Interview with Lauren LoGrasso – 6/16/21

Abbi Wynsma, Live Music Director

Singer/songwriter and MSU alum Lauren LoGrasso joins us to talk about her pathway to a career in music and podcasting while sharing some words of wisdom for those on similar journeys.

Make sure to check out Lauren’s new single, “Therapy,” along with her other music in the player below. Also look for her podcast, “Unleash Your Inner Creative,” on all major platforms.

Abbi Hello everybody. My name is Abbi Wynsma and I am the new Live Music Director and co-host of the Basement here at Impact 89 FM. I’m super excited to be getting started, especially after the crazy year  we all had, but I’m even more excited to be introducing my very first artist interview with MSU and Impact alum Lauren LoGrasso. Lauren is a singer /songwriter, executive podcast producer at  cadence 13 and even the host of her own podcast, Unleash Your Inner Creative. We talked all things, music, radio, and spirituality with a lot of admiration from my end mixed in. So without further ado, here’s my chat with Lauren LoGrasso.

Well, I think that my first question for you, Lauren, is where did your journey begin in music? Like, were you always interested in it? Did you grow up in a household that was musical?

Lauren It was only musical cause I was singing all the time. My parents, I did make my parents perform for me. Like I did solo and ensemble in high school and I would teach them my classical songs then make them sing it back to me. Maybe that’s where the producing part started. Um, but yeah, from the time I was about three, I did musicals and so I always loved music. Through musicals and choirs, and at MSU I studied theater, I got a BFA in acting. So I did a bunch of musicals there, but I didn’t write a song until I was 23. And that was really born out of heartbreak. I came here to pursue acting. I was really struggling. I had an agent, but she was a total flake. She actually left town without telling me I was going to sad audition after sad audition and, my final summer at MSU, because I stuck around after my senior year to take classes, to get my two pieces of paper cause I got a BFA in acting and a BA in communication, I had picked up this guitar that had been sitting in my closet literally since freshman year I tried to play it countless times. Every time I would just mute the chords, which is like basically when you strum and it sounds like nothing, I couldn’t figure it out, but I kept it with me cause I felt like, you know, maybe I’ll figure it out. Maybe there’s something there. And when I was in that summer, before I left, finally, something clicked. And, I randomly found two guitar picks in my room. I had no idea where they came from. I swear it was like a God thing because nobody had been in my room. Nobody like in the house played guitar and I didn’t own picks. So I took that as a sign. And finally, when I found those pics. I was suddenly able to start learning chords. And when I moved out to LA, I really started delving into guitar so that was the summer of 2011. I moved to LA, uh, fall 2011 to do an internship on the Ellen show and suddenly guitar started clicking. And as I was in that heartbreak moment from acting, music started pouring out of me. And it was almost like, a dam had been released and the flood gates were coming through because I had never released this gift that was burning inside of me that  I just had to get out and I started falling asleep, writing songs, which sounds wild, but it’s like that state when you’re in between awake and asleep, when you like kicked your leg and you wake up and I started singing into my Blackberry at the time and then putting them together with guitar and then gigging all around LA. So that’s kinda how it started, but. It was a wild path and took a lot longer than probably the most people’s.

Abbi Right. But like you said, it sounds like it was pretty fated, especially if, you know, you walk in, you find guitar picks and it kind of kick start you , and also what’s the saying, like, it’s hard to be creative when you’re happy. So usually something that’s really like really hard to get through really starts inspiring that. So I guess that does segue nicely. My next question was, what does your song writing process look like normally?

Lauren Hmm, that’s a great question. And it looks different every time, but what usually happens, I guess like probably if I had to say like 50 to 60% of the time is I’ll be walking, driving in the shower, doing something kind of monotonous and then an idea for a song along with some sort of melody comes through. I sing it into my voice recording. So it’s kind of the same process as when I was first starting, but into a much better phone. I have an apple iPhone now.  I sing it into my voice memos, and then I come back, I start strumming around on guitar or playing on the piano and figure out what key it’s in, what chords I’m going to be playing ,what the progression is. And then it kind of flows from there. So that’s that’s most, normally there are times when I very intentionally they say like, I have this idea, I want to write a song about blank. And then I put it all together at once. But most of the time, some sort of melody and lyric idea comes together at once I sing it into my phone and then I translate it to keys or guitar.

Abbi Right, and at that point, had you been doing any music production or were you kind of figuring that out at the same time that you were writing stuff?

Lauren No, I have never done anything but musical theater and choir. So I, um, I never quite felt that I fit in there because I don’t know. I didn’t feel like I was like big and ballsy enough for the, like, they want you to belt crazy, crazy notes. And while I have a big, huge, loud voice, like I never felt like I could fit into that box. And it was almost like when I first started writing music, it was like, oh, this is what, what it’s been the whole time. I just didn’t know it. Like, I didn’t know that this could be a possibility for my life. So, I, I totally learned as I went, I didn’t really know any music theory. I’ve taken classes since I’ve been out here. And, um, I haven’t really gotten into music production yet. I do podcast production as you know, but that’s the next step. So I’ve been playing around with that. I took a class at the songwriting school of Los Angeles and yeah, producing myself would be a dream because it gives you so much more autonomy and saves a lot of cash.

Abbi That, yeah, that is very true. It is expensive to book time and I mean, we’re in Michigan here, so I can’t imagine the prices out in LA like that.  Just thinking about that would be, oh my gosh. I can’t even budget that. Anywho, hearing about how you said it kind of started late. Did you have a fear or did you not care? Like jump right into it? Personally I think I would  be a bit hesitant. Did you have any of that?

Lauren No. Cause I think I was just too young and ignorant to know how hard it was. And actually that benefited me greatly. Like I would have much more hesitation trying something new now because it’s almost, I mean it’s nine years. Nine years later. Yeah. And so I know more of what life is like and how difficult it is to start something new at that time though. And I think this is true when you’re in the right space for anything, no matter your age. At that time, I felt so much joy and fulfillment in doing what I was doing. That like, I dared anyone to try to stop me. Like I was just so happy and so inflow that there was nothing that could stop me and things were clicking. Like it, wasn’t hard. I went to an open mic and I booked a show out of the open mic and I, I called the house of blues and they’re like, oh yeah, we think we’ve heard of you. I definitely don’t think that they had, but I mean, like, it was so easy. The show just happened nine months after I wrote my first song. So yeah. I didn’t feel that because I wasn’t coming up against a lot of the obstacles at that time. I think primarily because I was in such a state of joy because this thing that I had kind of secretly desired, my whole life just happened. And I never thought that I would like get the honor of writing a song. And, um, I like it, it honestly even makes me teary today because it really is an honored to be able to put a song together and. For me like, and I’m sure it, music means something similar to you. It’s one of the things that’s made me feel most seen. And part of a community in my life. And there’ve been times when music has saved my life. And so to think that I get to write something that could potentially be that mirror for somebody else or that hand to somebody else. Um, I, I just kind of didn’t have any barriers in my way at that time. I’d like to get back in that mentality because I think when you’re in that flow state, it’s very powerful.

Abbi And I was checking out some of your podcasts and I saw the one that unleash your inner creative. Um, you talk about like spirituality on there. So I’m kind of going into that, but I was wondering  do you believe in like the law of attraction and that sort of thing? What you’re saying sounds very much like, you know, fate, but when you want it bad enough, it comes to you.

Lauren I do believe in it. I definitely seen it happen in my life. I think when I ended up working at Sirius XM, that was totally the law of attraction. Um, even my internship on Ellen, when I was at Michigan state, I just started telling people like I’m going to intern on Ellen someday. I didn’t know anyone who works at Ellen, but then somebody who I knew in the theater department happened to know a PA there. And that PA like happened to be elevated to production coordinator a week before I applied. And that was the position that hired the interns. So it’s like, I’ve seen. Things that have happened way too personally, or like perfectly in my life to not believe in it to some extent, I don’t know that I’ve mastered it, but I’ve certainly seen when I’ve been crystal clear about what I want and told people. That’s the big thing. You have to tell people, you have to write it down. You have to visualize it. But when you do that, I have seen things that were. Probably impossible just fall at my feet. So I do believe in the manifestation and the law of attraction. And, um, I think you have to also be careful what you ask for, because when you are in that flow state, it can happen really easily.

Abbi Oh, totally. Yeah. Your thoughts manifest your reality. Um, I’m all about that type of stuff at law of attraction. So hearing about this, whenever I hear any stories like this, I get so like, oh my gosh, that’s so cool because I feel like I’ve even experienced things like that. So just hearing and seeing how successful you are and how well it’s worked for you is really inspiring and like makes me so excited for the future. So it’s really cool to see that. Speaking of MSU, you said you were here and you studied theater and then you kind of branched out from there. Did you join anything? Like I know right now we’re a part of the impact, but made any connections that helped you along in the future?

Lauren Oh yeah. I credit MSU with so much of my success. So I got a BFA in acting and a BA in communication. So I was really straddling two worlds. I was in the comm department and the theater department, but they complimented each other beautifully. I was in the Telecasters. So I acted on the show. I acted on a sideshow, which I think that’s what it was called. Right side. Show her side. Side something. It was a sketch comedy show. And so I, I did acting there. I was the director of communications for all the Telecasters, my senior year. Um, I was the vice president of spam, which was a performing arts organization. I DJ’ed on the impact under the name DJ Losef , and honestly  I would, I would play these independent artists and be like, God, it would be so cool if I could be one of the people that they play here someday. But of course I didn’t write music at the time, so I didn’t see an in for that, but I just, I was so enamored with that idea that we really helped break so many people’s careers.  And I also did plays so that took up a lot of my time as well. I  was always in a play or a musical. And, um, I mean, like I said, it was due to an MSU connection that I even got to Los Angeles in the first place because of Brendan Piper, shout out to Brandon who introduced me to this woman, Jill, who hired me at Ellen. And so many people have helped me since I’ve been LA who are Spartans almost every, I mean, not as much now that we’re in a pandemic but when the world was at large, I would meet someone from Michigan, like every other day. And if it was a Spartan, it was instantly somebody who would be willing to reach out their hand to me because they felt a connection. And likewise for them, like, I just, I feel so compelled to help anybody younger or older than me who has a dream who had a similar experience as me and I want to help them not have to go through some of the hardships I went through. And I think a lot of other Spartans feel the same way.

Abbi Yeah, I would definitely agree. I mean, I even just being here a current student, there are so many different resources, but one of the biggest things they always push is connections. You know, getting out there, putting yourself out there and again, like just seeing how well it’s worked for you like, it’s kind of like the proof is in the pudding, so  I’m just like, that’s so cool! It’s so cool to hear and see all that and it really got you like, to a lot of different places. I was reading, um, your Spotify bio, and I saw that you ended up working with Jeff Bova who’s like Grammy award winning producer. What was that experience like?

Lauren Oh, Jeff is the sweetest person in the world. I love him. I got so blessed because you hear so many horror stories about the music industry, but Jeff really developed me as an artist. You know, we spent a long time working on my music. And partly that was due because I was working at Sirius XM and learning how to produce and host radio. So. It took a little bit of a sidetrack, but also because I really wasn’t ready when I first met him to put out music, I needed to develop my voice, both literally and figuratively, like my voice as an artist, I needed to become a better writer. I needed to kind of learn what my style was. And he took the time with me to develop me. And, um, beyond that, like I really think the best thing that came out of my producing experience with Jeff was, well, the friendship. The incredible songs, but also he introduced me to my therapist, which that has been one of the most transformative things for me as a human being, as an artist really opened me up to mental health and, um, programming that had been put into me as a child and just being a human living in this world and has made me so much more open and able to be vulnerable. So, uh, the experience was phenomenal and. I highly recommend Jeff to anyone. And, um, I feel very lucky that I got placed with such an incredible human being who really saw me as a person and took the time to develop me as an artist.

Abbi Right. Like wanted to make you feel seen. I feel like that’s important too. Like you’re saying in the industry and especially when you’re trying to come up and you’re really just trying to get that attention, that special care that you need, you know?  So he introduced you to your therapist. I see that mental health is a really big part of  your whole career, but especially in music and it’s a topic that’s very stigmatized, still. We’re getting better, but it’s still, you know, kind of a hard thing for people to talk about. Where did you find the courage to  speak up and start to talk about issues that a lot of people don’t like to discuss.

Lauren So it was really hard for me. When I first graduated college, I had never done therapy. I actually, I just did a whole episode about it on my podcast, which I highly recommend anyone listen to. Who’s kind of wanting to trace the lines of their own mental health and learn how to talk up about it more. But when I first started therapy, I was again, 23, it just started writing music started this new career was, I was feeling bad about myself because I had tied so much of my identity to acting. And so that amongst some other things that were coming up drove me in there. I think, like you said, it’s hard to make art when you’re happy. It’s also hard to get into therapy when you’re happy, because you’re like, I’m fine, but there’s almost always something brewing underneath the surface and it just takes a major, wild sad moment to push you in there so, but when I first started doing therapy, when I was 23, I did not tell anyone. I was really ashamed at that time. I was with my, what I call my starter therapist for about two years. And then I finally got back into therapy when I was 27. So I took a two year break from therapy, with a new person, Jessica who Jeff, my producer had introduced me to, and, um, I got into it because I was in a relationship that was really struggling. But what I realized was I was struggling with myself and that I had chosen to be in this relationship because I didn’t have a base or a platform of love for myself. And so I really started learning self-love I started learning boundaries and how to set boundaries. And the reason I started talking about it is because. I couldn’t shut up about it because it was changing my life so much to work on myself. It was changing my levels of happiness and inner peace. And self-esteem that I felt like if I don’t tell people how amazing this is, I’m doing a major disservice to my friends, to my family, my community, anyone who chooses to listen to my music or my podcast or my radio show. I absolutely have to talk about this or else. People are going to be suffering that don’t need to. And I mean, my mom has gotten into therapy since I did it. A lot of people in my family have started therapy people in my community. And it’s still hard to talk about sometimes. I mean, when I did that episode and literally said every moment of the trigger, like, you know, cause I started having anxiety when I was in second grade, but no one knew what was going on. Nobody helped me and it wasn’t my parents fault. They just. They didn’t know, they didn’t know, they didn’t have tools. We weren’t talking about this stuff back in the nineties.  I just feel like it was really hard to share that it was still scary, but if my story can help, even one person suffer less than it will all be worth it. And, um, you know, I have a song called Therapy that I just put out and I will say it’s, it’s much more open here in LA, but when I sing that song in Michigan, the room goes. Silent. I mean, it’s, as if I said, Hey guys, I just murdered someone. It’s like you, hear pin drop. But I think it’s really important because as Michiganders were really kind and loving and we’ll help anyone, but we’re really pent up to and we hold a lot inside and there’s a lot of passive aggressiveness because we don’t confront ourselves or each other. And so, yeah, my wish for anyone listening to this and for you and just for anyone in the world is please, please get the help you need. There’s no shame in it. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to find tools, to live a better life, to treat yourself and others better. And I can’t recommend getting in touch with your mental health enough.

Abbi And do you see your songwriting and your music as a way for you to continue to grow and learn with your mental health journey?

Lauren Yeah. Yeah. I can always tell when I haven’t written a song for a while, cause I just start feeling dead inside. When I write it is completely a release. Sometimes I don’t even realize how sad or upset or angry I am at something until I finished the song. And I’m like, whoa, you’ve been holding that in. Better write another.

Abbi For therapy appointments, like you hold it up. I wrote this. I didn’t know I was feeling this, but here it is.

Lauren Well, I will tell you when I was in my relationship, I used to write songs about the situation  then I’d sing it for my ex boyfriend, be like, just so you know, I wrote this about you.

Abbi I love that. And I’m going to take that with me.

Lauren Yes! Use it!

Abbi It’s a great tip. I love that, but yeah , like you said, you just released therapy and it really is amazing to see a woman, cause I get like women are in the industry, but especially when you’re independent,  it’s almost like you have to work a little bit harder to get noticed and especially in a male centered field like that, so to see you being a woman talking about mental health also having multiple outlets and creative fields also, in male dominated industries is, um, really inspiring. And I think that it just is really amazing what you’re doing and I really appreciate it. And I think that, you know, you’re going to be going very far because of it.

Lauren Oh, thank you. Love. And I appreciate you saying that, you know, it’s like when you’re in the hustle, it’s really hard to see from above and see the good work you’ve done because every day you’re just trying to take one step forward. And, you know, I recently read a statistic that I think only 18% of all artists heard on the radio are women. And that some radio stations literally have a rule where you can’t play two women back to back. And so I think when I see something like that, I appreciate what I, and so many other women in this industry who are pursuing an artistic path are doing, because it is that much harder for us. And I never think about that. I just think, you know, okay, well, I’m pushing forward. I’ve done this, I’ve done that, but why isn’t it happening more? And I never think about the actual barriers that are in my way, just because of how I was born. Not to say that you shouldn’t keep pushing forward, but definitely take everything that you do achieve and know that it was that much harder and give yourself props for that because it’s a big deal. And it’s an honor to write music and to be talking with you and yeah, I just, I hope, that you pursue every dream on your heart.

Abbi I hope you enjoyed listening  as much as I enjoy talking with Lauren. She has a new single out called”Therapy,”, and you can find that along with her other music and podcasts on streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Music. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for upcoming interviews and in-studios  here at the Impact 89 FM.