Following her brief fling with a major label, Laura Warshauer could have easily thrown in the towel on her music career. She also could have thrown a fit whenever the opportunity presented itself to talk about why things didn’t work out.
Warshauer has carried on as a recording and performing musician. And instead of dwelling on what didn’t happen in the past, she chooses to discuss what she gained from her Island Def Jam Music Group stint and how the end of that relationship sharpened her drive and focus.
“I wound up running into a lot of the clichés that [happen to] a new artist signed to a major label,” Warshauer recalls. “It kind of gave me a front-row seat to the music industry. It made me learn a lot and gain appreciation for exactly what the artist development process means.”
When she signed with Island Def Jam, Warshauer says she was “hoping to work hand in hand” with company executives in developing her as an artist, “but that just didn’t wind up happening, for a lot of reasons.” Island released a seven-song Warshauer EP in 2008, but plans to issue a full-length album never fully materialized, and eventually, she and the label parted ways.
“When I came out of that experience,” says Warshauer, “it was just a sense of, ‘OK, this is really what I want to do with my life. I need to figure this out and get myself on the right track in order to do it in the right way for me.’
“Certain people can go through that and be negative about it,” she adds. “For me, I could gain an understanding that maybe it’s better to partner with a label once you’ve gotten yourself to a certain level as an artist both creatively and from a business standpoint.”
Warshauer is still working toward that level, and her support team includes industry pros she met around the time she was severing ties with Island Def Jam. After a series of trips to southern California to meet with her now co-managers, the New Jersey-raised Warshauer decided to relocate to Los Angeles a few years ago. The change of scenery has coincided with her slightly different sound and approach.
“I’ve always been looking to transcend that label of being a singer/songwriter,” she says. “I’m proud to be that, but I always felt that there’s a pop sensibility that I’m equally as inspired by. And at the time that the Island EP came out, other than melodically in some of the songs, that pop sensibility was not coming through at all. It wasn’t the complete picture of who I am.”
Warshauer cites her current single, “Running From the Grave,” as a creative turning point.
“That represents exactly where I want to be — it has that left-of-center pop sound with a simplicity and the integrity that I’m looking to hold onto,” she says.
In the immediate future, Warshauer and her team will be pitching “Running From the Grave” to radio stations nationwide. The single is part of a sampler that also includes “Somebody for Me” — “a Dublin-meets-Asbury Park Irish drinking song,” she says — and “Dream Sequence” (I Want to Make Things Right).” Down the road, Warshauer plans to release all three songs commercially.
“[At this stage] I feel like an album is a luxury in a lot of ways,” she says. “I’m excited to keep building on where I am.”
— By Chris M. Junior