Best known for her catchy melodies, expansive 808s, and staggeringly honest lyrical content, LA-based producer and artist Colby Lapolla brings all of these elements to the forefront with her latest single, “Starving.”
The track is all about Lapolla’s struggle with an eating disorder and self-image. The track is full of scream-singing and dance pop beats as a means for Lapolla, and perhaps the listener, to release the anger and frustration that comes with those experiences and feel some joy.
A creator of “ctrl+alt+trauma pop,” Lapolla fuses sounds and genres from all over to create a unique sonic makeup that pleases the ear. From Lorde’s “Green Light” to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down”, she pulls from every crack and crevice to bring the “Starving” music video to life. The cinematic, dream-like montage features surreal imagery and moments of encouragement, including a Perks of Being a Wallflower-esque tunnel scene with outstretched arms.
Lapolla has had her sights set on being a performer since before she could talk, which comes as no surprise, as her mother had worked in the industry. She attended Nashville’s Belmont University to study voice and during her time in Nashville, developed connections and relationships to other notable names in the business. Shortly before the onset of the pandemic, Lapolla made the move from Nashville to Los Angeles, living the dream she’d always imagined for herself.
We were so excited to chat with Lapolla about “Starving,” her sources of inspiration, and some artists she’d like to open for.
Surprisingly, 2021 is almost in the books. How would you sum up your 2021 in one word?
Transformative. I’ve grown so much this year as a producer and as a writer, and also, most importantly, as a person. It’s been a really hard year, but I’m really stoked at all the progress I’ve made.
Where do you typically get inspiration for your songs, and do you prefer writing solo or with a partner?
I get inspiration from truly any and everything. Sometimes a song idea will come from another song, a melody or a phrase, and sometimes it’ll just be a line I keep repeating. I generally write solo, but I love co-writing as well. Certain songs desperately need that other set of ears from the start. Either way, my trusted collaborators always know there’s an open line of communication if they have thoughts or notes anywhere in the process.
So I was hoping you could talk about your new single, “Starving.” What’s the inspiration and influence behind it?
I started writing this song the month I entered recovery for anorexia. It started out as just those two opening lines of the verse, and soon became the track you hear today. Musically, I knew I wanted the track to build like “Green Light” by Lorde, and never truly resolve from a harmonic standpoint. I wanted to scream-sing about trauma while also feeling that release of anger and grief that is soon followed by joy.
What was the vision behind your music video, and who helped it come to fruition?
My favorite music videos are ones that include some element of the surreal, and much of my inspiration came from the video for “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy, but the “Green Light” video as well. The horns represent this thing that I live with and see when I look in the mirror that keeps me from connecting with myself and others. The video is all about searching for freedom and taking it where you can get it. I had a badass team of women help make the vision come to life: Christina Bryson directed, filmed, and edited it, and Danika Karolinski did the makeup / generally assisted throughout the day. My friend and fellow artist, Luke Collins, also helped us out by driving one of the cars for the tunnel shots.
How do you know when a song is finished? Do you find yourself wanting to keep tinkering and re-recording tracks etc.?
I could probably work on things indefinitely. We’re all constantly evolving and growing and, hopefully, learning more and more each day. I try to constantly check in with myself and see if my desire to add to a track is rooted in making sure the end product is effective or if it’s because I’m putting off finishing it and, ultimately, being vulnerable by releasing it. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at knowing when the time comes to let it go – it’s definitely a gut feeling plus getting the opinions of people I trust.
What messages or feelings do you try to convey in your music?
I try to convey the messages and feelings that I need to hear or feel. At the end of the day, creating and releasing stuff is for me. Other people relating to it is a bonus, and not guaranteed. I’m not going to put something out that I don’t connect to. Everything that happens after that is chance.
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
Quantifying success in this business is either really hard or really, really simple. For me, getting to do what I love full-time is incredible, and something I’ve worked my ass off to get to. I’m writing and producing for sync projects, working as a vocal producer and coach, and also working on every aspect of this artist project. For me, it means I was crazy enough to not give up, because sticking around is a huge part of the battle.
If you could open for any present-day artist, who would it be and why?
I would love to open for Fickle Friends or Winnetka Bowling League, two of my all-time favorite bands. I love the work they do, and the consistency with which they do it. Matt Koma (WBL) is a production and songwriting idol of mine – his stuff is so off the wall in such a strategic way. Fickle Friends delivers super modern and fresh takes on pop that are constantly evolving. Honestly, I just think all of these guys would be a great hang, but also we could make some really sick music together. I think their fans are super smart, but also don’t take themselves too seriously, and that’s the kind of audience that is so fun to perform for.
If you could ask one question to one of your idols, what would it be and to whom?
I would love to ask Brian Wilson about how he pushed through doubt and impostor syndrome. I think his take on that would be really insightful.
What might fans expect from Colby Lapolla moving forward?
Honestly, expect to hear something that’s constantly evolving. I’m really stoked on the idea of free will (lol), and that I can make absolutely whatever I want. There are some sad ones coming up, but also some bangers, and I’m gonna do it in a weird way most likely, because why wouldn’t I?