In his fourth time in the country, Lauv gave MEGA Entertainment an exclusive glimpse of his maturity as Ari Leff and as a musician that is more than just his songs
When Lauv stepped into the room we were at in Ascott Makati, the first thing that most of us noticed was his curls. It had budded into vine-like tendrils, a far cry from his blond buzzcut and an overgrown state of his tousled and tamed haircut. We collectively expressed our praises for the singer’s mane. “Thanks!” he went. “I like it. I’ll keep it like this for the show.” It turns out, the hair was merely a manifestation of his state—one that was both reflecting and extending beyond how we know him as a singer and songwriter.
Before his audience got a hold of Lauv as the touring performer at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, he made himself known to MEGA Entertainment as Ari Leff, the 29-year-old man who had a newfound understanding of himself with and beyond music.
Modern connection (with music)
Three years after his album ~how i’m feeling~, the pop sensation found himself outgrowing his own words for the final track. “Modern loneliness, we love to get high / But we don’t know how to come down.” It was him who opened the conversation with honesty. “Well, I’m sober currently, so that’s definitely contributing to my healthiness,” he remarked.
The presence of his own mind could be seen in the way he reacted to things. He perked up when he heard “Axel F” by Crazy Frog, a track that he’s surprisingly fond of. With an awareness of a camera waiting for his good shots, he easily posed in front of it, giving a variation of poses that instantly connected him with the lens. Dare we say that this lightness in his movement was because of the music we were playing, a combination of his own songs and a few P-Pop boppers such as SB19’s “Gento” and Alamat’s “Day and Night.”
Speaking about his current relationship with music, he commented, “I see music [now] as a place to have fun. Nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes, that includes my emotions and storytelling or experiences that I’ve gone through. But really, I just see music as a form of connection and fun,” he shared.
A huge influence on his refined definition of music was, of course, actually seeing his fans. “For me, one of the main ways I get the most out of my music is by seeing or visualizing other people listening to it right in front of me and feeling that in the moment. That’s why I love [being on] tour so much.”
The story (of Manila) never ends
If there is a place that has witnessed the artist’s maturity, it’s the Philippines. In May 2019 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the producer-slash-composer premiered the song “Sad Forever” to his concert goers after finishing it in the plane en route to the country.
Declaring an affirmation, the chorus rings, “I don’t wanna be sad forever / I don’t wanna be sad anymore.” He also shot the music video that same night, receiving hugs and hand reaches from his fans. In the subtitles of the MV, he wrote an open letter to his personal journey of going through depression and OCD. Carrying the message of his own track, he declared that he was firm in finding stability for his mental health.
Last September 11 was the musician’s fourth time in the country, with the first three a yearly flight back to Manila since 2017. In 2019 and last September 9, Cebu was also pinned as his sure stop. “The first time I ever came to the Philippines, I was like, ‘Yo, y’all are different.’ I feel very blessed to be here right now. I want to keep coming back forever.”
Lauv mentioned that if there were a line that would best describe the Filipino vibe, it was from his track “I Like Me Better.” “‘I knew from the first time that I stay for a long time’ would be the lyric I choose, and that’s all facts.”
Ari’s pop electronic sound naturally built a following among Filipinos. However, one might wonder—aside from his soft vocals, relatable lyrics, and strong recall arrangement—why is this the case? As people who live in a place where struggles of the mind are easily hushed by the need to survive, his songs carry a message of hope that we will all get better.
Never not (growing)
Whether we’re coming face-to-face with Ari or Lauv, music will always be part of the conversation—and that’s okay. Today, the songs are more than just outlets of Ari’s thoughts. They are, too, Lauv’s testament to his evolution as a musician.
After his stint on Elemental with the song “Steal The Show,” he is looking forward to writing a song for a horror film. “Deep down, I’m a horror geek. I love horror films.” While he had yet to disclose his upcoming collaborations with Asian acts at the time of the interview, we now have his tandem with Bella Poarch for “Crush.”
Circling back to his craft, Ari discussed his ability to create sound. “My favorite step in the song making process is when you stumble upon an idea and you listen [back to it later.] I love that feeling of pure euphoria,” the artist said. It was also like how he viewed fashion. “[Fashion] helps me feel or express however I want to feel in the moment. When I look back at it, it helps me add meaning to things. I want to experiment as much as possible with fashion in the future.”
True enough, the singer-songwriter was open to trying all the looks lined up for him. Turning two layouts into three, Lauv was even clad with lyrical post-its for the singer at one point. Next was a statement series of tighter shots, capturing his dynamic emotions as he donned a leather jacket. Finally, we saw him with a necktie and a trench coat as if treating music as a serious business. Keeping it fun, he had rose-tinted glasses on, some dainty, pearl jewelry, and silver glitter nails.
Love (Lauv) like that
Much like his curls, those fashion codes are a part of his continuous growth as both Lauv and Ari, a part of him that is exploring the fun side of things. While the connotation of the word “fun” lies in youthful recklessness, it is also a form of setting boundaries for both of his personas to be human and to grow.
How do I keep having fun while I am evolving and changing for the better? How do I mindfully change myself and the world, but also have fun in the process? The musician is slowly answering these questions through his songs, and we just really have to listen.
Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Creative Direction ANDREW ENCAPAS
Fashion Direction CHLARINE GIANAN
Grooming Direction MARA GO
Styling RYUJI SHIOMITSU and CARLOS TOMAWIS
Makeup NADYNNE ESGUERRA
Hair PATTY CRISTOBAL
Sittings Editor PEACHES GARCIA
Shot on location ASCOTT MAKATI
Special thanks to UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP PHILIPPINES