Artist On The Rise:
As I greet Holly Fletcher - known to fans as Låpsley - over a coffee at Brooklyn's Rough Trade, an older man interrupts to ask for a photo. She obliges, but as he walks away, she turns to me and, in a thick Scouse accent, blurts "That never happens."
At 19, Låpsley is no longer a complete unknown from the outskirts of Liverpool. Her tracks like "Painter", "Hurt Me", and "Station" have clocked some 30 million streams on Spotify, and her most recent tour has put Låpsley in front of music afficionados in Iceland, New York, and Paris.
She's being talked about, even though she can't quite understand why. "To this point [my career] is hype. It's still just me in the studio working. The hype is all PR," she says quite matter-of-factly, sitting back in a flowing black dress and pin-striped overcoat.
But hype doesn't extend itself to a listing on BBC's Sounds of 2015 long list (alongside Raury, James Bay), billing via XL Recordings, and a much-anticipated full-length album come early 2016. Nor does it change the reality that her sound (trip-hop abutting ethereal vocal riffs) and her lyrics (written by her hand alone) hit. That's why, at her Rough Trade show later that evening, a packed audience stood transfixed - phones in pockets! - as she cooed through "Painter" and a cover of The Weeknd's "The Hills".
Photo via Ryan Jay for SWAGGER
While there is some pressure to continue to build momentum with the forthcoming album, Låpsley is taking her time. "With rushing comes irrationality. I'm not making decisions on this album based on someone else's time frame." She's up early in the studio, completing tracks months after initially laying them out, and speaking up for that which best represents her.
"Sometimes as women, we second-guess ourselves," she notes. "If you put in the time and learn from yourself, there's no need to give it to men and say 'Choose what's best for this song.' It might take more time, but it'll pay off in the end." It's that mindset that bowled over label execs months ago who once asked her "did you write, produce, and sing all of these?"
Her answer: "Well, yah, who else would have?"
And she continues to do just about everything, though her sound is evolving. "There's a massive disco track [on the new album] called 'Operator' that is fucking insane with Chaka Khan's bass player," she spilled. When I ask whether she's nervous for a rollout with all this hype? "This doesn't get less scary," she says before a pause. "Doing this as a job, you're expected to be an actress in videos, look like a model in photoshoots, perform in front of huge crowds, and all you did was perform a song on Garage Band," she says. "It's scary, but I'm still so chuffed [excited]."
Låpsley is full of energy ("Rihanna is my spirit animal," she reveals), she's full of hope ("I'd love to ghostwrite or be sampled by Drake, Kanye, or Jay"), and she's full of the requisite anxiety that comes with going off on your own to do something risky ("I turned down a really good university for music, which is a scary thought sometimes").
On the cusp of heading back to the UK, where she'll put the finishing touches on the new album, the 19 year-old is swimming through the lyrics of her hit "Brownlow" whether she recognizes it or not:
"It's like I'm jumping into a pool that I don't know where the bottom end is/
What's the current and I don't know if I am sure of this/
But I live for the moment/
My life on the turn when it comes down to this."
PostedNov 11, 2015