A few months ago I was scrolling on social media, and came across a post from someone with a video from the band Lawrence. I frequently run past videos for bands I don’t know, but I don’t know if the music started automatically, or I was intrigued by the note that went with it, but at any rate- I clicked and listened.
Over the next few hours I went down a rabbit hole pursuing the music of the band Lawrence. The video that captured me initially was the acoustic version of the song “Don’t Lose Sight.” Now when I say the word acoustic, the mind quickly wanders to MTv unplugged, or someone sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar. But none of these premonitions prepared me for the vocal onslaught that would unfurl by this band and what appears to be an entire array of amazing singers that they know. One video after the next blew me away, awed that a band could be such a combination of classic sounds and new energy. Steeped in R&B tradition, gospel and soul, the band fronted by Clyde and Gracie Lawrence spent 2022 taking their music live across the nation, and landed themselves on Jimmy Kimmel Live performing that very same song.
If there were a stock market for developing bands, I would invest in this band heavily. They look like they just left school, but are putting out mature material and delivering incredible performances. I randomly reached out to the band, because I just felt that I had to talk to them. We are very thankful that Clyde and Gracie responded.
LMNR: I recently saw your Jimmy Kimmel Live performance. I suspect a lot of people saw you for the first time on that show. How did a late night TV show performance feel?
Clyde: It was really exciting to play on Jimmy Kimmel Live! We’ve had a really passionate group of fans for years now, and it’s always growing steadily, but to have an opportunity to have one performance that we know is going to get put in front of a ton of people for the first time is definitely a huge opportunity, and we couldn’t be happier with how it went and how amazing and supportive everyone on the Kimmel team and crew were. It was also great to be able to play a song like “Don’t Lose Sight,” because even though you can never convey the full scope of your project through one song, we do feel that “Don’t Lose Sight” thankfully has a lot of elements that are essential to Lawrence — shared lead vocals between Gracie and I, high energy, horn riffs, musically rich chord changes, and lyrics that have something to say hopefully without feeling cliched or overly self-important.
LMNR: Is it hard to go from first note to fully hitting it in just one song?
Gracie: Clyde and I have always loved writing songs that build and grow — songs that start in one place and end at another… otherwise, why did you listen to the song? As a singer, I think that’s actually one of my favorite parts of performing live. My favorite songs to sing are the ones that have big changes in them…maybe they start super small and get super huge by the end, or maybe they’re a full belt-y song the whole time but with a surprising quiet section in the middle. Getting to play with the dynamics is so fun, and I love trying to take an audience with me from beginning to end.
LMNR: You had a real visual look to that performance, was that just for JKL, or is that a consistent look you’ve had for this tour?
Clyde: The visual look of our performance for Jimmy Kimmel Live was definitely consistent with our band’s usual look and vibe these days! If you come to any Lawrence show, you’ll see baseball jerseys, graphic tees with TV show references, vintage sportswear, cartoon-style set pieces, and fun exciting lights. For the Kimmel set we were able to go the extra mile and have a video wall in the background and stacks of actual vintage TVs (shout-out to Nick Proctor for making it happen!). Definitely want to give a lot of credit to some of our best friends Danny Sobor and Steph Dispoto for helping to create and hone all of the Lawrence design aesthetic over the years (the two of them have done all of our art since we started), and of course to Gracie for really steering the vision for our look and brand.
LMNR: Let’s talk about fashion and visuals, and how you are considering those elements for your shows. How do you go about those considerations after you’ve made the music and are preparing a stage show?
Gracie: It’s such a cliche to say at this point but it’s really about being authentic. We try to build out visuals and a show that all feel like it’s telling the story of who we are… from what we wear, to the props we have on stage, to the songs we write, it should feel like all of the elements give you an understanding of who we are. We thought it’d be cool to wear something uniform and cohesive, but also something that felt playful and funny and easy to move around in and also had sort of a vintage flair to it, since the music we play is also often very retro-inspired. So that lent itself pretty naturally to baseball jerseys that have a vintage feel (baseball being Clyde and my favorite sport). And then Clyde and I wear things that feel funny and part of our personality too, like graphic tees and baseball hats, and skirts and go-go boots.
LMNR: Who in the band does the majority of the writing? What’s your writing process?
Clyde: Gracie and I do the majority of the writing for the band, but Jordan Cohen (tenor sax) and Jonny Koh (guitar), who act as the main producers of our music also contribute some writing bits. We’re also extremely lucky to have Jon Bellion, who is one of the most talented and prolific writers in the world right now as a close collaborator, help write all of Hotel TV and we’re excited to keep him involved in our future stuff. Beyond that, we don’t work with a ton of outside writers the way most modern acts do (especially in the pop space), but we do occasionally bring in outside writers, including our friend Jorgen Odegard who co-wrote “Don’t Lose Sight.” And of course, the other amazing four members of our band (Sam Askin, Michael Karsh, Sumner Becker, and Marc Langer) are all heavily involved in so many aspects of the band, even if it not on the writing side of things.
LMNR: OK, musical theater seems to be a part of your background. Tell us about your relation to theater, and how that has infused your music. Are there traps in that background or anything you are trying to do differently than you may have learned early?
Gracie: I’ve always loved musical theater and growing up in New York City, I was lucky enough to be have acted in a lot of theater too. We both loved the music from musicals like Hairspray, Cabaret, Dreamgirls, Wicked, Hamilton, and so many more. I think beyond the obvious overlaps between our music in Lawrence and musicals, like the use of horns, we also love the way musical theater music plays with dynamics. The songs and arrangements in musicals often grow or evolve from beginning to end with big “scene changes” or energetic shifts within them to best tell the story of the characters. In Lawrence music, Clyde and I are basically the main characters, and we utilize similar techniques for songwriting to effectively tell our own stories.
LMNR: How is writing for this band perhaps different than the projects you have done writing for others, whether for scores and soundtracks or perhaps other artists? Do you write something and feel as if that is “definitely a song for Lawrence” or “definitely not” a song for y’all?
Clyde: I think the definition of what can be a “Lawrence song” is fairly fluid — we definitely have a sound, but I’d like to think even over the course of 3 albums we’ve shown how many different types of songs and sounds can be Lawrence. Things that you might not originally think could fit as a Lawrence song often are only a few sonic and musical choices away from fitting right on our album, especially once Gracie or I start to sing it. That said, it’s certainly true that working on scores, soundtracks, or other artists’ projects (all of which we do quite a bit) is a really fun change of pace that allows us to either apply that Lawrence sound to other contexts or write things that likely wouldn’t fit naturally as a “Lawrence song.” It’s an opportunity to flex our versatility that usually makes us feel even more energized to dive back into the Lawrence material.
LMNR: What’s next, have you started writing the next album?
Gracie: We have! We always have some song ideas stored up — like seriously, we have ideas from years and years ago when Clyde and I were just kids to songs we thought up on the subway last week. But in terms of building those ideas out… we just got back into the studio super recently to start the process!
LMNR: How exciting is it to watch your audience grow from one show to the next, from one album release and tour to the next?
Clyde: It’s definitely exciting to see our audience grow from one tour and album cycle to the next. The touring lifestyle is really a glass-half-full vs glass-half-empty type of thing. On the one hand, you’re getting paid to go on a road trip with your best friends and play music every night. On the other hand, it’s extremely exhausting and taxing (mentally, physically etc), and it’s extremely hard to maintain any sense of routine, consistency, or control (over where you sleep, what you eat, what hours you keep, keeping in touch with loved ones at home, etc). Having it such that each tour has been bigger than the one before is one of the ways that you can continue to tip the scale towards that glass-half-full mindset and make it feel like an exciting adventure each time out.
LMNR: Are there producers or guest musicians with whom you’d really like to work for a Lawrence release?
Gracie: It’s funny — we’ve worked with people recently that if you told me that worked with them a few years ago, I would’ve been like “no waaaay!” Most prominently, I’m thinking about Jon Bellion, who we work with on our records, and we were and are a huge fan and admirer of and now get to call a friend and mentor. There are far too many other people to name that I’d love to work with, but if Stevie Wonder or Paul McCartney want to stop by the studio… uh… yeah, I’d die. Also, hi Lizzo, I love you.
LMNR: Are there other artists you would like to welcome as a guest, whether as writer or producer or musician?
Clyde: Honestly we don’t spend a ton of time thinking about outside guests, since we’re so self-contained as a band of family and friends, and because in a lot of ways the voice of Lawrence is already a collaboration between my perspective and Gracie’s. But of course we love when a great collaboration comes along organically, like the partnership we’ve created with Jon Bellion (who has become close like a family member!), or tracks we’ve made with our friends in Brasstracks (including an NSYNC cover on Hotel TV), among a bunch of other awesome people that we’ve collaborated with in the past. Definitely looking forward to more in the future, but I don’t have any specific names in mind — maybe Randy Newman?
LMNR: Do you have other creative pursuits that help to infuse your music? Has your musical creativity affected the way you do other artistic things?
Gracie: Yeah! Although the band will always be a priority of our lives, we do other creative things too! Clyde composes for film and TV, and I do a lot of acting, and we both recently have started getting into writing for other mediums like tv, film, and theater. I think any creative medium is ultimately about storytelling. As an actor, you’re making choices to most effectively tell the story of that character. In singing, you’re making vocal choices to tell best express the story of the song. In songwriting, you’re making lyrical and chord choices to best convey the story. And etc., etc. In all forms of making stuff, you’re just continuously asking yourself the question, “Am I telling this story the best way possible?” And because of that, you’re ultimately flexing the same creative muscle in all of the different mediums, and making yourself better at each by doing any. Or at least…that’s what I hope!
LMNR: Are you disappointed that we made it all the way through an interview and we have yet to ask you about sibling bands or what it’s like to be in a family band?
Clyde: No — I’m thrilled! Usually the first question we get from people is “how are you able to work with your sibling? I could never work with my sibling!” And then it turns into a surprise family therapy session. So I’m glad we saved that for last. There’s no doubt that it can be interesting and complicated to be each other’s sibling, creative partner, business partner, best friend, frequent roommate, etc, but ultimately I don’t think we would have it any other way, and for all the things that Gracie and I enjoy doing together, I actually think sharing the band and creating music together is the thing that brings us (and keeps us) closest.
To submit an article an article or review, or to just say hello hit us at [email protected]
Also- check out the search feature in the upper right hand corner and search for your favorite artist, event, venue or genre. You’ll be surprised at what you find!
Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.