Interview: Toronto Pop Prodigy Lo Lo Talks Debut EP

Interview: Toronto Pop Prodigy Lo Lo Talks Debut EP

One year ago, Toronto-based pop artist Lo Lo released “Yours,” the ultimate breakup anthem that poked fun at her own shitty situation while simultaneously getting really real about fleeting young love. The song was a complete smash despite being her debut — there was no wild fanfare or any crazy promotional roll-outs. On its own merit, “Yours” garnered over 10,000 plays in its first day of release.

The reason?

It’s pop perfection.

Since last year, Lo Lo’s been steadily dropping punchy singalong singles in preparation of her debut EP, Sweater Collection, which just dropped yesterday. Featuring two brief interludes, an acoustic version, a collab with DCF, and a bunch of electric originals, Sweater Collection is an inspiring debut from somebody ready to take the pop world by storm. We’re stoked to have had the chance to chat with Lo Lo over the phone a bit about the EP, hot sauce, Gavin DeGraw, and tons more. Read on for our exclusive interview below!

Sweater Collection kicks off with “Yours,” of course, because it’s the song that skyrocketed Lo Lo to this level of pure pop talent. After we’re comforted by the smacking, neon beats of the EP’s opener, we move into “Stay Up,” a tender tune less outrightly pop-and-peppy as some of Lo Lo’s previously released singles, but it’s still got a major hook element and grows into a gorgeous soundscape of fizzy synth bursts and thick drum pad beats as Lo Lo’s vocals (and songwriting) operate at their best. Next follows the addictive, edgy F-U anthem “Convenient,” the second single Lo Lo released last year that, of course, garnered hundreds of thousands of listens like it’s easy. That’s the thing — it honestly does seem easy because Lo Lo is just so insanely good at creating these vibrant pop gems that practically vibrate with life.

The EP’s title track serves to connect a thread (sweater pun definitely intended) to and from every single song on the record. It’s the core of Sweater Collection, a sugary sweet pop confession woozy with synth trills and pulsing percussion. On “Stranger’s Arms,” Lo Lo teams up with Toronto-based pop prince DCF for a surprisingly tender duet that finds each artist narrating the distance between them. The arrangement is still as clacking and pounding as all of Lo Lo’s work is, but there’s a new layer of emotion to this one found looming in heartbeat thrums, rolling guitar strums, and great waves of soft synth sent shrouding the duo’s harmonies. “Champagne 4every1” takes us right back to Lo Lo’s signature pop perfection — fit with a dreamy hook sung sweetly, it’s packed with punchy percussive beats and clipped electronic glitches, a gentle dance track destined for smiles, replays, and shot after shot. Sweater Collection ends about twenty minutes later with an acoustic version of “Convenient,” a more lowkey take based on buzzy acoustic strums and Lo Lo’s textured voice.

On Lo Lo’s debut EP Sweater Collection, she delivers the ultimate pop persuasion: song after song of tongue-in-cheek bops that expertly merge Lo Lo’s two worlds — her saccharine sweetness as a pop prodigy and her relatable wit as a young woman navigating the limbo of love and lust and the loss on the other side.

Listen to Sweater Collection below and read on for our exclusive interview with Lo Lo!

The Music Mermaid: So first of all… it’s April [Editor’s Note: at the time of this interview!] which means it’s been a few years since the experience that inspired your debut single “Yours,” right?
Lo Lo:
Yup. It’s been two years since I wrote it and one year since I released it.

TMM: So what’s it been like to leave [that experience] in the past and move forward?
Lo Lo:
It’s been cool because every time I write a song, it’s to get it off my chest and once I write it, I feel a lot better about it, but I mean… for the past year it’s been on the radio and people are singing it, so I haven’t really moved past it but now when I sing it, it’s a very fun experience. It’s definitely been changed from something that was sad in my life to something that makes me very happy. I guess in a way it is something I’ve moved on from but I still have it in my life.

TMM: Yeah, I always wonder about that. Songwriting is so cathartic but then I think about the fact that musicians have to relive it every time they sing or perform.
Lo Lo:
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. When I first wrote this song, it was a ballad. It was super slow and sad and depressing but in that year when we were producing it, we made the production a lot more fun and switched the vibes to be like, “Yeah this sucks, I don’t have you anymore, but what can you do?” so it’s definitely a fun one now.

TMM: Do you think you’ll ever release it as the soft ballad it was meant to be?
Lo Lo:
Probably not but maybe one day! I have the demo file on my computer. A bunch of my friends and family have heard it and love it but I feel like I can’t now that people know it as such a fun song. People are gonna be like, “Oh my god, this is so sad…”

TMM: It would be so cool! You should think about that more.
Lo Lo:
Maybe one day!

TMM: So the Toronto music scene is insane. There’s so much killer talent coming out of there right now, especially in the pop realm, so what’s it like to be working in such a bustling, creative hub today?
Lo Lo:
Well it’s awesome. First of all it’s a lot smaller than anybody would think. We all know each other.

TMM: Oh, really? That’s cool.
Lo Lo:
Yeah, like anybody getting onto Spotify playlists and getting a lot of love -- we all know each other and work with each other. It’s a very tight-knit community, so it’s really cool to see everyone doing really well. We’re a bit different in our own ways, of course, but it’s so inspiring to see. You’d think there would be crazy competition but I think everyone in Toronto -- and Canada in general -- is rooting for each other which is really nice. A lot of times, we write together and collab.

TMM: Aw, sweet. So you made your debut last year with “Yours” and you suddenly just took off. I mean, you gained a couple million streams on Spotify and you dropped a couple singles, so what was your experience like officially emerging as Lo Lo?
Lo Lo:
It was crazy. I was not expecting it. I still am completely independent, unsigned. I had no idea what I was doing. I just thought “Yours” was a cool song and I was hoping other people would think it was a cool song. I was crossing my fingers and praying to god that I got 10,000 streams total, like one day, that was my goal.

TMM: Yeah.
Lo Lo:
So I ended up releasing it and having a little acoustic show at the ROM [the Royal Ontario Museum] and by the end of the day, “Yours” had already had 10,000 streams. That was my life goal and I got it in one day. I was completely shocked. I just didn’t expect it. It was a very happy surprise that gave me the opportunity to keep going. It’s been really fun and I know I’m really lucky.

TMM: Well it’s well-deserved.
Lo Lo:
Thank you so much.

TMM: So can you tell me a little about the Sweater Collection EP?
Lo Lo:
Yes. So I decided to name it Sweater Collection because I found that the title track sort of sums up the EP because every song on the EP is about a different relationship or experience that I had, ie. one of the different sweaters I found when I was cleaning out my closet, so if you listen to the EP in order from the beginning to the end, you’ll be able to hear a clear story of my love life and all of these experiences. It’s a story of how I got all of the sweaters. -laughs-

TMM: Yeah, for sure. I was thinking that what’s super cool about the EP is how carefully you’ve woven certain lyrical and sonic motifs throughout.
Lo Lo:
Thank you!

TMM: So obviously there’s the sweater and the loss in the lyrics, but there are also things like thick drum pad pops that sort of go into each song, so I was going to ask if this seamlessness is something you’d purposely built or if it seems to come naturally in your work.
Lo Lo:
Right. With the lyrics, it definitely comes naturally. I’m really into calling back or calling out different lyrics from old songs and bringing them into new ones [ie. the lyrical parallels from “Yours” and “Sweater Collection.”] With the production, bringing that stuff back, that’s definitely on purpose too. I work with the same two guys on all the songs so we always want to make sure it’s coherent and cohesive with all the same sounds we use. Obviously every song is different but… we have this thing we call “Lo Lo Sauce” so we make sure we always put Lo Lo Sauce on each song -- make them fun and exciting in their own way.

TMM: I like that! I like that you have a term for it too.
Lo Lo:
-laughs- Yeah, thank you. We want to get, like, custom hot sauce and make Lo Lo sauce for the three of us to enjoy.

TMM: You should! That’s like squad merch.
Lo Lo:
-laughs- Yeah, exactly.

TMM: So you teamed up with DCF for “Stranger’s Arms.” What was that collaboration process like?
Lo Lo:
So it was actually never supposed to be a duet.

TMM: Oh really?
Lo Lo:
Yeah, we wrote that song with another writer named Nathan Ferraro who is an amazing Toronto songwriter. I actually messaged DCF to ask him to sing on “Stay Up” with me. He was like “Yeah, for sure, I’ll do it but what if we did ‘Stranger’s Arms’ as a duet?” And I was like “Holy shit, that would be way more sad as a duet.” At first it was about a girl trying to call a guy but now it’s like they’re both trying to call each other, both getting their voicemails, but really they’re just calling at the same time. It takes the song from a girl being sad about something to something even more sad and tragic because you have two people who both think they fucked up, but no one really knows. I thought that was a great idea -- I give DCF full credit for the duet! It was really fun to do it. He’s a really cool Toronto writer so I’m really happy to have him on my EP.

TMM: Yeah, for sure. It’s like a back-and-forth narrative now with two characters.
Lo Lo:
Yeah. I always wanted a duet on the EP -- it was going to be “Stay Up” but I’m really glad it’s “Stranger’s Arms.”

TMM: So do you think you’ll do more collabs in the future?
Lo Lo:
Yeah, I’m definitely interested in doing collabs in the future. At first I was trying not to have any features on other people’s work because I wanted to establish myself as a brand and and an artist, like “This is me.”

TMM: Yeah, that’s smart.
Lo Lo:
But now that I’m releasing this EP, I’m definitely excited to collab with other people. I really like EDM songs so I’d love to be one of the vocalists on an EDM song.

TMM: Oh, I can totally hear that.
Lo Lo:
Thank you! I’ve done one but I had to leave it uncredited so nobody knew it was me… but hopefully in the future I’ll get on another one and leave my name on it.

TMM: This is an evil question, but is there one song off the EP that you’re most proud of or feel most connected to?
Lo Lo:
Oof, this is hard.

TMM: I know!
Lo Lo:
Probably “Convenient.” That was the first song I wrote that I was the one who was empowered, if that makes any sense? With “Yours,” I was sad writing it. With “Stay Up,” I was sad writing it, but with “Convenient,” it was the first one where I was like “Fuck this guy. I’m gonna write a power song and I’m gonna be the boss in this song.” That one really flew off the page. I wrote it in like an hour.

TMM: Oh wow.
Lo Lo:
We have an acoustic version of it on the EP which I think people will really love because you can connect with the lyrics more when there’s not much production. So I think that one’s my favorite off the EP.

TMM: I think it’s cool you say you felt empowered with it, because when I listen to “Convenient,” I consider it a middle-finger song. It’s an F-U song.
Lo Lo:
Oh yeah, 100% for sure. It’s funny… the person that I wrote it about messaged me a year later and was like “That ‘Convenient’ song… that’s about me, right? It’s pretty good. Pretty good.” I was like “oh, thank you!” It was a really funny message to wake up to one day.

TMM: I feel like “pretty good” is an understatement for a random DM from somebody in your past…
Lo Lo:
-laughs- Yeah. So funny.

TMM: So who are three musicians you think the world should be listening to now?
Lo Lo:
I feel like Billie Eilish is too big to say now…

TMM: No, that’s okay, people should definitely be listening to Billie.
Lo Lo:
Okay, I’ll say Billie Eilish. And Alec Benjamin. Who’s gonna be my third? This is hard.

TMM: Any Toronto artists maybe?
Lo Lo:
Yeah, I’ll say Jesse Gold. He’s a friend of mine. I think he’s awesome. Acoustic-y, John Mayer vibes.

TMM: Oh cool. Now what’s the one thing you want listeners to take away from Sweater Collection?
Lo Lo:
I would love people to listen to it in order so they can hear a story. I hope everyone connects with all of the songs, or at least one of the songs, and that it makes them feel better when they’re sad or sing along when they want to jam out. And I hope nobody’s afraid to have too many sweaters in their collection because they can have as many as they want.

TMM: I love that. Yeah, I almost wish I were going through a breakup right now so I could more fully feel the EP.
Lo Lo:
I know, it’s so true.

TMM: It would be just completely on repeat and tell my exact story.
Lo Lo:
-laughs- Right? Exactly. You always relate more when you’re going through it.

TMM: So this is the last question. In honor of your sweaters and the theme of your EP, who’s your musical crush?
Lo Lo:
Oh my musical crush… oh my goodness. I’m in between John Mayer and Gavin DeGraw but if I have to pick one, I’ll go Gavin DeGraw.

TMM: Okay, that’s a solid choice, I’d agree with that.
Lo Lo:
Yeah, he’s just… yeah… oh yeah.

TMM: -laughs- Well said.
Lo Lo:
Thank you, thank you. I have a huge crush on him. I have a poster of him in my room.

The Music Mermaid: Oh really? So you’d have Gavin DeGraw’s sweater in your closet then.
Lo Lo:
Oh fuck yeah. Yes.

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