Låpsley, a British singer/songwriter/producer from York whose real name is Holly Lapsley Fletcher, was 17 when she put a song on Soundcloud called “Station.” It was January of 2014, the middle of a winter that left the little blue house where I lived in Michigan barricaded with icicles and thick-packed snow. I was feeling blank and melancholy and hopeful, looking for things I could carry around with me, when “Station”—a duet between Låpsley and a male-ish voice that’s actually her, pitched downwards—appeared, fully formed.
“Station” is as minimal as can be, four chords squaring off a foggy space where two people grasp towards and push away from each other, never quite getting (or sure of) whatever it is they want. It’s a slight song that was nonetheless indelible to me; the melody is dead right, and there’s some magical form-content thing going on in a few lines (“I will ring you up/ Say I want you back/ Chat/ Back/ Stab/ Say I never/ Wanted that”) that aligns the songwriting like a Futurist’s sound poem. Låpsley sounds lovely on the original recording, but in this live video, filmed at Electric Lady (which we’re premiering here today) she is formidably good.
Låpsley is 19 now; she was longlisted for the BBC’s Sound of 2015, and she’s about to release her first album Long Way Home on March 4, on XL. We talked on the phone briefly, and I asked if she’d written “Station” thinking it’d be a duet. “It’s the male point of view, but via a female,” she said. “I didn’t feel like if I got a guy to sing the part it would mean the same thing.”
Later, she brought up the same idea, talking about “Tell Me The Truth,” a song on her album that she’d written while listening to a lot of Drake. “I had it in my head that in the future I’d really like to ghostwrite for rappers—to write from a female perspective, and then perhaps the guy’s singing it and they wouldn’t know that there was a girl behind it.”
I asked her about the peculiar quality in the “Station” lyrics that I loved: “It is rhythmic,” she said, “it’s a bit like a poem more than any of the other songs that I’d written. Partly this is because I was using Garage Band—you have to focus on the limited things that are in the track, because you’re so exposed.”
Låpsley bedroom-produced her EP, and collaborated with a producer to make Long Way Home. “When I started recording, I didn’t understand a lot of the equipment in a professional studio, but I’m going to train to be an engineer this summer so I can have the run of the place myself.”
She makes good breakup music, I said, and asked her if she writes best when she’s sad. “It’s easiest to talk about,” she said. “I’ve not really had many relationships, I’m not very old yet.” (A reminder that she’s 19! I had assumed that Låpsley finds questions about her age as interesting as female DJs find questions about “what it’s like to be a female DJ,” but I don’t know, because I didn’t ask.) “I don’t have much to draw from, but the things I’ve been feeling are quite fresh—these are the first proper relationships you get into, so it’s all very raw for me. Maybe if I’m very happy I’ll write in a different way. But now I’m best with the feeling where it feels like your life’s over, and you have to remind yourself, it’s not over at all.”
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