Isle of Wight singer-songwriter takes you for a crash course in sarcasm with playful, condensed indie pop that packs a dark-humoured punch.
If the courteous and charismatic singer-songwriter Lauran Hibberd has a filter, I truly hope we don’t see it in use for the foreseeable future. Songwriting has naturally developed into an art itself over time, and the challenge of navigating a balance between lyrical depth and musical creativity baffles the very best in the industry. With the increased prominence and focus towards down-to-earth and witty storytelling, there is a resurgent cluster of young, talented artists making their presence now known and Hibberd is leading the way.
Growing up on the Isle of Wight, Hibberd recalls her youth fondly. ‘Everyone says it’s the best place to grow up and the best place to grow old and I think I totally agree with that,’ she says. ‘When you grow up, you get to know all your neighbours that live on the same road and there are beaches for days, I’ve got a lot of good memories from here.’
With nobody in her family playing an instrument, Hibberd’s musical experience growing up was fairly limited, a radio her sole companion for musical expression. Unlike many artists, she didn’t naturally desire playing music from an early age. ‘I was quite late to finding music as a musician I suppose,’ she confesses. ‘I found myself looking for a hobby in my early teens and stumbled across guitar lessons. I fell in love with it instantly and realised I could sing a bit and started writing. I started getting into music once I started playing an instrument. It was a rolling thing from there, just listening to albums and working backwards into a catalogue of things.’
As a naturally intrigued individual, Hibberd found herself falling in love with folk music early on. ‘I picked up an acoustic guitar and started writing and listening to artists like Laura Marling and Joni Mitchell and that was really where I set off I suppose,’ she says. ‘I started as a folk artist, made more and more friends that were in bands and so ended up in a band environment but I think I’ve never really lost that folk element, especially in terms of lyrics. I think that’s what I love the most and carry through the most, the way that people tell stories in songs and things like that. I’ve always been obsessed with words and how different things mean a million different things to a million different people. I guess I started as a folk artist and now people wouldn’t relate that to me which is interesting but it’s definitely what got me into music in the first place.’
On a quest to tackle the banality of life through the medium of hapless, tongue-in-cheek indie rock, Hibberd offers a compelling reflection of humanity, domesticity, routine and the quirks that make our lives interesting.
A storyteller and gifted songwriter, Hibberd’s ability to capture the very essence of the now, the fleeting, the fickle and the forgotten held her in good stead early in her artistic career. Debut single Hunny Is This What Adults Do? is a shrill, charming indie rock piece, shrugging off social insecurities with a hopeful skip and a can-do attitude. Lines "I’m a sucker for an unhappy birthday / I like going to work on a Monday,” are deliciously warm, whilst the likes of lyrics “I just wanna stay on the inside,” gorgeously reflect the inner-voice that hides within each and every one of us.
Conceptually simplistic yet musically delightful with its fuzzy guitars, [Sugardaddy] glitters with the sort of sideways grin that would make your parents shake their heads disapprovingly.
Whilst follow-up single Fun Like This reflected a different element to her sound with its blend of lilting vocals and maelstrom of visceral keys, guitars and drums, it was single Call Shotgun which announced Hibberd’s name to the world. A Hinds-esque, thrashing indie-pop thriller, its crashing chorus contrasts the childlike glee that its creator has for the most conventionally mundane aspects of society. Lyrics “I’m only calling shotgun to sit next to you,” ebb and flow aside the raucous guitar-driven track which highlights the playful whimsy of growing up and finding a place in society. Speaking of the single, Hibberd says ‘Me and my friends went to Thorpe Park and there was a baseball cap around the pole that we parked our car next to, and it had the words “Cool Shotgun” on the front and I thought that was really funny. I thought it was such a stupid song at the time having that as the incentive of it. I remembered being so defeated by it as I’d spent hours trying to write the perfect song, but sometimes it’s the simple stuff that works.’
Hibberd echoes the words of musical greats when reflecting on how sometimes the simplest of songs are the ones that work the best, yet it’s her ability to relay the simplest of stories that makes her so special. She gives her audience a collection of personalised snapshots from her life and, with an effortless shrug, moves on to the next topic of conversation. Whilst musically she offers a colourful brand of snappy, hook-driven singles, her folk-influenced ability as a lyricist conveys a hint of cynicism towards the current disjointed generation which is reflected in the likes of What Do Girls Want?. An insurgent, obsessive garage-rock tail-shaker, the single contains an insatiably addictive groove and is by no mean feat a bona fide foot-stomper.
‘I’ve always been obsessed with words and how different things mean a million different things to a million different people.’ Lauran Hibberd
Speaking of the single, Hibberd says ‘that was a joke really, I guess people say that a lot. Guys always say what do girls want? I’m like what does anyone want? Life’s the weirdest thing in the world and no one really knows what’s going on or where they’re at. I guess it was kind of about that. I’m really happy it was taken in a pro-female way, but actually I guess I was sarcastically taking it out on girls. I like the fact that people think they can’t work girls out, I think it’s funny! I guess there still is a divide between male and female but I try not to think about that too much, I’ve got a good group of people around me.’
On a quest to tackle the banality of life through the medium of hapless, tongue-in-cheek indie rock, Hibberd offers a compelling reflection of humanity, domesticity, routine and the quirks that make our lives interesting. The ease in which the singer relates to the everyday listener is helped by her writing environment, or rather, the lack of one. ‘A lot of people have certain times or environments that they write in,’ she affirms. ‘I always am writing, even if it’s just subconsciously. I’ll hear a phrase or something and I have a list of notes on my phone that are just what I use to start writing. I’m always on the hunt to be a bit inspired I suppose. I try to take a lot from everyday life and I try to inject a bit of humour into it. I try and pick out small things but write a big song about it. Sometimes it will happen in an hour. Call Shotgun for example was written in two hours. I didn’t even think it was a good song.’
[Hibberd] gives her audience a collection of personalised snapshots from her life and, with an effortless shrug, moves on to the next topic of conversation.
A delicate voice projecting the maturity of someone twice her age, Hibberd is an enticing prospect in an age of political correctness. Whilst her talent of injecting character into the very mundane aspects of life allow many the chance to resonate with the artist, she remains aware of the need to balance the level of humour within her music. ‘Everyone is now more aware of what they should and shouldn’t say,’ she offers. ‘It’s quite a new thing that people are now taking a lot of offence, which is of course granted, but I suppose I am a little bit more careful. My personality isn’t intrusive so I just go about my life and joke about the things that I joke about and hope people receive it in the same way. I don’t really change my writing style to suit my surroundings.’
One such song which raised the eyes of many upon first listen is Sugardaddy, a tongue-in-cheek bop encapsulating the sense of disconnection between reality and fantasy. Conceptually simplistic yet musically delightful with its fuzzy guitars, it glitters with the sort of sideways grin that would make your parents shake their heads disapprovingly. ‘I had the song written down as a concept for a while and a lot of people said I probably shouldn’t write about that and I agreed with them at the time,’ she says. ‘Then I thought I might as well just do it anyway and see what happens! It’s written in total jest obviously, the concept of having a “sugar daddy” is in my mind a joke but the scary thing is that it exists. When we released the song, a sugar daddy website tried to use the song as advertisement! I guess I wrote it as a joke suggesting that it would be all easier having an older man to fund your life. I’ve got a bit of a dark, twisted humour so stuff like that falls out of my mouth quite often. I was definitely worried about it though because in this day and age, jokes like that are often missed so I was hoping that no one was taking it seriously.’
A deft slice of intoxicating self-affirmation, Hoochie’s punchy, driven and unapologetically confident nature highlights Hibberd as a leading light for current British talent.
If Sugardaddy epitomised Hibberd’s dark humour, then latest single Hoochie has her audience wrapped tightly around her finger. A deft slice of intoxicating self-affirmation, Hoochie’s punchy, driven and unapologetically confident nature highlights Hibberd as a leading light for current British talent. Lines "You don’t have to go outside / Nothing hit you like my motorbike" are as subtle as a brick through a car window, yet retain the beguiling intrigue of the very best in slacker music. For someone so softly spoken and polite, the sass of line “It’s cute that you cried”, acts as an instant shock to the system whilst lyrics “And if I was you / I would probably love me too” have the audience smirking from ear to ear. ‘Hoochie is a 90s slang term for a bit of a loose woman, take that as you will,’ says Hibberd, and the track is a beautifully narrated farewell to toxic relationships.
‘I like the fact that people think they can’t work girls out, I think it’s funny!’ Lauran Hibberd
With a stockpile of snappy, hook-driven singles under her belt, Hibberd explains how the nature of living on an island has developed. ‘There are a few places to play live here,’ she says. ‘There are a lot of talented musicians on the Isle of Wight and I guess I’ve felt lucky because I’ve always had a close-knit group of friends. I think we’re feeling the effects of it now as we don’t really do much here. My band are here and we’re forever on ferries, going to London and Europe, and I guess I feel that extra stretch of water a little bit more now than before. It’s a really interesting place to live, it’s not like anywhere else in England, there’s a slower pace of life here which is nice but very different. I’m glad we do spend time here and I guess we’re living the best of both worlds at the moment, but we could probably do without the ferry journey at 3am in the morning at sometimes!’
With her first headline tour coming up and the hastening arrival of festival season, 2019 looks to be a busy year for the singer-songwriter. ‘I love festivals,’ she declares. ‘I think people are in better spirits when they’re at festivals, I think it probably has a lot with beer intake, but people tend to receive the songs better. There’s a real sense that people have escaped their normal lives for the weekend, wearing stupid shirts and sleeping in tents without showering and people are ok about that. It also opens up their minds to checking out new music. For an up-and-coming musician it’s ideal because you get to play at a festival where people might have booked to see Noel Gallagher but will hopefully catch me a few hours before so it’s a great stepping stone.’
A delicate voice projecting the maturity of someone twice her age, Hibberd is an enticing prospect in an age of political correctness.
Speaking to Hibberd, it’s clear that she’s in this for the long-haul and it’s easy to see why. She writes quick-tempoed, no-filler, all-killer tracks destined to be played on loop at any time and at any place. The childlike glee that’s transparent in her guitar-led singles matches the unique spark that crescendos occasionally at the back of her throat. Yet whilst she provides a hearty dose of self-deprecation, she offers intelligent, sharp and pithy snapshots of reality for a confused and developing generation allowed to rediscover the nostalgia and confusion of growing up and understanding who you are. The music at first glance appears as a heap of nonsensical whimsy, delightfully weaving a storyline for all to enjoy, yet behind the mask of it lies a very capable and talented songwriter.
Hibberd is someone artists dream of being and audiences want to be friends with. Her open, humour-oriented personality is her USP and has been so perfectly weaved into the fabric of each single released so far. Her lofty, guitar-driven indie pop breathes a newfound life into the most sedated of situations. It happens to be that in this day and age, gender has become an increased focus when looking at rising talent, but in truth this debate is so irrelevant when analysing her music. The deft weight of balance between humour-led anecdotes and carefully deconstructed social commentary is hard to manage for most artists, but Hibberd excels beyond the very best in the business. She offers a brand of music so desperately needed right now, one that allows us a moment of respite from current political and social calamity and her catalogue of singles acts as a beacon to developing generations that music can be both an escape and a hive of creativity for those trying to work out where they fit in the modern world.