INTERVIEW: LAUV Reveals The Touching Inspiration Behind 'I Like Me Better'


In 2015, singer/songwriter LAUV released his hit single "The Other," gaining fans from all around the world. Fast forward two years later, and he's helped pen a few hit songs for some friends of his, conquered his first headlining tour, and just released a new summer playlist worthy single himself called "I Like Me Better."

LAUV started writing songs at 14 years old, and later on went to college in the music technology program at New York University's Steinhardt school, while simultaneously co-writing songs for other artists. The 22-year-old describes his music as "very romantic" and "slightly R&B influenced/pop." He adds, "I like to describe it as kinda minimal, and in general I try to cross a lot of genres."

LAUV's real name is Ari Staprans Leff -- so where does the moniker LAUV come from? The singer explains, "Lauv is the Latvian word for lion. Ari means lion, I'm a Leo. My mom said the family's from Latvia and I used to go a lot growing up. I was trying to figure out one other name that meant something, but I didn't want to use Ari, so it kinda just clicked."


The Story Behind "I Like Me Better"

Having spent some time writing and producing for other artists, Lauv's first single "The Other," was the first song that felt special enough to him that he didn't want to give it up to another artist, and the same goes for "I Like Me Better." In fact, the song was inspired by moving to New York City for the first time, and falling in love with someone only two months into being in the Big Apple. 

LAUV tells us of his new single, "That's a really interesting song for me because I wrote it about when I first moved to New York five years ago. I moved away a year ago to LA, and I wrote this song just after moving to LA. My writing process is sometimes I'm writing about something I'm apparently experiencing. In this case, pulling something from four years ago. The way the song came about was I had the track going and I started to produce it, and then everything kinda hit me. It was supernatural."

He adds of the inspiration behind the lyrics, "To be totally honest, when I moved [to New York City] and I fell in love for the first time two months after moving there, and it just that feeling of [when] I was a freshman in college and didn't really know who I was or who I wanted to be. But I knew that with this person, I just liked myself better."

Writing/Producing for Other Artists & Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato's "No Promises"

There's no doubt you've heard Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato's recent summer dance hit "No Promises" on the radio, but it may come as a surprise that it was actually co-written and co-produced by LAUV. It turns out he 's been friends with Cheat Codes' Trevor Dahl for a while ... and by a while, we mean from the "Myspace Days" as LAUV puts it. He tells us of the story behind the collab:

"When we found out that Demi was going to be on it, it was total dream come true. I've been friends with, especially Trevor from Cheat Coats, for a number of years, back in the Myspace days, we worked together and played some shows. His little project was called Plug in Stereo. I originally worked on the song with some other friends of mine that are called Loote. And then Trevor heard the song, and loved it. Then we all collaborated on it and they were like okay, we have an A list, female pop star, who we think we're going to get to feature, but we can't say who it is until she gets back from Africa. So we're like scouring the internet, like who is in Africa right now? And crazy enough, like five minutes later we saw a picture of Demi in Africa. We were like it must be Demi. And it was."

LAUV has also worked with artists like Charli XCX and Adam Lambert, as well as co-wrote DJ trio Cash Cash's newly-released collaboration "All My Love" featuring UK pop star Conor Maynard, "I co-wrote, it's a Cash Cash collab with Conor Maynard I'm really excited about. Also with my old band, opened for them when they were doing it as a more of a band thing. It's been really interesting because it's the kind of songs that I've written one or two years ago, or maybe longer, that are continuing to come out as songs for other artists, which is really cool, but there's nothing like writing a song exactly the way I want to based on my life. Everything that I put out as an artist is 100% based on something I went through. I just have trouble feeling genuine getting on stage if it's not something that's really personal to me."

Up next for LAUV? "I have a lot of new music I'm finishing, that we're getting ready to put out as well and then uh, a bunch of touring in fall."


Photos: Rachel Kaplan

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