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Synthesising haunting ballads with the most intimate of content, London-based French singer Lauren Auder is not one to shy away from complex experiences like coming-of-age or gender identity issues. Opening herself up to provide a safe space for others, Auder’s music soothes the soul by cradling its listener. The artist’s upcoming EP 5 songs for the dysphoric delves into Auder’s experience with her gender through radically vulnerable tracks like Animal.

Lauren, on Spotify you describe your music as musings stumbling over orchestration. Can you tell us about the journey which has brought you to this style of romantic, orchestral pop?
It’s a funny trajectory in some ways. My first musical ventures were much more influenced by the 2011-2013 cloud rap. Venturing more into what I liked about it led me to explore ambient music then leaning more into modern classical progressively and, well, once I discovered Scott walker it was over for me.
Your music strikes me as incredibly raw; a paradoxical feeling of safeness or warmth occurs for your listener from this vulnerability from yourself. Was this your intention? To open yourself up so others may be let in and kept safe through your music?
I always come at my work from a listener's perspective. When I think about the music that has brought me solace in the past, it’s always the songs that peel layers back… I went over this question myself recently actually. Questioning what made me feel like what I had to say was valuable/unique enough to be put into the world. The conclusion I came to is that it isn’t unique, that’s exactly why it should be out there because many others probably feel similar if not identical things.
I read that you enjoyed Young Adult fantasy as a pre-teen and listened to a lot of emo music during this time. This really resonated with me as I too found YA fiction and emo music to be the only ways in which to make sense of my emotions/experiences during that nebulous age. The escapism engendered by fantasy worlds allows its reader to process their more secular realities. Did you have a similar experience and, if so, can this sentiment be traced in your music?
Most definitely, I found solace in symbolism from a very young age, realising that sometimes the 'truth' can't tell the whole truth. I think creating these mythological spaces in my music has been heavily influenced by such things. I’ve recently been watching the BBC adaptation of his dark materials actually, the books were a personal favourite as a child, and it’s been fun kind of realising how formative those tales have been for me.
Can you tell me who your favourite artists were during your coming-of-age and if there are influences of these artists in your music?
I mean, when I was first thinking of making music all I could talk about for a while was RVIDXR KLVN (or Raider Klan) and Clams Casino, amongst other cloud rap acts like Yung God, etc. They definitely have been filtered through a lot of more recent influences but I think the focus on atmosphere and creating a 'space' in ones' music has stuck with me.
Your most recent single is part of a wider EP addressing experiences of your past and intimacy as a trans woman. Your lyricism, smooth vocals, and the haunting piano culminate in this truly beautiful ballad you call Animal. Is there a reason you leaned towards the ballad for this song? Do you continue to lean towards the ballad in the remaining three songs to be released and in the expression of your lived experience?
I am obsessed with the ballad format, as I’m sure it is apparent (laughs), it’s just so eternal and universal! Over the course of this record, I lean into it more in a few spots but there are definitely a few left turns that allowed me to express things with more vivacity vocally. I think it touches upon more of my 'modes' than past music I have released has, though more sporadic in style.

Is Animal the only song to engage with the more visceral aspects of our bodies and how we as humans may transcend this?
Definitely not, though it is the one that expresses so most clearly. I’ve left a lot of the gruelling and gruesome details for my album… But that is very much a focus of my lyricism in general and since having come out I’ve felt the ability to lift that veil more.
I understand there are more varied collaborations within your new EP – is this openness to collaboration intertwined with the fact your new EP is the first collection of songs written since you have been publicly out?
It most definitely is. In the past, having practically only worked with my closest friends, in particular DVIANCE, I didn't feel that I would have anything to explain while making the songs, there was an innate understanding. It was daunting working with others with such a huge part of myself hidden. I think having that weight lifted has clearly helped me be more open to letting others near that process.
You’ve aptly named this new EP 5 songs for the dysphoric. Can you walk me through the process of synthesising a title?
The record is in a way a lot more disparate in style and approach than my past two EPs that I suppose exist almost as just short albums with a true arc. Here I’m truly presenting five songs that are only connected through, well, me and my experiences since being an out trans woman. Therefore, it made sense to simply name it like that and I hope me addressing my experiences is a gift to people going through similar things.
What would you say are the main differences we may expect between your last EP, Two caves in, and 5 songs for the dysphoric?
Again, I’m very excited to be able to present myself in different instrumental and emotional contexts with this one. They feel less metaphor-laden than my previous EP and I hope the directness in both style and substance will shine through.

With the world looking like it will be relatively locked down at the beginning of the year, can I ask what your plans are for 2021?
I need to finish an album, so a lot of problem-solving with that. My current big activity is collecting strings and ribbons to pin to my wall. Very domestic goals for now. In more seriousness, if 2020 taught me anything is that I have no control over the outside world, so I need not rely on it to bring me joy or contentment, so figuring out how I can get that for myself, from myself.
More broadly, do you know what you wish to achieve both with your music and for the trans community – next year and across your artistic career?
I just hope I can be radically me and that will feel somewhat comforting for others. I’ll be manifesting the opportunity to spend more time in Spain and Italy too.

Lucy McLaughlin
Will Reid

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