Love. The only true reason for human interaction since the dawn of time. Is it an emotion? An affirmation? Or a web, uniquely connecting many? You can sense it in a song or a glance, but it remains one of life’s mysteries. Despite its elusive and subjective nature, that four-letter word is still the most meaningful one we have to describe connections both in and outside of ourselves. There’s a tired fun fact that says the Greek have six words that each define a different magnitude of the English term, but there are many, if not infinitely, more loves. And Lauren Ruth Ward hopes to experience them all.
She didn’t expect to become a musician when she was young; there were several other paths her life did not take that would have made her as happy as she is now. She was practically destined to be a performer, participating in activities such as school drama productions and the cheerleading squad, but it never occurred to her then to make that a career. She has always been something of a pragmatist, describing the quandary this way: “If someone had told me to become a singer, I would have asked, ‘how?’ It was unfamiliar, I didn’t know anyone doing it. It didn’t seem real.” She reflects on her life’s trajectory with a certain amount of incredulousness, as if her reality is still an unthinkable dream.
Now her music is spreading through LA like wildfire. She only moved to the west coast from her hometown of Baltimore two years ago, but has already played all the underground venue staples across the city, hitting the Hi Hat next for a Galentine’s Day celebration this Sunday. She has been promoting her eponymous EP for the past few months, demonstrating to all Angelenos that she and her wonderfully gritty voice are here to stay. Her current band consists of Liv Slingerland, India Pascucci, and Eduardo Rivera, and they each have a connection to one another that bonds the music, too. “I can’t record with someone I don’t feel comfortable with,” she explained. Because love needs trust.
Locals familiar with LA’s music scene might detect parallels between Lauren Ruth Ward and Lo Moon, a cryptic atmospheric rock trio that emerged last fall. Incidentally, Ward styles the trio’s hair, but more importantly, both groups describe needing a personal connection to one another that is deeper than the music. Though each project is primarily helmed by one person–for Lo Moon, Matt Lowell–both value their bandmates’ opinions as much as their own.
Rivera has been closest to Ward in the songwriting process for her upcoming full-length, contributing guitar melodies in a style he describes as stream of consciousness. They have been playing together as a duo for most of the past year, and their bond as songwriters shines in the music. When discussing the emotive quality that her music has, Ward credits Rivera for pushing her to that point, after she had reached a “folk slump” in her own writing. But sometimes love is lucky. Collaborations outside Ward’s designated band are rare, but not impossible. She is a featured vocalist on three tracks with two separate electronica artists, Polarcode and Ellogram–not that she ever planned on branching into that realm of the industry. These songs depend on her uniquely pliable voice to give dark production a sultry edge, done best in the bold Polarcode track, “I Crave You.” When describing them to me, she reflects fondly on these songs, appreciating the serendipity of each experience, though she doesn’t anticipate having time to do more of these in the near future. For now the focus is her music.
Ward has always had a passion for kinesthetic arts apart from her musicianship, such as hairdressing and sewing. After all, love is tactile. Both hobbies were put at odds when she chose a path for higher education, where she eventually chose to abandon sewing to pursue a barber license, but each remain important staples of self-expression in her life. Hairstylist is her main occupation today, one she refuses to call a “day job” because it does more for her than pay the bills. It taught her how to communicate, and, on a more existential level, it taught her who she is.
Valentine’s Day, the nation’s celebration of romantic love, is coming up fast, and of course it serves as another important aspect of Ward’s life. She is currently in a relationship with genre-bending ukulele enthusiast LP, and both feature in each other’s music videos frequently as their respective love interests. They normalize queer love, which is an important statement to others that may not share that perspective. And just by virtue of distracting us from the near-constant horrors of our current political landscape, it’s also simply comforting for those that do share a queer perspective. Now, choosing a specific term to describe Ward’s identity is a harder, and perhaps unnecessary, task. She is a humanist, she explained to me, adding, “I have never fucked a body, only fucked a mind.” That sentiment accurately describes her entire life: Lauren Ruth Ward doesn’t cut hair or style clothes or make music for any other reason than that she loves it.
Words: Zoë Elaine