Vagabon: “I want this to be a record that people put on when they’ve had their heart broken”

Enthusiastically kickstarting a new era, VAGABON’s latest record ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ is a complete joy. “I just wanted to have fun,” she explains. Check out the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit, The Cut.

Words: Ali Shutler.

Vagabon spent every day making her glorious self-titled second album crying in the studio. “I really didn’t want to be this tortured artist,” she admits today, but she was feeling the pressure following the sudden success of 2017’s debut album ‘Infinite Worlds’.

That first record was made on weekends when Vagabon (real name Laetitia Tamko) wasn’t in school working towards a degree in engineering. She wasn’t expecting it to do much, one step in a sprawling journey, but she soon found herself touring the world. The pressure to follow it up felt immense.

But she did. ‘Vagabon’ took the introspective vulnerability and quiet sadness of ‘Infinite Worlds’ and dived deeper. However, released at the end of 2019, she never got the cathartic release that comes with touring, thanks to COVID. “I couldn’t mourn the fact either because we were already mourning so much. It did take a toll on me to not complete the cycle,” she says. It meant she went into what came next with watered-down ambitions and plenty of questions about her own abilities.

You wouldn’t know it from listening to her outrageously vibrant new album ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’, which is bolder and more daring than what’s come before. From the sleek ‘Can I Talk My Shit?’ to the giddy, percussive ‘Carpenter’, the record pulls influence from dance and house music, with Laetitia finding herself drawn to high BPMs and a relentless sense of playfulness.

“I found my confidence through the process of making this album,” she explains, now just excited to take it on the road. “It’s very different to what’s come before,” she continues. “But I’m different, too.”

“I’m not worried about it being too real, too honest or too much of anything else”


Writing for ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ properly began in 2021, with the songs evolving and shifting as Laetitia slowly built them up until they felt joyful enough. She got impatient, then fearful as the process stretched from months to years, but it just “felt like there was more to discover,” she explains. At one point, she thought the record was done, but then crossed paths with super producer Rostam, and the pair added more colour to the record. “I had to start telling myself it was a power move, waiting four years between albums.”

For this album, Laetitia also wanted to explore a more conversational style of songwriting. “I’ve always been honest in my music, but there’s a difference between writing a journal as a stream of consciousness and writing it thinking someone might read it,” she says. “I really wanted to find the poetry in casual conversation.” It helps create a fearless, free and fun record.

Of course, Laetitia has toyed with upbeat pop songs before, including ‘Vagabon’’s breakout single ‘Water Me Down’. “The difference is that ‘Water Me Down’ feels like dancing alone in your room. ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ feels more like dancing in a club. It’s about being in community, sharing that feeling.”

“There’s a lot of depth on the record, but I wanted it to have moments of fun,” she continues, with tracks like ‘Made Out With Your Best Friend’ leaning into that lightness and the title a giddy wink at the fact it’s been four years since Vagabon’s last album. “You need those highs sometimes, especially when there’s been a lot of lows.”

Laetitia goes on to explain that she wanted to feel escapism through the creation of ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ following the death of her best friend, Eric Littmann. “Grief changes your whole perspective on everything. I care so much less about self-consciousness or being as reserved as I’ve grown up being. There was almost this urgency to feeling euphoric,” she says. “I wanted to make music where I could live inside feelings that felt bearable, to combat those unbearable feelings I was experiencing.”

Photo Credit: Tonje Thilesen

Like a lot of artists, Laetitia has a hard time listening to her previous albums but regularly listens to ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ for casual fun. “I’m not worried about it being too real, too honest or too much of anything else,” she says. “I still identify with it so much. I didn’t actually write about my grief, but it does relate to those feelings, and I know that its purpose is to make me feel good.”

The album ends with ‘Anti-Fuck’, a fuzzy, stripped-down track that’s dripping in sadness. It was written after a rare psychedelic experience and rebelled against all the little changes that Laetitia has tried to make over the past few years. “I wanted the crisis, the chaos and the confusion because that’s what I was experiencing,” explains Laetitia. “It feels like an absorbed state of calm as well. Some songs are about being sad and agitated; this one is about acknowledging that grief won’t ruin me.”

“I know I’m not a new artist, but I feel like one going into this era,” she continues, with her hopes, expectations and ambitions all reset through grief. “I’m just excited to rediscover where music can take me.”

Vagabon will be touring with her friend Arlo Parks when ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ is finally released, and they’re already planning on singing songs together. “I really just want to commune through this music,” says Laetitia. “This is the first record I’ve made where every song can be screamed back to me, and I’m so ready for that.”

“I want this to be a record that people put on when they’ve had their heart broken, and they need to feel empowered in the same way that we listen to Nicki Minaj or Megan Thee Stallion. People like to commune over things they’re afraid to say themselves,” she says. “When you want to talk your shit, this is that record.” ■

Taken from the October 2023 edition of Dork. Vagabon’s album ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ is out now. Follow Dork’s The Cut Spotify playlist here.


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