A relationship is not a static experience. We’re not the same people two years into a relationship as we were when it started. We’re not even the same people two months into a relationship. Like all interactions with other people, dating changes us. Here’s this second person we spend a lot of time with, and they challenge us and change our ways of thinking about things. Even after we stop seeing someone, we don’t revert back to who we were. We carry mementos of the relationship with us forward, both physical objects and emotional growth and change. The act of taking a sweater from a past relationship is a perfect encapsulation of this idea, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Canadian pop artist Lo Lo has structured an entire EP around the idea. Sweater Collection is Lo Lo’s introduction to the world, and she’s sharing her gift for pop writing and emotional storytelling with everyone.
The idea of change and growth comes up as soon as Lo Lo (whose real name is Lauren Mandel) and I begin speaking. She’s been in constant rehearsals for her hometown show in Toronto (more on that later) and is experiencing some firsts. “I’m putting a band together for the first time ever. It used to be just me singing with a guitar kind of thing,” she explains. But with Sweater Collection coming out on May 3 (“Don’t remind me,” she chides with a laugh when it comes up) and the show the night before, her release party demands a new aspect to her sparkling pop sound.
That sound has proven versatile over the last year since Lo Lo began releasing music. First single “Yours” is built on a twirling acoustic guitar with a whole bunch of charm and electronics grafted on top of it. The ruthlessly cold “Convenient” hums with a more synth heavy approach, and recently released “Sweater Collection” shows she’s not one afraid to fully lean into bubblegum pop when she wants to. Each song on the Sweater Collection EP contains the essence of big hooks and rolling lyrics, but all feel very much like their own tracks. Lo Lo credits this to working with the same production team, Ben Nudds and Giordan Postorino, for the entire process. “The three of us would sit and work through the song, the production of the song, for a couple weeks. So the same three people, even though sometimes I wrote the song in a different writing session with different people, we would always bring it back to the studio and the three of us would sit and work on it” she remembers. She says the three of them grew close enough through the process to understand what the “vibe” of the EP was trending towards, and were able to tailor each song accordingly.
Part of that vibe, Lo Lo says, involved “not taking itself too seriously.” This is evident throughout the entire project, from the ho-hum look on her face on the “Sweater Collection” single art, to the quick jokes and jabs in the lyrics, to the casual demeanor she has while discussing the project. Throughout the conversation and the EP, it’s clear that above all else Lo Lo had fun with this project. That began all the way back in April 2017, when she first brought “Yours” to Nudds and Postorino. It almost didn’t end up as part of the project. She reveals “I wrote the song to make myself feel better and it was so slow and so sad, and I brought it to my producers and they were like ‘yeah this is good, but this is really sad. I don’t know if this is going to go on the EP.'” Lo Lo really liked the song, and pressed for its inclusion. As the three worked together and Lo Lo healed from the breakup that inspired “Yours,” the brighter sounds of the track, and ultimately the EP, were born. This process, she explains before bursting into laughter, has become known as “putting Lo Lo Sauce on it.”
A line in “Yours” also inspired the track “Sweater Collection” and the idea of the EP as a whole. “I have a line ‘your favorite sweater is still hanging on my door’ and so ‘Sweater Collection’ is supposed to be a continuation of that,” she says. She further explains that Sweater Collection is meant as a story, with “Yours” serving as the beginning and the titular track a few songs later with the sweaters beginning to pile up. This was also mirrored in her real life experience, as she remembers rearranging clothes last spring and finding just how many sweaters she had collected. “I still had my ex-boyfriend’s sweater hanging on my door and now things have escalated. I have a lot of sweaters,” she laughs.
The track also came about slightly differently than the usual process for Lo Lo. Normally, she figures out every part of the song before she shows it to someone. “Sweater Collection” was not nearly as formed. “For ‘Sweater Collection,’ I just had the idea. I didn’t have any lyrics really; I had two lyrics,” she remembers. She took it into a writing session with David Charles Fischer and Derek Hoffman (both credited as co-writers on the track), and she recalls blurting out her idea to these two strangers at the time, her voice racing to mirror the nervousness she felt back then. “They ended up being super cool and totally related to the idea,” she says, recalling that one of them even said his ex took all of his sweatpants, too (which just seems mean to me). The nerves before sharing a new song have never gone away, but Lo Lo says it’s all part of the process. “It’s definitely intimidating, but luckily I think everyone who creates music feels the same about it because it’s putting out your deepest darkest personal thoughts and I guess we’re just used to it by now,” she says.
Both the nerves and the need to write have been with Lo Lo for years now. “Before I ever started writing songs, I used to just write out my feelings, whether it was in a diary or on a phone note” she says. Back then, she was serious about not sharing it with anyone. “I was so scared that I would rip it up after I wrote everything down,” she recalls. She then emphasizes that she is not exaggerating; she would literally destroy her diaries lest anyone might read it. As time went on, the growth from writing out her feelings overpowered that fear of sharing it. “I ended up really loving it and getting addicted to it because I think from a young age I’ve always found it really therapeutic to just get it out, what I’m feeling, [and] write it down,” she explains.
Lo Lo is about to share her feelings with a quite a few more people. Her May 2 show at Adelaide Hall in Toronto is momentous for multiple reasons. Not only is it home for her and the release party for Sweater Collection, it’s her live debut. She says she’s always wanted to do a live show, and this past fall when recording was winding down on Sweater Collection she decided to go for it. She says the transition from recording to show prep has been challenging, but “[she’s] happy [she] just booked it and decided to do it because [she’s] really happy to be doing it.”
Whether it’s taking sweaters and sweatpants or giving an ex a piece of her mind, Lo Lo is sharing all she has learned with everyone now. It’s been a journey with many twists from destroying old diaries to performing for her hometown, but she has the songwriting mind and pop sound to make it all work. Lo Lo isn’t afraid to share, and she has the sweater collection to prove it.