Photo by Sojin Oh/American Apparel
Origins is a recurring new music feature in which an artist charts the influence of their latest single.
Last year, we singled out Lauren Ruth Ward as an artist to watch, describing her sound as marrying “the swagger of ‘70s rock with the sensitivity of modern folk.” If you didn’t take our word for it back then, now’s the perfect time to listen up, as the hairstylist-turned-musician is readying the release of her debut album, Well Hell.
Due February 9th via Weekday Records, the nine-track collection is broken down into what Ward calls the band’s “four modes”: Heaven, hell, an acoustic mode, and a “poppier side.” The catchy new single, “Sideways”, leans towards that latter mode with its playful cowbell and dreamy multi-part harmonies. However, Ward’s raspy vocals add a hint of hell as they cut through the retro track to reminisce about the soul-searching which led her to music in the first place. “Lovin’ me a good sideways/ My disciples are only happy when I’m leading,” she sings. “Saying ‘it’s too late to be a crooner’/ I’m okay with being a late bloomer.”
The track comes to us with a video that takes inspiration from Wizard of Oz and alternates between scenes of Ward in a straitjacket and chilling at a house party. Watch it below
For more insight into the “Sideways” song and video, Ward and guitarist Eduardo Rivera share the songs, people, and films that inspired them in our latest Origins feature.
The Beatles — “Nowhere Man”:
Lauren Ruth Ward: Not to sound cliche, but I learned how to harmonize by listening to the Beatles. Now in a band of singers, I’m realizing I can’t harmonize for shit and I just memorized all the Beatles harmonies — ha! But for real, I’d been wanting to incorporate three-part harmonies in our songs. “Sideways” was our first attempt.
Blur — Parklife:
Eduardo Rivera: Parklife was an album that had a huge influence on me sonically. I remember having it on repeat for weeks at a time and loving the combination of aggressive tones over brilliant, catchy songs. It had been ages since I listened to the record when Lauren and I were working on “Sideways” but I ended up referencing the album a lot during the studio sessions for influence.
Artist Vali Myers:
LRW: Vali is my greatest inspiration. I changed the day I read about her. I obsessively watched a 36-minute documentary of her by Ed van der Elsken called Vali. I channeled her by believing in her outlook and inner peace on days I felt lost and anxious about uprooting my life by moving to LA. Both my depression and the immense love I had for Vali’s character (that would inspire me and pull me out of the dark), were my day-to-day vibe. Those Jekyll and Hyde feelings from my early LA days, mixed with day drinking and your occasional drug use, were the lyrical food for “Sideways”.
The Wizard of Oz:
LRW: Tess O’Connor, my dear friend and filmmaker, shot, produced, co-directed, and edited the “Sideways” music video. The dazed and confused editing (in the bridge) was inspired by Dorothy getting hit by a window during the tornado scene. I went down a Wizard of Oz rabbit hole after referencing that scene. We projected images onto a balloon = crystal ball… No intentional subliminal messages, BUT, Orson maaaay have been Toto and it maaaay have been all a dream… Who knows?
Grand Funk Railroad — “We’re An American Band”:
LRW: I. Love. Cowbell. “Sideways” was our first go with cowbell. If I had it my way, it would be in every song from beginning to end. However, drummer India [Pascucci] makes those calls — probably for the best. In all seriousness, I really do have a fever and the only prescription IS more cowbell.