Interview: Lawrence
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Interview: Lawrence

It seems that the seasons are playing tricks on listeners up and down the east coast. From the sudden warmth to the brisk remnants of winter, Mother Earth is having her fun. Luckily, there is one thing to pull people together and enjoy the drastic changes. Lawrence, a musical group led by siblings Clyde and Gracie Lawrence, are making some noise in the soul-pop space. These two musicians are already well accomplished and have only began what seems to be yet another worthwhile journey through the medium. Both brother and sister gave their thoughts on their musical adventure to date.

Music was already around and worked its way in naturally for both of them. “This sounds sort of cliché, but it was never really a conscious decision to pursue music. It has always just been the thing we love doing most. Playing, writing, and thinking about music has been as integral to my daily life as eating and sleeping,” shared Clyde. For Gracie it was in the same ballpark. “Growing up together we were just constantly playing music in our living room, and I think the only difference now, besides for the fact that we have a full band that we play with, is that there are more people than just our parents listening in the kitchen.”

Clyde gave some insight onto his favorite pieces of work. “Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me feels like it encompasses so much of what we’re all about on both a musical and personality level, and that makes me proud. I also really love trying to write stuff that feels vulnerable and melancholy, yet still optimistic, like; Play Around, Misty Morning, and Where It Started From.” Gracie mentioned her excitement within the expansion of the visual component with their music. “I’m proud of Misty Morning from a songwriting and production standpoint, too. Also, as we make more music videos these days, a lot of which have yet to be released, I’m really proud and excited by how fun and entertaining that content is… I can’t wait for people to see what we’re working on!” Listeners will be sure to keep an eye out.

Performance wise, Clyde feels they have already his some pivotal highlights. “It’s hard to pin down real ‘goals’ because they’re always changing. We’ve already played at some my dream gigs, like Bonnaroo and Central Park Summerstage, with some dream gigs to be announced for this coming summer. At the end of the day, I think I’m less driven by specific career milestones, and more by prospect of just continuing to have more fans show up at the shows…  More fans listening to the music each album [is] all in service of me never having to get a ‘real’ job.” For Gracie, the experience of switching between fan and performer adds onto the whole surreal transition. “I pretty much freak out whenever we play a NYC venue, like Summerstage as Clyde mentioned or Brooklyn Bowl or Irving Plaza, etc., where I’ve gone to to see other artists that I love… Growing up in New York, I remember what it was like being in the audience and hoping one day that Lawrence could perform at those venues. We also recently went back and played at our high school and that was pretty rad because I remember seeing artists come to assemblies and geeking out over them.”

For both siblings, a loss in their family was had the most difficult impact. Clyde mentioned his thoughts, “our whole life, our grandma has been our biggest fan, showing up to every single NYC show no matter where it was or how late it was. She passed away last fall, and it was really difficult and emotional playing that first NYC show without her at Knitting Factory in November. Gracie remains thankful for the fans that were there during this rough time. “Music is just such a big part of our family… Playing in NYC and knowing that our grandma would have been there is really difficult, but it’s also made me realize how compassionate the crowds at our shows are, cheering us on during those harder moments… The crowds essentially become our extended family during the shows, and that’s pretty awesome.”

As the duo progresses through the music scene, the development of the craft is changing rapidly. Clyde gave his thoughts, “there are definitely some cool things going on in music, particularly how easy it is to get your music out there and try to start a grassroots movement. That said, we’re definitely not psyched about a lot of the aspects of the current pop music climate. This may sound grumpy and old-fashioned, but I just don’t think the quality of songwriting stacks up against more old-school songwriters like Randy Newman, Stevie Wonder and Carole King to name a few. Not sure why it is, but my guess is that a lot of it has to do with the process people go through to create music. So much stuff is written on the laptop using loops, which I think ultimately causes people to rely on production moves to make their song dynamic, rather than sitting down with a keyboard or a guitar and trying to actually write a dynamic and effective song that stands up on its own.” The live show experience holds sway for Gracie and she delved into her own details on it all. “Clyde and I both are really opposed to the whole playing-to-pre-recorded tracks movement… It’s just such a bummer because it completely defeats the concept of a live show! I’m more interested in seeing how someone will adapt their songs in a live context rather than just using the tracks from their album and playing them over loud speakers. I love that when we play, you know that we will be performing our asses off while still playing our instruments and singing live, and that only what you’re hearing in the audience is being created right in front of you.”

Lawrence may differ on the exploration of different mediums. Clyde seems determined to stay within the craft, “I’m pretty much the worst at every form of art beyond music. I’m the worst dancer I know, the worst visual artist I know and the worst actor I know. So I don’t think anyone wants me to venture too far from music… I definitely love the process of making videos that complement the songs, so that’s something I’m excited to continue developing.” Acting may come back into Gracie’s repertoire, “I actually acted professionally before I pursued music professionally. I’ve always loved acting and singing and songwriting equally, and will continue to try to do everything. [I will] probably never sleep, because that’s what makes me happy.”

Musically, there a lot of new ambitions growing. “We’re absolutely excited to push ourselves sonically. We used to be pretty focused on mostly live, or seemingly live, instrumentation… We’re trying to move away from that a little bit while staying true to who we are,’ said Clyde. Gracie explained her ideas for the future, “We’ve met so many amazing musicians and vocalists in the past year, and I would love to invite/bribe/blackmail each and everyone to help out with and contribute to our next album in some capacity.”

They both have no limits to their inspirations. Clyde tends to stick with the writing side of things. “Songwriting-wise, my influences remain pretty old-school… Actually a lot of the contemporary production that’s inspiring us is coming out of the hip-hop world. If I was gonna name one artist, it would be Chance The Rapper. Obviously our music is very very different from his, but we draw tons of inspiration from him in that we’re both trying to make music that’s simultaneously soulful, dynamic, vulnerable and brimming with positivity.” Gracie focuses in the talents that use their voice, “there are so many. As a vocalist, I’m inspired by the soulfulness, but also versatility, of singers like Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Amy Winehouse. I think it’s also often forgotten that you can look up to someone for just their stage presence, too. Although I love a lot of female singers who have a very calm stage presence, I’ve always personally tried to emulate female singers that are less mannered or composed. I’ve binge watched many Janis Joplin videos not only because of her talent, but also because I’m so inspired and captivated by her super raw stage presence.”

They show no signs of slowing down. “[We plan on] playing more shows and then beginning to really focus on writing and recording stuff for our next album. We recently signed with Warner Bros. Records, so we’re excited to have them there to help fan the flames on whatever our next big project is. Definitely look out for announcements on our social media, lots of really exciting stuff on the way.”

Make sure to keep and open ear ready, listeners will be glad they did. Take a watch and listen to their song, Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me, below:

Jam on.

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Written by Myles Hunt

Music fan, simple and sweet.

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