Beams Through The Clouds: Lauren Auder Interviewed

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For Lauren Auder, it’s a strange feeling now that her debut LP ‘The Infinite Spine’ is finally out in the world after several years in the works. “It’s very much like post-partum vibes,” she says as we perch on the low steps of the pool in the V&A’s courtyard. The weather’s bright and breezy and we slurp on iced drinks as kids splash in the shallow water around us.

Auder’s been making music since her teens and already has spate of singles along with three EPs under her belt. She was born in London, but moved with her music journalist parents aged seven to the small, Medieval town of Albi in southern France, famed for its Gothic cathedral, when London life became too manic. Her parents’ jobs at Kerrang! and NME meant Auder grew up in a house brimming with music, although, she jokes: “They were crying when I said I wanted to become a musician, they knew too much!”

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Now 25, Auder describes herself as “a hobbyist” who could have taken on any number of artistic pursuits as her main gig, be it poetry, literature, visual media or even the art of conversation. “I’m a big fan of being a dilettante,” she says with a smile. “I try out a lot of different things.” Music is simply the pursuit that stuck. “I think because it’s quite all-encompassing. It’s so exciting to be able to present things visually and to create that world and write lyrics and bring together all these different things.” She adds: “It’s really appealing to my flâneur vibe.” 

While her French hometown’s rich history would later inspire her music, as a restless teenager, hungry for excitement, ultimately, she was bored. “I’d have preferred to have been in a shit bar in London,” she says. But when she did return to London aged 18, the shit bars beckoned. “It was like returning home,” she says.

Since its release in July, ‘The Infinite Spine’ has been met with critical acclaim. Although this is excellent news for Auder, it’s the record’s impact on listeners that has moved her the most. “I’ve had a lot of personal and meaningful responses,” she says. “It feels really special, and exactly what I was hoping for.”


It’s undeniably a phenomenal debut. Co-produced by Auder’s frequent collaborators Dviance and Alex Parish, it’s a powerful, brooding meditation on what it means to exist in the world, perceived and defined by others. The album’s influences are multitudinous—unsurprising given Auder’s record-stuffed upbringing – engendering a distinctive, avant-garde sound brandishing its own dark yet effervescent energy, emphasized all-the-more by Auder’s stirring, baritone vocals. 

“I feel really excited to have brought together so many different ideas,” Auder says. “There are elements of hard-core techno and nineties alt-rock married with big orchestral stuff.” We’re suddenly distracted by a toddler stumbling determinedly through the water, grappling two baby dolls, one in each fist, by their limbs. The unluckier one gets dunked headfirst into the pool. “It’s distracting watching a baby being baptised,” Auder laughs. 

Holed up as a teenager in her history-steeped French town, Auder was (like most teens) chronically online and sought out the forward-facing culture that her hometown lacked via spaces like Tumblr and Soundcloud, soaking up a vast spectrum of music, including ambient, noise and goth genres, and connecting with fellow music obsessives. But it was discovering DIY rap that ostensibly had the biggest impact on her.

Auder would go on to work with artists from London’s underground hip-hop scene like Lord Pusswhip, Slowthai and Jeshi. The Infinite Spine has references to these rap scene roots in the form of 808s and samples, but Auder shares that she’s keen to zone in on rap more in future solo work. “It’s definitely something I want to explore going forward,” she says. 

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The record’s questions of identity are deeply personal to Auder. Living as a trans woman in the UK’s hostile current climate means that her mere existence equates to taking a stand against narratives that, at best, misunderstand her and, at worst, seek to crush her. But the existential quandaries that course through the record are universal. 

I ask Auder about one of the standout tracks from the album, 118madonna, a propulsive, stadium-filling rallying cry calling for the freedom to self-define. “It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album,” she says. “I really wanted to make something to push back on imposed narratives and on narratives of victimhood where someone else decides your fate. It’s about not wanting to be a node in the machine.” 

The track’s chorus lands on Britney Spears and JonBenét Ramsay—a child beauty pageant star who was murdered at six-years-old—as examples of those who’ve had their narratives taken ripped away from them and twisted for public consumption. “I wanted it to be named, what it means to be a public person—which is almost everyone at this point—bringing up these really clear examples of just how damaging, dark and scary it can be to have these narratives forced on you.” While the track is rousing and melodically hopeful, the crucial nature of the song’s subject-matter encouraged Auder to cut straight to the core. “I wanted to be direct and intense about it,” she says.

I ask for her thoughts on Sinead O’Connor, whose recent death brought fresh reminders to Twitter timelines of how her narrative was twisted time and time again for public consumption. “Sinead O’Connor’s first album [‘The Lion and the Cobra’] specifically was a huge influence. I think it has a lot of spiritual kinship to this record,” she says. “It was weird, her death affected me more than most public figures passing.” She considers for a moment. “I felt such a kinship with its defiance and righteous anger and desire to be self-defined. I’ve been a fan of hers as most music fans are, but specifically in this past year it was really close to my heart. She’s a prime example of how people want to box things in.” Even ‘The Lion and the Cobra’s album cover served as inspiration for hers. 

Looking forward, Auder’s chomping at the bit to perform her album live, particularly after her plans for a tour following her second EP were stopped short during the pandemic. “Shit happened!” she exclaims. “So, while making this record I was itching for it to be out and to play live.” She adds: “It’s what it’s about for me, being in a room with people.” 

As things stand, Auder’s content experiencing this strange and exciting post-partum period while she can, taking in every little piece of it. The sun peeks through a passing cloud, bathing us in warmth. She says: “The sun is out, so there’s that.” She pauses for a moment. “It’s not a particularly sunny record, but there are beams through the clouds.” For now, Auder’s happy simply basking in those rays. “I really want to give the record the chance to live in the world and be responsive to that. I don’t want to move on just yet.”

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‘The Infinite Spine’ is out now. Catch Lauren Auder at Courtyard Theatre, London on September 7th.

Words: Henrietta Taylor