Let’s take a closer look at chart music. Popular tunes with lyrical content concerning personal experiences we might relate to as an audience. Love, sex and fun.
Maybe Taylor’s been hurt after having a terrible relationship. Miley might like to be entertained and party the night away – experiencing life while she’s young and naked. Or Adam Levine is lonely, insecure and missing his special someone. ‘Give me your sugar! For God sake.’
But there’s a problem with music in today’s charts, says Laura Doggett – there’s not enough social commentary anymore. “I’m really growing tired of listening to songs that just say the same things all the time. And I’m like, surely other people are getting tired of it too?
“It doesn’t feel like there’s much social commentary on what it’s like living today. And I think maybe people will look back in 20 years time and be really confused,” said the 21-year-old singer-songwriter, whose biggest influences are Tracy Chapman and Annie Lennox.
“Not to say that I won’t write a love song because it’s part of everyone’s journey in life. Tracy Chapman, one of her biggest songs is ‘Baby Can I Hold You’, but it’s all a balance.”
— JMS (@JMSdietsociety) May 21, 2015
And it’s a fair point. What happened to songs with lyrics concerning oppressive governments; cruel acts of injustice; and ultimately, music that chose to highlight the reality of their time?
Songs like Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who, That’s Entertainment by The Jam, or even Blowin’ In The Wind by Bob Dylan – where did they go? Personal experience and love is the common denominator in modern lyrics. It’s certainly a shift in thinking.
Laura claims that she found it hard growing up in Salisbury, her home town, as her friends were more concerned with the same mindset that modern music seems to illustrate.
But while going through this phase, Laura was given advice by Jamiroquai pianist, Matt Johnson. He told her to make observations and not judgments, which changed the way she wrote her lyrics.
“When I was growing up, I was a bit annoyed that nobody wanted to talk more about serious subjects. There was this thing in my head saying ‘there’s so much wrong, there’s so much wrong, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?’
“If I said like I wanted to change the world, my ex-boyfriend was like you’re never going to change the world and I cried myself to sleep, ha ha!
“Growing up listening to someone like Tracy Chapman talking about a revolution and change, and then looking around at my generation not giving a crap about how animals are treated, or that people are starving at the other side of the world.
“It was a really dark phase being like a judgmental 16-year-old hating on the world. And that’s why I started writing songs, because there was no way of speaking about it. Luckily I’m more relaxed now, but I definitely still hold the fundamentals without the judging,” she said.
The singer has released her debut EP Into The Glass which is more of an acoustic collation of tracks that she describes as ‘strange’ and ‘eerie’ – an interesting combination of words.
When asked how she would describe her music, she responded: “I’ve answered this loads of times that it’s emotional dark pop, but it’s not even that. It’s really difficult.
“There’s this guy that said it’s Neo-Soul in the Indie Time Out magazine, but I’m not at all Neo-Soul? [Laughs]. People are definitely trying to find a genre and categorise it and they can’t.
“Someone even said I had a deep androgynous voice. People actually think I’m transgender which kind of makes my day sometimes.”
— Laura Doggett (@LauraDoggett) May 20, 2015
After previously supporting bands like the Years & Years and John Newman, Laura will be showcasing her tunes at the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park.
She will be performing alongside artists including Taylor Swift, whom she admitted a fondness for.
“Taylor has listened to my songs!” she said. “It makes me so happy. I’ve jumped into the circle.
“I’m really excited because she’s very on it, she’s very clever and you can tell the move she’s made as a business woman in the industry as well as a performer.
“So I’ll be very excited just to meet her to get some of her energy. She’s definitely a star woman.”
It was apparent that Laura had sacrificed spending time with her friends in order to progress. She claims that an element of sacrifice is imperative if you want to make it as a musician.
“That’s like the biggest thing that suffered. Being a singer and all your friends are going out all the time. All my friends at uni, or just finishing uni and they get drunk all the time. And I just cant, I’m not one of those singers that can still get wasted and then still sing fine.
“I’ve seen so many musicians trying to make it that are half in it. They’re like, ‘I really want to do this’ but they haven’t thought how they’re going to do it and they’re not ready to work really hard because it’s so competitive.
“You have to be in it all the time and then as soon as it begins it gets harder. And it does. It’s just like a walk in the park but emotionally it’s so draining, and physically, most of you are having no sleep and it’s knackering and it’s trying to keep healthy vocally. It’s just mad.
“I’m really terrified but I’m excited for the challenge.
— Kendal Calling (@KendalCalling) May 20, 2015
Laura reflected on her vision for the future and what that meant for her music.
“I can see doing this for the rest of my life,” she said.
“I want to be looked upon like the artists that I love. I want to tackle subjects that interest me and that I can sing forever and still believe in. That’s a big goal.
“I went to a conference that was about ending sexual violence and conflict, and then that really did it for me.
“All of the subjects I’m into and learning about, and I’m only 21, I’m not educated enough or I don’t feel like I carry a heavy enough weight to speak about it yet. So it’s all about learning.”
Laura will be performing in Manchester at the Dot To Dot festival on Friday 22nd May. If you would like tickets, please click here.
Image courtesy of Laura Doggett via YouTube, with thanks.