Lauren Auder premieres new track ‘Stigmata’ and spills on his love of Tracy Emin, Harmony Korine and Odd Future
Lauren Auder is a 17-year-old musician growing up in a small village on the outer edges of Southern France. Despite his isolated location, Auder makes music steeped in far-reaching sonic influences; dark recesses of droning sound and smatters of hip hop, like somebody brought up on all of Harmony Korine’s films, from the fuzzy black metal of Gummo to the rap and trap of Springbreakers. This is perhaps surprising, until you remember that he was born in the late 90s and has always had the internet at his fingertips. At a time when music has been globalised, multiplied and scattered all over the web, finding its way to young, hungry artists like Auder has never been easier, and the result is a beautiful, mirror-cracked mishmash of genres.
With his sullen, heavy-lidded vocals and unexpected poeticisms (“last week, a spider was on my shower wall, today there are four more”) spread over a canvas of dubby keys and murky bass lines, it’s easy to find comparisons between Auder and King Krule, the latter who also began making waves at the same age. Like Krule, Auder’s undeniable talents have grabbed the attention of London’s ever-attentive underground, with East End creative Kojey Radical appearing on his debut EP Equus and South London rapper Denzel Himself singing his praises.
As Auder’s barely-conceived raw talent teeters on the edge of catching fire, we premiere exclusive track “Stigmata” and speak to him about his biggest fears, his literary obsessions and his love of the DIY ethos of Soundcloud.
Where did you grow up? What was it like?
Lauren Auder: I was born in Watford, but only spent the first seven years of my life there, so I wouldn’t consider living there important. I moved to France when I was seven, near a small town in the South West called Albi, where I go to school. I’m currently doing literary studies here, which is pretty eye opening for me. I think this place is what inspires me musically; the feeling of trying to be bigger than what surrounds me I guess. That combined with the feeling of being a foreigner, which I do still feel even after ten years.
How did you get into making music?
Lauren Auder: I’ve always loved music. My parents used to be music journalists, so I grew up with music surrounding me, mostly Bob Dylan and Ghostface Killah. I’ve been in alternative rock bands, but I only truly started making music for myself, as Lauren Auder, just under two years ago. I think the internet pushed me towards it. The DIY ethos of Soundcloud is something that was really appealing to me. I could make everything through the internet and collaborate with almost anyone from around the globe. It’s exciting.
What’s the music scene like in Albi?
Lauren Auder: There’s really no music scene here apart from terrible rap crews, which is slightly depressing but it’s ok. There are interesting scenes all around France though. Artists I love, like Oklou, Malibu and Jorrdee, dotted all around the French map. The internet makes it all seem closer together anyway.
What music did you grow up listening to, and how did it inspire your sound?
Lauren Auder: I grew up listening to My Chemical Romance and Bring Me the Horizon, which sounds cliché but it’s true. I then made a complete U-turn and got really into hip hop, mostly Odd Future, DOOM and Wu-tang. These days, I listen to lots of ambient and drone music; Tim Hecker and Sunn O)) are my favourite artists at the minute.
Tell me about your track “Stigmata” – why the crucifixion reference? What’s the track about?
Lauren Auder: “Stigmata”, which features production from my friend Kassett, is a song about feeling guilty about hurting someone, while wishing they hadn’t moved on to better things. I wrote the lyrics many months ago while very sad about that person. I was wrong about them, in the end, which makes the song that bit more bitter. Religious symbolism is a constant in my music, it’s something I have always been curious about. Although I’m not a religious person it’s an important cultural heritage we all have. I think the process of making personal experiences sacred through music is a beautiful one.
Your music can be quite sinister with names like “return of the gut punch that is self loath”. Are you attracted to these darker facets of life?
Lauren Auder: Funnily enough, that track title is a quote from Peep Show, which is my favourite sitcom. I think that’s quite a good representation of my approach to the darkness in my music. I often put my negative emotions into my music, but I try to keep in touch with how funny these things can be. I like dark humour; I think the uneasy feelings in life can be the funniest.
What is your biggest fear and why?
Lauren Auder: Failure – I get myself into states over pressure. I’ve almost quit music a couple of times because I’m scared it won’t be worth it, but I constantly come back. Truthfully, it’s what I love the most in the world so I could never stop.
What do you think your generation has to offer that previous generations haven’t?
Lauren Auder: Today, ideas and technology are available to everyone and my generation is using this to its full extent. It’s the most exciting of times, as music is democratized and put into the hands of anyone who wants to make it. I also think the world is a strange place to be right now; it’s a little alienating for kids born at the end of the 90s. I know a lot of people my age who feel in-between generation and cultures, but it can be quite inspirational too.
How would you describe your creative process?
Lauren Auder: It’s often collaborative. I love swapping ideas back and forth. A lot of diversity in my sound comes from that process. Writing lyrics is also super important to me. I love taking elements of my life that may seem banal and mystifying them.
Are you into art forms that aren’t music?
Lauren Auder: I draw a lot – in fact I have been long before making music. I love the visual arts so much and they serve as a huge inspiration to me. I am obsessed with artists such as Tracey Emin, Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud and Schiele.
What are your three favourite films and why?
Lauren Auder: They change all the time, but right now my favourite films are Gummo by Harmony Korine, Dogtooth by Yórgos Lánthimos and Roma by probably my favourite director, Federico Fellini. They can all be perplexing, but all of them are symbolic and are visually stunning. The first two also have some really interesting messages about human interaction.
What is one book that has changed your life?
Lauren Auder: The Songs of Maldoror by Lautréamont. It’s a pre-surrealist poetic novel. It’s amazing. Stylistically, it is all I could dream of writing. It’s extremely dark and gruesome, but also funny and ironic. Dali did some great illustrations for it too. I’m probably going to get the author’s face tattooed on me someday.
What are your plans for the future?
Lauren Auder: I’m moving away next year, but I don’t know where to yet. I just hope to continue developing my sound. I want to make something bigger and more important musically. I want to meet and work with artists I admire as well as get better at producing too. And I promise to try and make internet teens love harsh noise.