‘Ghost World’ marks a new beginning for Lauren Aquilina. A cathartic, and at times truly haunting, introspective peek through the veil behind the artists’ eyes, the seven-track EP marks a new dawn for someone who met their own fair share of demons over recent years.
‘Fuckedupminddd’, the first track, opens with the lyric ‘I planned my boyfriend’s death, I decided that it’s best we die together’. Overflowing with poetic tragedy and an omen for themes to be explored sonically as we progress, for Lauren there was no more of a fitting way to say ‘Heeeeeere’s Lauren’. “It’s a really funny but accurate representation of how my brain works,” she says, with a slightly stifled laugh.
We continue eerily into ‘Latest Ghost’, which holds the artist’s favourite lyric of the project, ‘I hold onto the past like it’s a fucking prized possession’.
“I wrote the whole thing as a poem first,” says Lauren. “I had this whole lyric for two months before I even started writing the melody. I was thinking about my friend who ghosted me again. There was one really hot day in LA and my boyfriend and I drove out to the beach, and I remember lying on the beach, he was reading a book or whatever, and I started writing about how I’d come all the way out here and all I could think about still was this girl in my past. And also, all the other people that I think about every day… I started visualising them as these literal ghosts that came with me everywhere”.
Between the bookends of ‘Fuckedupminddd’ and closing track ‘Tobacco In My Sheets’, a piano-led ballad that speaks directly to Lauren’s mother regarding self-destructive behaviour, we face a number of challenges, all of which are handled delicately and with grace, as if they’re petals being plucked from a drooping daisy. We have ‘Best Friend’, which is explicitly autobiographical, detailing the fallout between Lauren and somebody who, she thought, would be dependable until the inevitable end. Admittedly in a complicated relationship previously, it was when the artist moved to L.A. and ended up rooted there, a hostage of the pandemic, that the track rose from her subconscious and into our realm.
“I was waiting for months, every day I would hope that she would text and she didn’t. I was smoking a joint outside my house in LA… I was standing outside by myself and almost the entire chorus lyric came to me in one go (‘you taught me to smoke cigarettes / now you’re teaching me how hard it is to forget’). I started frantically typing into my phone and by the time I walked back inside I had the whole lyric written”.
“The next day he [Lauren’s boyfriend] was playing around on the guitar (the part you hear at the beginning of the song) and then it was just like ‘boom’. I was like ‘that’s mine, I’m having that’. It was a very natural process, which was really special. I feel like there’s not enough songs about friendship break-ups, you know?”.
‘Tobacco In My Sheets’, contrastingly, took around six months to write. A main aspect was knitting the intricacies of how to approach the topic of directly addressing her mother, “saying look, I’m smoking, I’m drinking and I’m using drugs, I know that you wouldn’t be proud of me but I know you’d empathise because I watched you go through this kind of heartbreak with my dad”.
‘Teenage Self’ was a last-minute apparition, which swims in casually as a dark and broody lullaby to a younger self mid-distress, and is a stark contrast to its immediate predecessor, and stand-out. A lighter, flirtatious dance with the devil within, it raises spirits as much as it conjures bemused expressions as Lauren details her own exploits of overstepping where she’s perhaps no longer invited. A real replay-track, and a brilliant song to sing in the shower; tried and tested.
Alongside a new era of music for the artist, Lauren is launching Girl & Repertoire, a mentoring community that aims to support & uplift women in the music industry. In between online resources & social-media-based advice, partners Lauren & Georgie plan to face taboos and lesser-discussed, but extremely topical & real, demons. “I want to talk about how you navigate being a girl and in a relationship with somebody you’re working with,”, “why women are made to feel like when we turn thirty we have to start lying about their age”.
The girls are going to be pairing budding artists & songwriters with experienced professionals, creating a talent pool of like-minded professionals and aspiring talent that can flourish with and for each other. Their Instagram page is @girlandrepertoire, so hit the follow button and stay posted.