- Words Aimee Phillips
Låpsley opens up about being in the best place of her life, what she wishes she’d been told at the start of her career and what we can expect next from her.
For the past seven years, Holly Lapsley Fletcher, who goes by the stage name Låpsley, has been dazzling the world with her moving electronic ballads. Just 17 when her self-produced creations began taking off on Soundcloud, she now proudly carries two albums, 2016’s ‘Long Way Home’ and 2020’s ‘Through Water’, and a plethora of wildly popular singles and EPs.
However, Låpsley experienced such burnout from the non-stop nature of her career that she decided to take some much-needed time away from music, volunteering and training as a doula instead. So what pulled her back? “Despite the tough times, it’s the music that carries you through”, she admitted. Reflecting on her career, Låpsley feels that by always putting the music first, keeping her values close, and moving fears over self-image to the back of her mind, she was able to return. Now, she tells Notion that she’s in the best place she’s ever been.
For her instalment of Nordoff Robbins‘ ‘We Are Listening’ campaign, Låpsley wanted to showcase ‘The Power Of Hearing’. In the moving episode, Ava, a blind 12-year-old with complex health needs including cerebral palsy and epilepsy, listens and responds to Låpsley’s performance, capturing the expression and power of music to those who need it. “For the first time in her life at 12-years-old, Ava experienced inclusion, full inclusion…” Liz, Ava’s mum said. Watch the video below.
Now, speaking with Notion, Låpsley opens up the next musical chapter in her life.
First of all, how are you? How have you been coping over the past year?
Yeah, it’s been pretty tough releasing a record the first week of lockdown. It’s really strange because on the day that the album came out, I’ve never felt so happy as an artist, content with the creative work I’m making. But I felt like the entire year was taken away. I had tours cancelled. All the festivals went. It’s really stressful not doing the promo tours and all the normal things that you do – it feels personal but obviously it isn’t. I’ve managed to get my head through it. And actually, all I’ve been doing since that point is making music for myself and other people.
How have these times changed you as an artist – and as an individual? Has your creative process been affected?
I think weirdly, creatively, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been and I think a lot of that is just to do with age. I’m now seven years into the Lapsley project and I feel like I just really understand myself in terms of the way that the sound is evolving. Everything’s a lot less dramatic, you know, the things that are happening in my life, and that’s resulting in some pretty interesting music, just like real adult issues that aren’t necessarily catastrophic, but things that we all go through.
Are you feeling positive for the future of live music in general?
If you compare anything to the past year, anything is an improvement. I think that appetite is definitely there. Both from the fans and the crowds but also from the musicians. I’ve reached out to so many of my friends who are musicians who are playing or All Points East like Yanis from Foals and Arlo Parks. You make such good friends when you go on tour and you play these festivals backstage because you’re all doing the same thing. This is our opportunity to reconnect and just give each other a pat on the back. That’s the best feeling, connecting with other musicians when you play live.
It’s really nice to hear there’s such positivity and support there.
I think that’s something positive that’s come out of the last year. Everyone’s reached out to each other and lots of collaborations have happened. I did my first collaboration, which was with Sega Bodega. And now I feel closer to the music community in London than I ever had done. And internationally, because we’ve all done Zoom sessions with each other. Everyone’s been connecting more than they ever would because usually, we’d be touring, we’d be so busy. Whereas when you actually take the time to speak to your fellow creatives on an emotional level, it’s wonderful.
So in terms of actually creating music over the past year, you’ve gone back to your roots of producing things in your bedroom and working completely digitally with other people and collaborating over Zoom?
So at the start of lockdown, I created a setup at home, and then after that initial first lockdown, I went back to my studio. I had a studio for two years – I’ve actually just left it – with Joe Brown, who co-produced and co-wrote the last record with me, ‘Through Water’, and also these next two tracks that are coming out. They were made last summer in our studio, just us two, and because I lived alone, I could be within Joe’s bubble. So me and Joe just carried on doing what we usually do, which was really nice, actually. I think we connected on a holistic level as well and became really close. And I think that’s also affected the music.
You’ve been creating music for quite some time now, only 17 when you started releasing songs on Soundcloud, going on to tour the world and release two albums, as well as a number of EPs and singles. You must have been on quite a journey! How do you reflect on your career thus far?
I do want to look back and give myself a hug when I was 18, or 19. I don’t think I necessarily got the support I should have. But now having gone through all of that and I have the support system around me, I’m very proud of the work I’ve made. Despite the tough times, it’s the music that carries you through, and it’s also the support of the fans. I put that first over frets I had about the way I looked, my weight, about women in the industry, I’ve always put the music first and I think it’s held me in good stead. I’ve held the most important things close to my heart, which has kept me doing it because I think often it’s very easy to burn out. Especially when you enter the industry quite young, and you’re put through the motions, it’s very intense. But now we’re at the other end, I feel like this is the start of my career in a way. I’m working on the third album, it’s pretty much written, I just need to finish the production. I think in order to write quite fluidly and to write a lot and to finish up something like an album, you need to be in a good mental space. And I think the fact that I’ve done that it’s just testament to how much of a good place I feel like I’m at right now.
You took full control of your 2020 record, ‘Through Water’ and said it was the first time you felt like an ‘artist’. How important do you think it is that musicians have autonomy over their music?
It’s incredibly empowering. And also, the people around you who aren’t creatives don’t necessarily understand, and it’s not their fault, they just work in the industry and you are the artist. No one ever turned around and said to me, ‘actually, if you want to be like your idols, you’ve got to put the time in, you’ve got to put the hours. You’re not just gonna get there because you got a top 10 or because doors opened’. It takes hours in the studio trying to work out, and also working on your writing and assessing. Writing is like communication, you’re basically turning your life experiences into words and into art and the more you do it, the more you feel comfortable in it and the more you push yourself, the more you find yourself. I wish someone told me that it would take time, and it’s okay not to have all the answers. I think that would have helped me. So I mentor artists now and I try and tell them that shit.
A year on, how do you feel about your ‘Through Water’ record now?
Oh, my God, I love it. It’s funny, I never listen back to my own music because I’m always on to the next thing, so I was thinking, ‘oh, I wonder what songs I should play for the All Points East festival’. So I just listened to my record, from front to back the other day when I was going on a run. And I was like, ‘go get ’em, girl! God, this is so cool man!’. I left this industry, now I could look back and just be so happy with that piece. I’ve never had that job satisfaction in my life, so I have nothing but pride.
So what can we expect from your next set of music?
There’s two new singles next. This one song is about opportunities closing, like doors opening and doors closing. And then there’s another song about dating in lockdown, and connection and someone seeing you through all the bullshit that is the dating world. So just some real early 20 shit. Classic Lapsley, electronic. I think it makes sense that it’s an extension of ‘Through Water’. I think the album is going to be slightly more of an indie electronic direction. This is more minimal electronic pop, these two tracks.