Laura Jansen -- About to Pop
By Marina Galperina Posted Feb 16th 2011 04:33PM
Video: 'Single Girls'
Hails From: Los Angeles, Calif.
For Fans Of: Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles
Why She's About to Pop: At her piano, Dutch-born, LA-based singer-songwriter Laura Jansen makes the little things magical. The alt-pop musician's debut album 'Bells' has already gone platinum in her native Holland, but before her dreamy cover of Kings of Leon's 'Use Somebody' spent a year on the Dutch singles Top 10 chart, she was making a name for herself at famed Los Angeles nightclub the Hotel Café.
PopEater caught up with Jansen as she prepares for her 2011 tour to chat about cover songs, American audiences and inspirations. Check out the interview and Jansen's video for 'Single Girls' below.
Nine Questions With Laura Jansen:
Who do you look up to, musically?
I've got some pretty varied influences when it comes to music. I really do pull strength from the greats like Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. Rufus Wainwright is kind of on repeat these days in my house because of his amazing arrangements, and I'm completely in love with Lykke Li, Sigur Ros (and Jonsi), Radiohead and Laura Marling. There's so much good music out there right now, and its a total struggle to keep up with the new discoveries.
What was the first song you played on piano?
That would be 'Fur Elise' by Beethoven. I aimed high as a 4-year-old.
What's the difference between playing live in Netherlands and playing live in the States?
At this point, the main difference is the size of the crowds. Music lovers are music lovers wherever you go in the world. I've had an incredible year in the Netherlands musically, and I really do feel a huge amount of love from the listeners. I've gotten to learn how to do this "thing" in a pretty amazing country, and now I'm taking what I've learned with me to the States. I see the audience in the States as a challenge to myself. I go out there wanting to convince one more person of my music and that's a great feeling. I'm thrilled to get the chance to take my music to an American audience.
What are your best memories of playing at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles?
That place is wallpapered with memories. It's really a glorified clubhouse of singer-songwriters and my home base when I'm in LA. It was the first place I went to visit when I moved here, and I remember really clearly trying to get a gig there. I remember watching all of these amazing artists night after night and realizing I needed to step up my game. There is so much talent there. Now, a few years later, it is the place I go to so see all of my LA family. There's no clear line anymore between friends and colleagues -- they are my family now. We've gone on holidays together, helped each other move, played on each other's records, etc. If you're ever in LA, go see it! You'll be blown away.
How would you describe your sound?
I write piano-pop with a slight shift to a more alternative sound. I play around a lot with arrangements and lean towards the quirkier side of music. I'm a sucker for lush strings and warm sounds, and the record really reflects that. It's mostly very confessional in subject matter, I wear my heart on my sleeve. So yeah, piano alt-pop? Is that a category?
You've covered Kings of Leon's 'Use Somebody.' Which song would you love to cover that you think would surprise your fans?
Oh, I've got a bucket list of cover songs. Some of them are just too hard to cover. I spend time in my studio working on covers because they help me learn more about music. The last one I was working on was 'I'm Afraid of Everyone' by the National. It's a brilliant song.
Your music videos have a magical, sweet touch to them. Do you think they're a good expression of your inner character?
Well, thank you! The process of making a video should be as imaginative and fun as possible. The videos we've made are snippets of my imagination and are certainly part of who I am. I hope the viewer is moved to either a smile or give a nod of recognition when they watch the videos. I work with incredibly creative people who help make those expressions come to life. I do believe in the absolute magic of life and the world around us. It's the way I make sense of things and the way I choose to see the world.
What are some of your non-musical inspirations?
I'm really inspired by traveling and have had the good fortune of being allowed to do that a bunch this past year. New cities are my favorite sources of inspirations. I'll wander off looking for coffee and a record store and end up meeting some great characters and writing in my journal. People I meet along the way really inspire me, too. I've been so humbled by the interactions I've had with audiences who don't speak English as a second language and then are able to tell me their stories anyway. When I'm on the move I read a lot of poetry because it inspires the same form as songs. So good books, good cities, good people -- that's where I turn to.
What are you most looking forward to this year as far as your career plans are going?
I've learned to try and predict as little as possible for my own future and just show up prepared. I'm incredibly excited to be making music every day and for the chance to push myself to my highest potential. It's a thrilling start to the year, and I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing for as many people as will listen. We'll be playing some festivals in the spring and then hopping over to Europe to play there. Three years ago, I wouldn't have been able to predict any of this. I stay far away from predicting. I just want to play, play, play!
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