We spoke to LA Based Lucy & La Mer on activism and songwriting. On touring and reflecting. Lucy gave us some amazing tips for staying mindful and creative.
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Before we get into the article, a fun side note, Lucy & La Mer actually performed as a headliner to Bi Pride UK’s first live fundraiser back in 2018 and was instrumental to the charity starting up. So you could say Lucy kickstarted the chain of events that eventually led to UNICORN Magazine coming alive!
And now she’s in it as an interview.
Q – Thanks for chatting with us. Can you start with telling us a bit about yourselves and what you do?
Lucy: Okay. I’m Lucy LaForge. I am also known as Lucy & La Mer. I’m a songwriter. I’m based in Los Angeles and I’m a big part of the LGBTQ+ community here, and a big activist in the bi community.
I think it’s a really important issue that’s all over the world. It’s really an international situation –
bringing bi visibility to the front.
I base a lot of my songs on my personal experience. So after coming out I was able to start using every pronoun in my songs, not just heterosexual relationships or you know, replacing she/her with he/him in my music. That’s when I really started to come into my own and write more and perform more and start touring as a bisexual artist.
Q – Wow. That’s pretty cool. How do you find the balance between activism and music making?
Lucy: They really go hand in hand, I think more so than the songs I write, the community that has been building at my shows and at events I put on. Really, they both encourage each other. The music community and the activist community are one in the same, at least in Los Angeles.
When you go to a show, you’re not just there to listen to music,
you’re there to support each other and build a community.
There’s vendors, especially at our shows, we are very intentional, so we always have local groups there to represent and make themselves known.
I used to work a lot with Ambi, which is a small social networking group for bis to get to know each other, to make friends, to know that you’re not alone and you have a community here.
Q – How do you start the writing process? Say you want to start a new project with your what goes into the process for you to start creating?
Lucy: Normally my songs are written when I’m going through some kind of transition. Like a break up or a new job or moving, any kind of life event really inspires me to write because I often struggle with a lot of anxiety around change.
Also I think anytime I have a very strong emotion or I’d like to feel a different emotion. I was experiencing a really major depressive episode and I wrote the EP -I Feel Better Now because I just wanted to feel better even though I didn’t actually physically feel better at that time.
I wrote songs that would help uplift me and help give me a visualization of what it would be like to feel better.
I guess, whenever my heart needs a song, I write a song.
It can be difficult to sit down in a writing session with someone who needs a song that day and they say, okay, I want to write a song about this. Can we write something with this? It takes a while to get into that headspace.
Q – You touched on I Feel Better Now, we loved the song and we love the album. Is there any more bits of information you want to tell us about the album in particular? Was there anything that spurred it on?
Lucy: Yeah, well basically I had a really big show here in Los Angeles and there was a lot of buzz around it. A lot of reviews came out the next day saying, you know, “Lucy & La Mer is an up and coming artist, she’s on the verge, she’s the next big thing” and that’s great.
I’m very grateful for those reviews. But I’d been getting the same exact reviews for a few years and it just felt very repetitive and I felt stuck and it makes me feel everyone kept saying, “Oh, she’s going to be great one day.” and I just want to be good now. I just want to be accepted now and you know, feel like I’m a valid, successful musician in this very moment.
So in addition to everything going on in my personal life, which had spiraled into this depressive state, music had become something that wasn’t feeling good anymore. It felt like people were judging the, you know, the outcome.
Like, Oh, was this a good song? Did she write a hit? That kind of thing. I just want to make music and have people say, cool, I’m so glad you’re making music, that’s awesome.
I was trying to turn it into a positive thing. Like I’m going to feel better in a few months or next year. I’m going to feel this happy, I’m going to write all these folk pop jingles that feel good and put a smile on people’s faces, because I want to feel happy.
I want to surround myself with happy people and I want to be one of them.
That whole EP was just letting go and trying to picture, you know, what’s it gonna feel like to jump out of bed in the morning and be really excited for the day.
Q – One of the lyrics in the album is “The type of pain inside and out. I’ve had my doubts and they’ve had me too.” Do you think that self doubt and self confidence are important? Or go hand in hand in this journey of the album?
Lucy: Definitely. I think self doubt is something we all experience and it’s not something that we necessarily ever get rid of completely. I mean, if we did, we’d be kind of like a crazy narcissist probably.
I think it’s healthy to question some things and then move forth and encourage yourself.
I think self confidence is just what comes right after self-doubt.
So you see a problem and you say, okay, this is a problem, I can believe myself when you start to be affirmative, start to say, I can do this, I can feel better, I can feel better now, I can feel better soon.
I think self doubt is just, it’s such a funny thing. Plus with my sense of humor, I just like to poke fun at myself constantly. I’ll put on a really big show and then I’ll not want to play it. Or I’ll write this really big, exciting song with a bunch of dance moves and all these things I imagined in my head, and then I’ll doubt that I could even perform it.
Then I just keep pushing myself to do it because I know a bigger part of me wants to be that person who’s super happy and positive and jumping around the stage because I want to put out that energy for other people, even if I don’t feel it for myself all the time.
Q – We’ve read recently that you’ve toured with I Feel Better Now?
Lucy: It was wonderful. It was so nice to sing those songs. I did sing some of my older tunes, some of the sadder ones as well, just to have a mix of emotions at the shows. But
it was really awesome to meet people who heard these songs
and were inspired and they say, oh, I put this on in my car when I’m feeling down or when I’m on a road trip and I’m just in the mood for an adventure.
I went to Australia for the first time and I went to the Philippines for the first time and the people in both countries were just so wonderful and welcoming and very inspired.
Q: Do you have a favourite gig or night you remember particularly well?
Lucy: Yes. My show in Manila in the Philippines was very special. I performed with a few musicians who I’ve only seen online. I had never spoken to them before.
Someone tagged me in a post of them covering Blue Dress which is on the EP about discovering yourself. Letting it be exciting not terrifying and shameful and just really loving yourself and being excited that you’re having these bisexual thoughts.
Someone tagged me in their version of that song and I messaged them immediately and just said, “Hey, this is really cool. Great job. Are you free tomorrow by any chance?” And they said, “yeah, I’ll be at your show actually”. I said, “why don’t you come up and play a few songs with me on the guitar” because I was doing solo at the time and I thought that’d be a really cool way to get to know fans in different countries.
And they did! They came to the hotel I was staying at before the show to learn the songs and then they performed with me. It was just such a cool way to perform in a new place, to have someone from the local community be on stage with me and play the song. You know, I didn’t tell them exactly what to play. I let them interpret it on their own as well.
That was a really cool way to get to know the music scene in Manila also and the style.
That was just a really special thing.
Q: Wow, do you get a lot of covers of your songs online?
Lucy: There have been a few more covers that have popped up. A lot of ukulele covers. I love them.
I love when people cover my songs.
I share them all the time.
Q – When you do tours like this, is there anything that you do to take care of yourself and your mental health while you’re traveling and away from home? Do you have any tips or little things that you’ve picked up?
It can be very lonely to be on tour
especially if you’re touring alone. Like I didn’t have a manager or a tour manager. I was making friends constantly, which was hard because you don’t necessarily want to talk to strangers when you’re traveling, it’s just not the safest thing.
But it is a great way to get to know the neighborhood and really keep yourself kind of awake, interacting because you can get very secluded staying in your hotel room by yourself and that’s not good for your mental health at all.
I recommend going on walks. You get to see new places, but also you’re getting that physical exercise that’s really good for your mental health.
Lots of water, lots of tea, and also FaceTiming friends at home and family at home is great. I don’t do it constantly but definitely check in back home so you feel like you have like your rock, you know, you have your foundation, you have a friend or your mom or someone back home who is there for you. It’s good so that you don’t feel like you’re just floating aimlessly when you’re travelling.
Q – When you come home after touring and go back to the normal music scene and the music industry, in particular in LA, are there any things you do to maintain yourself and your happiness in what seems to be quite a brutal industry?
Lucy: Well, it’s a tough industry. It can be very toxic. I think the entertainment industry in general is a very toxic place. I would recommend finding people who have a similar mission, like their overall goal. Finding other bands that are one, queer for me and two, really interested in community activism.
You’re not playing shows together and competing for attention. You’re not trying to get contact information, you’re not networking constantly.
You’re there because you all believe in something bigger than yourselves
and whatever that is, whatever cause or mission you have with your art, focus on that. I think that way you’ll be able to escape the more petty parts of the industry and all the competitiveness that comes with living in a big city.
Q – Just to close the interview up, we’ve got a few quick fire questions. Who’s the musician or band that you’re listening to at the moment that you’re in love with?
Lucy: Many! I’ve been listening to Sam Smith nonstop. I’m obsessed with Sam Smith. I think they are the perfect person. But in general, I’m really inspired by a lot of local indie artists in the queer community. The band Waze is incredible and very inspiring and I’ve been lucky to tour with them a couple of times. Artist Polar Tropica. Is a really incredible queer artist. And King Princess, of course.
A big crush of mine.
Q – Favorite bicon or pancon? So favorite bisexual or pansexual person in history?
Lucy: Oh my goodness. Well, Freddie mercury was a big inspiration when I was a kid. Even though I think it’s overlooked a lot of times, that they were bisexual because it was overlooked when they were alive, but Freddie mercury and just kind of
unapologetic stage presence.
Q: Last one, what’s your least favorite bi-stereotype that you’d love to just erase from history
Lucy: That it’s a phase because sometimes it is a phase for people and I think that’s valid and okay. We all have temporary and changing things about us, but you’ve got to believe people when they tell you something and you have to respect people on a very basic basis. So
telling someone that their sexuality is a phase is definitely my least favorite stereotype.
Check out Lucy & La Mer’s new EP – I Feel Better Now.
You won’t regret it. In-fact, we think you’ll feel better after listening to it.
CONTENT NOTE This is an exploratory and experimental bi magazine project featuring stories about mental health, violence, abuse, and also positive sex, sexual and identity fluidity, and curiousities. We explore the good and the bad. Dip your toe or take a dive.