Lauv At First Sight

Uncovering the rapid rise of American singer-producer, Lauv.

Lauv is far from the boy next door. Lauv is the boy ten doors down the street that you urge to know inside out, the introverted character you’re trying to unravel.

Many go their whole lives trying to get a foot in the door to a ‘prospering career’, and trust me when I say Ari Leff has twisted the handles on plenty a door. There’s a monumental gap between Ari as a kid and the 24-year-old superstar ‘Lauv’ he’s erupted into that no one seems to acknowledge. He grew up playing guitar, writing poetic love songs at aged 12­ – having not fully grasped the understanding of his own emotions, let alone someone else’s – to fronting bands that toyed with hardcore scream and electronic genres (pretty much a full house), experimenting till he found a sound that fit him.

“We were booking our own tours, playing all the local venues we could find,” Leff says of his musical output prior to Lauv. “We even bought all our own tickets so the venue would book us, then we tried to break even by selling them to our friends.” The tiresome process continued for years, often resulting in empty venues and leaving Leff a very jaded teenager.

“I was moving to New York for school, maybe I should stop focusing on being in a band and focus on doing anything in music?” perturbed by the music industry, Ari put the band to rest in favour of studying at New York Univeristy. Bagging himself internships at recording studios and music production houses along the way, he spent his free time pitching remixes and songs to other artists. “I thought I was being really coy at one point,” he admits. “I sent an email to a manager saying, ‘somebody else already has this song on hold but I think your artist could really kill it’.” While no executive snapped up his records, it did put him on their radar.

Jungle City Studios: the coven where countless classics are brewed up (think the greats – Whitney and Mariah). I seek out whether the glamorized experience of interning at such a renowned kingdom was all it was cracked up to be… “I think at the time I was a little bummed because I thought that maybe I’d get a chance to do something,” he considers. “But it was a really good experience to see what it’s like, what it’s really like you know?” It’s clear that this point in his life acted as a huge learning curve about the industry he was so intent on leaning into.

'There's No Way' Ft. Julia Michaels by Lauv

Flash forward to now and you’ll find Ari snuggled up with Ed Sheeran on stadium stages performing to crowds of 80,000 people. Treading foot in Asia, Europe and playing Camden’s legendary KOKO like it’s nothing. His come-up from a musical intern to icon seemed like a steady progression, but has he grasped his new found fame?

“’The Other’ changed everything. It was the first song I’d written in years that felt authentic to me.” Reflecting back on the process of writing ‘The Other’, Ari’s determined mind stopped him from giving the song a new home and so it remained his. “This song is so important. I have to sing this!” The track soon found its way to Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits playlist, putting him on the map as one to watch.

The newfound exposure gained Ari a tight-knit group of supporters from around the globe. Aiming to utilize his platform for the greater good, he wanted to create a communal safe space where his followers were able to open up. “I spent months and months trying to conceptualise an idea, I just wanted to create something for people to be able to ‘let go’ of something,” he preaches, and so ‘mybluethoughts’ was born at the beginning of the year.

Launching mybluethoughts led a spiral of nerves. “Eventually when I got the idea for the box I was honestly so anxious to launch it because I didn’t know if people were really gonna do it, if they’ll take it seriously… I found that in the same way that I’ve put out all my most vulnerable stuff through my music, people would send me messages back. Even if it’s something I can’t reply to.” Stories that detaile breakups, mental health and life at home are spread far and wide in the mybluethoughts universe, a proud moment for Mr. Leff.

“Some people have shared some very poetic things and some were really crazy stories about their own lives so it’s been very special. It’s something I’m always thinking of how I can let it continue to grow, I’d love to turn it into a more immersive experience so it isn’t just a box.”

With a debut full length well under way, Ari teases his 19 million online listeners with ‘There’s No Way’ – the latest cut featuring Top 40 treasure Julia Michaels. “She’s the best, in literally every single way.” The chemistry between Julia and Ari is stronger than most artist-to-artist relationships. “When we first met we didn’t even write a song, we were just hanging out and reminiscing. At one point she made me cry, she’s just a special person.” The relationship the two share translates over into the Walk the Line inspired visual for ‘There’s No Way’, the tale of two band members that can’t act on the tension they’re feeling between each other. “When we wrote the song we were speaking about meeting people where you know there’s chemistry, and in some alternate universe it would work out between you guys but there’s something in the way whether that’s timing or whatever else.”

For him, winning a GRAMMY or selling out venues are things he tries internalise, confessing that “the drive has to come from the love of making something that feels like I could never have imagined it before.” Lauv is a man of his words, expect nothing less than the ‘honest and raw’ record he promises. But also be prepared for a young man’s stream of consciousness to be liberated into the world; his every thought and feeling will be bottled up and put into this musical diary – dying for you to turn the page.