Loren Gray is a real life Barbie doll, but she’s also an incredible singer-songwriter. Boasting 19.7 million followers on Instagram alone, the Pottstown, Pennsylvania native is a true guru when it comes to social media, with one of the most loyal, dedicated fan bases the internet has ever seen. The 18-year-old states, “I do a bit of everything.”
First gaining a presence on musical.ly (now known as TikTok) in 2015, it was at age 15 when she moved to Los Angeles to fully pursue her music career. Fast forward to 2020, she’s already racked up over 100 million streams globally with her own songs. Her music is edgy, unapologetic, and empowering, creating her own lane of pop that’s honest and true to who she is down to the core.
In May, she released the official music video to “Cake,” which was recorded and shot in her own home during quarantine. Now, she returns with her new single titled “Alone,” the first love song she’s ever written. Flaunt caught up with Loren via Zoom to discuss her favorite artists growing up, moving to Los Angeles at 15, love for Eminem, inspo behind “Alone,” best encounter with a fan, and more!
Being from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, what was the household like growing up?
It was really normal, I have pretty great parents. My house is super old, it was built in the 1700’s. I went to normal public school, just average.
Who were you listening to growing up?
Oh my gosh, I’ve always listened to all types of different music because both my parents have very vast music tastes. My dad listened to Sublime, Eminem, Metallica. My mom listened to Fleetwood Mac, so I listened to everything. The biggest ones I listened to were Eminem when I got a bit older, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Panic! At The Disco, Sublime, My Chemical Romance.
How was coming to Los Angeles at age 15? Were you scared?
I was with my mom. It was sad leaving my dad, but my mom stayed out here until I was 18. That was good because I wasn't really alone, she made LA feel like home for me and helped me settle for a couple of years. It was definitely different.
You have 19.7 million followers on Instagram, what’s that like?
For me, it’s part of my life. Everything that I’ve done didn’t happen overnight, it happened pretty steadily and took a lot of work. It’s something I’ve worked at, not “oh my gosh, I woke up one day with 19 million followers.” It’s definitely crazy. The craziest part is when you see people in person. You actually realize how many 19.6 million people are all over the world, who follow me and know a lot about me.
What are the defining factors that helped you build this following?
Well it started when TikTok was musical.ly, that’s where I started everything. What kept it going is the connection I have with my fans. I’ve always been very personal with them and kept them very close, that helps a lot and differentiates me from other personalities who otherwise might not get to know their fans on a more personal level.
How much time do you invest in social media?
It’s an all day thing, some days more than others. Like today, I don’t have much so I’ll probably hang out with my friend and try to get offline for a bit. The past few days, I’ve really been so on it because of the single release. It depends, but mostly an all day thing.
“Alone” is the first love song you’ve written, who or what inspired this one?
Just getting out of some old relationships, getting into new ones. That’s what inspired me, but it could go so many different ways. Maybe it’s not even about a relationship, it could be about a friend or my dog Smudge — which I think is really great.
What do you want fans to get from this record?
I want it to be uplifting really, that’s my purpose of this song. It’s not serious, it’s fun. It’s upbeat. I want people to enjoy it and have fun.
How’s it been recording at home during quarantine?
It’s been really good. I’ve learned how to use Pro Tools and how to record my vocals, set that up over there [points to bedroom]. I actually really like recording myself because I get to decide which takes I use or try as many times, take as much time as I need which you can’t do in the studio. That’s been a cool experience, it’s been really helpful.
How have you been dealing with quarantine? Are you itching to get out?
I’m used to it now. It took a while for me to get used to it, even now there’s ups and downs. Some days, I’m really productive. I have a lot going on so I don’t have time to think about the fact that the world’s shut down. On days where I don’t really have anything, it can be depressing. It depends on the day, but I try to stay busy and keep in contact with people.
What’s the greatest memory from the “Cake” visual?
I ate so much cake that week, so many cakes delivered to my house. For the video, I honestly had about 11 or 12 cakes that week. They were great, that was definitely a standout memory. Smudge got her own cake, everyone was eating cake.
What’s your relationship with Taylor Swift? You were featured in her video “The Man.”
She’s so sweet. She’s very supportive of me which I really appreciate because she’s my top female idol. I grew up on her, she’s my #1. I’m really grateful she’s paying attention.
It was really exciting, I didn't really know what I was walking into. With big artists, the music videos are more secretive. She came out in the full prosthetics outfit, I didn’t know it was her at first. I never met her dressed as herself, I only met her dressed as The Man. It was really interesting, once she started talking I’m like “oh that’s Taylor Swift.” We talked for a while, she gave a lot of great advice. She’s a lovely person.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Some days it’s really girly, like Mean Girls, Clueless vibes. Some days I want to be comfortable, like today. I really like basketball shorts, crop tops, oversized hoodies. Sometimes I go more comfortable, casual, but still cute with some necklaces or jewelry. Cute hair, cute makeup, depending on the day and what I have to do.
3 things you need in the studio?
Candles, they change the vibe. Good lighting. That dark lighting is always really nice, depends on the song though. And Smudge, I bring Smudge to my studio sessions.
Eminem’s your favorite rapper, what do you like about him?Everything. My dad used to play him when I was really little, I know everything about his life. I know every underground song, I know every song front to back. I cry over him. Literally any interview of him you watch, I get emotional. I love him so much. I know every song front to back, I cry over him. I have all his merch. Every time his merch drops, I’m there. I saw him at Coachella, it was my birthday weekend. My friends all ditched me, I stood in the crowd by myself and watched him. I was sobbing.
What are some goals for yourself at this point of your career?
To make music that I really love. Put out music videos, songs, do collaborations, create businesses I’m really passionate about. I want to be happy, do my job, and make other people happy.
Best encounter you’ve had with a fan?
There’s so many. I was at a Meet & Greet line when I was younger, this girl ran and jumped on me. I wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready for it. They do those things with boys, but I wasn’t expecting her to jump on me. I also really love visiting places like Japan and Italy, the fans are always so sweet there. It’s a really nice experience, you don’t really get people who say “you’re famous, I want to take a picture.” Everyone genuinely likes you there. I love travelling internationally.
Biggest guilty pleasure?
Dance Moms, it’s so good. If you like trash reality TV, you’ll like it. It’s on Lifetime. If you can get all the seasons on the Lifetime app, I recommend it.
Why’d you name your dog Smudge?She looks like a Smudge. I named her Lucy then I saw her personality, I’m like “nah she’s a Smudge.”
What can we expect music-wise?
Definitely more singles on the way. Hopefully leading up to an album, that’s my goal.