Lapsley's a Pop Star Who Does Things Her Own Way
The teen singer is making it by making music for herself.
Two years ago, Holly Fletcher was a 17-year-old student at an all-girls school in England with a penchant for production and an obsession with electronic music. She uploaded a song to Soundcloud under the alias of Låpsley and the emotionally-obliterating track went instantly viral. Record labels stampeded; everyone from Sam Smith to Adele sang her praises. At long last, she's ready to release her highly-anticipated debut album, which—as someone who was lucky enough to hear it ahead of its March 4th date—is going to shatter expectations, no matter how steep they are. I hung out with Holly in New York last week, and she got real (really, really real) about the importance of not conforming—to high school cliches, to the music industry, and to society at large.
When I was 13, I wrote on a guitar and a piano, and just jammed out. But it was never a thing. I became interested in hardcore electronic music, which really went against what my friends at my all-girls school were into. I fell into the wrong crowd who was older than me; I went to raves in Liverpool. I didn’t really give a shit that the only mates who liked the kind of music I liked were men, because I was so adamant that this was my passion. Even if my friends didn’t agree with it or judged me for it, I just went with it.
I started producing two years ago because I wanted to make the kind of electronic music that I wanted to listen to. I suppose it was a fusion between what I liked to listen to and my classical background, because my parents always made me play piano and such. I’ve accumulated instruments because I’d get bored and move on.
I put my music on Soundcloud because I have family in Chicago. I had, like, two followers at first. When things started picking it up, it sort of scared me. I never wrote it for people to hear. Subconsciously, for [my debut] album, I know that people will listen to it, but I’ve tried not to let it affect me. You do music for yourself. You do it for your own creative expression. You don’t do it for these corporate machines.
I didn’t even know what a producer was. All I knew is that I had GarageBand. I’m from a family where you work hard, you get your exams, you become a doctor or lawyer or blah blah blah. When you’re suddenly going outside of the rules, it’s like “oh no!”—you haven’t got something to fall back on, and pension, and maternity leave, and all this shit. But I made sure I finished my A-levels. Even though I had labels getting in touch with me, I finished my exams. I want to study in the future as an indulgence. I love geography. I want to go to Cambridge.
If you don’t have your own production, personality is lost. I’m not the best producer; I just started. But I know what I like, and I roll with it. Maybe it’s not conventional, but I don’t care because I like the sound of it. The connection you have with the audience makes it all worthwhile. The music I listened to growing up when I was in shit times, like Bon Iver—all these people are listening to my own music during their shit times, and then when they see you live, you catch their eye, and you realize this music means something to other people in a different way. It’s for other people who share the same feelings. Most girls my age, well, it’s pretty shit. We all have extreme anxiety in all situations.
Instead of listening to other peoples’ sad music, I want to figure out my own. I don’t want to wallow in it, I want to get over it. And through electronic music, I’ve been able to release all my feelings and move on.