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Lauren Spencer-Smith talks Debut Album Mirror and Building A Brand Around Sad

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Experiencing heartbreak and sadness is an inescapable part of human existence. Whatever form your sadness may assume (dropping a mug of chocolate milk, frantically throwing your house into disarray in search of car keys, being unable to run your hands over your pets’ fur while stuck at school, staining a brand-new pair of cream-coloured trousers — pick your poison), one can agree that being sad is a lonely, trapping phenomenon.

If your woes are deeper and darker, like experiencing parental discord, navigating the aftermath of a breakup with a best friend or romantic partner, unlearning and breaking what you thought you knew of love, you’re in luck.

Chances are, American Idol alum and proud Canadian multi-platinum singer-songwriter Lauren Spencer-Smith has already extracted the pain from your sadness and distilled it into one of the fifteen heartbreaking and powerful songs on her debut album, Mirror.

Lauren considers herself a professional filler of voids, but only after she has worked through them in therapy. The nineteen-year-old artist seeks to create music that is vulnerable and relatable, granting a voice to the inner monologue we all have but don’t quite pay enough attention to.

In 2023, she released Best Friend Breakup and Fantasy, both of which are featured on her debut album, which talk about what it means to create and maintain relationships with others, especially when they begin to turn toxic. Fingers Crossed (2022) debuted at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100, a substantial feat for an artist who was unsigned at the time of its release.

Much of Spencer-Smith’s success is owed to her following on social media; a clip of the singer singing along to her song Fingers Crossed in the studio posted on TikTok garnered over 23 million views and created enough hype for the song to appear on charts upon its release in January of 2022. Lauren connects with her massive Gen-Z audience by striking a balance between personal and widely relatable themes in her music.

“If you’re sad, I’m your girl.” She proudly proclaims.

We sat down with Lauren Spencer-Smith over Zoom to listen to her chat about her debut album, Mirror, before she jetted off for the American-Canadian leg of her world tour, and were treated to Bigger Person and Do It All Again, two unreleased tracks soon to be available with the other thirteen songs on all streaming platforms on July 14.

Lauren has guts and gusto; heart and courage. And she’s here to provide the soundtrack for every heartbreak you’ll ever experience.

What are some observations you’ve collected from being a young artist in the music industry?

Doing things young can be overwhelming because you’re not prepared for a lot of things. All of a sudden, there’s a song that’s blowing up so I moved out of my house, and I didn’t even know how to pay rent or bills because I’ve stayed at home my entire life. You’re becoming a young adult at the same time as your career skyrocketing and it is definitely very overwhelming.

The best part about doing all of this young is that you get to do so many things young, in your twenties. I will hopefully get to do everything I’ve dreamed of doing in my twenties and then be able to start a family and travel and build this amazing life that I’ve always dreamed of having by the time I’m in my thirties.

I know that so many of my friends are on completely different timelines and they always mention how I should be grateful that I get to do all these things now and have the freedom to do whatever I want to when I’m older.

Social media has played a crucial part in your career thus far. Do you tend to use your platforms intentionally or has your activity progressed naturally?

When I started posting on social media a long time ago, nobody knew who I was. It was more about figuring out things that were cool and posting videos of myself with the air of ‘I want to be a singer and that means posting on all these social media platforms in hope of someone noticing me.’

By the time TikTok came around, I had already been posting consistently on Instagram and Facebook because I realised that there were actually ways to make money from this and do it for a living. So by then I was posting because I knew this was something I had to do as a part of a job but also because I love making videos and singing, and it all eventually ties up into being one big happy thing that I love doing. But I would be lying if I claimed to use social media just for fun and not strategically.

In a recent interview, you described your songwriting journey as a collaborative effort that took many people, trial and error, different practices and forms to perfect. What is the most essential thing you learned about the lyrical form?

I’m a big advocate for having co-writers. I think everyone can benefit from having people test your ideas and pull more out of you even when you think you’ve done your best.

The main thing I’ve learnt from songwriting in general is to listen to others’ ideas and try to bounce off of them because sometimes when people collaborate, it can get overwhelming and there’s a sense of dissociation from the song so it’s very important to respect the other people in the room and listen to all their ideas. No idea is a bad idea because we can always form other ideas, it’s just a creative space.

Your music meets listeners where they’re at in their healing journeys. You’ve used the phrase ‘built such a brand around sad’ in the past. What does this mean to you?

I felt like my feelings weren’t valid my whole life, or I would go through something and everyone around me would say that I was being overdramatic.

I will say that I am 100% overdramatic. I’m overly emotional and sensitive, I will cry at spilt milk and I will cry at everything. But I was always made to feel silly or stupid over that and I know many people were made to feel the same way.

I’ve always wanted to write about things that upset me and validate my own feelings, and in the process make other people feel less alone about it and let them know that we can all be not-okay together.

Growing up, I never had that example of a specific artist — there were different artists with different things — who was writing about real things. I always wanted to be that person and write about relatable, vulnerable things.

What was your inspiration for your debut album Mirror?

Many things: mainly my trauma, romantic and best friend breakups, and just how difficult relationships are to navigate, break, and reconcile. A lot of the later parts of the album are inspired by meeting my current boyfriend who I was scared to fall in love with and go through all of that again while the first half is about falling out of love with someone, breaking up, and dealing with the aftermath of it all.

There are many different relationships that inspired the songs on this album.

Were there things you learned about yourself in the process of writing this album that changed the outcome of it?

I’ve been writing this album for three years, and me three years ago is a completely different person from who I am now, especially with the fact that I was sixteen-year-old when I wrote the first song and now I’m almost twenty so there’s a very big gap in maturity.

The first half of the album represents that I had no boundaries when it came to relationships and allowed myself to be completely walked over. In the back half, I’m in a relationship and there are songs that are about being loved the way you deserve.

The main thing is just learning what I deserved in the world and that how I was treated was wrong, and learning that my current relationship and the way I’m being loved now is what I do deserve.

What was your thought process while choosing songs that made the final record?

A lot of the songs that went out as pre-releases were some of the must-haves that we knew were obvious choices.

I have an inner circle who I share my music with to gauge their opinions, and for the most part everybody was on the same page about how well a song fit the tracklist and was strong enough to reinforce the theme of the album.

It all came together really easily and there weren’t many that didn’t make the album when I wanted them to. We got to the perfect number and agreed that fifteen was perfect for Mirror.

Since this is an autobiographical album, which song do you feel most connected to?

The latter is sad but leads to the fact that I would redo this album and feel all the emotions again because I’m now happy and where I should be in life, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone through all of that.

Bigger Person is extremely sad and I still suffer from the things I wrote the song about, with the people I wrote it about, so these are the two parallel songs where one shows the sad part of me and the other announces that I’m over it and happy where I am in life.

Which song in this album was the hardest for you to create?

Probably 28.

It wasn’t necessarily challenging to write it but more so the dilemma of whether it was going to be put out with this album because I didn’t know if it would offend certain people. It was definitely the roughest.

Bigger Person was rough, too, because the vulnerability of it hits pretty hard for me. But 28 stumps the rest of them.

Your music is known for having hard-hitting lyrics delivered with powerful vocals which helps listeners connect to it. How do you feel about your music connecting so well with people?

I honestly think it’s crazy because I write songs thinking that nobody is going to relate to me and then people actually do and I think, “We’re all sad and this makes me sad, but this also makes me happy because we’re all in this together and not alone.”

At the beginning of songwriting, it was about learning for the sake of it and writing about lived experiences from my own life, and it’s definitely turned into feeling like I need to write things that I want to talk about because I know people are going to relate to it and it needs to be spoken aloud.

It’s really cool that people relate to my music because it makes me think that my songwriting has a purpose and that I’m here to make people feel less alone.

Is there a particular song on Mirror that you’re excited for listeners to hear?

There’s two for different reasons but the one I’m most excited for people to listen to is Do It All Again because there is an outro and it’s the final song on the album.

It’s usually very unlike me to do anything musically cool like the kids who’ve grown up experimenting with cool music, so it’s exciting that we actually ended up doing something like that and have a play on words linking to other songs in the album at the very end of it.

I’m excited for fans to hear what we did, film their reactions, and just see the big twist at the end of the album.

Mirror, Lauren Spencer-Smith's debut album releases on all streaming platforms on July 14.


Ayesha H. is healthline zine's Blog + Contests Director and Instagram Manager who was preoccupied being harassed by her pet rabbit for a treat to write this bio. She's on Instagram as @its.just.ayesha.


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