Laura Warshauer on tour with Bob Schneider
May/02/2012 10:01 PM
Laura Warshauer Interview
Rock Star Music News
May 2, 2012
Interview by Nicole Hanratty
Laura Warshauer is “worth being heard,” and she is narrating her success with her recent album The Pink Chariot Mixtape.
(Currently on tour with Bob Schneider while promoting her album The Pink Chariot Mixtape, Laura is traveling like a rock star.)
I could talk to Laura Warshauer all day. She’s that kind of person. Warm, friendly, and insightful, Laura exudes confidence. Life of a Rock Star™ was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time chatting with her recently.
April 30, 2012: I caught Laura on the phone en route to a radio live performance and interview in New Jersey. She was good enough to give up 30 minutes of her drive time and I soaked up every minute of it!
Q: For starters, did I read that you are from New Jersey?
“I am from New Jersey, yeah, and I’m in New Jersey right now!”
I was just in New Jersey yesterday, at the Chit Chat café. They’re known for their red velvet stuffed pancakes.
“I’m a fan of red velvet anything!”
Are you happy to be home?
“I am so happy to be home, you know this is my first national tour and we did the first three shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Baltimore and now we are playing New York tomorrow night. But we had a day--two days--and I was able to go to my parent’s house in New Jersey and you know get recharged and do laundry and actually right now I’m on my way to a radio interview. It’s been so much fun just going to the beach, my favorite breakfast spot and getting a little TLC from my mom is always a good thing.”
Where did you go to high school?
“I went to High School in New jersey where I’m from at Rumpson-Fair Haven regional high school--actually the same high school as my dad. …I graduated a year early and then I spent what would have been my senior year of high school at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. From there I went to NYU and graduated from NYU.”
What was the draw to St. Andrews?
“I was looking for just sort of a cool way to spend what would have been my senior year of high school. My older sister was a junior in college at the time and was going to be living with a family in Paris…so I had Europe on my mind and have always loved art history. I came across St. Andrews and they have a great art history program and I thought it would be–you know--a lot of fun and a great adventure. Sort of on a whim I applied to the school and then I wound up getting the chance to go with my dad and visit and I just fell in love with it. When I got accepted I just felt like it was meant to be for that year.”
I was listening to your song “To Will & Kate, Meet Me at Exit 109.” Tell me about meeting them.
“It was like just very surreal. I mean you know for me, I’m like sort of like who would have known that this Jersey girl you know would arrive in Scotland and live down the hall from the future King of England. And the future King and Queen of England! Kate was on the floor below! And you know in retrospect, I got the chance to meet them both individually the same week that they were meeting each other.”
Do you stay in touch or did you go to their wedding?
“No, it’s sort of like when you go off to college and you make fast friends with the people around you in your dorm. Like, that’s what it was like with Will and Kate. We had a lot of very cool experiences. I’d make lasagna on Sunday nights. We’d have these dinners. Wills gave me a ride to the airport. Kate and I were supposed to share a cab but he offered Kate a ride so I got in on that as well. And we would be at you know university parties together. And sitting at like the dining hall. It was some really like, amazing moments. That song that I wrote about that time was really inspired by, you know, as I saw the two of them on the world stage I was like really compelled by these sort of intimate behind the scenes moments that I got to share with people that will be the future King and Queen of England. But they are really just very real down to earth people and I think that’s what so appealing. Because there is obviously a fascination with royalty and with all of the pageantry that goes along with that, but sort of behind that is a very real young couple in love [that] met at college and it’s so many people’s stories. So I think that’s why everyone can relate to them so much.”
Did you meet anyone special at St. Andrews?
“Alas, no, I did not meet my own Prince Charming in Scotland. Although, it’s actually interesting. St. Andrews has a very high rate of people that meet their future spouses there. And when you go there--it’s such a romantic setting--it’s not surprising. But, nope, I still have that to look forward to!”
I’ve read that you started singing in your crib, but have you ever had training or are you entirely self-taught?
“At different times I’ve studied with different voice teachers. And I’ve studied with different guitar teachers as well.”
Have ever tried another instrument or you’ve always stuck with the guitar?
“Right, yes. Stuck with guitar. Very quickly for me the guitar became a song-writing tool. I sort of like learned my first couple of chords and ran with them. And I just like, loved the fact that I could accompany myself and it was like very empowering and I was inspired by Alanis Morissette …I wanted to take a stab at song writing and that’s how that evolved when I was like fourteen years old. I just started going to open mics and you know booking shows and booking studio time. That’s really the evolution of how I started writing. I think musically…it’s sort of like a vehicle to just convey emotions, connect with people, tell great stories, and that’s really…what sort of music and what song writing fundamentally mean to me.
You sound so much like Natalie Merchant.
“You know I have gotten Natalie Merchant before and I’m honored by that because I think she’s amazing.
Well, I think you look like a young beautiful Brooke Shields and when I listen to your songs I hear 10,000 Maniacs.
“Wow! Thank you! I like you! A young beautiful Brooke Shields! I will carry that! That just made my day!”
I read conflicting stories about where you live, Nashville or Los Angeles. Where do you live?
“I’m currently living in Los Angeles. I moved to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago and Nashville I’ve spent some time in over the past few months because I was working with a producer Marshall Altman who’s based there so I got the chance to spend a few weeks there on two separate trips because I was recording.
So when you wind up at your last date on tour in LA, then you are home?
“Yes, I’m home and that actually just happened to work out really well. I mean this is--I was so excited to get this--my first official national tour and I had done a few dates with Bob Schneider this past fall and then Bob invited me out and I was, you know, just thrilled. He’s an incredible artist and such an inspiration for me and it’s been such a—just the coolest experience so far. I’m really loving it! You know touring has been like a dream for me and to finally experience it and love it just every bit even more than I thought I would is really great!”
I’m looking at your tour schedule and I see you’re hitting 14 states in about a month and a half. Have you ever traveled that intensely before?
“I do travel a lot. But this is taking even me to a whole ‘nother level. And actually, you know what’s kind of cool is that I have the first leg of the tour and then I’m actually going to Isreal, because my sister is graduating from medical school. So I’m going to Tel Aviv and then I get to come back and then do the second leg where I’m gonna be all over the West Coast.”
How much traveling abroad have you done?
“I’ve gotten to travel on a couple of different family trips growing up. And I’ve gotten opportunities to go to Israel before, we do have some family over there in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. When I was young my grandparents took you know my family –aunts uncles cousins myself we went on a trip to Europe and got to you know see some of the European cities. I think like really early on I was like very just influenced by art in general and culture. My family on my mom’s side--my grandparents--are from Belgium. So growing up I heard grandparents who speak French to my mom and there was definitely that European influence in my home growing up so I always loved that.”
Is your family jewish?
I’m always inspired by people who succeed in the industry and keep the culture as a part of them.
“Yeah, definitely. I’m really looking forward to this trip. There is something about Israel. I’ve been there on two different occasions and you sort of you know you expect it to be really cool and interesting but you don’t necessarily expect that feeling of connectedness, and when you’re there it’s just sort of like’ you know, there’s this feeling that’s much bigger than just you yourself. It’s a very, very cool experience.”
Ok, I have to ask. I see some pain in your lyrics and since you’ve told me you write your songs, I’m wondering if you can share what has produced some of the emotion that comes through your songs?
“Definitely. …There’s like this tension that is like a driving force behind a lot of my lyrics. You know there’s just always this feeling of kind of all there is and all there could be and the tension between the two and I feel like it’s almost like a tight rope-like that line of where a lot of like my lyrics come from. I mean as a person I would say I’m a pretty positive happy person. I mean a lot of people comment all the time on how I smile a lot and so I don’t sort of walk through life with this crazy, you know, angst or anything. But I guess that…it’s a way for me to sort of I guess feel that emotions or life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to work out whether it’s small things or bigger things and I think it’s challenging sometimes. Even though I keep moving--it’s not like I harp on things--I guess you know kind of like at some deep down level maybe I don’t quite get past things and I think as a result you have this sort of pent up emotion that you know doesn’t really have a place to go. I guess the songs are kind of that place where it goes. And I think that’s a lot of where what you’re describing as pain sort of comes from--I’m not necessarily always referencing a specific person or an event, it’s more of like a buildup of emotions.”
I think all of that comes through. I love the lyrics “at 17 I was a dreamer.” [Sweet 17]
“Thank you! I’m still a dreamer by the way!”
One of your songs says, “I’ll stay ‘cause my love won’t let you fade away.” [Fade Away] Sometimes it just sounds like there’s just something a little deeper there for you.
“Yes, definitely. And I think that for me there’s this sort of certain urgency, a certain yearning that comes through in a lot of my songs or something that I’m looking for and I’m not always sure even myself what it is exactly. But it’s like a certain restlessness that comes through for sure in my writing and in my lyrics. I think that’s a good thing because it’s sort of like the stakes are high. I like the feeling of when I walk out on stage. I feel the stakes. There’s got to be a certain urgency or like the stakes have got to be high. People [have] to feel that or why should they care? You’re about to say something that’s worth saying and worth being heard and I think that…there’s a certain relate-ability factor. I think that life definitely has it’s ups and downs and challenges and we’re all connected by, you know, sort of communal life experiences--both happy and sad--and we’re all on this sort of roller coaster. I think that…I think it’s like ok if you can present things in a real way where ultimately I’d like to think that my songs have a hopeful quality to them, you know, even if they’re real.
How do you think that your family has influenced your music?
“I feel like my family has just influenced me in every way. I’m very lucky, I come from just an amazing family—very close knit, very supportive!”
Just one sister?
“A sister and a younger brother. My younger brother actually was just on the road with me for a couple of shows so he’s been a lot of fun. My brother goes to Duke University. He’s studying philosophy.”
You have a very bright family!
“Oh, my parents are great! …It’s one thing to be a parent I think and to encourage your kids to really kind of go after what they want in life. But it’s another thing to really live that and I feel like my parents have really lived that, you know, for us and with us and that is, I mean, just priceless.”
Do you feel like going after what you want in life has in any way prohibited you from having or maintaining friendships or relationships in your life?
“I would say that…from like a very young age I was kind of very inspired by the sort of bigger greater vision and you know that didn’t even necessarily take shape--or it’s taken shape over the years--of what that has exactly meant but I was always sort of so focused on this like bigger picture and the future, that I’m sure at times I kind of missed out on some every day stuff along the way for sure. But I think that again that also gives me something, I think that sort of like urgency or like a certain longing that you hear lyrically. I’m sure it comes from some of that. The irony of it is that I at times find myself writing about what I myself as a person might be missing out on, but it’s like right in front of me. I’m almost like the narrator.”
So what are your goals both personally and musically?
“Musically, I think I’m really interested in really building something and building a life. …You know what’s been most exciting over the past year to two years is that sense that I feel like I am building something. I set out to do something and share my songs with as many people as I can share them with and now you know I had my song on the radio charts for 12 weeks and got the opportunity to be on stage and sing with Lyle Lovitt and Graham Nash and Michelle Branch and Shawn Colvin. Then [I] got the opportunity to be on my first national tour with Bob Schneider and I’m gonna be playing Lollapalooza. So that sort of building a resident life and career both personally and professionally and I certainly envision--you know I come from a close family--I certainly envision wanting and having a family. But first I want to kind of tour the world over.
You’ve mentioned some pretty amazing people you’ve worked with, but I have to ask, what did it feel like to have Jay-Z walk up to you and basically just say you have what it takes?
“That was a very surreal moment because at the time I was signed to Island Def Jam, Jay-Z was an executive at the company and had seen me perform at a showcase for the company and that’s where I’d met him very briefly. This was actually a while later at a Grammy after party and someone said, ‘Jay you remember Laura.’ And I remember vividly thinking, you know, like this guy is gonna have no idea who I am. And then Jay just looked me dead in the eye and he was like, ‘You are fantastically talented.’ And I was like--it was one of those like--oh my god did he just say that? It was a moment where I was wowed by it ‘cause I didn’t even think he was going to remember me.”
Is there anything you worry about?
“Actually, by the time I walk on stage--the stage is a very comfortable place--I feel very at home on stage. I think that there’s definitely, you know, anticipation before you’re about to go on a tour or before you’re during shows, especially if you are trying to work up a new show, work up new material, or figure out what it is that you’re going to do. You want to feel prepared and so there is natural stuff that you think about, but by the time I actually take the stage I’m like so in the moment it’s actually one of my favorite-favorite times!
Have you had a Life of a Rock Star™ moment?
“The coolest thing is when you are on stage in front of, you know, a packed house and you actually feel like you’re reaching people! ...I had 400 people singing in a packed venue and an audience that was not my audience chanting my song, or like someone reaches up to like grab my hand-–moments like that where you’re like this is actually real!”
You can follow Laura on Twitter @LauraWMusic