A Deep Dive into Lauv's Album 'All 4 Nothing'
Ari Leff, known professionally as Lauv, is most commonly known for his hits “The Other” and “I Like Me Better” as well as the compilation album I met you when I was 18. Earlier this month, TUGZ was invited to a press conference hosted by °1824 to hear from the pop artist on his newest album, All 4 Nothing.
In the album, Lauv wades through miles and miles of treacherous deep green woods, finally stumbling into the light and remembering, “Oh yeah, life.” For long-time fans who may have expected his signature layered vocals over electronic pop, they’re in for quite the shock: Lauv has traded in his typically polished melodies for a more stripped-down sound with raw lyrics to boot.
For All 4 Nothing, Lauv has allowed himself to be vulnerable after having a really rough time during the pandemic. “In some of the songs, just some of the stuff that I was going through and talking about [is]…very straight up…so it’s all there for people to see in a way that’s not trying to be polished for a pop record,” Lauv explained. “There’s nothing to hide.”
This is a new type of record for Lauv, who is used to being a part of every step of production. “I was just focused mostly on the songwriting and the singing and writing the songs on the microphone,” he said, “I had a few different friends of mine who I really trust as producers that kind of brought in some new sounds and some new vibes for me.” Beyond that, he experimented more with freestyling and began singing exactly what he felt rather than filtering it. “They’re a lot more kind of off the cuff, a little bit more direct…there wasn’t really any intention behind writing the lyrics other than to just say whatever came to mind.”
The album’s themes coincide with Lauv’s mental health awakening. “I was so resistant to the idea of even going to somebody like a psychiatrist because I just felt like there was such a stigma around the idea of taking pills to fix your brain. You’re like, ‘come on, I shouldn’t need that.’” It took a “big, huge, massive, shitty low” for him to open up to the idea of medication and shifting methods to heal. “It became not only just talk therapy and medication, but like meditation and starting to be open to like the kinds of things that are a little bit…maybe woo-woo but still, I find that works for me.”
Lauv reflects that the album has helped him transform. “It was a huge confidence-building journey for me when I was starting the album,” he said, explaining that it helped him learn to trust and believe in himself. But that journey is far from over: “Literally every single day is just waking up and being like, ‘I’m ok with myself as a person no matter what.”
He was adamant that the album represent the darkness and the struggles as well as lightness and happiness. “You feel ashamed of the parts of yourself that are darker sometimes and you just, especially having such a spotlight, only want to show the lighter sides,” he said. “But I got really exhausted with that.”
The album represents Lauv’s journey coming out of the loneliness he’s felt the past couple of years. Following the release and subsequent booming success of I met you when I was 18, he spent a lot of time touring and reflecting on his college relationship. “I started to kind of get taken for this ride and this journey of insanity, touring all the time, doing all this stuff. And I think that that honestly led me to a place of loneliness.” As excited as he was about his newfound success, internally, he wasn’t in a good place. “I'm so lucky, but I was so unhappy on the inside and felt so anxious all the time that I was like my next journey was like, ‘Okay, let me define what happiness is for myself and let me go and find that.’”
All 4 Nothing emotionally exposes Lauv to the audience like never before. But more than that, he has created a sonic testament to the importance of staying true to one’s inner light. “I had this big dream in my life that I chased that I reached a certain level but I felt really empty on the inside,” he said “[All 4 Nothing is] basically me on a journey of trying to find my own inner light again.”
Images via Bandwagon Asia