Lauren Spencer Smith: “My biggest inspiration growing up was Adele. Literally only her”

LAUREN SPENCER SMITH is breaking through with big emotions and big tunes

Words: Martyn Young.

Lauren Spencer Smith is a pop star who exclusively deals in big things: big numbers, big TV shows, big emotions and a big future. Riding a wave of TikTok-fuelled super streaming dominance with songwriting of real depth and resonance, Lauren’s future is about as bright as it could possibly be. It’s been a swift rise since she appeared on American Idol in 2020 before she started to make music on her own terms.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve been so busy,” she begins. “When you find something you’ve wanted to do your entire life and then get to do it, and it’s right before your eyes, you’re so appreciative and amazed by all the love and support.” 

It was in 2022 that things really started to go supernova for Lauren as viral breakthrough ‘Fingers Crossed’ cut through and currently stands at a massive 321 million streams. Quite a big deal, then. It was a song that, in its sense of expansive drama and heartfelt melancholy, evoked the sound of one of Lauren’s formative musical idols. “My biggest inspiration growing up was Adele,” she beams. “Literally only her. I had all the CDs; that was all I would play in my mum’s car. A couple of years after I got super into Sam Smith, and I would only listen to the two of them until I was 15. I was always very interested in the piano ballad singers.“ 

As she soaked in the grandstanding sounds of these top-tier singers, Lauren continued honing her craft as a songwriter. “I feel like I’ve been doing music for a long time, but I really started properly doing it about a year ago,” she says. “I feel like a completely different person. I’ve been through so many things that are very abnormal to go through at 18/19 years old. I feel much more mature than I should be for my age, but it feels great. Every songwriter says this, but the more you write, the better you get.” 

The desire to push herself as a songwriter partly comes from her American Idol experience. “Growing up, I was always just known as the singer,” she reflects. “Everyone would tell me you need to write your own original songs. I always wanted to do that, and going into the show, I knew it would help because I was going to meet people. I’m from quite a small town, and there isn’t really anyone else who does the music thing out here. 

“I didn’t have any originals, but I ended up meeting one of my best friends, who is still one of my best friends to this day and one of my songwriters; I met her on the show, and she asked if I wrote songs and I said I don’t really know how yet, I really want to learn. She said, I’d be happy to teach you.”

This important period of nurturing her craft allowed Lauren to develop her voice and the stories she wanted to tell. “My vision is any time something happens in my life that upsets me, it bums me out that I don’t have a specific song for it,” she says. “I love to tell people that I write the song that I didn’t have to help other people.” 

“There are always bumps in the road, but for the most part, I’m good”

Lauren Spencer Smith

While goosebump-raising balladry to have a good ol’ cry to is at the heart of her music, Lauren can deliver the bangers too, like on the gen-z pop star posse cut of the latest single ‘Fantasy’ featuring Gayle and Em Beihold, two young singer-songwriters Lauren feels a kinship with. 

“I wrote that song just over a year ago. When I wrote it, I knew I wanted other people on it. At the time, I didn’t know Gayle and Em yet, but I had the song for a couple of months. Me, Gayle and Em were all having big songs at pretty much the same time, so every festival, every radio show, we were booked together, so we would always bump into each other. We became a little girl group and really good friends; we’ve had a group chat ever since. A couple of months ago, I just reached out and they said yes immediately.” 

The real challenge for any artist, though, is how you turn the virality and excitement into art that has a real legacy, and now Lauren is turning her attention to her long-awaited debut album ‘Mirror’. It’s something she looks at with refreshing honesty. 

“It’s been a struggle,” she admits. “Making an album is the hardest part. There are so many different people giving opinions. Some people don’t like these songs, and then some other people like these songs. You’re guessing in your head what you hope people will like. Honestly, though, it’s been really fun. We’re at the point now where we’re having meetings to discuss everything because it’s coming closer. The order of the songs is pretty much the order of what’s happened in my life in the past three years. It’s cool to step back and listen to everything and the state of mind I was in when I wrote those songs compared to how I am now and how I’ve changed as a person.” 

“The vibe is definitely sad,” she says. “Lots and lots of sad ballads. I think there are two songs on the album that have a slightly positive vibe to them. A lot of it is about exes and old experiences, but there are two songs about how I’m currently happy. Everything is kind of good now. There are always bumps in the road, but for the most part, I’m good.” 

Approaching life as a major pop star in waiting with a sharpness and sense of perspective, you feel that Lauren is perfectly placed to have a career in the mould of her idol Adele. Throughout it all, there’s one defining principle that she applies to everything that centres her work. “The main thing is always to be true to yourself,” she reflects. “Some people like to try to write to be popular, and there’s a mix between the two, and it’s always important to write about yourself and what you think is important to you. Authenticity shines through.” ■

Taken from the June 2023 edition of Dork. Lauren Spencer Smith’s album ‘Mirror’ is out now.