Laureline Interview: Their Origins, The Internet, And More
Words by Anissa Dimilta
Laureline is a Los Angeles based indie pop band composed of Chris Rasmussen (vocals/guitar), Ciera Bardowell (vocals/keys/guitar), Nico Hernandez (drums/percussion), and Marian Nutley (bass). With just a few weeks left until their debut single, “I Love You,” is released, Chris and Ciera sat down with me to discuss their roots, the way the internet is changing music, and so much more.
Let’s start off by getting to know you guys a bit! How did Laureline come to be what it is today? How did you all meet and start making music?
Chris: We met each other a while back and we always joked about making a band together. Under the jokes, I was serious though!
Ciera: I was serious too!
Chris: I was working on some music and I was tired of hearing my own voice, a little bit. I thought Ciera had a really beautiful voice and I sent some stuff to her and she sent me back some stuff that was awesome! I was really excited about it and it kind of just jumped off from there.
Ciera: Yeah, snowballing off that – from my end I was serious, and I thought he was kidding. I bugged him for a little. I would text him every once in a while, like, “hey, Chris, let’s make a band!” We were both in school and we met a few years ago at a camp that we worked at. We had both graduated and I think it was great that we had more time to devote to music. He sent me some music and I sent stuff back and then yeah, we just started writing together!
That’s awesome! Individually, when did you realize that music was a passion of yours?
Chris: Good question! I was actually thinking about this recently. I always sort of liked it. I remember being a kid and I would listen to songs on repeat. Do you remember how on the old iPods you could look at how many times you listened to the song? It would say that I listened to some singles two hundred times! I would just sit in the car and listen to the same song over and over and over. It transitioned pretty nicely into, “oh, I feel like I can write this.” So then I just started writing stuff in maybe early middle school. I was around twelve or thirteen. What about you Ciera?
Ciera: My dad is a musician, so it was kind of passed on with piano lessons and voice lessons growing up! I kind of realized at one point that I didn’t want to do anything else and I wasn’t really good at anything else. I think it was definitely the influence of my dad and having people in my life who loved music so much and saw how they created music and they shared their passion for music.
Chris: Ciera, do you ever wonder if your dad was an accountant?
Ciera: Haha! Oh my gosh! Maybe then I’d actually be making money and have a steady, stable job. That is funny to think about. Maybe it would be great, but I’m glad I’m making music! Music is definitely more fun than accounting!
Chris: Oh yeah, I will double down on that!
Ciera: Every accountant I know loves their job, so to each his own, but I’m glad we are making music!
Can you guys describe the kind of music that you make and how you want it to be seen by new listeners?
Chris: Oh man, I think for a while we kind of had trouble putting it into a genre. I think the way the internet is changing music, you’re kind of losing touch with the genre. It was sort of frustrating for us to put it into a simple category. What excites me about Laureline, as a project, is that it can be anything. I think we can get away with writing anything and that’s kind of on purpose. If we want to play something and dance around and yell into the mic onstage that’s totally possible. If we want to take a quiet moment with the crowd that is also very possible.
So, I guess in that way we are maybe, on purpose shifting over a specific genre. I mean in terms of just something easy to call it, I think we just call it Indie Pop. It’s kind of hilarious that those two words are next to each other now. Music is changing. What do you think, Ciera?
Ciera: I echo that one hundred percent! I was just laughing because I think every time a friend of mine asks what genre Laureline is I have such a hard time putting it into a genre! I think it would be sometimes easier to explain it based on our musical influences. I think it’s cool because Chris and I have a lot of similar musical influences, but also, they are pretty different, which is what makes this so fun and easy! I guess Indie Pop is the best category.
Chris: I think of it less in terms of genre and more like what we want to talk about, conceptually.
That leads perfectly into my next question! What artists have an influence on your music? When I listened to ‘I Love You’ I got LANY and The 1975 vibes, which was great! I don’t know if they influence you guys…
Chris: Yes! Of course! They are bands that we highly respect and I don’t mind at all being compared to those guys. I think there’s probably some others that we are influenced by that come out more in other songs. I think it is just kind of dependent on which particular song you’re listening to.
Ciera: Yeah, I love The 1975 and LANY too! Personally, I was really into artists like Elton John and Billy Joel. In terms of music that I love listening to, I would say Fleetwood Mac and HAIM and bands like that. I love how HAIM draws influence from eighties musical artists. I feel like that is kind of making its way downtown again, which is cool! Especially The 1975, they are really doing the pop eighties vibe.
What are your goals as a band for the rest of 2018?
Chris: That’s a good question! That’s a very exciting question because we are in a fun spot right now where we can kind of decide what we want to do with it. A lot of it is unexpected and unknown. I think we’ve done a lot of work and put our heads down and something we are very happy with and proud of and something that is worth sharing. I just want to share it with as many people as possible. I want to play shows! I want to see how people like it and what they think of it and what they hear in it. We’ve been in a bit of an echo chamber for a while, working on some of these songs for years. It may be more fun and interesting to see what other people think about it! I’m excited to put other singles out as well. We have so many that we have been sitting on that we are really proud of and I want to keep putting them out.
Ciera: I’m definitely super excited to have music out and I think it’s interesting too. This is an exciting time! We started over a year and a half ago. 2017 was so much experimenting and developing that music and cutting songs and adding songs. We are still trying to figure out who we are as a band, as a unit. It’s so exciting to be in a time where we get to release music because if you were to ask us a year ago I think we definitely thought we would’ve had stuff released by last summer. I’m so glad that we didn’t because so much of that has evolved and developed into something completely new and exciting. I’m excited to play more shows and release more music!
Chris: To me, the project always felt like a really good excuse to play around a little bit and to experiment and to work through some things that were confusing. Taking real things that were happening in life and I had a space to work them out and figure out what those things meant conceptually and how is it going to translate to musicality. That’s very exciting too.
You just said that you use the music to get through what’s going on in your life, can you talk me through your writing process?
Chris: I think it might vary case to case. Depending on the song, it happens a little bit differently. Ciera and I pass a lot of stuff back and forth. We’ll be like, “here’s an idea. What do you think? Do you think that there is something interesting there?” We have a relationship where we can trust each other to say, “um, I think it’s not so great, but this one part is really great. Let’s take that out and work it out.” It’s so utterly terrifying to me to go into a room with a bunch of people with nothing and say “alright, what are we going to make?” It doesn’t feel like it works, that doesn’t really work for us. We pass stuff back and forth and collaborate that way.
Ciera: I played music in college and a lot of the time we would do songwriting exercises like that and some people really thrive in the environment like that – being able to externally process an idea at that moment. I think for me, and Chris, it takes time. There are times where we would spend a whole day and take ideas and spend half an hour and write stuff down and then bring it back to each other. That is cool and organic! It depends on the song and what we are trying to write and portray.
Chris: One of my favorite moments is when we’ve come up with an idea and you’ll pass it back and I’ll read the lyrics or hear the context and I get to interpret what that means. Instead of it only coming out of one brain, it’s a lot of fun to get multiple voices in there to interpret. Maybe the same exact content was different for someone else.
Ciera: There have been so many times where I’ve written something and shown it to Chris and he says, “oh, I feel like it says this,” and I didn’t even think of it that way. I like having the different voices deciphering the context of the music.
Chris: I won’t speak for you, Ciera, but I know that I write fairly subconsciously. It may be more truthful than your conscious… I don’t know, we could talk about that for hours!
You guys seem like you have a great relationship! Do you think that being located in LA gives you a one up in the music industry or does it make it more of a struggle to get your sound out there and gain fans?
Chris: Wow, that’s a great question! Certainly both! I think that the opportunities are so much greater, just in terms of the sheer amount of opportunities. LA is such a hub of the world. The ability to just take an idea and get it out there is huge. It’s like moving to LA to be an actor! It’s you and 500,000 other people. Mostly, though I think it’s positive! It’s a special creative space, where people are open to having and giving opportunities.
Ciera: Yeah, I think locationally it’s incredibly advantageous, especially when you think of the creative space and the community of players and musicians that you meet. When you play a show with like four bands that you’ve never met before, the networking connection is something special! I think being in LA is definitely helpful because there are so many people trying to do that. It definitely is hard though, because there are so many people pursing and desiring that. That brings up the, “how are you and your music unique and set apart,” and that’s definitely a tricky thing to navigate. We were talking about songwriting before and everyone has something to say and everything is so unique to whatever you experience. That shows through in songwriting and music and I think it’s very possible to make something up that’s new!
Chris: There is so much opportunity for collaboration because LA is such a hub of the arts. It’s a very special place.
Be sure to check out ‘I Love You’ when it’s released on May 25th!