Lauren Spencer Smith knows a thing or two about being in the spotlight. At 11, she won a competition to sing on stage with country singer Keith Urban. At 15, she went viral on YouTube for the first time, and at 16, she made it to the Top 20 on American Idol.
At just 19 years old, Smith is a three-time JUNO Award nominee with two Platinum Certified singles, and more than one billion streams under her belt. And now she’s gearing up for her most emotional showcase yet—the release of her debut full-length album Mirror. Available now, the 15-track record is full of Smith’s signature tone and soaring range. The subject matter may at times be vulnerable and messy, but Smith is finding a way to stay honest, humble, and grounded through it all.
Let’s start with TikTok, you’ve clearly found a lot of success on that platform. How did it feel the first time you went viral?
“The first time I went viral for an original song was my song “Back To Friends”. I remember I had other videos that went viral but they were covers and I thought, ‘I’m going to be known as a cover singer forever. What am I gonna do?’ I was really trying to get out of that. I had written “Back To Friends” I think just a few hours before and I was like, ‘I’m just gonna post it, I don’t care.’ And I woke up the next morning and the video had like 10 million views! Immediately it was full panic because this had never happened and I wasn’t signed, I had nothing! I remember being so excited but it was overwhelming.”
You’ve now recorded your first ever album. How did you find that process? Was it really different recording in the studio versus singing live?
“Yes and no. It’s obviously different because when you’re recording it’s not just a one or two take video—you’re singing it a few different times, and a few different ways in the studio to make sure it’s great. But I like both! I like recording in the studio as much as making videos, it’s all practice. And it is cool to hear the final vocal after being in the studio for like two hours doing double and triple of everything and then to hear it all together is really, really cool.”
On social media, you’re quite famous for singing in parking garages. Why that location?
“The first time I ever sang in a parking garage, we went to a friend’s house to sing and he would always get noise complaints after a certain amount of time. So he said ‘We should just go sing in the parking garage, it’s super echoey and the acoustics are great.’ That was maybe just over two years ago now. Ever since my friend Gina was like, ‘This is the thing, we need to sing in parking garages.'”
Photo by Sam Dameshek. Courtesy of Universal Music Canada.
The album is very vulnerable. You open with “Never Been In Love”, which is incredibly emotional. Then you have songs like “Best Friend Breakup” which is a different kind of heartbreak but just as vulnerable. Can you explain how it felt to tap into such emotional content to write this album?
“I definitely cried almost every session. I’m already pretty emotional in general. It’s crazy because a lot of songs especially “Never Been In Love”, I wrote that song and cried to it so many times in my car. Now two-and-a-half years later I don’t relate to it at all, in any capacity. So it’s crazy to look back at some of the songs that are now on the final album and remember that I felt that way. As a songwriter you do have to be vulnerable and talk about your feelings which honestly kind of comes as second nature to me. I overshare a lot and I love talking about my feelings to people so it works out a lot of the time in the studio. It can be hard too.”
“It was definitely “28”. It was the hardest one to decide to share publicly. Sometimes they’re hard to write, but it feels like a no-brainer that they should be out in the world. With that song there was a big debate about whether or not I felt it was even morally right to speak about that publicly. So that is definitely one of the ones that’s gonna be rough on the road.”
“I was weighing the pros and cons for so long with my friends and family. I genuinely thought it was such a unique situation but when I posted, there were so many people commenting and relating to it. I could not name a song off the top of my head that talks about a situation like that so bluntly. People were saying they needed a song like this and that there’s no song that exists like this. I’ve always wanted to do music to have an impact and make people feel less alone. So at the end of the day, I decided that I didn’t really care whose feelings I upset because I felt there was a greater impact sharing it with the world.”
It seems like, recently, there’s really a resurgence of young female artists really leaning into the emotions of first love and first relationships. That can come with a lot of stereotypes and criticism, too. How does that make you feel?
“I’ve always been told I’m overdramatic and too emotional. It’s just something I own now. I don’t take any of that to heart. I think it’s really silly that those stereotypes about young girls are still a thing. People say that we’re dramatic and always want to talk about our feelings. But I think with that, women tend to be the most healthy because we talk about our feelings. And every man I know that talks about their feelings are so healthy and great communicators—even at the friendship level. It’s such a strength to be emotional and sensitive and to be able to talk through your feelings.”
Was there any specific artists or playlists that you listened to while writing and recording to draw inspiration from?
“I went through different stages when writing my album. At the start, it was Olivia Rodrigo. I would listen to her album every single day, it was the only thing I listened to. Then I morphed into JP Saxe’s album Dangerous Levels of Introspection. That was a big one for me for a while, I would say for a solid year and a half of making this album I was only listening to that. And right at the end of everything, I got very into Sabrina Carpenter’s album emails i can’t send. I loved listening to that towards the end as well.”
Well it’s all wrapped now, and you’re going on tour. How are you feeling? Excited? Nervous?
“All of the above. I was very depressed on tour last year for so many different reasons. I felt like it was a lot that I wasn’t ready for. So I’m really trying to mentally prepare and stay positive about this one. I’m also very excited because last time because we didn’t have a bus. It was really hard to create a routine. I know that this time I’ll be able to have my green juice with me and my vitamins, I’ll be able to be a lot more organized which brings me a lot of sanity.”
“The advice that I never do and I really need to is vocal rest! The unfortunate thing I feel about being an artist is that you kind of have to give up being social on tour because you can’t lose your voice. So a lot of artists have told me you know, ‘Don’t get FOMO, everything is fine. Download your Netflix and be ready to be calm and be with yourself a lot.’”