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“Pretty girl in la” - girlhouse | Review

Okay dream-pop lovers this one's for you! I heard this song and immediately fell in love.

Fast-rising bedroom pop artist girlhouse (aka Lauren Luiz) has now released captivating debut collection ‘the girlhouse ep’, alongside the vibrant new cut ‘pretty girl in la’.

The track is euphoric and feels straight out of an indie coming of age film. Taking her cues from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacas, and Snail Mail, her debut EP gives us a raw and intimate insight into the world of Portland born, Nashville-based artist Lauren Luiz, spinning tales of her time living in LA and the relationships she nurtured along the way. “Pretty girl in la” is the opening track on the EP and really sets the tone for the work. It taps into the competitive nature of the city and the isolating and anxiety producing feelings that emerge from trying to be exactly what this city expects you to be. Her vocals are lush, dreamy, and have this full slightly grungy tone to them and just make you want to hit repeat.

Speaking about the new EP, she said, “This EP follows my story of landing in LA and finding out exactly how ignorant I was to the real world; whether that be relationships, men in general, career, sex, friendships, or battling mental illness and dealing with trauma, it all felt new to me.”

‘pretty girl in la’, “pretty girl in la is more direct than the others on the ep. This one is very nostalgic of my West Hollywood days, wanting to be an actress and letting people destroy my confidence daily for the sake of the ‘craft’. I have so many memories of being out at bars/clubs in la having a lovely time, when out of the blue some stranger would come up to me and tell me that I’m “kind of pretty, but not la pretty.” Drilling deeper saying that “in my hometown I might be a 7 or 8 but in la I’m merely a 4.” This happened so many times that I really started to take it to heart, I was 23 and it kind of destroyed me! I would hold my breath going through tunnels just wishing that I could be an la 8, thinking that would fix all my problems.”

As a (kinda) LA transplant I know the feeling of just wanting to feel like a pretty girl in this city. It feels like everyone has their life together and looks amazing doing that. Meanwhile I am a college student going to Zoom class from my bedroom with yesterday's tea mug on my desk still and not feeling the prettiest. We just want to fit in and make it work and sometimes it always feels like playing catch up with the prettiest faces around you. What makes a pretty girl?

Ever since she was a teenager, girlhouse’s Lauren Luiz has always felt the pull to try and experience new things. Growing up in the city of Portland, a place of polar opposites with the very liberal on one side to those wielding confederate flags on the other, she first began to make her mark as an actress in her early twenties. Appearing in shows like the NBC hit series Grimm, she felt like her career wasn’t really going to fully begin unless she moved to the heart of the action, Los Angeles.

Driven by her first serious breakup, she migrated to LA in 2013 to pursue her acting career, where she got her first big break in a production of Spring Awakening. The production was all through sign language and half of the cast was deaf, so it gave her a truly unique experience and taught her to sign. The show took her to Broadway, New York, saw her perform for President Barack Obama at The White House, as well as appearing on The Seth Meyers Show. And while her music had yet to come to the forefront of her creative spirit, it was this pursuit of an acting dream that led her to the places and people she would come to build her music career around.

She first moved in with a friend she had met while attending the Old Vic School in Bristol, and began to work at the Diesel Jean store at the city’s Beverly Centre mall. It was here that she met her future band mate/producer Tyler Thompson, who was working at the Sony Store at the time. The two had an instant creative connection and stayed firmly in touch when Lauren had to uproot to New York for her production. But once that show ended, she returned to LA and the pair formed their first musical venture WILD together with another band mate.

Together, WILD became a huge force on the US folk-pop scene. They went onto release a handful of singles and an album that garnered them more than 50 million streams, a slot at SXSW, and sync deals with the likes of Mazda, Switch, and Pixar, it felt like they have found a special connection that they could build something truly special around. But while WILD was still going strong, Lauren had spent the entire time writing music for herself, something different to what the band had been producing so far and so began to explore a new aesthetic.

This was the formation of girlhouse, a solo project that Lauren felt was more in keeping with how she was as an artist and gave her a creative outlet to drive her own passions. But her connection with Tyler had become so tight over the years, she felt that he was the only one to help her realise her dream and so became the producer for her debut EP ‘the girlhouse EP’.

Inspired heavily by the works of fellow female singer-songwriters such as Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, and Lucy Dacus, ‘the girlhouse EP’ was written during a turbulent time for Lauren. Growing weary of the LA scene and what it had to offer, the collection became a break up letter to the city she once so badly wanted to be a part of. Combining personal stories of family and friends, she felt that although the music was the start of something new, it also meant a halt for her acting and life in LA as well, resulting in a wonderfully heartfelt introduction to her work.

girlhouse now feels like the most confident and fulfilling direction she has taken so far. Now living in Nashville, her personal life still continues to inspire and influence her music, offering us all a window into her soul and creating a bright and sweeping world for us all to enjoy.

Review by Hannah Schneider

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