Lauren and Dre are, without a doubt, the kind of friends anyone in the music industry needs. They are the best example of being humble and letting talent and hard work take you far in the business. Honestly, I’m not sure what I was going to get, setting up a Skype call with the duo who recently signed to Sony Records. Whatever I must’ve been expecting was shattered to smithereens within the first minute, because Lauren and Dre have got to be two of the most down-to-earth, insightful, and friendly artists living in LA right now.
“We are still normal 22 year olds with 22 year old struggles,” they both smile. “We have to pay rent, and have gas to go to work. We have to buy dog food and do our laundry. That’s normal for us. But we have different future we are headed for and it sometimes gets overwhelming. We still check our socials everyday. We constantly have goals we want to hit and ways to keep progressing.”
The Hip-Pop duo (Lauren sings, Dre raps) recently moved to California from Missouri, USA. “Growing up in St. Louis has its pro’s and con’s. My parents always supported me, everyone else supported after I proved that there was something to support. But growing up in St. Louis, there aren’t as many opportunities to expand as an artist as there are in other cities so I always knew I would live somewhere else eventually,” Dre muses. Lauren, meanwhile, grew up about 60 miles south of St. Louis. “I lived in a very small, tight knit country town. I always felt odd because I wanted to do something with my life that sounded crazy to a lot of people. But I had really great friends and family who supported my dreams even when I was younger. People who made me feel like anything is possible.”
Things weren’t always as sunny as LA weather reports, though. The duo first met in 2015 when they signed to the same manager, a business relationship that went down in flames for both of them. “We were presented with a tour, along with about twelve other people. We were to have X amount of shows, making more money in one night than any of us ever made in a month. Of course there were a lot of flags and questions we’d ask each other. Like who’s paying for us to travel to all of these places? How are we traveling? How are we making X amount of money per night if none of us have fans yet? And if the venues are offering to pay us X amount of money regardless of if people show up or not, then why hasn’t anyone else caught on and why have we never heard of this? So just many things that we were concerned about, but all twelve of us kind of just ignored it.” The duo roll their eyes in hindsight, but signed the deal in that moment.
Lauren dropped out of college, and both of them quit their respective jobs. Their “tour” consisted of driving for hours to empty bars. On one occasion, “[the manager] basically tried to leave us stranded. She refused to put gas in the van. Like, we sat there for an hour because no one had money and she refused to pay. So we started borrowing money just to get home. It got bad. We completely emptied our savings on incidents like this.” After an occasion involving getting home from an eight hour wait at a private airport (no payment for flight received), Lauren and Dre took it upon themselves to start digging deeper. “We actually got ahold of the promoter himself and asked about his assistant, but he had never heard of her. Or us. It was a very scary situation. We caught her in the lie and confronted her. After that we started going back on everything she said and there were so many lies. Just a very bad situation but a very great learning experience for us all.” An experience, in fact, which bonded their artistic visions together, and created the duo Lauren and Dre, as they are known today.
Shortly after coming home, they began creating a weekly online event, called Music Monday. The idea was simple: every Monday, upload a new music video. Some would be covers, and some would be ones they’d written. When their video for an original song titled “Messed Up” landed on the newsfeed and caught the attention of the Senior Director of Pop Promotions at Red Music (formerly Sony Red), they were given a new chance. “Basically, he saw our video and sent us a message asking about what we have going for our upcoming music. He gave us his contact information and from there we started talking a lot. He became a safe place for us. Someone that we can literally ask him anything and he will never judge or make us feel low. He always had an answer and he was always willing to help. We built a relationship and he personally presented our music around for feedback to see what the next steps were. He was given the opportunity to help us move forward and shop around for a label that fit best. After months, he came to us one day with the one he thought was the perfect match: Black 17. A label that was created to house a variety of hip hop artists. We all chatted about goals, and visions, and strategies and we agreed that they were very us and moved forward with them.”
Their thoughts on building a team in the music industry are wise and insightful. “We think that your music team is very essential. Your production, your engineers, the people that are hands-on with the creation of your music. If you do all of those things for yourself, then you are set. After you start putting music out and get feedback, start building fans, a booking agent is important – or be your own booking agent and do as much as you can do. That’s good too. Once things start picking up, and offers come in, an entertainment attorney is key – make sure they specialize in entertainment because it makes a difference. But, the biggest thing we’ve learned is DO NOT GET A MANAGER UNTIL THERE IS SOMETHING TO MANAGE! That’s where a lot of people go wrong.”
After carefully signing the deal, Lauren and Dre packed their bags (and a dog!), and moved to Los Angeles, California. “Moving to LA was definitely different for us. It is always sunny and hot. There are so many different cultures and people, and just simple things like restaurants and popular foods are different. It’s definitely a change, but we are adapting well, we think. Now that we live in [the city], we talk to our mentor a lot. He’s really great. Any time we need him, he’s there. Sometimes we hop on a quick call to talk about his feedback on a song we sent him and by the end of the conversation we are getting advice on how to approach a friend we just had a fight with or something. He talks us through a lot of the hard times we go through. We have the utmost respect for him.”
Continuing on the topic of moving halfway across the country. “Being a signed artist living in LA has highs and lows. We moved away from everyone so bad days seem worse when we remember we’re here alone. We talk to our parents at least once or twice a week and we try to stay updated with our friends as much as possible. We still work, so it’s hard to keep a steady mindset sometimes and to not get caught up in the small things. The highlights are now we are closer to everything – studios, people, events. Now, when people we work with come here, we get to go to shows, and meet new people, and we get to meet other artists who were once where we are, feeling the same way we feel, with the same people, except now they’re in Top 40, and everyone knows their music. So we get to do a lot of things that keep us motivated and focused.”
Lauren and Dre admit that they still get a little stressed out sometimes. “In the music business, theres an algorithm for everything. So even now there are things that we just can’t do until the thing that needs to happen before that happens. You have to work really hard. It’s not as easy as a lot of people might think. We stress out and we get upset and have to call our mentor to be reassured that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just because you sign a record deal does not mean the work ends. It means that you had people who believed in you enough to be a helping hand and be apart of the journey with you.” Their respect for their team shines through as they describe the moment of the actual signing. “[It] was a huge feeling of satisfaction, but also it felt like we were finally given the green light to do exactly what we need to do and what we know we can do. And the best part is we have an incredible team of people at Sony behind us. Seriously, they’re brilliant!”
Lauren and Dre have just released their first song on Spotify, called “Fine.” As of writing this, the video has over 30K views on Facebook alone. “Our fans are literally the best! For now we have some new music we’ve been working on that we plan on releasing very soon. We’re excited for everyone to hear some of our new sounds! Our next goals are to be doing music 100%. No other commitments, nothing else holding us back. We have fans all over, and we’d love to be in a position where we can travel and meet them all.”
Their parting advice to other artists? “Be humble. Being humble and grateful will take you the furthest.”
And stream “Fine” here: Link to Spotify