Raised in Boston, the singer-songwriter took the risk of relocating across the Atlantic, deciding to study Popular Music at Goldsmiths College. There, she developed an artistic ethos as Kirsi, a dance-laden approach, as part of her university coursework.
Having explored her creativity in the dance style, she has now progressed into a more pop-leaning artistic hemisphere. Infusing characteristics from indie, electro, soul and pop into a vibrant sound that is compelling and dazzling. Latest single, “Different Road”, is a colourful and slick offering that illustrates the potential of the project, leaving us ready to be further enticed by Laura’s savvy artistic universe.
We caught up with Laura von Mari, discussing her musicial origins, defining her artistry, the importance of music, and her latest single.
Listen to “Different Road”…
Read the full interview…
Who and what inspires you to create?
I’ve always described it more as a compulsion than inspiration. I can’t stop myself from writing, composing and producing. I always have a lyric in my head or I wake up with a specific chord progression in mind and rush to the piano or open the voice notes app on my phone to record what I came up with.
How did you first uncover your love for music?
My dad is a classical pianist and piano teacher so I grew up with a grand piano in my house and music all around me from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. My first love was the piano and I would spend hours practicing first classical and then composing my own music. He taught me everything I knew for a long long time so I developed a real passion for working out my feelings at the keyboard.
How did you begin shaping your sound?
From piano and then guitar and bass the natural progression was to take up producing. I started as a kid in GarageBand and my dad got Logic when I was a teenager which was so intimidating and complicated at first but I just refused to give up. I made a lot of terrible songs before I made anything that sounded remotely good but I remember having so much fun it didn’t matter that I sucked. I think it’s so critical to mess up and be bad at something because at least for me that’s how I felt motivated to keep going. I vowed never to stop until I made something I was proud of. That passion brought me to the Chicago music industry and then to London and now to LA where I faced some of my biggest fears with the singular goal of making music worth listening to. Not just alone in my room or a studio but something that held enough weight to be released to the world.
How would you define yourself as an artist?
I often describe myself as a melodist. The first music I ever loved was classical and the first word in my musical vocabulary as a kid was melody. Writing lyrics didn’t even cross my mind until my early teens. Because of that I developed an obsession with crafting a song’s lyrics around a compelling composition and melody. I think a lot of songwriters are lyrically motivated first but for me I often need to hear a melody before I come up with a story to tell. I would also define myself as somewhat of a perfectionist and constantly seeking what I’d describe as the right answer to the question: what goes here? For me it feels like there is a specific answer I’m looking for when I compose and it drives me insane when I can’t find it right away.
Why is music such a pinnacle aspect of your life?
I think the answer to that question emerges pretty strongly from my life story. I would wake up to the sound of my dad playing Chopin in the morning and as a teenager I’d go to sleep after sitting at the top of our basement stairs listening to his band rehearse Fleetwood Mac and Journey songs for a local bar gig. Hardly a moment of my life was absent of music so now as an adult I don’t know how to live without it.
How did you find the courage and drive to move from Chicago to London to pursue music?
I knew I wanted some kind of college experience that centered around music and after interning in the music industry in Chicago I felt surer than ever. I looked at a few different schools but honestly the price tags at big name institutions in the United States scared me. When I learned about Goldsmiths and went to visit I realized that moving to London could be the best, scariest, most formative move I could make as an artist and a student. I’m so thankful for that time but it absolutely scared the hell out of me. I think being too comfortable is the enemy of growth so when I felt this anxiety and excitement about possibly moving to the UK I knew I had to do it.
Talk to me about your work under the alias Kirsi?
While I lived in London I fell in with a group of producers and friends who were active in the dance music industry. I remember enjoying some EDM and house music in an exploratory phase of high school but this was a world of total immersion. I spent so many days in the studio with a mentor named Henry Smithson (Riton) and hanging out with his crowd. I fell in love with analog synths, old drum machines and the concept of texture as a layer over melody that takes a song from good to incredible. During that time I was still writing and producing pop music but I just couldn’t resist trying my hand at producing dance music. It was like an antidote to the pressures of songwriting to produce house music that had no strong lyrical impulse. The name Kirsi comes from the street I grew up on outside Boston and became a moniker I used to produce and release all the music that came from the chapter where I couldn’t get enough of UK house and dance. I actually still produce dance music but I let it take a backseat so I could focus on pop. I have a few tracks I’m super excited to release as Kirsi in the next year or so.
We love “Different Road”! What are you trying to portray from the track?
That it is completely ok to be of two minds at once. We contain multitudes! It’s ok to be excited for the journey ahead and regretful of the possibilities you leave behind when you take one turn and leave a certain person or life behind.
We can expect more of the same from the forthcoming EP, “Forevermore”?
Absolutely! The “Forevermore” EP is my letter of intent to the world. I finally found my voice in a cohesion of synth pop, guitar driven dreamscapes and groove that is reflected distinctly in every single track. I hope that anyone who listens feels the urge to hit replay. People who have heard the whole project all have different favorite songs so I think there’s something in it for everyone.
What was the creative process for the project?
A bit of a mess honestly. Some of these tracks started in London, some in Seattle where I settled during the pandemic and some in LA where I went to finish the production and mixing process. The last few years have been hectic for a lot of creatives but amidst all that I found an enormous amount of purpose in writing, composing and producing every single one of these tracks.
What are your future plans?
I’m headed to London for the month of September to support a friend of mine on a set of residency shows, get some more live performance experience and as always you can find me compulsively churning out music in my bedroom studio setup. I have a hard drive full of songs ready to be polished and released after Forevermore so stay tuned. I’ll be back in LA writing and producing for the fall.