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September 2022
Feature

renforshort: "The message is don't be afraid to sit down and talk"

The buzzy up-and-coming alt-popster has arrived with her debut album.
Published: 10:20 am, July 11, 2022Words: Steven Loftin.
renforshort: "The message is don't be afraid to sit down and talk"

We've all had conversations with our inner selves. That mystical shadow inside us that narrates our every day, packaging up all our worries, hopes and dreams. Welcome to 'Dear Amelia', renforshort's inner person.

"It's like a personification because she's kind of a human form, but it's just like picturing that… if that makes sense?" she smiles. "I have it written down because I just spit it out of my head and expect it to make sense to everyone!"

Her debut album is a patchwork quilt of renforshort's - aka Lauren Isenberg - internal chatter, external events and the ties that bind them. 'Dear Amelia', with its open-letter title and purposeful poetically-loaded moniker... "Yeah, so poetic - randomnamegenerator.com." Er, maybe not in that case. Her eyes roll as she laughs, "I just searched up most popular girl names, and that was the first one that came up." Bringing this all to life is a way for the twenty-year-old budding Canadian pop star to process and deal with such.

"Exactly. It's the you that's inside you," she nods. "When you put too much pressure on the you that's inside, you just deplete. Basically, the message is talk, don't be afraid to sit down and talk to someone. That's the best thing you can do for yourself. She's also representative of people in my life that I've lost to suicide. Yeah, she's a bunch of things."

Over the last few years, people spilling their guts to the page has become a regular occurrence. Harvesting personal experience in the hopes of speaking to a brighter audience, the medium has become fodder for self-help and a way of really unpacking a world and the complex emotions that come alongside it. Pegging yourself as one of the voices to assist in such matters sounds like a big undertaking, but renforshort is ready.

Having first begun releasing material in 2019, throughout a handful of singles and accompanying EP's, including 2021's 'Off Saint Dominique', Lauren's begun to piece together just what else she can offer up. "I know what people need more. The songs about mental health are sometimes the more uplifting songs." She hopes that when people listen, "they're like, I relate to this. That's what I really see. Like, that's my job, that's what I want to do."

It sounds like an element of responsibility comes along with being renforshort? "There can be, I think. It's a really good question," she ponders. "I'm a person like anyone else is, and what I want to do is make music for people that need to hear what I want to say or what I'm saying. And I think that it's not so much responsibility as it is like… it's tough, because I feel like it's my duty, in a way. Yeah, I have a platform. I'm going to use it for good."

With the sounds of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan and the like emanating around her in childhood, Lauren's penchant for songwriting, honesty, and the pursuit of timelessness makes total sense. "That's the music that I want to make," says Lauren. "When you make pop-rock or whatever, lyrics don't have to be compromised. I think a lot of people think that it's less emotional in a way or vulnerable than more folky music."

"What is life? I don't understand"
renforshort

This letter being penned to Amelia, positing her inner self as a medium for others to find their own Amelia, is founded on the idea that Lauren just loves lyrics. "I love writing. I think some people write pop-rock songs and write lyrics that are meh," she contemplates with a smirk. "But that's their option! And people like that, but that's not what I like to do."

When it comes to standing amongst the popsters and rockers of this modern-day, she feels she has to be "a little louder than some other people, but that's just because I'm a young girl, and it's hard to be taken seriously and aren't listened to as such."

"I don't want to force people to like me or my music," she continues. "I don't think that's necessary because a lot of people won't like it, and who am I to say what people like? I just like making music, and I like to help a small percentage of people, [but] I'd like to help as many people as I can."

So far, who and what Amelia is has been the primary focus, but she's also managed to wrangle in a couple of familiar names - the first, who else but Travis Barker. It's almost a right of passage at this point for the Blink sticksman to make an appearance on your debut, but more unexpectedly is Nottingham songwriter Jake Bugg.

"That was so crazy; I bawled my eyes out for like three days straight when I found out about that!" she eagerly recalls. "When I told my singing teacher, she was bawling her eyes out because she's known me since I was 11. It was just the most like incredible moment in my life." It's his affinity with the pen - much like the sounds of her childhood - which has cemented Jake as a powerful figure in her life. "It was in that very foundational time when you're 14, you find the music, and that music is just so memorable to you. It always brings you back to feeling like a kid."

On the subject of musical heroes, Lauren's gone as far as to dedicate a song to the inimitable Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas. "He's just so in his own world," she laughs. "I mean, he just marches to the beat of his own drum." For posterity's sake, what's the choice Strokes cut from renforshort? "I don't think I can answer that question," she says defiantly. "I do not think that they've ever made a mistake." Given 'Dear Amelia''s concept revolving around the internalised and emotional, an ode to an early-noughties frontman makes sense - your musical idols can help you understand and comprehend life.

With Amelia very much now signed, sealed and ready to be delivered on renforshort's debut, has much changed for Lauren now the album's done? "Nothing's really changed, to be honest," she says after thinking for a moment. "I mean, I'm still like, I don't know what's going on. What is life? I don't understand. But yeah, it still all rings very true to me. I would be concerned a little bit if it didn't because how would that relate to other people if I can't even relate to it anymore?" 

Taken from the August issue of Upset. renforshort's album 'dear amelia' is out now.

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