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W. Darling

words Laura Rojas
photography Ronald Yeung

Your album, Lost Girls: Chapter One, plays with the idea of Peter Pan’s ‘Lost Boys’ and being stuck somewhat cyclically in a specific time or place. What does being a Lost Girl mean to you?

Being a lost girl to me is about being in a sort of sweet purgatory.

It's about being in a place where we are unafraid to get our hearts broken, and we can be impulsive and reckless. Lost Girls are passionate, always in search of meaning in a stranger’s eyes, in a singer’s lyrics, in a street sign or jet streak across the sky. We are the investigators of love and loss and we don't settle. We choose the journey first, even if it takes an eternity. We are in search of greatness and will stand up every time we fall down. Lost Girls turn the real world, which can be cold, into our own Neverland, where Magic is everywhere if you choose to see it.



Was there a specific experience that inspired you to bring the listener into that head-space?

I'm so inspired by heartbreak. It's so messy and raw and real. People do stupid, clumsy things they would never do with a rational mind. It occurs to me that we behave like this more often in our youth, as young lost girls and boys trying to make sense of it all. I guess I wanted to say to myself and in turn, to whoever is listening, that there is no age you have to have everything figured out by. You can stay in Neverland as long as you need to. You can visit it whenever you find yourself falling. You can fly out the open windows and find a world where we are all going through the same things at the same time, without even realizing we are.



The idea of connecting your album with a chapter from a story is interesting. Why did this approach seem right to you?

I don't think we really count life in years – we count it in chapters. The chapter when I cut my own bangs after watching Beetlejuice and suffered in hideousness until they grew out. The chapter when I was in love with that tall, dark, handsome pianist and on our first date he played piano with my hands on his.  The chapter when I lived in London for that one summer, slept in a laundry room, and was a restaurant reviewer. As far as I'm concerned, time is such a meaningless measurement of a life. Some things that have been incredibly significant to me were just moments in time, while other significant experiences took years to move through and longer to understand.



Chapter Two of your music is set to release this August. Will it be starkly different from Chapter One?

Chapter Two will definitely be different, but hopefully in a way that is fresh and unexpected. I like to think of myself as this amorphous creature rolling in and out of genres. I think my voice is so specific that whether I'm singing a Cheerios commercial or "My Heart Will Go On," it always manages to sound like me.


This is a pretty typical question to ask, but I’m genuinely interested to know who your main musical inspirations have been! Seeing as how you’ve been a musician since childhood, is there a band or artist that has faithfully impacted the type of music you write today?

I am so inspired by so many different genres and artists. My parents loved James Taylor, so I listened to a lot of him growing up. I can confidently sing every song he's ever released. He's such a visual writer, which I am always drawn to. I want to see it and feel it all at once. I would say other classic songwriters that have shaped me have been Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Carol King, and Patti Smith. I love songwriting and I love songwriters.



I love that there are so many different musical elements in Lost Girls: Chapter One. The song “Learn to Love” especially seems to show this with strong hints of both pop and folk, while the other two tracks carry a unique sound of their own. What was your writing process like for this EP?

This record pretty much started with tears over my piano. I would sit at home, desperate to make sense of what I was going through, then weep into a voice note and unapologetically send it to my producer, Mike Wise. Then once we were in the room together, rather than trying to fit every song into the same box, we would search for what made the most sense for each individual track. I hope that this approach allows my whole project to be honest and unique. 

Committing to one genre was always hard for me because no one is just one thing. We are all such a mess of styles and tastes and I want that to be represented in my music in a way that isn't confusing, but rather, true to the complexity of human identity. Also, Mike Wise is such an incredible producer it just seems cruel to banish him to the cold, padded walls of some predetermined genre.



In the past you’ve collaborated with multiple artists, from Basshunter to Mt. Eden, as well as written music for film, including the upcoming Jem and the Holograms flick set to release in October. Now, you’ve branched off with a killer debut EP. Is there a process you’ve realized you enjoy best? [between collaborating, scoring, or working solo]

They are such different processes for me. I love writing for film and TV. I love seeing how visuals can so completely change the way you listen to something and working with artists can be so rewarding because so often, it's about really listening to what someone is going through and trying to figure out the best way to get that across. But working on my own album has been such a cathartic experience. I think it's made me a better writer and challenged me in a way that nothing else has up to this point.



How did it feel working on a solo EP after having spent so much time collaborating with others?

It was hard at first because you really have to trust yourself. You have to lean into your instincts and just let go. I second-guessed myself for years before I finished this album and it forced me to put abrupt stops to many previous incarnations of this project in some desperate attempt to make “The Perfect Record.”  But, eventually I realized that all I can do is my best. All I can do is be as honest as possible and tell my story as it is and hope that there will be an audience out there, of some size, that will feel the way I do and come along with me.



Tell us about your move from Canada to LA. Was it a difficult adjustment to make?

In hindsight it was a very difficult transition, but at the time I really embraced the oddness of it all. Suddenly I was living in a house with a group of men, sleeping in a laundry room snuggled up to the hot water heater, writing in a red room every day, all day, for two years, and being put in sessions like speed dating. It was a whole new world, but I am an expert chameleon and while much of the shift was challenging, I am so grateful for the years of bizarre, devastating and beautiful life experience it's filled me with.



Lost Girls: Chapter One is out now.  You can check out more from W. Darling at: | IG: @_wdarling

You can see more photos from Ronald here: @wonuld

You can check out more from Laura at: | IG: @laurrojas

Posted on September 3, 2015