LP, in her own words, “doesn’t need any fucking favours.” The LGBT icon—born Laura Pergolizzi—has writing credits on tracks recorded by the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Cher, and Rita Ora, as well as helping pen Rihanna’s seminal “Cheers (Drink to That)”. Not one to be complacent, her solo career has run in parallel for the past 18 years, and earned her number ones in four countries.
It’s no wonder, then, that she’s not overly worried whether you like her latest record, released in December.
“I just want it to be natural,” she says of her hopes for how new listeners will respond to Heart to Mouth, her fifth studio album. “[If] you don’t like it, you don’t like it. [If] you like it, you like it.”
Fortunately, there’s plenty to enjoy on the 12-song collection—as her fans attest. Using the same producer—Mike Del Rio—as her previous full-length, Lost on You, Pergolizzi has managed to walk the tightrope of remaining faithful to her sound, while expanding in new directions. Heart to Mouth is darker than the singer’s previous offerings, with the belting “Recovery” discussing the pain in her real-life heartbreak, “Shaken” reliving the agony of seeing her ex- with another person, and “The Power” offering a self-described “State of the Union address” about losing herself, all over her signature guitar-based pop.
“I think as you progress in life, shit just gets darker and darker,” she tells the Georgia Straight. “You don’t have to feed into it—you don’t have to become a dark person—but the more you see, you’re like, ‘Wow; there are opposing forces.’ I think being on tour so much, and being isolated in that way set the tone for my expression a little bit more. As much as I’m having the time of my life, I’m also very lonely when I’m on the road for long stretches. And lonely doesn’t have to be, ‘Oh, poor LP,’ but it’s more about just being able to be introspective and have perspective of that place.”
Rather than measure her success by the reception to her albums, Pergolizzi judges her output by how much she likes the songs herself. Following Lost on You—the title track of which currently has a combined 384 million streams on Spotify and YouTube—the singer wanted to steer away from trying to re-create that success; a goal that she believes she’s achieved.
“The record feels good to me in general, because it feels very in and of its own thing,” she says. “I feel most proud of that—that it’s just another bunch of work, and it’s not grasping for anything. And I think the record as a whole feels really enjoyable to listen to. For me, when I get a song back from a producer after we’ve done it, if it sucks I don’t listen to it again. If I get a song back that I love, and I keep listening to it, then it goes on the record. So the fact that when you’re done with the record, and you can keep listening to the entire record and go out and tour it for two years, then you can give yourself a hand and say that you’ve created something that you like.”
A prolific songwriter, Pergolizzi struggled for years to build on her audiences as a solo live performer. That changed after Lost on You, which explains why she's now playing soft-seaters on her current tour. She credits her success in the industry to her ability to keep pumping out new tracks. As a hired gun, the singer can turn around a hit record faster than most, and has an immediate feeling about whether she’ll keep a track for herself or pass it to an A-list artist.
“At one point I was looking at my BMI statement in the world, and there were songs on there that I don’t even remember writing, which charted in the Philippines or something,” she recalls. “To me, that’s how it [the industry] works—you just keep on writing songs, and don’t get too attached to the outcome. I’ve been so lucky so many times to get a song that gets out there. And you’d be surprised how many songs are not out there. It’s something to be truly grateful for, and I take it very seriously.”
LP plays the Orpheum on January 31.
Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays