Lav grew up in Venice, CA in a crowded, one bedroom house riddled with addiction. Her mom ran with the local skate and surf scene in Dogtown, and her dad “disappeared out the picture real quick” – she was mostly raised by her grandparents. Their house was constantly filled with blasting blues and funk: “one of my first memories is picking a microphone and just singing to my grandpa playing his guitar,” Lav says. “My grandpa was a Blues musician. My grandparents were super hippy back in the day and got married super young; for their whole adolescence and adulthood they were just up and down the coast. They’re the weirdest, goofiest people.” Growing up, Lav loved to devour books, and wrote poetry; music was her secret place to escape.
The classic sounds she heard constantly around the house shaped her own musical palette:
“it opened me up to vintage, instrumental sounds. I always loved the warmth.” She was particularly drawn to popular jazz singers like Peggy Lee and Julie London: “their voices are so melodic and sexy in a way that isn’t very obviously sexy,” she explains, “it’s mysterious. I love the warmness of a stratocaster guitar, or the sound of trumpets.”
Around 3rd Grade, Lav began to suffer from debilitating panic attacks; by Middle School, “all hell broke loose,” she says. In her teens, she became extremely agoraphobic. The panic attacks became worse, and more frequent: soon, she dropped out of school completely. “I stopped writing and music,” she says. I stopped doing everything apart from the things that distracted me from anxiety.”
Eventually, Lav moved to Utah – where she finished up her education at a residential school specializing in rehabilitation and treatment – and after graduating, quickly got engaged. “He was uber controlling and would tell me what music I could listen to,” Lav says. “He didn’t want me to write or sing. He told me I had to be a doctor or psychologist, and I even ended up going to college for criminal psychology. I was so unhappy there, but thought because this person loved me, I had to morph myself into the person they wanted me to be.”
“I broke up with him, called off the engagement, chopped off my hair and dyed it black - I was blonde, cos he wanted me to be blond - got a bunch of tattoos, and quit college,” she says. “Even then, I didn’t think anything would come of my music.” Instead, Lav kept her writing to herself, and built up a huge following on social media instead – her off-the-cuff observations on TikTok and Twitter quickly gathered 150k followers. From sharing her experiences online, Lav realized she wasn’t alone. “I've felt voiceless my whole life, but I realized later that so many people relate to the way that I feel. Being open and honest is a really good value to have.”
At 3am in her bathroom one sleepless night, Lav wrote ‘From Me, The Moon’ in a mere fifteen minutes on GarageBand – a spare, delicate song that details the heartache of constantly orbiting around another person, it trades conventional pronouns for captivated planets. “Is the moon still in love with the sun?” she sings: the song was written to find closure after a bad relationship. On a whim, Lav decided to share it the next day with her newfound online platform. Quickly, ‘From Me, The Moon’ gathered momentum. First, it took Lav to a pop songwriting team in LA – ultimately, that experience didn’t work out, and left her disenchanted with the industry. She thought about giving up. And then, just in the knick of time, Billie Eilish shouted out her track. “Now it has 2 million listens which is fucking crazy to me,” Lav says. “Right when I was about to quit music, she showed up, and I thought, this must be a sign that I should keep going with this.”
And so, she kept going; steadily writing, and shaping her own distinct musical dreamscape where classic sounds, and yearning love songs mingle with campy visual influences.
In her next single ‘Wavvy’ Lav explores outdated rules around sexuality and the ways women express desire. “If I would have waited,” she sings, “could I have been your lady?”
“If you listen to the lyrics, they’re basically asking “if I hadn’t had sex with you then, would you be my boyfriend now?” Lav says. “That song’s a hoe-anthem I guess,” she grins. For the video – a gory vampire flick with a kitschy twist – she linked up once again with collaborator Marielle Boland “I love the chillness, and the production goes into this real bedroom vibe. I love the sexy feathers and the old Hollywood stuff. So for ‘Wavy’ I want to go in with a bang and sex it up. Who doesn’t want to eat boys? We used cherry red fake blood.”
“I seem to write exclusively about love,” Lav concludes. “My mother’s very aloof and I saw her chase after men that didn’t know how to love. I had a very weird model of what it looked like. It’s such a big theme in my life, navigating it and trying to love myself, and learning how to love other people.”