We recently had the chance to sit down with Boston-based indie singer-songwriter Lauren Flaherty. Huge thanks to Lauren for taking time out to sit down and answer some questions for us!
Indie Minded: For those who may not be familiar with you and your music, tell us a little about yourself and your sound.
Lauren Flaherty: Heya! I’m a local singer/songwriter who plays solo and with a rock band. I’ve put out a bunch of DIY pop/rock records that have kindly been played on local and regional radio and television. I like crunchy guitars, big background vocals and long walks on Carson Beach.
IM: What should people expect when they come to a live show?
LF: Mayhem! Wait, that’s in my brain while I’m looking for my capo just before hitting the stage. Whether I’m playing solo or with a band I always give it my all. I think music can be moving AND rock so I always keep a guitar groove going while the party’s poppin’. People should never worry that it’s a downtempo songwriter show with me. I love rocking out waaaaaaay too much for that.
IM: You’re from Boston (Southie, to be exact), the indie scene is alive and kickin’ in Boston, but do you still find it difficult to get people to come out to live shows?
LF: I think the trick is to make a show feel like an event, or even a party. Unless you’re premiering a ton of new material, shows could blend together for your supporters after a bit. If I’m playing for people who came to a gig recently, I always try to throw something new into the set, like a themed cover or funny comedy bit.
IM: What are your thoughts on all of these local clubs that are folding and shutting their doors in the city? It’s depressing!
LF: It is a major bummer. I’ve always preferred going out to hear new music than just clicking on a link online. It’s a good reminder to enjoy what we have. When in doubt, go out!
IM: As a female performer in this industry, how have you found your experience?
LF: That’s an excellent question. You can find people who embody every stereotype of the industry without looking too far. Some of my experiences with them have definitely fit the stereotype. The good news is that you can usually smell- I mean see- them coming and plan accordingly. One of my favorite memories as a female in the music industry was when I sang with my friends in the band Baliset a few years ago. It was just me and three of my buddies who loved heavy metal. They all treated me like one of the guys in the best way, unless I asked otherwise. It was actually very easy.
IM: You’ve been called an “updated Pat Benatar,” what do you think of that comparison?
LF: I’m flattered as hell by it! But wait, does that only mean I’m wearing too much eyeliner? Just kidding. Pat Benatar could never wear too much eyeliner. 😉
IM: That being said, who are some of your influences?
LF: Hole, Tori Amos, Garbage, Heart, the Cure and Metric.
IM: What got you started in music?
LF: I always loved singing, even when I was little. I got into guitar when I was a teenager and started writing songs the first weekend I started playing. The quality of those first weekend songs might be better left out of print. 😉
IM: You studied Musicology at the New England Conservatory, what was that like?
LF: It was an awesome experience I sort of fell into. I was working at the Conservatory and able to sit in on classes. Before I knew it, I was hooked! My favorite parts were learning about world music and how open everyone was about non-classical music. I wouldn’t have known that before I was on campus!
IM: Do you have an opinion on what’s going on right now with streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music?
LF: Streaming is very tricky. I’ve noticed a change in my online sales as streaming has become more popular. On the other hand, you get to see what tracks fans truly enjoy because you have proof they are still playing them long after the initial listen. In a way, it keeps your back catalog in the forefront and confirms you have made music that touches people. The compensation has a long way to go. There are some seriously big companies and some very indie artists with few gatekeepers in between. I’m proud to support the Songwriter Equity Act and have written my representatives. Elizabeth Warren wrote me back the most detailed email you can imagine. She is ON IT!
IM: What has been your biggest challenge when it comes to the music business?
LF: I think my biggest challenge has been retaining my love for music with all the highs and lows of life in the industry. Even when things get rough, I try to always jam with fellow indie musician friends or commiserate over a drink. (But not necessarily in that order if it’s been a really bad week!)
IM: If you could play with any musician or band (dead or alive), who would it be?
LF: I would like Janis Joplin to come back and I will only play the triangle. Just enough to get an excuse to be on the stage and watch her sing up close.
IM: What can we expect from you for the rest of 2015 into 2016?
LF: I’m recording some new material that will hopefully be ready for release. I should be playing a few shows around Camberville and NY too.
IM: Guilty pleasure (music-wise) – everyone’s got one, who’s yours?
LF: Musical Theater. If a singer won’t admit they have a secret love of musical theater, you might want to question what other secrets they’re hiding. 😉
IM: How important do you find social media and engaging with your fans to be? Are you active on social media?
LF: Overall I like social media because it makes it easier to engage with fans. Sometimes you see something you wouldn’t otherwise such as people bugging their friends to go out to your concert cuz they think it’s gonna be great, or you get a personal heartfelt email about how your music has affected someone. It can be an excellent way to get feedback on what new tunes people prefer, but I think it’s important to not get too far away from using live gigs for feedback. You’ll know what people think of a tune pretty quickly when they’re standing a few feet in front of you!
IM: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical journey?
LF: I actually didn’t know about my “biggest break” until a few days after it happened. My band and I were on stage playing a CD Release party at T.T. the Bear’s to support our EP “Red Line Blues” last summer. We were just pumped that people came out and dug the new material. A few days later I learned Lifetime TV’s Dance Moms had played a song I released in 2009 called “Ghost Town” as the accompaniment to a lyrical dance routine that aired for 2 million viewers- DURING OUR SET! I took it as a huge blessing and sign. It’s opened some doors I’m truly grateful for (even if I still have to bang on ‘em pretty loudly!) 😉
IM: Who have you been listening to lately?
LF: The last great show I caught was Kamasi Washington at the Sinclair. It was the best jazz show I’ve ever seen. I’ll usually stream his stuff while I’m riding the bus at night through downtown. It makes Boston seem even more beautiful.