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Maude Latour Is the Artist Helping Us Embrace Love in All Its Forms  [Q&A]

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Photo: Anna Koblish

A typical spring break for most college students might look like sunbathing on the beach or catching up on some much needed rest, but for Maude Latour, spring break meant spending her time off from school traveling across the country in a tour bus. Returning to New York City once classes resumed, the rising pop star is currently arranging weekend trips to finish the rest of her tour while finishing her final semester as an undergraduate student.  

Growing up, Maude Latour lived all over the world, but she has always felt a deep connection to New York, ultimately finding her way back to the city she once called home. Aside from writing about her love for her New York, she often finds inspiration in the people around her. Her latest single, "Lola," is about the profoundly beautiful yet equally complicated relationship that she has had with her best friend. She not only dedicates this song to Lola, but to all the female and nonbinary identifying loved ones in her life. Her greatest hope was to write a song that she felt was needed when as a young girl trying to make sense of the world.  

To celebrate the release of her latest single, we caught up with the rising star and political science and philosophy major during a quick study break outside of the library.

Ones To Watch: Hi, it’s so great to meet you! Congrats on the success of your current headlining tour! How does it feel finally being on tour as we emerge at the end of the pandemic?

Maude Latour: It feels so much better than I ever could have imagined. I was nervous; I've never done more than one show in a row. But it has been so fulfilling, and I'm so happy about it. It's so fun, and I'm learning so much about myself. I feel like I'm truly finding my purpose and it’s such a spiritual experience. I can’t wait to get so much better at it and push this medium of live performance. I know it’s my mission and what I'm meant to do, so I'm so ecstatic about it.

Your tour is arranged strategically because you're also a student at Columbia University. What is it like being both a full-time student and a breakthrough artist? It seems like an extremely difficult balancing act.

I'm definitely glad that it’s almost over, but it’s actually fun! I like being busy, and I love school. I love being in college, it’s such a privilege and I totally try to soak up every moment of it. The shows also keep my focus on what I'm going to do after college and it brings together so many of my college friends. It’s such an integrated part of my college experience at this point. We're having a party for the song coming out. All the music videos are made with my friends. My friends help me run every event that I do, they help me make every TikTok. Being an artist can be really lonely sometimes and it’s just been such a collaborative coming-of-age project for all of us. I feel really lucky.

I'm sure you're looking forward to graduation in a few weeks! Do you have any plans or bucket list items that you want to do once you leave university?

I still haven't comprehended that I'm graduating. I will do some tours, I want to make an album and I want to pretend that I'm in college forever. I want to have fun forever and mainly be with my friends!

I know that you've lived all over the world and moved around a lot in your formative years. What ultimately drew you back to New York?

I've lived in Sweden, London, New York City, Hong Kong, and am now back in New York. I don't know where I'm going to go after college, I was thinking LA but I might not be able to leave this place. I don't know!

I physically don't know how to leave New York. It's just constant inspiration. I love the four seasons, I love the feeling I have here. I actually feel like I'm a part of this city. I feel so much love and pride in this city, and I love how small I feel in it, I feel so tiny. I love New Yorkers, and I love the people, they are so cool. I want to hang out with them forever. It just feels like home. I know it really well, and I feel like myself when I'm here.

Has New York influenced your creative process?

Yeah, the sublimity of feeling so small and being a part of a large city; I definitely have this taste of being a part of something bigger than I can comprehend. I got a sense of independence when I was really young and went to high school here. I was jetting around the city by myself around thirteen and it made me have all these experiences that showed me that life is the story, and I wanted to write about it. I think the project that I'm currently working on is definitely a tribute to the city, so I have to be here to write about it!

What are other things that you draw inspiration from when it comes to songwriting besides your immediate environment?

I think I keep writing about friendship, and I think it’s because my friendships are such an enormous emotional relationship in my life that have been different from romantic relationships. Friendships that I care more about get prioritized before anything and loving someone in a friendly way. I think that I've written a lot of songs about friends and it’s because I went to an all-girls school in high school and that was a place where the lines of friendship and romance blurred for me. And sometimes they turn romantic but it’s really about this love that can't be defined, which is a theme that I keep coming back to.

Do you feel that your creative process has changed between your first EP Starsick and your  most recent EP Strangers Forever?

Yes, it definitely has. My last EP I wrote in my room and now these songs are just coming from living a little more instead of sitting down to reflect. They are coming out from living in the real world. They're definitely becoming harder to write. They haven't been the same journal entry songs, and it’s a little more of asking what is the most important thing to me. When I was sixteen, I wondered if my songs would get more complicated when I turned twenty, and when I turned twenty, I wondered how I'll keep making this medium when I turn 22. And now that I'm 22, I feel many different feelings. A lot of the things I used to say aren't as simple as I thought, but I realized that I can grow up in this medium and in songwriting.  

When I listen to my old songs, the feelings still resonate, much more often than the words do. But sometimes I'll hear the words and be like wow, I knew that about myself, without really knowing it, and now I really know it and I can't believe I could tell then. In "Furniture," there's a line "I wanna sing until I drown / because when the music gets loud / and I'm singing in front of a crowd" and I wasn't singing in front of crowds then and now performing is such a thing. It was more of a dream and now I'm singing that line in front of a crowd, so that has been really crazy.

Speaking on the growth and trajectory of your music, you're releasing your new single  "Lola." Was there something you wanted fans to take away from the single?

This is my favorite song in the entire world. This is actually really me giving my best offering that I can give, and I can't even imagine getting it off my chest. Of course, so much of this song is attributed to the friendship that I've had with this girl named Lola. We've been best friends and inseparable for years and it’s also a friendship that has complicated parts. Parts that weren't just friends and now we were just friends, but I wrote it at a time when I was figuring out what we were. It’s definitely attributed to this ambiguous friendship that I keep meeting with more than one person. It's really how love feels to me, and I'm not sure if it’s because I'm a fluid bi girl, but I want us to embrace all the ways that love appears to us. I thought this project wasn't going to be as focused on love, but it’s actually more about love than anything I've ever written.

This song is also about the girls and queer people that I love. I wanted to write a song about protecting my sisters, my real sister, and my friends. When we share this power, when we support each other and have each other’s backs, the ferocity and this fierceness of women and queer people working together and protecting each other... there’s nothing more powerful than a confident girl and a confident person. I think that it has the magical power to make whoever hears it feel their power.

"Lola" is all about the women in your life that you feel connected to and have an affinity for. Who are some of the women in the music industry that you are currently listening to?  

Watching Doja and SZA win their Grammy made me cry, so definitely them. Everything is going to change whenever SZA releases her album. Doja was really the music when I listened to when I was going through a breakup and writing my last album. I just remember thinking that she made me feel awesome and not sad and small, and that is my favorite feeling when it comes to music.

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