Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Los Angeles-based indie-pop musician LAUV is ready to take the global stage and unfold his emotions before the people of the world, with songs that both pull at one’s heartstrings and uplift the romantic spirits.
“To be young and in love in New York City,” begins the song “I Like Me Better,” the latest hit by American singer/songwriter Ari Leff, also known as Lauv. Known for sad songs he describes as “beautiful tragedy” and “melancholic longing,” Lauv’s lyrics are the confessions of his heart. Paired with sonics re-purposed for a new age, his breathy voice grows bolder as he gains courage from the truth brought by experience; for Lauv was once young and in love in New York City.
As a young boy, he played the piano and viola before shifting to guitar, which sparked the flame of his passion for music that burns until now. Falling in love is how he put it. In his early teens, he started writing love songs even with no experience of a relationship, let alone a heartbreak. “My dad was like, ‘Why is it another break-up song or another love song? Is there something you’re not telling me?’” he shared. This early inclination, however, to write songs about love—the euphoria and the heartbreaks—is what made Lauv the artist that he is now.
“When I have a song that I feel like is really a part of my story, then those are the songs that I hold on to. And when it’s for other artists, it’s not just about me, it’s about what they want to say. “
Lauv spent a considerable amount of time in New York City, studying music technology in New York University, all the while growing as an artist. “There were so many people there from different places all over the world,” he recalled, “so I was able to find my identity in New York as an artist and as a person.” He remembers the limitless possibilities that the concrete jungle offers and the electric energy of the city that never sleeps—the city where dreams are made. “I just totally fell in love with that feeling,” he adds.
Currently based in Los Angeles, Lauv believes that the change has been good for him as a creator and a musician. “Once I moved to LA, I definitely had a lot of time to channel all that time spent in New York,” he said, “which was good ‘cause I was able to write a lot of songs about that time.” In the City of Angels, where everyone’s a creative—a singer, an actor, a producer, an artist—Lauv was able to put into practice everything he learned in New York about music and the industry. But aside from the glamour that the city evokes, “weird” is a word he used to describe the place. The LA scene, for him, is a string of strange situations with strange people. Still, for the love of music, he continues to rise above the fakeness and remains true to his craft. Authenticity in art, after all, is what he aims for.
“What I learned writing this is that you really can’t force perspective, it comes when it’s supposed to. “
A musician born in San Francisco, molded in New York City, and now practicing his art in Los Angeles, Lauv first came to prominence as a songwriter. Having worked with Demi Lovato, Cheat Codes, and Charli XCX among others, he described starting his career as a songwriter as being realistic. “I think part of it was I needed the time to explore music,” he said, “and honestly, I just didn’t have the confidence, so I needed to realign myself.” For Lauv, writing for others and writing for himself are different crafts woven with the same thread of honesty. “When I have the opportunity to write for other artists, it’s a big part of their story, so I want to make sure that what I’m cutting out is genuine to them,” he said. “When I have a song that I feel like is really a part of my story, then those are the songs that I hold on to.”
Lauv is currently enjoying the success of his latest single “I Like Me Better” which has charted in numerous countries. The song, which is sunny and hopeful and upbeat, is unlike the ones from his debut EP Lost in the Light, which are about “reforgetting,” leftover feelings, and recapturing love’s energy. “[It] is probably the first happy song I have,” he said. “I was really excited when I wrote that song and take a break from the sad ones I’ve been creating.” Again, he stressed the importance of honesty and truth in his music, adding that, “You really can’t force perspective; it comes when it’s supposed to.”
Last September, it was announced that Lauv would be joining Ed Sheeran in the Asian leg of his Divide Tour. Learning about the news remains an unforgettable moment for the promising young musician. With a hit new single and a tour in Asia, Lauv is only beginning to unfold before the global eyes. With a debut album yet to be released, he promises that his best and most exciting work is still to come. Just like dream collaborations with Mura Masa, Cashmere Cat, and his ultimate idol Chris Martin (whose album with Coldplay, Ghost Stories, is Lauv’s favorite music to listen to at night), a lot of music magic remains to be heard from this artist.
“Either your head or your heart, you set the other on fire,” he sings in “The Other.” It may be true for love, but to rise above the clutter of the music industry, Lauv has learned that it’s best to be armed with both.