Lauren Carter Interview
By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Were you born and raised here in Chicago? And have you lived here all your life up to your recent move to L.A.?
LC: I grew up in Moline, IL. I always wanted to live in the city – Chicago, New York, anything but Moline. I went to Northwestern for college, and that was my “ticket out” and then right before graduation I met my boyfriend who I eventually moved in with in the Ukrainian Village – one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods. I lived there for four years. I moved to LA to pursue my acting career.
DK: You are a singer, keyboardist and actress, is there anything else you do as well?
LC: Well, I can barely play piano, but I guess you could say I’m a writer now, too. I am writing a screenplay with a friend from New York. In fact, she’s in town now and we’re finishing the first draft this week. It’s a feature length we’ve been working on for a year…we are very excited to finish.
DK: Is there anything else that you’d like to do, that you’ve not been able to do yet, and why?
LC: What I’d love to do right now is break further into TV & film…things have been moving fast in LA but I’d like more major credits.
DK: What did you start with when you were growing up, singing?
LC: My first love was dancing. I started when I was 2 1/2. I was serious about ballet for awhile. I started singing when I was 9 and acting when I was 5. I played piano for ten years, which you wouldn’t guess by my playing!
DK: What was your family life like when you were a kid?
LC: My family life was – from my last answer – obviously a bit artistic. My mom was great about putting my brother and I in any and every class. I grew up in a small town, but I was always busy and I have to give my parents credit for trying to make things really stimulating for my brother and I. We both have an independent spirit, thanks to the way my parents raised us.
DK: Do you have any siblings? And are any of them as creative as you?
LC: My younger brother is out here in LA. I’m really proud of him. He just graduated from Southern Illinois University, where he studied fine arts. He’s a painter. His first professional art opening is next Friday at a Hollywood gallery. He has been breaking into the business doing art director gigs when he can, in addition to painting. There are a lot of artistic people in my family. There is a scholarly book being written about my great uncle’s photography…he was a photographer in Memphis, named JC Coovert.
DK: Who in the realm of opera has inspired your singing the most?
LC: I always loved Maria Callas…which if you know opera is almost trite, but she struck me when I was in high school and very serious about opera. She was the first “acting singer” and that was what I wanted to do. I did have an amazing teacher in college, Carmen Mehta, who was a great mentor. With her I studied lieder, which is a more intimate form. It’s German art song; it’s written for just voice and piano. That was what I still remember from my operatic training – doing Schubert and Schumann with Carmen. It was about subtle artistry and song interpretation.
DK: What is your greatest passion right now, acting or music?
LC: Acting, but I do music when I can. The last film I did I sang for the soundtrack.
DK: Congratulations on your recent signing with Ad Astra Management, how did that come about?
LC: I sent him my photos. We met, and had an instant connection. I’d previously met with a few other managers and agents before Steven. But I wanted to work with Steven -he works from the heart.
DK: Are you still friends/associates with Joan Anderson and how has she helped you with your career?
LC: Joan Anderson is lovely. I wish I could collaborate a lot more with her. We email occasionally. She is a great songwriter. If I were back in Chicago, I’d love to work more with her, and I’d love to perform with her. I appreciated her help on my EP. I kind of feel we had potential for a lot more material to come out of our relationship…but I may never know.
DK: Who are some actors and actresses that you’ve been inspired by?
LC: Hmmm…it always changes because you see something new and it inspires you all over again. But I would say my favorites are Daniel Day Lewis and Isabelle Huppert. They are both phenomenal in everything they do.
DK: “Fear is a lot Like Love”, the short film that your boyfriend wrote and directed completed production in January, what is the status with it these days?
LC: Just submitted it to festivals, so we’re waiting to hear back.
DK: How long is the film?
LC: It’s five minutes – it was actually his first assignment for Columbia University’s graduate program, where he’s getting a Masters in film.
DK: Have you performed your music around Chicago and L.A. much yet? If so, how did they go?
LC: No I haven’t, unfortunately. I have written some music with a Brazilian guitarist here in LA, and we were talking about playing live. I wanted to do some of the music from “Chansons” and some new stuff that had a bossa nova influence. However, right now I guess I’m engrossed in my acting career.
DK: Do you have a full band together that you can perform with and if so, who are they?
LC: One reason I haven’t played out is that Slava Balasanov played so many of the instruments on our recording. But it was Slava, who is very talented, and Christa Wellman from Joan Anderson’s band played violin, and Ronnie Kuller played accordion.
DK: How would you say (from your observations) L.A. differs from Chicago
LC: Chicago has a stronger independent music scene. As far as acting goes, the theatre scene here can’t hold a candle to Chicago. But for TV and film, LA is simply the place to be. I prefer 80 degree weather in February. Also – people talk about how isolated you are in LA and how it doesn’t have a neighborhood vibe – I don’t find that to be particularly true. Yes you drive a lot, but I drove a lot in Chicago.
DK: Do you still plan on singing opera in the future?
LC: I don’t do opera anymore. It influences my song writing – I would say lieder and cabaret influence my songwriting – but I don’t sing operatically anymore.
DK: So, what is on your agenda for 2006?
LC: For 2006 I’d like to get a deal to produce and act in my screenplay. I’d like to continue to break into the LA acting scene, and hopefully you’ll see a lot more of me next year. Eventually I would love to record a full length
album, but I don’t know if that will happen in ’06. I do feel I’d have to go back to Chicago if I really wanted to do that, because I’d want to work with Slava and Joan again. Oh, and I’d love to simply take a weekend trip to Santa Barbara and throw back a lot of wine. Yes, that’s definitely on the agenda. :)
DK: Thank you very much for taking the time with us today!
LC: Thank you!
Lauren Carter – vocals, songwriting, keyboards on “Les Ruptures”
Slava Balasanov – producer, arranger, guitar, drums, bass, piano
Christa Wellman – violin on “Les Ruptures”
“Chansons” is Lauren’s debut EP. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Northwestern University – she trained to be an opera singer. However, she has since commenced writing introspective indie pop.
Inspired by the Chicago DIY music scene, and her many musician friends, Lauren decided to give something further from her theatrical and operatic roots a try, without denying her background. Thus was born “Chansons.” Lauren enlisted acquaintance Slava Balasanov of Knightly Productions to produce the EP. Slava’s background in jazz guitar made him the perfect fit for her project.
Along the way she encountered Grammy- nominated songwriter Joan Anderson, who acted as a kind of mentor, and contributed to the writing of “Les Ruptures” (“Partings.”)
Having strayed from the opera path, she has embarked on an acting career, that oddly enough last year took her to the stage of Chicago’s Lyric Opera in a non-singing role directed by Robert Altman.
Lauren is currently in Los Angeles pursuing her acting career, and writing music. Most recently she co-wrote a song with LA based Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Radich, which he is recording on his next album. She recently wrote melody, lyrics, and recorded vocals for Deluxe Noise’s downtempo single “Desire.”
“Desire” – wrote melody and lyrics for down tempo song
by Jimmy Deluxe, LA
on song for Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Radich – his album is currently being recorded in LA.