly representative of a new musical era for Lauv, a new world that he is simultaneously creating and immersing himself into. This world is All 4 Nothing, the pop artist’s latest studio album that is slated to release on Aug. 5. This week, I got to sit down with Lauv and hear a few of his unreleased tracks, as well as talk to him about the forthcoming album.
Lauv describes All 4 Nothing as his most stripped-back album, revealing the rawest version of himself.
“Not that I was filtering myself before, but I felt like I really, really, really didn’t filter myself [this time],” he admitted. “In some of the songs, some of the stuff that I was going through and talking about…it’s very straight-up.”
Creating this body of work was a huge confidence journey for the singer, who cites getting in touch with his inner child and doing a lot of meditation as part of what he was “searching for” throughout the album’s conception.
“I reached a certain level, but I felt really empty on the inside,” he said. “It’s basically me on a journey of trying to find my inner light again and the ups and downs of trying to find that after feeling really out-of-touch with my true self. There’s the positive side to that, and then the less positive side to that that make up the album.”
Lauv also explained that there was a major shift in his process during the creation of All 4 Nothing, one that made him feel more confident in himself and his ideas.
“It’s made music-making really fun,” he said. “Now, with my friends, we’ll put on instrumentals and just freestyle in the car. Sometimes, ideas will just come out of nowhere. It makes me trust myself a lot more. Before, I would always be scared to just be in the moment because I would be like, ‘what if I say something stupid?’ ‘What if I do something that’s not cool?’ And then I realized, I’m going to have so many bad ideas and so many good ideas, too. I just gotta get through it all. I needed to find more fun in [the process].”
Despite the joy that Lauv found in the process of creating All 4 Nothing, the album isn’t all fun and games. There were some serious mental health challenges that the twenty-something needed to face in order to get to the root of what he wanted to show his fans. When asked to speak on some of his mental health journey and explain why he was so passionate about the cause, Lauv revealed some deeply introspective truths about his personal life as a musician.
“For most of my life, up until a few years ago… I had no understanding [of mental health issues]. It wasn’t until I had my own big huge massive sh*tty low where I was finally like ‘Okay, I’m not able to just keep going to this therapist and get by. There’s more that needs to happen.’ At a certain point, I was in such a bad place that I was so resistant to even going to somebody like a psychiatrist because I felt like there was such a stigma.”
He looks back on his early twenties fondly in spite of the challenges, though, noting that he would tell his college-aged self, “You’re doing great, sweetie.”
Aside from his own impressive discography, which includes breakout hit and 2018 summer anthem “I Like Me Better,” Lauv has also notably written songs for other popular artists, including tracks like “Boys” by Charli XCX, or “No Promises” by Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato. I had to ask him myself: how can you get into the right headspace to write for other people and through other perspectives? How do you get yourself to think and write from another artist’s point of view?
“The thing is, I never fully think ‘Oh, I’m writing from someone else’s perspective.’ I think of songwriting as just channeling whatever emotion feels natural in the room,” he told me. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘I feel like this is from my life,’ and sometimes, I feel it’s from a place that’s similar to my life but not quite, or from the perspective of somebody else that I’ve witnessed in my life. I kind of just channel that.”
Before he could even finish his answer, he beamed with joy. “This is awesome. I’m genuinely so happy, so thank you.”
Lauv’s latest (and surely pop genre-shifting) album All 4 Nothing comes out Aug. 5, and his headlining tour kicks off on Aug. 11 with stops all over the country. He explained that he was especially excited for the tour because the pandemic halted his live performances altogether. “It’s been so long since I toured and I have pretty much two new albums to play live. I’m just overall super, super gassed.”
If his energy on tour is anything like the energy I witnessed during our discussion, it’s certainly not one you’re going to want to miss.