From New York to ‘Churches’: LP’s career in five key moments

Ahead of Laura Pergolizzi’s 2023 tour of the east coast, we recap the ups and downs of the singer-songwriter’s eventful journey

In partnership with Bluesfest Touring

Over the years, LP – aka singer-songwriter Laura Pergolizzi –  has carved out a career that stands as testament to her willpower and perseverance.

She also has hits for days – which she’ll bring to Australia next April when she plays Byron Bay Bluesfest 2023 and her own headline dates in Sydney and Melbourne.

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Ahead of her return Down Under, we’ve rounded up five key moments of LP’s career that show how far she’s come.

A New York state of mind

Laura Pergolizzi moved from Long Island to New York City and promptly changed her moniker to LP in 2004. At this time she’d released two independent albums that had seen her work with Dave Lowery of the band Cracker and songwriting powerhouse Linda Perry, formerly of 4 Non-Blondes.

Though reasonably well received, success had eluded LP and she worked in a bar to make ends meet. It was there that she met music industry veteran Marvis Howell, who offered her a publishing deal. She was soon mixing with major songwriters such as Billy Steinberg (Madonna, Cyndi Lauper), Desmond Child (KISS, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper) and Andreas Carlsson (*NSYNC).

“I was the kid in the room in these sessions, sitting at the feet of the biggest songwriters in the world,” recalled LP – who went from writing about 20 songs a year to around 100 – to Spin in 2021.

“It was a great day when I realised it was about volume. Because that means there’s no end. Even if you write a hit song, you just have to move on and write more songs.”

The SXSW bidding war

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A live performance at the 2006 South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, sparked a major label bidding war for LP. She ended up signing with the Island Def Jam Music Group, however for the first time – and certainly not the last – there were differences of opinion about her artistic direction and presentation, and the contract was ended.

“That’s why there were so many false starts for me,” LP told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2020. “I don’t think they could understand the indie nature of what I do.”

Rihanna drinks to that

The songs that were intended for an LP album release instead found new homes with the Backstreet Boys, plus TV shows such as Out Of Nowhere and MTV’s The Hills. Slowly, they began to cement LP’s status as a go-to songwriter for artists and various soundtracks.

LP had her songs recorded by artists such as Heidi Montag and Erik Hassle but the real breakthrough came in 2010 when she co-wrote ‘Cheers (Drink To That)’ which was featured on Rihanna’s fifth album, ‘Loud’. The song features a sample of Avril Lavigne’s 2002 song, ‘I’m With You’, and became a Top 10 hit internationally.

“Getting a Rihanna song was nuts,” LP – who also went on to write for Christina Aguilera and Cher – told The Independent. “I was invited to a session by my friend, we wrote the song in a few hours. I feel like emotional content is the most important part of any song, for any artist.

“Every artist wants to connect with the listener, but it’s a daunting task to walk into a room full of strangers and write something from the heart.”

The Warner Bros. exit

It wasn’t until April 2012 that LP released her first major label album, ‘Into The Wild: Live At East West Studios’. She immediately embarked on a rigorous touring schedule that included appearances at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, SXSW and Sonic Boom. She recorded the follow-up, ‘Forever For Now’, which was given a pop sheen by veteran producer and then-Warner Bros chairman, Rob Cavallo.

When the time came in 2015 for LP’s third album, she played three tracks to the Warner Bros hierarchy. It didn’t go well.

“I literally could tell the second they looked at me,” LP told Forbes Magazine in 2020, “they just didn’t get it. I could just see the vacancy in their eyes. They were like, ‘yeah… um, that’s great but we’re going to move on’.”

LP was stunned but again persevered, signing with the Vagrant label. She released the fittingly titled ‘Lost On You’ album in late 2016. The title track/single attained one billion streams and went to number one  in 17 countries, mostly around Europe, and the Warner Bros bosses were left eating crow.

Enter ‘Churches’

In late 2021, after a year-long delay to write more material, LP released her sixth album, ‘Churches’. Released though the independent Canadian label Dine Alone Records, the album saw LP relishing the freedom to be true to herself and to pursue the uniqueness of her art without being told how to sound or act.

“Now I’m finally able to do my own things without the pressure of a major label trying to corral me into some other group of artists of a similar nature,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “That’s when things went right.”

‘Churches’ is an album that LP is particularly enthusiastic to tour behind. “It’s cool when you have a body of work that hasn’t been delivered live,” she told Glide Magazine recently. “After what we’ve all been through, I feel like this is more special.

“A lot of the trauma people have been through comes through in this record, especially my own feelings about it. Your fans like you for a number of reasons. They connect with you on a personality level. They want to hear what you’re feeling.”

LP performs at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney on April 1, Northcote Theatre in Melbourne on April 2 and Byron Bay Bluesfest on April 6. Find tickets here

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