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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lauren Malyon: From Choirs to Concert Halls

She uses oatmeal as a metaphor for her hair. Oatmeal. As obscure as that sounds, it makes total sense when you see Lauren Malyon’s exuberant head of hair for the first time. “You know how when you’re cooking oatmeal it just gets bigger and bigger? Well, my hair is like that.” The budding singer/songwriter/musician/fashionista breezed into the coffee shop where I waited for her, in a floral, high-waisted bubble skirt, a simple white v-neck, a giant black rock on her finger, and a gorgeous mop of voluminous, wispy blonde curls. She is magnetic to the eyes.

And her magnetism grows when her beautiful lyrics and unexpected synth-pop melodies hit your ear-drums. Such irresistibly optimistic, yet edgy sounds are the last thing that you would expect from a girl who was trained as a classical pianist for the majority of her young life. At least, it was the last thing I expected from the girl that I remembered from elementary school but hadn’t seen since grade eight.

This 23 year old beauty from the tiny town of Port Perry has gone through quite an evolution, from her start as the town’s darling musical prodigy who passed the highest level of piano exams at the mere age of 14, to being an up-and-coming indie-pop queen of the Toronto music scene. Lauren claims that she has finally grown to an understanding of her true self and has developed a fearlessness when it comes to being that true self; in her music, her look, and her life. And with a self-assuredness that is rare at such a young age, she is ready to release her second album in the wake of her 2009 debut, At my Window, but this time, with a refined sense of style and a distinct sound.

This means that listeners can look forward to hearing a collaboration on several levels: of instruments (including a keytar, an electric violin, a synthesizer, and a brand-spankin’ new organ that she snatched up for a laughable $150), of writing techniques (her producer/co-writer, Paul approaches lyric-writing as story-telling, while Lauren writes more from personal experiences) and of musical style. Lauren’s mantra involves melding the feminine with an opposing element, which she calls the “other.” For example, in any of her songs you could find sweet lyrics contrasted by a heavy bass line or a quirky synth beat; the “other” element and the reason she is so unpredictably compelling.

So, from the basement of her grandmother’s house, she has created a studio from which she allows her creativity to flow freely. In fact, since one decisive day in high school when, after years of repressing her hair’s natural wildness with a merciless flat-iron,  she decided to let her hair, for lack of a better description, do “its thing,” Lauren has found a profound satisfaction in a “laissez-faire” philosophy. This doctrine has now translated to her music, which she creates without concern for pleasing a slew of potential managers or labels, and to her stage show, where she focuses on playing her heart out instead of playing to the expectations of a crowd.

And fittingly, our conversation flowed with ease for over two hours. She speaks of her music and her blossoming career with what I can only describe as passion, real passion. She is genuine, un-pretentious, anything and everything but artificial, so catching up with her after ten years is easy. Lauren is 100% natural, from her quirky, indie pop tunes to every strand of hair on her head, kind of like...well, oatmeal.

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