The new Powerpop Princess taking on the music snobs with hooks, humour and a whole boxful of socks
This is the calm before the storm. Already halfway through a festival circuit, Lauran Hibberd is days away from landing her first album, Garageband Superstar.
“It’s very exciting, but also very nerve wracking” she grins. “This has all just been something in my own head for ages. I’ve obviously seen it go from an idea to a real thing, so it’s quite surreal to think that it’s finally about to be someone else’s.”
Making waves with singles ‘Still Running (5K)’, ‘Charlie’s Car’ and ‘Bang Bang Bang’, Hibberd has already crashed onto the scene with the kind of freshness that turns heads – mixing genres with wit and warmth to build the buzz for her full-time debut on August 19. Describing herself as somewhere between One Direction and Weezer (“I want teenage girls to come to my shows and bring their dads. And then I want the dad to be like, oh actually this is quite good…”), Hibberd is happy to jump in and out of as many different pigeonholes as possible.
We caught up with Hibberd to find out more about how she’s taking on the world from the Isle of Wight – and how she’s preparing to weather the storm she’s about to bring.
What are you going to be doing on August 19 when the record comes out? Are you heading straight for all the reviews and YouTube comments, or do you stay away from all that?
I mean, I’ll read them if they’re nice… We’ve had a couple of reviews already and they’ve been really good. So now I’m nervous because I’m thinking I might have gotten too comfortable. I think I’m mentally prepared for someone to pull it apart. You can’t please everyone though. One review said the album will really piss off the music snobs, so I’m looking forward to that.
You’re selling pre-orders of the album with a pair of socks. That might be a first.
Everyone needs a pair of socks. I think sometimes merch can be so down to individual taste, like, ‘oh, I wouldn’t wear that colour t-shirt’. But everybody would wear a pair of white socks so it feels like I just couldn’t go wrong with that.
Have you got a massive box of Lauran Hibberd socks in your cupboard now?
I’m refusing to wear any other brand from now on. If I have my own socks it feels like I need to wear them.
The biggest single from Garageband Superstar has been ‘Still Running’. Where did that song come from?
For me, it’s very much based upon where I live, on the Isle of Wight. I was born and raised here and I’ve watched my friends leave and move to London, or even move abroad. You ask yourself if you should stay here, and you wonder if the island is holding you back. And then there’s the whole Instagram versus reality thing… Even though we know that it’s not true, it’s so easy to look at someone’s life online and think they’ve got it so good, even though we’re all privy to making it up ourselves. So ‘Still Running’ is kind of a combination of those things. Feeling like you’re breaking that loop. The song is actually not about running at all, but I’ve somehow managed to put so many running references in that I might even have to do the Olympics in a few years.
A lot of great bands seem to have come out of the Isle of Wight recently – enough that it now feels like a proper scene. Does it feel like that from the inside?
Yeah it absolutely does. And it’s exciting. It makes me feel like anything’s possible, when you see people from this little island doing great stuff. And I love bumping into people from the Isle of Wight at festivals and I’m really happy to be part of it. I’m just happy that the island is finally cracking through too.
I wanted to ask you about ‘Stepmom’. I love the lyrics to this because they cut so deeply while still seeming really funny. Is this based on any of your own family experience?
It’s sort of loosely based on someone I know. I think I also very much got a lot from growing up watching a lot of teen movies! The stepmom was always portrayed as this awful monster, you know, and then you grow up and your own mom becomes a stepmom, and you have a stepmom yourself, and it’s kind of odd to see the comparisons of both. But it’s very much a teenage angst thing. It’s watching The Parent Trap versus real life!
There’s a lot of humour in that song, and in so much of what you write. Is that just naturally where your head goes to, or do you always try and push your lyrics in that direction?
It does come quite naturally. I think as a person, that’s how I live my life. When something bad happens to me, I mask it with a weird sense of humour. That’s how I tend to get through things. And I think that inevitably just pours into my songwriting, and it’s become this thing I can’t not do now. All of my songs are laced in a certain sort of humour which has become a big part of my writing style and of the personality of the whole project really.
Is it true that you write two songs a week?
Well yeah, I was writing two songs a week pretty much since I started really. I’ve always loved songwriting. That’s been my favourite thing about being a musician. And I never really wanted to be a performer when I was younger, because I was so shy. But in the end there was no one else that I wanted to sing and perform the songs that I’d written, so it kind of felt like I should probably do it…
I love sitting by myself and creating the stories, analysing people I know and absolutely ruining them! The process always comes from an initial idea. I like to have a concept or a title, so I’ve got a really long list of words on my phone. And then when I get a chance, which at the moment isn’t that often, I love to sit down and kind of see what falls out of my mouth. I play the guitar and hope for the best.
How difficult was it for you then when you realised that you had to get on stage and start performing?
It was awful. My first few shows I was, like, 16. And I was so, so introverted. But I guess what helped me then was that weird sense of humour I mentioned. My defence mechanism was comedy. I took a lot of comfort in being able to get people laughing, even if it was just three people in the pub down the road. When people started laughing, I felt more relaxed, and then I could play better. And so that’s something I’ve adopted the whole way through I think. I want to make everyone laugh as well as have them enjoy the music. I just want people to like me, basically!
Do you remember your very first gig?
Yeah, it was actually The Isle of Wight Festival. This is such a weird story, and it only shows how small the island is, but my dad lent some fencing to The Isle of Wight Festival. They aksed him how much he wanted for it and he was like, ‘just let my daughter go on stage’. So I played one of those little tents, basically just to my own family, but I still technically get to say that The Isle of Wight Festival was my first gig!
How do you usually describe your sound, when you absolutely have to?
I try to avoid saying anything because I get so many different things in reviews. I get slacker pop. I get pop punk. I get indie rock. I get grunge. After a while, you’re like, ‘wait, what am I?!’. But I definitely don’t want to get caught up on what other people think. I’m very happy to just make what I want to make, but I kind of feel like it fits more into the powerpop genre. I’m very influenced by Weezer, so I think that’s kind of how I see myself.
Who else were you listening to when you started writing your own music?
Avril Lavigne was my first musical obsession. She was the first artist that I loved, and I remember going to the hairdresser’s and being like, ‘I want my hair cut like Avril Lavigne’. Before that… I didn’t have the Beatles pounded into me from birth, and we mostly listened to Mica on the way to school, so I very much made it on my own musically. I hit a big pop punk phase in my teens though. It was Weezer and Green Day. I was a little bit too late for it to be cool, unfortunately, but I wore the t-shirt proudly.
Who else are you listening to at the moment?
I’m a big fan of Daisy Brain. He’s like Nirvana, but also like Britpop, and it’s the first thing I’ve heard in a while that’s really made me go, ‘Oh, damn, that’s really cool’. And then, obviously, as I’m from the Isle of Wight, Wet Leg are just killing it right now. What they’re doing is genre defining.
Which of your own songs are you proudest of?
On the record, my favourite song is a track called ‘Average Joe’. It’s definitely one of the songs I’m the most proud of writing. It’s like I ticked an invisible box with that one. I was just so happy that I’d got to that point. It’s not made it as a single but I kind of love it for that even more. It’s kind of like a little album secret.
What’s next for you?
We’ve got the in-store tour, then it’s record signings, as well as a headline tour [in September]. And then I’m off to LA to do some more recording. I’ve never been out to America in a professional sense. As in, not just going to Florida when I’m 13 sort of thing… So I’m very excited for that. And then we’ve got other big things planned for later on in the year as well. I’m gonna be really busy, which I guess can only be a good thing right?!
Lauran Hibberd is playing six UK dates in September, with tickets available here. Garageband Superstar is out on August 19.