Lauren Jauregui’s journey as an artist isn’t about fame. It’s about a young woman’s reclamation of her power, her narrative, her voice. At the age of 22, almost nothing she’s done — from coming out to the public as bisexual in an open letter to Trump supporters to purchasing a Tesla for her very first car (“It’s zero emissions and good for the environment,” she gushes) — has maintained status quo. All things considered her debut single, “Expectations” could not have been a more fitting name. The enigmatic Catholic schoolgirl-turned-girl-group-singer-turned-rising solo pop superstar who, during her time spent as one-fifth (and later, one-fourth) of Fifth Harmony, didn’t always have a say. In our NO.17 cover story, she does not hold back.
Highlights from our conversation with our latest cover girl are anything but demure.
In early 2018, you opened up about struggling to find confidence in your own songwriting ability. How did you get over that imposter syndrome?
The main lesson I learned was that I was the one holding myself back. There was no one actually stopping me but me. It was my fear of failure and rejection that was stopping me because I love music and art that much. I love consuming it and there are so many incredible artists out in the world right now who inspire me, who I’d like to be like in some ways. But at the end of the day, that’s not how it goes. All of those people got to where they got to because they never gave up on themselves and they always worked hard and got better and practiced. It was about realizing that and telling myself over and over again, even when I didn’t believe it, ‘You can do this. This is what you do. You know you can write.’ You can’t wait for someone else’s approval or for someone else to tell you that you can do something just to be like, ‘Oh shit, I’m actually good at this.’
It’s no secret that you’re one of the most politically outspoken artists on social media. Do you think that people who have obtained a certain level of platform, privilege or fame are obligated to open the conversation surrounding political and social issues?
It’d be cool if they did, but I can’t speak to everyone’s level of consciousness. I feel like most people who feel passionate about [politics] do speak on it, and I’m glad there are people out there right now making their thoughts known. They might not be as active but, you know, we’re hella busy, too. There isn’t a lot of time to be more active than you already are while trying to pursue a career. It’s a balancing act.
You can’t spend all your time invested because if you spend all your time invested, then you deplete yourself of emotional stability. It is a really fucked up world right now and it’s been fucked up for a while. Part of my mission is to spread awareness. Many things are really simple to understand if you take the time to research and educate yourself.
What issue do you wish people cared more about?
At the end of the day, human rights are the most precious thing in the world. We’re all just these weird meat sacks walking around on this planet that is just the right temperature and just far enough away from the sun that we have H2O and the gases that give us life. We need to understand how magical that is and just apply ourselves to understanding what’s going on in the world. Seeing ourselves reflected in one another is the first step to fixing things. Everyone deserves the rights to live a happy, healthy, safe life. As long as we make it about race and religion and all of the exterior labels that we’ve put on ourselves, we’re never gonna get anywhere. Everyone is so scared of each other—and rightly so, because of all the propaganda and everything that we hear about each other and the super toxic ways that we instill insecurity in society. You see shit on the news that makes you terrified … I love talking about togetherness and humanity and the way that all of this correlates to intersectionality. As an artist, those are topics that I like to explore and that I feel really passionate about. I want to make people think.
It’s wild that society has created these structures in which we actively oppress other humans, who are essentially our brothers and sisters as a species.
We’re like a human family for sure, but we also have to recognize the current state of life. We’re all split up on a very wide scale and there are so many different things that separate us, whether we want them to be there or not. Largely, that’s the fault of a government that is making rules which assimilate us into certain parts of society. ‘We are a human family’ can be the point we’re trying to make at the end of it all, but in that point, we have to remember that many people don’t get that dignity or have the privilege to even think like that because they are othered, making it harder to live. It’s already hard to live! We shouldn’t have that happening in our world at this point, or ever, really. I don’t know. It’s gonna take some shaking up, girl.
What role do you think toxic masculinity has played in creating these structures of persecution?
Toxic masculinity is one of the main reasons the world is in the state that it is right now. It’s toxic to want to destroy another because you don’t understand them. It’s toxic the amount of wars we have, all of them started by men—and mostly over ego. The fact that we value ego and money over human life stems from toxic masculinity. It’s this power play of, ‘I’m important, and I do a lot, and I am powerful.’ I feel like that 100 percent contributes to a lot of the shit that we see going on today. If you feed your ego too much, and you don’t listen to your actual gut, it’s always about how much more you can obtain. It’s insatiable.
How political have you been getting in your own songwriting?
For me, everything is political. It’s about taking up space. Anytime you interact with the world, you’re political, you know? My music is definitely more of an exploration of my own experiences of just being a girl in this world and how that makes me feel—and being an emotional girl in this world, being sensitive and empathic and hyper-aware of everything around me, but not able to do much because I’m just one person. Art is a way to give back to the whole collective, to raise consciousness. Music encapsulates your mind for a moment and takes you somewhere else, and I think it’s so dope that music can do that and that power exists in it.
jacket: Charlotte Simone
top: Off White. skirt: Unravel. earrings: Melinda Maria
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