Interview by Carl Pietrusinski
Photographed by Rachel Cabitt
Lost In The Light, the first EP from New York based Lauv (Ari Leff), delves into the feelings of uncertainty faced in relationships. The project comes on the heels of a breakup that Leff encountered, which in turn serves for much of its inspiration.
Since it’s September 25th release date, the EP has been well received across multiple platforms. Spotify has included Lauv in multiple New Music Friday Playlists, while his SoundCloud upload of the song “The Other” has eclipsed over a million listens.
Leff is currently a student at NYU studying Music Tech, but did the majority of the writing for Lost In The Light while studying abroad in Prague and traveling around Europe.
“Culturally, I saw so many different types of people and conditions. It was cool to broaden my perspective. Musically it was great because I made it a point to make a beat or write everywhere I went. So I subconsciously processed a bunch of stuff and made music based off of where I was,” Lauv said of his writing process for the EP.
The result was 5 songs that Ari feels “breathe in their own space”. After multiple listens, I find it hard to believe that this is Lauv’s first release. The production is clean and unique while the lyrics are weighted but catchy.
Lost In The Light was a change of pace for the young singer/songwriter/ producer. Before his R&B heavy project, Leff created music under the name Epique, primarily of the pop and electro remix variety. Currently Epique's SoundCloud followers sit at an impressive 11.4k. But he is ready to forge a new path under Lauv.
Regardless of how he chooses to release his music, Ari Leff has a musical talent that I’m excited to watch progress.
You can purchase his EP on iTunes, stream it on Spotify, and listen to on SoundCloud.
While you’re listening, read our interview below.
POND: Where did the inspiration from Lost in the Light come from?
ARI: It was a long writing process where I was kind of going through some personal stuff after a relationship. The EP was me confronting a lot of stuff that I think a lot of people feel with relationships. I was trying to tap into all the things with the little moments and stages of a relationship for better and for worse and the EP is myself exploring that.
POND: What is your favorite song from the EP?
ARI: I think one of the coolest for me to write and record was "Come Back Home." It’s a little different. I felt like that was kind of the most beautiful moments whenever I was writing that song. It’s sonically a little bit different and a really perfect way to end the EP on a positive note and realize where your home is, where you belong. Last summer I had those moments of needing to figure out how the project would map out. For a little over 4 months I studied abroad in Czech Republic and did a bunch of writing there, so that of course influenced things.
POND: What did your time in the Czech Republic add to your life?
ARI: I went into it wanting to get as many songs done as I could there. When you study abroad, classes aren’t as big of a deal. You don’t have to juggle as many, so I spent a lot of time working on these songs. Most of the songs on the EP I recorded the vocals for in the States. But I actually cut the vocals for “Come Back Home” in my Czech setup. Even though it’s an extremely valuable experience to have in my young life, music made it a little less intensive. My mom has family from Latvia, so I’ve spent a bunch of time traveling around in Europe; I’ve been there many times. But even for me it was all incredible. It’s nice being sort of detached from all the stuff that stresses you out in the states. Culturally, I saw so many different types of people and conditions. It was cool to broaden my perspective. Musically it was great because I made it a point to make a beat or write everywhere I went. So I subconsciously processed a bunch of stuff and made music based off of where I was.
POND: How has life changed since dropping “Lost in the Light”?
ARI: So much has changed since the first song was released. My life is so different now it’s amazing. I’m online and I signed my publishing deal which was huge for me. Now I’m playing live. Things are really crazy now. I’m always in the studio and lucky enough to be collaborating with other talented producers and writers. I feel like I was able to make and record 5 songs that breathe in their own space while complimenting each other, and I’m very proud of them. So I'm pretty excited to share them with people and hear the feedback.
POND: On "Adrenaline" you say that you “Don’t know where the ceiling is/where the feeling is anymore”- what inspired that lyric?
ARI: The whole song is more about trying to get in touch with the original highs of falling in love with somebody and remembering that, as time progresses in a relationship, it can take practice and work to thrive like those original highs.
POND: Where’s your favorite late-night food spot in NYC?
ARI: This is tough. I have like 2 number ones. When I lived near Union Square I was obsessed with halal. I would always go to my favorite particular cart that I just loved. I always got chicken over rice and felt awful the next morning. But it just always tasted so good, so of course I couldn’t say no. Now I live in the East Village and there’s a deli around the corner from me. I’m a big fan of their chicken parm wrap.
POND: Favorite part of living in New York.
ARI: I think it’s the energy, but LA has that in a different way as well. I guess in terms of New York, it’s the kind of city where at first it seems so crazy and hectic, especially for me whenever I first visited. But once you start living here you just become apart of it. I can’t imagine not living in the city without stuff happening all around me. It inspires me to always be working, especially late at night.
POND: Favorite performance so far?
ARI: I think it’d definitely have to be at the Highline Ballroom for CMJ. That was an incredible moment for me. It was my first really big performance so naturally I had some nerves. I couldn’t eat all day [laughs].
POND: First CD you bought?
ARI: I feel like it had to be an Eminem CD. I don’t remember which one. I think it was either Curtain Call or Encore. I was living in Atlanta and was super young and got into rap. I asked my mom if it was cool that I played it. I was like 10. Then 8 mile came out and I remember watching that with my mom but it was so vulgar. That was a bad idea. But for whatever reason Eminem was my first
(He later clarified that it was The Eminem Show)
POND: Feeling after being named to Spotify’s New Music Friday?
ARI: That was so amazing. It’s happened a couple of times actually. The first time it happened was around the time that “Reforget” came out. I woke up in an Airbnb in LA to some texts saying that I made it and I freaked out. I’m such a massive Spotify fan and use it regularly. Just having my own stuff on it is incredible in itself to me.