Sold-out gigs a dream come true

It was a surreal experience for pop singer-songwriter Lauv to sell out two concerts in Singapore because he used to play shows to zero audiences

American pop singer-songwriter Lauv was in Singapore to play two sold-out concerts last week.
American pop singer-songwriter Lauv was in Singapore to play two sold-out concerts last week.PHOTO: LOVE DA RECORDS

American pop singer, songwriter and producer Lauv cares a lot less about social media these days, but it was not always that way.

As he sings in his newest single, Drugs & The Internet, there was a time he became so self-obsessed that it gave him anxiety.

Speaking to The Straits Times backstage before his sold-out shows at Capitol Theatre last Wednesday and Thursday, the 24-year-old says: "I was caught up in what kind of caption I was going to post, what photo I'm going to post, how I want to present myself to the world.

"It was really sad because my happiness would be dictated by how many likes I got. And it was so lame. A lot of my friendships became less important to me because I was so addicted to getting that validation."

That does not mean he no longer uses social media.

His Instagram feed, for example, has several photos of his time in Singapore, including pictures of his concerts and him posing along the streets.

"I think I'm just a little bit more free with it. I don't over-think it anymore. I feel I should use it less though."

While the Capitol Theatre shows were his first headlining concerts here, Lauv first performed here in 2017, as British star Ed Sheeran's opening act at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

"It was like playing with the best musician ever every night, it was really cool to study him. And we had a lot of fun, we had lots of dinners together and hung out," he says of touring with Sheeran.

They also wrote songs together, but there are no plans to release them yet.

Selling out two nights in Singapore on his own "feels really surreal", Lauv says.

"This is exactly what I've been dreaming since I was a kid. I used to play shows to zero people and I would have to beg my friends to buy tickets to my concerts."

He has his parents to thank for sending him for music lessons as a child. "I must have been four or five years old when I started playing piano and then viola. I hated playing in an orchestra because I hated that my parents made me go every week.

"But now, I'm glad they made me do it."

The Los Angeles-based artist, whose real name is Ari Staprans Leff, had his breakthrough with the 2017 single I Like Me Better.

The song was included in his debut album released last year, I Met You When I Was 18 (The Playlist).

He scored another big hit early this year with I'm So Tired..., his collaboration with Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan.

"It just happened super naturally," he says of working with Sivan. "We met a few times before and I had always been a big fan of him. And I just really like his vibe as a person."

Drugs & The Internet is the first single off his sophomore album, How I'm Feeling, which he is now working on.

He has been hard at work in the studio and currently has 50 songs to choose from.

"A lot of the songs are going to be about different things. I think it's a much more full-on view of me as an artist. I have songs that are straight-up rock songs, songs that are like a salsa - I am crossing so many genres in the album."

He does not know when the full album will be released, but will continuously put out new singles throughout the year.

"I was supposed to work on my album last year and I got really depressed and was having issues, so I wasn't productive. So now that I'm able to be productive again, I'm obsessed with it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Sold-out gigs a dream come true'. Subscribe