EXCLUSIVE ARTIST INTERVIEW: LAURA DOWDING | PERFORMING AUGUST 19TH AT BAR NINE
Laura Dowding is a solo artist who plays piano and sings R&B, soul, jazz. She sings a lot of originals, and covers similar artists such as Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige and John Mayer among others!
In anticipation of her live show with us on August 19th at 8PM, Laura was nice enough to email us from her home base in New York to discuss their musical influences, live show experience, and what inspires them on a day-to-day basis
BN: Tell us the brief history of your band
LAURA DOWDING: I used to be accompanied by a band several years ago while I lived in LA, and now I am enjoying connecting with new musicians in the New York area while playing solo gigs
BN: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
LD: I have such a wide variety of musical influences since there are so many elements to writing, producing and making music in general. Vocal-wise I would say my influences are artists such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Etta James, and Billie Holiday. My writing definitely varies depending on how i am feeling and the emotions I am trying to convey. I go from listening to Nas and Wu-Tang to Anderson Paak to Stevie Wonder. Production-wise I am really enjoying Kanye West's work
BN: What are your dreams and goals?
LD: Haha, How much time do you have. My dreams are ever evolving. I feel like my most recent life lesson is that there really is no end, once you reach a goal or dream, you feel amazing, but it's not long before something else seems exciting to accomplish. Personally, the goal and dream is sincere happiness, and I find the purest form of that comes from writing, singing, producing, collaborating and anything else music related. Of course, I have a laundry list of dream collaborations, and dream shows or venues I want to play, and levels I want to see my music at such as radio, or top 100. But I'm (mostly) aware of those just being an enhancement to the happiness I seek
BN: Who writes the songs, what are they about?
LD: I like to do covers that the crowd loves and knows. But any originals I do I write myself. Like I said about my influences, music really depends on what place I am in emotionally, and just like emotions are ever changing, so is my music. The songs often come from personal life experience. Things I am going through, things I am learning, ways I am evolving as a person. Sometimes they come from my observation of others. Others life experiences, other's reactions to things. I try to tread the fine line of writing from a place that gives me relief, and also writing from a place general enough that others can relate based on their own life experience
BN: How do you promote your band and shows?
LD: I mostly use Facebook as my platform of choice for promotion. However I also use Instagram, BandsinTown and individual websites of venues I am playing. Now that my record is out I am also enjoying doing interviews, blog posts, television and radio as well
BN: Describe your show, visual and musically
LD: If I had to pick one word for the way I do a show right now I would say intimate. It's just me and the piano, and since a lot of my set is originals, I feel like it's a pretty vulnerable conversation with myself and the audience. Just kind of a stripped down version of these great RnB songs people love, and also raw performances of songs I have produced and released. I really like that aspect to be honest. As a musician, my artistry is really all about promoting authenticity and I feel like you get that from a live show.
BN: What do you think about downloading music online?
LD: Like Streaming? Personally, I make music and listen to music because it makes me feel better. And that's what I want to come from sharing my music, I just want to be the 3 minutes and 29 seconds of someone's day that makes them feel a little better. If that means people download it, or stream it for free, I don't care. I care that people listen to it, by any means. If you can support financially, that is crazy helpful because this is how I make a living. But if I can make you feel something, that's what I care about.
BN: What's your outlook on the record industry today?
LD: Ha, that's a whole 'nother interview. Generally speaking, my outlook is you have to know about music, and you have to know about business, it's not one or the other. If you really wanna be in this game, sign a deal, make a lot of money, play big shows there's a lot of responsibilities that come along with that. Just know what you're doing. Know how to read a contract, Know about copyrights and ownership, be humble enough to take advice, but believe in yourself enough to not just go off someone's opinion. I think the record industry can offer amazing opportunities financially, musically, educationally, but of course you can get swallowed up if you don't know what's going on. Knowledge is power. A mentor of mine in the industry once told me "Laura, if you pop, and don't know what's going on, you're too late". That really resonated with me, and made me really dig in to the information that's available. Like I said, believe in yourself enough that you really know you're gonna need to know that information someday so you better learn it now
BN: What's your claim to fame?
LD: Haha, i'm not sure what you mean by that. There's no like one record I have out yet that I can be like 'yea i wrote that'. yet. But I would say people are often most emphatic about my voice, and how unique and original my whole sound is. Also if you know me, you know I am an advocate for understanding true happiness, and self.
BN: Tell us a story about a day in your life
LD: Well, that's easier said than done since everyday is different ha. Somedays are three hour road trips to a show, up all night, in the studio at 3am, liquor and fancy cars and mansions and celebrities and award shows and all the things you think of. But lots of days are scheduling, rejection emails, rejection calls, cancelled gigs, sitting down to work on a task, hearing a beat, going down the rabbit hole of beats that inspire me to a chord progression, to the piano to recording a piano loop to a new song, and now I haven't done half of what I was suppose to for the day haha. It's a balance, when you work for yourself, and you have a passion that burns you from the inside out there is a lot of anxiety and a lot of fulfillment. It's a constant of really up and really down, and finding refugee in both
BN: What inspires you to do what you do?
LD: Hm, there's a few things. Music is really in my DNA. In Sister Act 2, Whoopi Goldberg says to Lauryn Hill "If you wake up, and as soon as you wake up you can't think of anything else but singing, you're suppose to be a singer". That's how i feel about music. I get sad, and frustrated and depressed and discouraged but I can't NOT do music it would be like not breathing
The second part of that is that I am a very spiritual person, and the opportunity to have a platform with music to speak on true happiness and fulfillment I think is vital in the world today full of users and followers and validation from likes and comments. I just want to see people use this human experience to get all of the juicy wonderfulness out of it that is available
BN: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
LD: Know you're Why. In this industry, in this world, it is so easy to get lost in the fame and fortune and false love that seems to come with this job. You have to do it because you love it. Don't get me wrong you can have all the frills and fluff that come along with being a "rockstar" but never lose the feeling of your spirit moving when you are writing or singing and no one's watching, no one's clapping, no one's paying.
BN: What are some of your pet peeves?
LD: Haha oh boy, there's quite a few. One is when a venue makes a pre-judgment that you're a pompous, arrogant musician who thinks you're above everyone. I definitely have encountered staff and bartenders who make it very apparent that this is their playground and you should just come in, bring them people with tips, and leave. On the other hand, another pet peeve is arrogant, pompous musicians haha. There is a lifetime of growth, information and honing your craft. Never feel like everyone doesn't have something to teach you. The tables turn so fast in this industry and someone who has been behind you could be 12 steps ahead of you with one signature or one show. Just be a good honest kind humble person on either side. There's just no reason not to be
BN: How does music affect you and the world around you?
LD: Music is my world. Mostly it affects the areas of when I am not doing music because I would always rather be doing music. But of course there has to be a balance in life, or I just go crazy by myself with my Protools haha. Music is my therapy, it's how I process every emotion.
BN: What's new in the recording of your music?
LD: I just put my EP out in June called 'G R O W N' on all music platforms. It has a very soulful, rnb, hip hop feel. I've already started writing the next one, and it is a lot more soul, funk, gospel. Like i said it changes so much because I am super sensitive to my emotions and they are ever changing
BN: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
LD: For myself, at this point, it's just me. I do everything from writing the music to booking the shows to being the artist to doing the promotion. It's a lot, and honestly it's begun to take a toll on my artistry. I am looking forward to the next chapter of having a team and being able to better focus on my music and doing my best performance-wise.
BN: What's the best and worst thing about playing clubs?
LD: Like I said before, sometimes, not always, the staff can be presumptions about what kind of musician you are. That's hard for me. The best part is when you can feel the energy in the club elevate because of the shared energy between you and them. That's the euphoric feeling that us musicians chase
BN: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there
LD: My next show at Bar Nine will be Sunday August 19th at 8:30PM. It will be the first time that I have a band join me on stage at Bar Nine and is the first time I've played Bar Nine since my album came out. So i guess it's pretty accurate to say for many reasons this will definitely be the best show I've played at Bar Nine yet. Bar Nine has a special place in my heart because it is the first bar in NYC I saw live music at, and now I get to play there which is amazing. It will be a show full of great classic R&B songs you will know all the words to, mixed with my smooth, unique soulful originals. It will be a good time for sure <3