Today’s Shero Spotlight is Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter, Lauren Eylise! I came across Lauren’s music last summer and was immediately in awe of her unique sound and raw lyrics, and I listen to her Spotify discography regularly #NoShame ;-). Once I began following Lauren on social media, I became even more inspired by her passion and ambition. Not only is Lauren an up and coming musician, but she balances her music with her full-time job and being a mom, AND she’s achieved major accomplishments like appearing on the Kelly Clarkson Show and was part of Secret’s All Strength, No Sweat national campaign. I am honored to have Lauren on the blog today!
How do you balance your career as a musician with being a mom, especially during this time of the COVID19 pandemic and online learning?
For a solid year or so, the whole theme of a lot of what’s going on in my life has just been duality, which is why I’m calling my next album “Duality,” at least as of now. I kind of feel like I’ve seen a part of this balance when I first gave birth, it was like, Okay, I’m a mom now, I gotta balance that with this career, and I had to make some sacrifices. So now, it’s manifested again with everything that’s going on in the world right now and again, it’s that whole theme of duality, and the peaks and valleys of it … I think what a lot of independent artists today don’t recognize is that when you’re independent, it’s not just the art, but you are running a business. So now I’m learning motherhood as I go, and then I had to also learn business. So now, with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s just another manifestation of that. But, it also comes with so many blessings because I’m with my child, I get to have a very hands-on experience in pouring into his education in a way that I didn’t before, and it’s been a beautiful time.
How does your degree in PR and Women’s Studies aid in your music career?
I’ve been singing since I was two so I always knew that’s what I wanted to do. No shade to my parents, but people of that generation didn’t look at the arts in that kind of way, they wanted me to pursue something a bit more lucrative in their eyes. So, when I went to school I felt like I had to choose something that would please them, but I also wanted it to be something that I could use to further my music career. Initially I went to school for journalism and music tech, and then my university dropped music tech and so I switched over [to PR]. Once I graduated I wound up booking a one-way flight to New York and I started to work in entertainment marketing and a lot of the skills and exposure to different people, a lot of connections and a lot of the education that I received from that hands-on work in entertainment marketing and PR really has helped me to navigate my own music career on the business side of things. As far as Women’s Studies goes, that’s just always been a passion of mine. I am a woman, I am a very proud woman and the deeper I got into the history of our oppression and how it has both stifled us but also in a way really pushed us to break through much stronger, in my opinion, it just fuels me and if fuels the hell out of my art.
Can you describe what it was like to be part of the Secret campaign?
I thought that was a very cool experience. The nature of how deeply involved I got to be with that, I will never forget and I’m forever grateful for because it is so much in alignment with what I believe in and what I do. [Secret] clearly saw that a lot of my messaging and a lot of what I put out there in my music and beyond was in perfect alignment with their campaign. All Strength, No Sweat is all about really being transparent about the experiences of women, and not shying away from that, but instead using that as a source of empowerment and as a way to say, hey, this is the real of it and these are the ways that we can change, these are the ways that we can improve things so that women can be on a more level playing field, and really encouraging this sort of strong network of women to lean on one another, uplift one another and just say, for lack of better words, excuse my French, f*** the bullshit … I really appreciated the tone in which Secret approached that. They dedicated themselves to 100% women-backed music for their campaigns for the year 2020, and I was able to participate in three of their campaigns, one of which I rewrote the song for the Mother’s Day ad. So, that has been a very empowering and uplifting opportunity not only because of what it means, but also how it touches other women and other female artists, specifically. I think a lot of people get it twisted and they think that the music industry is this great place for women because you see a lot of female-fronted artists in the industry, but it’s an illusion. It is still a very male dominated field. You might see Beyonce on the screen, and she’s a powerhouse now so it’s probably a horrible example, now she can do what she wants. But, as she was coming up, there was nothing but men behind her. There’s still this real stronghold on all these industries and music is no exception, so I thought that the Secret campaign and what they were doing with the music industry specifically, and women therein was just so powerful and again, I’ll forever be grateful for that.
What has your experience been like as a woman in the Cincinnati music scene?
I remember when I was first starting out, I really got my music career started in Dayton because that’s where I went to school, The University of Dayton, and I can remember early on being like 18 or 19 and I had a pretty solid following then in the Dayton area, at least. So, I was being invited to radio stations and things of that nature to perform with my band and I remember very specific instances where we walked into the stations and the owners who are also men and the DJs and whatnot, they would they would approach the men [in my bad] first. They would approach all the men, shake their hands, talk to them, I remember one time, no one even spoke to me and you can imagine being a woman and a black woman that day … But I will never forget that by the end of the set, the same men who wouldn’t greet me were going out of their way to make sure that their cards were in my hand and wanted to get me back in those studios, and I always took that with me and I still take that with me today because for me, unfortunately, it’s true that you gotta show up and just let the music speak for itself and that has been my driving force. What I do will speak for me, what I do will make the waves for me and so that’s kind of how I’ve navigated my career from the very beginning, and when I got back to Cincinnati It was no different. I’ve always done my research, I’ve always been very intentional, nothing is really by chance with me. If I want it, I’m writing those intentions and I make plans … So, with Cincy when I got back, I had a list of venues I wanted to hit and mind you, I’m at the bottom of the food chain at this point, I wasn’t even performing, and I just had a baby … I just showed up and I took gigs wherever I could. I was writing, I was practicing and I honestly just built my way up slowly and slowly and … before you know it, I’d conquered one of my top venues, MOTR.
As your career has progressed have you found groups in the Cincinnati music industry that have been welcoming toward women in music?
Absolutely. I think it’s gotten better, I think it’s grown, I think people like me, like me Aziza Love and TRIIIBE … I think that the more women just show up and show out and kind of show up and show out for one another as well, the better that landscape will look. But, I don’t think Cincinnati is too bad off. I think I think we’re doing a pretty decent job. Brooklyn Rae is another one of my favorite artists and when I saw her when I had a residency at The Comet I had her on every lineup that I could get her on. It’s just really having an ear to the street and really putting on for talented female artists when you can and I do think that the more that’s done, the more we can impact the venues in a way … Even beyond live performance, I see a lot of female DJs popping up and doing sets here and there and it’s a really incredible thing, so I’m excited about it.
As a woman in music, what is one of your major goals?
It’s been big for me to make sure that I get people who look like me on the stages that I get on. So, I’m always trying to look out with my openers … and I always kind of theme it around women … It matters to me to be able to give back and do for others what wasn’t necessarily done for me all the time, but was sometimes given to me … I just want to return that energy to the universe because it was so generously given to me.
Who are a few female artists that inspire you?
All right, here we go. I love me some Adele, I’ve always loved Adele. “19” is a classic, I will say it until the day I day. More specifically, I love Adele’s songwriting. She is a really great songwriter, and the team that she has gotten together, they continue to make amazing, incredible music and I think her songwriting is most in alignment with mine, I really do. Beyonce, of course. I mean, it’s Beyonce. I love Beyonce. But, I love Beyonce because the girl is bad, not just talented but she has a work ethic that I have idolized since I was a child, I grew up on Beyonce. She is literally one of my saints. Her work ethic, I model mine after and my goals for my career and longevity in the music industry is very much in alignment with what Beyonce has done for herself. I would have to say Rihanna as well. Rihanna kind of caught me off guard, I wasn’t always a Rihanna fan, but I am a die hard fan now. Not only is her music very unique, I think she’s mastered that whole pop icon paradigm as well, but I think Rihanna was really the first of her kind to master that pop template unapologetically. For a while, there was this template in the industry where it was like cookie cutter, and she was like f*** that, you’re gonna get me as I am and I love that because I think it’s important for art to be real and authentic and honest and a reflection of the artist, not a reflection of some made up template that the industry knows will sell.
What was it like appearing on the Kelly Clarkson Show?
I was nervous as shit. I found out about that earlier and we kept it hush and I wasn’t nervous the whole time leading up to it. I didn’t get nervous until I was right on the side of the stage about to go sit down on the couch. All hell broke loose inside of me when we got started and they were rolling, if I just would have just looked at her, I wouldn’t have been nervous. But, I sort of zoned out and was looking at the audience and I saw that camera and I was like, Damn, this gonna be on TV. So, I was definitely nervous, but it was a great opportunity. She had a lot of gems to offer me as well in our conversation together off screen and I was very grateful for that … I’ll forever be grateful for that. It was weird just being in Hollywood and showing up to the set, my inner child was freaking out … I’m always grateful for opportunities like that.
What current projects are you working on?
I am finishing up my album, it’s currently being called “Duality,” as I mentioned before, and the songs are really an exploration of shadow land and my illuminated parts. What I mean by that is that I do believe that we all have the ability to operate in alignment with our highest potential. But, I think that part of the human experience is that we don’t get to access that until we work through our shadow, which is also an innate part of our existence. A lot has happened in my life in the last few years and I’ve seen myself show up as this aware, enlightened and positive being, and I’ve also seen myself show up as the wretched, angry, hurt, sad little girl, and that expression of duality is basically honoring both of those and recognizing I can’t be me without both of those.
What advice would you give to young female artists?
Slow the f*** down, take your time and know yourself and if you don’t know yourself, take that time to learn yourself. I think we’re so eager to “make it” as artists and once you get to a certain point you realize, Oh, shit. This is what I should have been doing. I always say to other artists, you don’t ever want to get in a room and have people sitting across from you, telling you who you are and how much you’re worth and you believe them … You need to know exactly who you are, and you need to know what you want. It’s okay if that changes, but you need to be able to touch base with that and be in perfect awareness with that at all times … And from there, you can really do anything because you’re gonna do what you got to do to get it right.