Lauren Ruth Ward is a prolific songwriter and the next rockstar you need to know. She released her debut album Well, Hell last year. Since then she has released new singles including “Valhalla” and “Wise Gal.”
She has also done Happy Birthday Jim, a cover album of Jim Morrison/The Doors. Ward has a style and substance that stands out with a song like “Valhalla”
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Well, Hell?
LRW: We didn’t have any challenges during the making of Well, Hell. It was my first album so I was pretty excited the entire time. My band rules. We found two incredible producers/mixers to work with. Also, Ed and I learned so much about each other and about the music we innately create. Six out of nine of the songs on the album are the first six songs Ed and I wrote together. We co-produced the tracks as well. The only challenges connected to that album are the cons we experience when we signed it over to a label (long after we created it on our own). There were some pros as well. But yeah, just the usual bureaucracy BS all artists go thru when taking a chance and accepting an offer to take to their art to the next level. No regrets though!
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Grey Goon. How did you meet? What made you decide to have him produce the album? How was he to work with?
LRW: Grey Goon a.k.a. Doug Walters a.k.a. Dougy Fresh is a sweet, talented man from DC. I’m from Baltimore but hung out in DC a lot, we never met in those days. I met him in LA thru Eduardo and a couple other DC pals. Doug not only Engineered / Produced and mixed 6 out of 9 tracks, he also played drums on them! He’s very easy to work with. I also dye his beard (a little silver stripe). Check out his band Oddnesse.
FEMMUSIC: Tell about Red/Sony Music? How did Well, Hell end up with them? I understand you walked away from another label. How were they to work with?
LRW: We signed to Weekday Records who were a subsidiary of Sony/RED. I liked my RED PM and the deal itself was a great deal but I quickly realized it was not the right deal for me. One example, I like to record music and then release it. I know, what a concept. At times it was hard to all agree on the right producer and then once we did, the paperwork would hold things up. The indie peeps we were working with (to create Well, Hell album) weren’t legit enough to the guys at my label (Weekday). I don’t understand that part. I fell into a deep depression and found it very hard to create. I thought “why bother writing new stories if I can’t share them?” I adapted in other ways. Budget was tight on artwork and contracts were brutal; if I wanted to use one of my pal’s photos for single art, etc. (like I used to) then they’d have to sign all rights away for little to no fee. I was embarrassed having that conversation with photographers so I stopped and I got into water colors and made some of my own single artwork. No one was out to get me, its just how it goes. They have their reasons. One morning I woke up and Sony dropped Weekday and WD didn’t want to continue w/o them. So they generously (almost fully) gave us back the couple unreleased tracks we had worked on under the term, they kept Well, Hell and we parted ways. I am back to my happy, hyper-creative, independent self.
I don’t think we’ve walked away from another label. Who told you that? Haha. We’ve walked away from some Sync and Pub deals. All very intriguing but am still learning what kind of artist I am. That’s the most valuable thing I learned. I use to kind of be a label basher because I like grinding and being independent. But the truth is, not all labels / Pub / Sync deals are evil, ya just gotta find one that fits with how you work.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Happy Birthday Jim. What made you decide to the album? How was it different from doing Well, Hell?
LRW: Ed and I did Happy Birthday Jim because we love Jim Morrison and I love birthdays. It differs from WH is all ways; it’s a cover album, Ed and I recorded most of it at his place, we made it because we were bored and wanted to have fun and collaborate with friends, the list goes on…
FEMMUSIC: I’d like to ask you about 2 important people in your life: Eduardo Rivera & LP. Can you tell me how you met each of them? How have they changed you and your music?
LRW: Met Ed at my EP release show on my 27th birthday Nov 4th 2015. He used to date one of my best friends. She told me about him and vice versa. Night we met he said “I hear you need a bassist”. He played bass the first could shows which started almost immediately. He eventually started playing guitar, I love his playing and felt comfortable enough to write with him. If I wanted to get better at guitar, I’d want to play like Ed. I love his style. I brings different ideas out of me. He’ll play something cool on a loop and words and melodies will come out of me. When it works it works.
I met LP when she played a festival in Baltimore June 2014. I moved to LA Jan 2015 and we re-met her in LA June 2015 at the Roosevelt. She’s my love, she inspires everything I do, not just my music. I’d need a books worth of space to fully explain.
Photo of Lauren Ruth Ward by Liz Ibarra
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
LRW: When I’m writing with Ed, he plays guitar and I like to freestyle. I usually have an emotion or message so I’ll just let my mind speak and not judge myself. I’ll then write down what I like and then go back and make the rest of it make sense. It’s kind of the same when I write alone except my melodies are more influenced by the chords I play. I make up a lot of “chords”. I know I’m probably playing something real haha.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
LRW: So many. At the end of all six 2 year relationships, I always go back to “We’re Both So Sorry” by Mirah. It’s a truthful and peaceful goodbye. “Challenges like these can be won or lost or laid to rest. Now we both agree to separate from the lonely castle steps. The kingdom is destabilized, the watchtower unmanned. The bedroom lies abandoned and the future is unplanned. But we’ve got the past to remind us of what’s chivalrous and grand. And hey I’m sorry ’bout so much baby but I know you’ll understand”
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
LRW: I’ve been underestimated by both men and women who’re brainwashed by the patriarch’s gender binary hooha. I just keep on doing me. Best way to convince someone their wrong is by showing them.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
LRW: SZA or Jack White. No explanation needed.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
LRW: I think it be wild if fame and talented went hand in hand. Also if big media present top 40s as only one kind of genre and not THE genre. Too many thoughts on this one, I’m tapping out! ha.