Music City indie rockers The Love-In have an origin story almost as good as their music.
The group met on every single person’s favorite and simultaneously least favorite app, Tinder, back in 2015. Since then, they have toured the country, released a plethora of badass music, and filled the world with their 1960’s girl group harmonies. The Love-In is made up of lead singer and pianist, Laurel Sorenson, guitarist Emma Holden, drummer Michael Rasile, and bassist Max Zikakis. Bringing together a soothing vintage sound with a forceful message and intense vocals, The Love-In’s music has elements for fans of many genres.
Sorenson’s vocal range is something to behold. Her ability to harness both powerful pitches and melodic harmonies is wildly impressive, and Sorenson is surely not to be tied down by any one genre. The bluesy tones of many of The Love-In’s songs echo groups like Lake Street Dive, or even Fleetwood Mac.
Diversity is not something only found in Sorenson’s voice and lyrics- drummer Michael Rasile provides the beat for their music, ranging from rhythmic tempo commonly found in blues, to full on hardcore rock drumming. Bassist Max Zikakis does the same. “Gonna Do,” a song off The Love-In’s 2016 album, is emblematic of this range while also showing off guitarist Emma Holden’s skills as a musician, featuring an AC/DC worthy guitar solo.
It’s hard to assign any one description to The Love-In’s discography. When trying to pin down a comparison, I never thought I’d liken the same artist to both the hardcore aspects of The Arctic Monkeys and the acoustic-slow-dance sound of John Mayer, but The Love-In provided me with the perfect opportunity to do so.
The Love-In’s newest single and music video, “As It Lays,” released on July 17th, has notes of 1980’s pop as well, opening with a synth sound fit for a classic sitcom intro. However, the song soon evolves with Sorenson’s powerful growling vocals accompanied by light harmonies. The entire song screams “badass women,” and is noticeably more upbeat and modern than their previous work. “As It Lays” sounds like driving down the highway with your best friends, escaping every responsibility behind you. It sounds like drumming on your steering wheel and one-handed air guitar. It sounds like sticking your head out of the passenger side window and breathing in crisp August air. Simply put, “As It Lays” sounds like liberation.
The Love-In’s name is fitting for not only their subtly psychedelic style, but also their story. Love-Ins, popularized in the 1960s, are characterized by peaceful public gatherings, consisting of love, music, sex, and psychedelic drugs. As a staple of hippie counterculture, these events were often used to protest social issues – something prevalent in The Love-In’s music. Several of their songs begin with vintage audio recordings that seem to contain a theme of the objectification and suppression of women, followed by lyrics that contradict those sentiments. There is certainly a definitive message of liberation and social justice ingrained in The Love-In’s lyrics. A quick look at their Instagram page confirms that supporting The Love-In is also supporting equal rights, social activism, and feminism.
The Love-In truly utilizes the full range of musical ability that they have. Every artist is amplified in a different way throughout their discography—allowing all elements of the song to come through and be highlighted. We had a chance to ask The Love-In a few questions about their music, inspirations, pastimes, and, of course, any upcoming work.
So I was hoping you could give us some insight into the Tinder meeting that created The Love-In? How did that all transpire?
Ha! You’ll have to listen to the songs we’re working on now to get that story.
How has the band evolved from then to now? Sound, members, however you wish to view that…
We’re a pretty eclectic bunch. We all listen to lots of different music and have a variety of influences, so it took a while for all of those to fully coalesce. At this point, we’ve all toured together enough and spent enough time with one another to get where each person is coming from when they bring forward a musical idea. Plus, now we share so much music with each other that we tend to get into the same records at the same time and go through phases as a group instead of as individuals.
You’ve got a very primal, powerful, and rock n’ roll style of singing. Who are some vocal inspirations that influence you most?
Amy Winehouse is one of my most important influences, because singing along to her records taught me about scales and listening to her live performances helped me understand how to improvise in a way that’s wild and impulsive, but also executed with control and skill. Before I found her music, I was just throwing my voice around. Billie Holiday is another singer who taught me how to imbue every word with texture and emotion, no matter where it sits in your range. I learned how to sing so powerfully because I’ve always been in rock and roll bands. Early on we didn’t have a PA or anyway to amplify my voice, so I had to learn how to sing over the band without a microphone.
So your new record, As It Lays, will be coming out in September. What is the primary influence and perhaps message behind this collection of songs?
There were lots of different influences for this record, and most of them weren’t musical. A lot of life happened as I wrote these songs, and I had started the process of trying to unlearn the things society had told me about womanhood and about how I should behave. I came to the conclusion that, try as I might, I was never going to be able to meet those expectations. And then I realized, it wasn’t worth it to try because they had nothing to do with me as an individual. They didn’t line up with my goals or my values. This collection of songs is really about poking fun at society’s expectations to show how strange and silly they are, and how liberating it is when you finally let go of them.
Where was it recorded and who was involved in the production?
We recorded at Studio 2300 with Collin Pastore. Collin engineered and produced the record, and everyone in the band had input on mixing and ideas for arrangements. It was a really awesome collaborative process. Collin is a very competent, confident producer and we placed a lot of trust in him and his ideas. That being said, he was also down to go for whatever spur of the moment ideas we had and see if they had merit.
So you have a music video for the title track, “As It Lays.” Where did y’all film it?
We made the video with Chuck Davis and we filmed the whole thing in his backyard in Woodbine.
How does the songwriting process work within the band?
I write every morning Monday through Friday for about three hours. I write a lot of garbage songs and some good ones, and usually Mike and Max can hear me humming them around the house. Whichever ones they like are usually the ones we work on in band practice. We work on the arrangements together and all give each other different ideas for our parts and how the song should move. Most of my favorite songs are ones that sound nothing like how I first envisioned them.
What might you envision people doing while listening to your music?
Driving, fucking, walking, crying, eating, and holding hands. Probably not all at the same time, but who knows.
What is one of your fondest memories as a band? Maybe a road story, first gig, etc.
Opening up for Bleachers in North Carolina has probably been the pinnacle so far. It stormed all day, and we just had to sit in the van for hours waiting for the weather to pass so we could soundcheck. Forty-five minutes before the show was supposed to start, the sky cleared and turned baby blue. We ran up to the stage, ecstatic that we were going to play, only to have the stage manager tell us it was going to storm again and they were going to have to cancel the show. We walked around downtown Charlotte, dejected for about ten minutes until we got a call that said, “Get your asses back here! You’re on in ten!” We had so much adrenaline from sprinting back to the stage that we didn’t have time to be nervous and we played the best set of our lives.
Flashback: the year is 2019. What are three local Nashville establishments Laurel and/or The Love-In could be found at on the regular? (venues, bars, coffee shops- whatever)
After 10pm, at least one of us can be found at Babo. We’re damn suckers for those kimchi hot dogs. We also spend a lot of time at the Belcourt Theater and at Dose in Riverside Village.
What was/is your favorite venue to play at in Nashville?
We’re 5 Spot kids, for sure. We did our residency there this past year and everyone who works there is so fun. The sound is great in there, and you get a good mix of locals and the walk-in, out of town crowd.
Where do you hope to see The Love-In in five years?
I want us to be able to pursue any kind of projects we want, both together and as individuals. We are all creatives whose brains go in lots of different directions. In 5 years, I’d like us to be able to have the resources and stability to make whatever we want.
Photos by Eden Lauren
I am astonished at the sound of this young ladies voice. She reminds me of Janice Joplin only she has more range. Her southern accent trickles out from time to time and I’m at the edge of my seat listening for her next sexy sound. I think that Laurel is going to be a very big star