The members of alternative folk duo, LOZT, may individually hail from the UK and US, but they’re proud of the fact their first gig took place in Nelson, New Zealand last year.
Singer-songwriters Tom Ryder (from the UK) and Lauren Scudder, who is an Orange County, California native, are becoming a band to watch, known for their beautiful harmonies and ability to cleverly blend genres.
They’ve just released their debut EP, I Want You, which was produced by double Grammy Award winner Robbie Nelson, with the assistance of Stu Hanna, Dave Gerard and John Parker.
LOZT are reuniting this summer to perform at Cambridge Folk Festival in the UK, before heading to California in September with dates planned in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Script & Sound Magazine caught up with the duo to discuss what brought them to Nelson, the basis of the new EP, and how they’ve been embraced by Kiwi music fans.
Congratulations on the release of I Want You! How does it feel to have a debut EP out in the world?
It feels really great to finally have a release out there. We have been writing and playing live a lot over the past couple of years so it was brilliant to lay something down in the studio to show people what we are all about.
In what way does this project differ from what you've both done in the past?
Operating as a duo is a new experience for both of us. Tom has operated in a band before and solo, and Lauren has played solo and collaborated with other artists. A duo is really light on its feet - it has great potential sonically and you are part of a team, without the logistical difficulties that can arise with a full band.
Did you have a set vision in mind or was it more an organic process?
We worked hard to craft our sound and identified that harmonies are our strong suit, as well as lyrics that grab you. We wanted to embed this into our music as much as possible.
Are there any major themes or messages you wanted to get across to your audience?
We have both been working with mental health/mindfulness organisations, such as Retune in the UK, so we are both passionate about connecting people through music. This comes across in our live shows and we hope in the recorded material as well.
What was your writing process for the EP? Do you write together, or solo?
The three tracks were quite different in this respect. Change My Mind was co-written with Stu Hanna and was originally going to be a solo single for Tom, but adding Lauren in gave it a whole new dimension. Quake was originally Lauren’s song and adding Tom in gave it an extra push. I Want You was started by Tom and then more lyrics and ideas were bounced around by both of us, leading up to the finished song.
Where was it produced and what was the experience like?
We worked with three different producers: Stu Hanna, Dave Gerard and Robbie Nelson. Stu is based in Melbourn near Cambridge, UK, while the other two are London-based. We needed someone to bring the tracks together into a single record, which Robbie really achieved with his mixing skills.
How did you team up with Robbie Nelson and what did he bring to the project?
We had a family connection to Robbie and he has worked with Tom before. It was a pleasure and privilege to have him on board. He works at the legendary RAK Studios and the last clients he worked with in that studio were The Rolling Stones, so we were very honoured to work with him there!
Can you run me through both of your musical backgrounds, and how you came to form the band in Nelson?
Tom is a singer-songwriter from the south east of the UK and is heavily influenced by folk and soul. He started out in a four-piece band called The Kazans with friends from school, later branching into solo work.
Lauren is a singer, songwriter and performer from Orange County, California. While formally trained in choral arts and musical theatre, Lauren has always felt at home writing and performing her own songs. The pair were playing solo at the same music night in London, and began collaborating shortly after.
Tom’s dad was born in Blenheim, New Zealand, and a couple of years ago a Nelson resident heard Tom play in the UK. After staying in touch with the Nelson scene and brainstorming the possibility of a duo, Tom and Lauren ventured over from the UK and played their debut gig there as LOZT.
How has the Nelson music scene embraced and supported you both?
The Kiwis are very passionate about creative expression in all of its forms and this is certainly true of music. I think they appreciate how far we travelled to get over to them and were tremendously receptive and supportive of us when we played.
How would you describe your sound to new fans?
Folk-pop from both sides of The Atlantic. Witty lyrics, hooky melodies and soaring harmonies that transport you home.
I see you're heading over to play at the Cambridge Folk Festival which is amazing! What are you looking forward to and where will you head in the states?
We played Cambridge Folk Festival and made a number of radio appearances with the BBC while in the UK, which was lots of fun. In California, we have just played a couple of shows and we’re getting to know the scene in LA, very exciting times.
What can fans look forward to next and what are your ultimate goals for LOZT?
On the back of our Whitney cover being streamed more than 150,000 times, we will be continuing to expand our Spotify presence. Hopefully more touring in the UK, Europe, California and other parts of the States lies ahead.
Visit www.loztmusic.com to stay up to date or follow them on social media @loztmusic