When Lauren Spencer Smith posted a snippet of her song “Fingers Crossed” on TikTok in November of 2021, she didn’t anticipate the seismic chain of events that would follow. Fast forward a year later and she’s performing the same song at The People’s Choice Awards, where she was also nominated for Best New Artist. It’s the latest in a series of performances on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, and her own tour with stops in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. When you hear Smith’s oh-so-relatable lyrics about falling for someone’s words only to later be betrayed sung in her syrupy voice full of emotion—you’ll understand why millions of people would relate. Although virality can paint a picture of overnight success, “Fingers Crossed” wasn’t Smith’s first foray into music.
While balancing school and a job, Smith taught herself how to play piano and guitar and would periodically post videos of herself singing covers on social media. Her father filmed an impromptu clip of her singing Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” in his truck and it gained traction on Facebook giving her a glimpse of the virality to come. Then, American Idol invited her to join the 2020 season where she placed in the Top 20. Each step along the way was an important part of her journey, leading to the present where she has thousands of fans eagerly waiting for her next release. “Narcissist” and “Flowers” were the perfect follow-up to “Fingers Crossed” demonstrating Smith’s ability to tell detailed stories about heartbreak. If you’ve ever been gaslighted or manipulated, you’ll feel like she took the words right out of your mouth but the comfort of knowing you’re not alone softens the blow of painful memories.
As Smith gears up to release her debut studio album, she candidly chats below about her relationship with social media, a full circle moment she won’t forget, her rules for recovering from a narcissist, and how she turns red flags into songs.
Performing on ‘The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’:
It was great. Sometimes you see things on the internet of people being like the talk show hosts aren’t nice, but everyone there was so nice [and] my band loved it. The highlight was when Jimmy came to my dressing room beforehand just to say hi, which was [thoughtful], he didn’t have to do that.
What’s on her rider:
I have the most basic rider ever. It’s just Throat Coat [tea], water, and granola bars. So many people have the most random things on their riders, but mine is basically a healthy snack and water.
What’s important to her when constructing a memorable live experience:
[A big] priority was making sure the show had energy because a lot of my songs are ballads. We do have a lot of up-tempo, unreleased music. You can make your ballads a full band, so it’s not necessarily [us] all sitting there and crying. We have a little bit of fun energy going on, making the experience more fun.
The best part of going on tour:
My favorite part is hearing people sing the songs with you—even if it’s not your song. I love that what I do is in an industry that is about bringing people together, [inspiring others], and helping people feel their emotions and feel less alone. It’s my favorite thing to see people going through those emotions live, in person. Especially after not [doing that] for a long time because of COVID.
On performing in her hometown of Vancouver:
Honestly, I’m terrified of performing in Vancouver because everyone I know is going to be there. I’m [going to feel] slightly uncomfortable and awkward because my whole family will be there [and] I get freaked out to sing in front of people I know.
The recent full-circle moment she experienced:
A full circle moment was my first show in LA which was in June. That was the first time I ever did “Fingers Crossed” live for a bunch of people [and] the first time hearing people sing songs that I wrote. They were singing back a lot of songs that I didn’t even think they’d be singing back—the not-so-popular stuff on Spotify that was released before “Fingers Crossed.”
The pros and cons of growing up in the spotlight:
The pros are that you are so fortunate at a young age to do something that you love. In general, there are a lot of people who don’t do what they love as a job, so you’re [lucky] that your dreams are coming true and you’re more financially stable than a regular 18-year-old would be. [You] get to be independent and surrounded by a lot of great people that want to support you.
Cons are [that] there is a lot of pressure at a young age. You’re constantly busy. A lot of my friends are not working 14-hour days, doing interviews, and being concerned about what people think about them on the internet. But that comes with the job, we know that. It’s about having that work-life balance. But there are definitely more pros than cons.
Her relationship with social media:
Now that I’ve been on it for so long, I deal with it a lot better, and my relationship with it is pretty good. I’m not crazy focused on the numbers, and if someone says something mean, I’m not going to my room and crying about it, but it definitely took a few years of being on the internet and having to deal with that. I [always] used to get upset, I’d check the numbers every morning and become obsessed with it and I feel like I’m finally at a point where I’m good with where I’m at. I feel comfortable being on [social media] and I don’t really care what other people think. It’s still a bit love-hate because [for] your job [it] does matter how many streams you’re getting and your job is based on whether or not people like you. Always try to remember that even if there are people who don’t like you, you have so many people who do like you, and focus on the positive.
Where she gets a meaningful sense of validation from:
I get a lot of validation from people who know me really well. If a random stranger was like that was amazing, I wouldn’t take it to heart as much as if it was someone who has known me my whole life and was like that was amazing, that was your best. I really focus on keeping the people who have known me my whole life very close. I’m listening to their advice and what they have to say because they know me best. Sometimes, you don’t always get to share your entire life on the internet, remember that there are people who know you for you, not you as an artist, just you as a human being.
The intention behind her “Narcissist” video:
We originally had this concept of what narcissists do you know. What narcissists have you seen in a TV show, and what characters could we recreate from our own lives? So we came up with the prom queen, the typical girl in the movie who thinks she’s the shit, and is a raging narcissist [that’s] mean to people. Then we came up with the brunch girl and [other] characters based on our personal experiences. We used the mirror concept, which I can’t fully [speak about], but I have something in the future that relates to the mirror idea and is very aligned with that. So we wanted to incorporate that, but we wanted to go into a fantasy world instead of making it about an ex and sad.
On turning detrimental relationships and red flags into songs:
When you break up with somebody or when you end any relationship, that’s when the red flags start to pop up. You’re like, oh, I’m an idiot! How did I miss that? That’s embarrassing. I think everyone goes through that, but personally, I’m very reflective of my life. Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, I want to know exactly why. What steps took me in that direction, and what steps took me in this direction? I love to analyze my own feelings, go to therapy, and always get to the bottom of it. I need my problems and issues to be solved in a matter of seconds. That helps my songwriting because I’m constantly analyzing everything I go through. I go into the [songwriting] session, and after I’ve written it and I’m like, yup, this was the story, this was everything I needed to say but it usually comes from me talking about it in therapy or with a friend and I’m like oh, that’s an amazing song concept!
Her rules for recovering from a narcissist:
Follow Dr. Ramani on Instagram or any social media platform. I watched all of her videos. The first concept is learning about narcissism, so you understand what you went through because they definitely make you feel crazy. You’re mentally out of it after being with a narcissist, so understanding narcissism and that person’s personality traits is step one. The biggest thing I read about narcissism is that you must cut them completely out of your life, not react, and never speak to them again. Any part of you having that slight relationship for the push and pull makes it a lot worse. But it really is about self-awareness, talking about it, learning, and wanting to get better.
On her upcoming debut album:
“Fingers Crossed,” “Flowers,” and “Narcissist” are a great representation of what the album is going to be about, concept-wise. We start to see [that] I’m in a new relationship now and I’m happy but it ties into everything that I’ve gone through in the past affecting how I was trying to get into this new relationship, how I was scared to love and didn’t know how to be in [a relationship] again. So that’s the concept of the whole album but we definitely see more up-tempo, pop, [and] fun records [but with a balance].
Go-to breakup artists and albums:
Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour, I was going through it when that album came out. Anything JP Saxe. The whole [Dangerous Levels of Introspection] album was amazing. Any Adele or Sam Smith—those were definitely some cry-tos as well.
On music being a part of her identity since childhood:
All I can remember is wanting to do music. Even when I was 3 years old, I’d walk around and tell everyone that one day I’m gonna do music, and I’m gonna sell out stadiums. I think I have videos of me when I was five being like, I’m gonna sell out Rogers Arena, and saying the most outrageous things a five-year-old would say. [Music] has been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life.
The part of making music that feels most natural and fulfilling:
I love performing, but I honestly think I love songwriting. I love being creative, and songwriting is like therapy for me, and it’s such a fun process. In shows sometimes, you rehearse the same show, and you rehearse to make it perfect—then you do the show. Whereas in the studio, you always get to write something new and you can go in any direction you want creatively—that’s so fun and amazing.
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