Sumner High graduate releases first EP

After two years of composing, songwriting and recording, the Sierra Lauren released her first extended play, “True North,” over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Sierra Lauren has been practicing piano for 14 years, and has performed at Benaroya Hall in Seattle and with the Suzuki masters in Matsumodo, Japan. The artwork for her EP, “True North,” was inspired by White River junior Kate Mauldin. Portrait photo by Ben Tyler.

Piano was hardly Sierra Lauren’s favorite thing when she was 4 year old.

But after sticking with it for 14 years, and two years of composing, songwriting and recording, the Sumner High School graduate released her first extended play, “True North,” which became available over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“I started doing this as just a hobby,” Lauren said. “I’d play things here and there for my friends when they came over. I played for my high school’s benefit night multiple times. And after a while, people just kept telling me maybe this is something that I could take a little bit further.”

In her first year of college at Brigham Young University, Lauren applied to a songwriting program. While she wasn’t accepted, she had made demos of her music, and decided to send those out to see who was interested.

She was eventually picked up by London Bridge Studio, based out of Shoreline, and stepped into the recording studio for the first time six months ago.

“I didn’t know it was going to take this long,” Lauren said. “It’s an extensive process, but it’s all worth it.”

Lauren’s vision for her EP was very defined by the time she started recording it.

“When I started out writing these songs, I didn’t really mean for it to have a story. But when you look at it, all the songs, when put in the order that we did, they tell a story of trying to find your way after losing something,” she said. “That’s why I titled it ‘True North,’ is because its all about finding yourself and finding a way through anything you may be going through.”

Lauren hopes that her EP will be as cathartic for her listeners as composing and writing it was for her when she was going through a breakup.

“Everyone loses something at some point, and they have different ways of coping with it. Some people talk their way through it, some people write in their journal. I just found that songwriting is that best way that I get through stuff like that,” she said. “I hope that people get through things like that by listening to my music and find their way through it as well.”

Lauren was very set on her idea for her EP, and she was glad to work with other musicians who were able to give her their professional opinions while at the same time respecting her vision.

“It was fun to see the music come together from a rough draft stage that I made in my basement and sending that off to other musicians to put their own fingerprint on it,” she said. “Having it start at that point, and having it come together in the studio with these real musicians and real instruments, it was fantastic.”

Working with Lauren on her EP was Ben Smith (from Heart) on the drums, Andy Stoller on the bass, Andrew D.B. Joslyn (with the Passenger String Quartet) on the strings, Shohei Ogami on the guitar and Eric Lilavois with percussion and backup vocals.

“It’s fun because this whole album was in my head to begin with, and the whole process was me getting it out for other people to hear,” Lauren continued. “Explaining to these musicians how I wanted it to sound and exactly what I wanted was fun… for them to be so good at what they do, but also take my musical perspective into account, it was fun to just work together with them. I wrote these songs. I started it. But collectively, we finished it.”

Lauren is planning to major in business marketing at BYU, which she said will be useful to her as she continues writing, playing and producing her own music.

She is hoping to schedule future performances in the area over her holiday break, but nothing is set in stone.

“True North” can be bought on iTunes or on Lauren’s website, sierralaurenmusic.com.

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