Sunday, February 25, 2024
InterviewsMusic

Powerhouse singer-songwriter LP delivers love, faith, and music — their way

The music industry has arguably never seen an artist like LP. If they’re not on your playlist, they should be. We caught up with the singular performer to discuss music, relationships, religion, Sinead O’Connor, and spreading love through touring.

When we last left LP, a little less than two years ago, they had just released the album Churches. I talked to them for Queer Forty at the time in an interview that covered everything from that album to the COVID-19 pandemic to an old T-shirt of mine with the words SENSITIVE MOTHERFUCKER on it. Since then, the gender neutral singer-songwriter has stayed busy, both on tour and in the studio. In fact, Love Lines — their latest album — arrived on September 29, less than two years after Churches.  

For the uninitiated — LP was actually born Laura Pergolizzi on Long Island, a second generation Italian-American. Their first couple of albums didn’t exactly set the charts on fire, but their songwriting did. LP penned hits for everyone from Christina Aguilera and The Backstreet Boys to Celine Dion. While their star as a go-to writer was on the rise, they continued releasing albums and EPs periodically and finally broke through in a big way with 2014’s Forever For Now.  LP’s songs have also been featured in TV commercials as well as the classic Netflix series Orange is the New Black.  

Photo: Ryan Jay

Love Lines is their seventh full-length effort and was recorded between Palm Springs and the island of of Grand Cayman. That tropical, West coast vibe definitely informed the 12 tracks on this album — from the infectious opener “Golden” to the Latin-tinged “Hola.” But there are also mellower moments, such as “Big Time” and “One Like You.” As stated in the press release, Love Lines explores “the wide tapestry of relationships they’ve had in their life —romantic partners, family, and their own self — and how all these kaleidoscopic experiences have helped them get to the core of who they truly are.” Topping everything off, as always, are LP’s distinct, sometimes acrobatic vocals.

Interviewing LP this around (via Zoom) was anything but boring! We picked up where we left off in early 2022 — with the SENSITIVE MOTHERFUCKER shirt — and took it from there.

Queer Forty: We [last] spoke a year and a half ago. You had just released the album Churches. And I told you that I had once owned a shirt that said “SENSITIVE MOTHERFUCKER” on it.  (they laugh)  Because someone described you that way on your website.

LP: You know, I’m a sensitive motherfucker!  

Aren’t we all? I thought I’d lost [the shirt], but I moved six months ago. Check this out. (I hold up the shirt)

LP: Oh my God! That’s a beautiful shirt. (laughs)  Thanks for remembering that. You should be wearing it right now!

I know. What was I thinking? Anyway — I hope you’ve been well. Your new album, Love Lines, came out at the end of September — less than two years after Churches. To start, tell me a little about making Love Lines. Was it similar to making Churches? Was it different? 

LP: Completely different. First of all, the world is a different place [now], you know? I remember rollin’ into — was it ’19 that it started, the pandemic, or ’20? It was ’20, right?

20.

LP: I remember rollin’ into that year, like “Holy Shit!” There was so much amazing stuff happening. I thought I was done with the record, kinda. But I wasn’t sure. And then when the pandemic started — I think the song “When We Touch” was one of the first ones I wrote. Because I was thinking about what would happen when we got back together. So you know — that and a couple of other songs. So yeah, it was very different.

At that time, I was about to go through a breakup. I knew it; I didn’t know it. It was a lot with Churches. And then this record, Love Lines — I don’t know, it just felt very easy. As much as I love Mike Del Rio and Nate [Campany]  — as much as I love those guys, it was nice to go off with some other people that I just had natural chemistry with. It just felt freer, for a million reasons. I wasn’t fucking locked in the house (laughs), having to not travel at all! You know, we went to the beach. 

And I was kind of evaluating the past a bit. There’s a song called “Big Time” on this record. I finished writing that and it felt like my Dad or something, you know what I mean? It just felt like super wistful, adult shit. Looking back, like “Did I fuck that up? I did, right?” (Pause) Life is like a series of wins and loses and sacrifices, you know? There’s a line in that song that says, “Even winning is a sacrifice.” It is! So many of my relationships have been a sacrifice of the altar of my career [and] my ambition. 

Photo: Ryan Jay

When you say you were starting to feel like your Dad — you’re 42 now, right?  Obviously, you’re only two years into your 40s. But so far, what new wisdom would you say you’ve acquired in this decade?

LP: I think they’re all the same in a way. But I mean, you can see things you missed — or at least recognize that you might have missed some things. But that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. 

I think when you’re younger, you wanna do everything. You know, there was a slogan for a long time: “You can have it all!” Women were saying, “You CAN have it all!” I feel like people don’t say that all the time anymore. It’s not because of women — but something’s gonna suffer [if you try to have it all]. If you’re, like, running a business and you’ve got three kids and you’ve got a marriage — something is suffering. I don’t care if you’re fucking Wonder Woman. Know what I mean? Or Superman. Or Increda-non-binary! 

You know, people [ask me] “Are you gonna have kids?” It’s like, “No.”  (Laughs) They say, “What do you do when you’re not on the road or writing songs.” A lot of things. Probably nothing that productive! I’m not trying to do everything, you know? I’m not gonna have a kid unless something crazy happens. That’s serious business, you know? That’s a serious fucking thing to do.

The opening song on Love Lines is “Golden.” It’s a catchy song [and] I also enjoyed the video for it. Tell me a little bit about that and maybe why you put it first on the record.

LP: It was a really hard record to pick [the] order of singles. I think the first song often should be something exciting — something that just invites you in [and] gets you ready to receive the rest. When I was writing “Golden,” I didn’t think of it as “Wow, it’s a super positive song!” But it kinda is, you know? Like I said, it’s [about] accepting that there are things you can change and things you can’t change. And then kinda living with it.  

You know, even the way I’m conducting myself [in] relationships now is very much where I’ve been wanting to get for awhile. I feel like that shit was an old model handed down by, like, this culture of straight people. I mean, with the whole “[gay] marriage becoming legal.” Suddenly, we were exactly like straight couples for centuries, you know?  Marriage was an institution so that men could own women! I’m gonna emulate that? No. Go fuck yourself. I mean, there’s other deeper meanings to it also. But I’m just saying, it’s like a…. I don’t know, it’s a little bit bullshit to me. 

I don’t really know how I got into talking about that. What were we talking about? I was onto something.

You were telling me about “Golden.”

LP: Oh yeah! And another thing — fuck marriage!  “Golden!”

I’m obsessed with light and dark, you know what I mean? Not obsessed like one of my exes was, like (phony voice) “The more light you are, the more dark you have.” Another thing! Go fuck yourself. I’m in control of my fucking dark. You know what I mean? I just think there’s gotta be balance. You know, I’m nothing if not an irreverent motherfucker. New T-shirt; I wanna see that one next time! But at the same time, I love being kind. I love it! You know what I mean? And then some people mistake my kindness for weakness. And that’s a bad fucking mistake. ‘Cause I’ll fuck you up.

Duly noted. 

LP: Anyway — so we are golden, we’re not broken. You know, I think I’m in the era of [not] beating myself up as much. But I went through a couple of relationships — sometimes if you’re with the wrong person, they’re like “I’m gonna remind you that you’re not more special than anybody.” [And] it’s like for one — I am! Fourth time I’m gonna say “go fuck yourself” in this interview. And for two — we’re all special! I’m always trying to make people around me feel special. You know, everyone deserves a fucking seat at the table. There you go. There’s your explanation of “Golden.” I don’t know.

So one of your exes made you feel not special? 

LP: A couple of them. Like I needed to be checked sometimes. You know what I mean? And you know what? Fuck you. (they laugh) I’m not checking you!  You can be checked with your arrogance that you’re the fucking inspector! Get the fuck out of here. Next thing you know, you’ll be trying to be a priest. 

I’m not sure that’s something to aspire to.

LP: That’s what I’m saying! It’s like, “Hi! I’m representing God here on Earth!” Oh, that’s adorable. Fuck you, you know?

There’s no correlation between religion and morality.  

LP: There you go. It’s a government subsidy, you know? God is in you. 

Last month, we lost Sinead O’Connor who was a pretty amazing artist. I wanted to ask your thoughts on Sinead.

LP: I mean that voice, you know? It’s heartbreaking… She really had a message that was clear as a bell and really necessary. (Long pause) The people that really called her out, even as far as ripping the Pope’s picture in half. It was like, “Oh yeah, and you’re a saint? You wear a cross around your neck and you’ve sucked a thousand dicks?” (They laugh — a lot!) And that person’s word on Sinead O’Connor “desecrating the spirit of Catholicism.” The world is littered with Sinead O’Connors. Not really, she’s unique. But you know, it’s like Joan Of Arc shit. It’s very interesting that someone can be kind of canonized after their death and snuffed out while they were alive for speaking up. You know what I mean? 

My message is a little slower [but] we need people like Sinead O’Connor. But forget about her politics for a second; that voice was other-worldly, you know? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve [been] flying around in my car, just ripping to those songs and exploring myself vocally with her. I always forget to talk about her as an inspiration.

Yeah, I thought she was a really good singer and writer. I was at the Bob Dylan tribute years ago when she was booed offstage. This was right after she ripped up the picture of the Pope. That was the only fucked up moment in an otherwise wonderful evening.

LP: Yeah. But then you see that fucking thing that people — you know, like the people that used to go see public hangings and that shit. It’s a really ugly part of humanity. And in the defense of an institution — a fucking money-mongering, abusive cult! Sorry [but] it is! 

You know, I still have Catholic guilt! Why?? You know what I mean? I don’t know. The older I get, the more pissed I get at this shit. I know people [say] “the church was there when I needed it.” I’m glad, you know? But what I was trying to say on my last record [was] THE CHURCH IS IN YOU! IT’S IN YOU! You don’t have to go there, into some patriarchal bullshit, and put some fucking money in a fucking basket! (Laughs again) It’s like, I know where I’m going when I die. 

The’Dayglow’ video might be the gayest thing that has ever happened to me,” laughs LP.  “I might have to come out again! I was so thrilled to be able to have fun and be a part of Pride in one of my favorite and one of the most beautiful places in the world, Prague!

Can I ask where that is?

LP: I’m reading this book right now that talks about [how] Hell was invented. We’re souls that are vibrating. I actually don’t know. But in my opinion, we vibrate at certain places and that’s why you attract certain people into your [orbit]. So you know — listen. I know for damn sure I’m not gonna be sittin’ next to fuckin’ Donald Trump!

Oh God! Don’t even get me started on Donald Trump That’s a whole other [conversation]. One of the most interesting things about the Trump years [is that] we’ve seen more hypocrisy about so-called Christian people. I call them hypo-Christians. 

LP: Exactly! People are like, “Let a child rot in a fucking orphanage,” or on the streets. Dumb shit.

It’s like George Carlin said. These people are not so much pro-life as they are anti-woman.

LP: And that’s the thing. It’s all wrapped up in a bow. I don’t know, man. If I wasn’t busy making music, I’d put a fuckin’ dyke-Trans army together and fucking wreck shit.

No reason you can’t do both. You can have it all!

LP: (Fake obnoxious voice) Something’s gonna suffer though, Dave! 

Well, it’s almost four o’clock. I don’t wanna end this by talking about Trump. Tell me what you’ve got on the agenda for the rest of [this year]. You’re gonna be touring, right?

LP: Sure. The North American tour you know? Bringing it to people. I love connecting through music. Make another video or two. Yeah. I hope that I really give people something to buckle down with for a bit. I’m so excited to sing the ever-loving shit out of these songs onstage.

Cool. Well, maybe I’ll see you when you get to New York City.

LP: Alright! I’d love to see ya. Get a little Terminal 5 action. Better have that fucking T-shirt on!

Of course.

LP: I’ll wear the IRREVERENT MOTHERFUCKER shirt.

You be irreverent, I’ll be sensitive and then we’ll switch shirts halfway through the show.

LP: (They laugh) I will! I will take my fucking shirt off onstage. Don’t tempt me!


Love Lines, LP’s seventh album, is out now!

Catch LP on tour

October 21 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

October 22 – Sacramento, CA – Hard Rock Live Sacramento

October 23 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

October 25 – Portland, OR – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

October 26 – Seattle, WA – The Paramount Theatre

October 28 – Stateline, NV – Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

October 29 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Union

October 30 – Denver, CO – The Mission Ballroom

November 1 – Saint Paul, MN – Palace Theatre

November 3 – Chicago, IL – The Salt Shed

November 4 – Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

November 5 – Montréal, QC – Place Bell

November 7 – Washington, DC – The Anthem

November 8 – Boston, MA – House of Blues

November 9 – New York, NY – Terminal 5

November 10 – Philadelphia, PA – Franklin Music Hall

November 12 – Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle

November 13 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

November 15 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant

November 17 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater

November 18 – Houston, TX – Bayou Music Center

November 19 – Dallas, TX – South Side Ballroom

November 21 – Albuquerque, NM – Revel

November 22 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

November 24 – Los Angeles, CA – YouTube Theater

November 25 – San Diego, CA – SOMA

Dave Steinfeld

Dave Steinfeld grew up in Connecticut and is now based in New York City. He has been a professional journalist since 1999 and has very possibly written about women in music more than any male journalist in America. He has interviewed Patti Smith, Neneh Cherry, Ani DiFranco, Ann Wilson, Marianne Faithfull, Chrissie Hynde, Cyndi Lauper, Sophie B. Hawkins, the Indigo Girls, and Amanda Palmer who once called him “an honorary lesbian.” Dave has written for Curve, BUST, Bitch, Essence, Glide, Louder, and many more titles.

Dave Steinfeld has 12 posts and counting. See all posts by Dave Steinfeld

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