All 4 Nothing

All 4 Nothing

Lauv (aka Ari Staprans Leff) has made a name for himself through his unique approach to hyper-contemporary breakup pop—2017’s “I Like Me Better” became an unavoidable finger-click beat, leading to his debut LP in 2020, the memoir-ish How I’m Feeling. Now, one pandemic later, he’s choosing to center his work on a theme of inner childhood. His sophomore LP, All 4 Nothing, is an attempt to distinguish Leff from Lauv, his autonomy from his profession, his adult self from what he thought his adult self would be like. “It’s realizing growing up is not what I thought it was,” he tells Apple Music. “Life is not going to look the way I think it is, and even when it does, it doesn't make me happy. When was I happiest? As a kid.” At its heart, however, is a pop album with an inherent lightness and darkness, meditation and chemical highs. “Growing up is all for nothing if you’re not connected to yourself on the inside,” he says. “More so than the specificity of the situations, I hope that [listeners] can connect to the emotion of striving to find lightness again, to find your true self again, when you feel disconnected from it.” Below, Lauv walks us through All 4 Nothing, track by track. “26” “I was in the studio, partying a bit, and found all of these lyrics pouring out of me. I felt weird shame. It summed up something I had felt for a long time, which was, ‘Why can’t I be happy with all of the amazing things that have come into my life? Why am I sitting here, significantly more unhappy after success, and what do I have to do about that?’ I decided I wanted to kick it off with some energy.” “Stranger” “‘Stranger’ is a song about the saga of being an anxious person and trying to fall in love. It’s also about recognizing how many times relationships have fallen apart and being scared to get close to somebody and knowing that you push people away a lot. There’s a lot of chaos around it. Every song is just straight up about my life. I wrote this while I was in one particular relationship, but the song is really just about dating in my twenties, always falling apart.” “Kids Are Born Stars” “I discovered inner-child meditation and that led to this song. I was at a therapy retreat in the middle of nowhere Arizona, guided through meditation. You visualize yourself at a younger age. And for me, different ages were coming up—eight-year-old me, 12-year-old me, 14-year-old me going on these little journeys to reconnect with memories from those times or things that felt significant or things you forgot about. ‘Kids Are Born Stars’ is very much the song version of that—of me going back to my eighth-grade self and being like, ‘You’ve got this.’” “Molly in Mexico” “That’s the dichotomy of the light and darkness of the album: It’s striving for the same feeling, one from a healthy and grounded and loving and kind place, and one is from shortcuts, chasing the highs in the moment to just feel free and to feel explosive and to feel like a little kid again.” “All 4 Nothing (I’m So in Love)” “I wrote this with my girlfriend [Sophie Cates] at the time—a really beautiful experience. A huge part of this album is the healing that you go through in love with somebody; that’s such an avenue to finding your true self and finding that childhood energy again. That’s something I hadn’t felt in so long: just being able to really surrender. This feels so good right now, and if this falls apart, all of the work we’ve put in would’ve been for nothing. It’s an aspiration [to get beyond that].” “Stay Together” “‘Stay Together’ is super poignant for me. It’s reflecting on younger love, when I didn’t really know what love was, and I had all these big plans." “Summer Nights” “I was listening to so much dance-y stuff, even [Dua Lipa’s] Future Nostalgia. Me and a couple of my friends started having our own mini dance parties, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to make something.’ And Jakob [Rabitsch], one of the producers, played me the beat one day. He’s like, ‘I made this beat with Guy [Lawrence] from Disclosure.’ The whole chorus happened instantly. I just find the chords so fascinating; they sound like some classical piano in the beginning. It’s super non-traditional.” “Time After Time” “That song is half about my relationship with substances, but also the idea of a toxic relationship—why you’re so drawn to it, and why it’s so appealing. But it can destroy you, and sometimes, you still do it over and over again.” “Hey Ari” “Right after I finished ‘Hey Ari’ and heard it in the studio for the first time, I was bawling on the floor. I may or may not have been on mushrooms, but I was crying. We have some bangers happening, and then it’s the wake-up moment. You go through those bouts of time in life where you’re just trying to figure it out and trying to get to a good place. And you have those moments where you’re like, ‘I need to check out my life right now because I’m not happy, and no more excuses.’ Everybody should be happy. That song very much felt like a sobering check-in with me.” “Better Than This” “People are always shocked that my mind naturally goes to a place of struggle, even with upbeat vibes. I don’t know: It’s hard to make something that feels all positive to me. So, musically, it can feel uplifting, but then the lyrics, I naturally won’t go there.” “Bad Trip” “It’s my personal favorite. John Cunningham, the producer, I’m pretty sure he had the whole instrumental already made. He played it for me, and I fell madly in love with it. It’s basically about a bad trip where you feel really disconnected. To me, it gives me a bit of the energy of [Rihanna’s] ‘We Found Love.’” “I (Don’t) Have a Problem” “That song is about using things as a substitute for confidence, a false sense of confidence. It’s a little memoir on that. For me, it is particularly about Adderall. I have narcolepsy, so I’m really tired all the time. When I was in college, I got prescribed stimulants, like Ritalin, to help me stay awake. Being a person who is obsessed with productivity, you could see how that would not go the best direction.” “First Grade” “‘First Grade’ is the light at the end of the tunnel. You just went through a vortex. And then it’s like, get back to reality, get back to the good. ‘First Grade’ is about falling in love with somebody, seeing them for who they are, watching them struggle to express themselves fully, and relating to that. Everyone wants to be famous today, and that’s something that really fucked with my head for a long time. In writing this album, I concluded that, no, everybody is a star in their own right. Some people lose touch with part of themselves, or they’re never really given a chance to nurture that part of themselves. It’s a nice thematic closer for me.”

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