This year marks half a decade since the multiplatinum-selling girl group Fifth Harmony announced their hiatus. Nonetheless, Lauren Jauregui, one of the five young women that helped carry the group to several top 10 albums and platinum singles, is looking forward. Prior to her formal debut solo single, Jauregui collaborated with the likes of Steve Aoki (“All Night”) and Halsey (“Strangers”), the latter of which became her first Billboard Hot 100 entry as a soloist. “Expectations,” her 2018 official launch, showcased Jauregui’s soulful rasp and formidable vocal ability. Drawing comparisons to Amy Winehouse, “Expectations” marked a pivotal moment for Jauregui and her solo career.
An EP titled Prelude, Jauregui’s first body of work as a soloist, followed in 2021. The moody, introspective project featured collaborations with Vic Mensa (“Scattered”) and 6LACK (“On Guard”) — darker complements to lighter tracks in her burgeoning solo discography like “Lento,” her reggaeton collaboration Tainy which scored remixes from Rauw Alejandro and Pabllo Vittar alike. Last year, Jauregui released the standalone single “Always Love,” and her newest single, the somber and self-reflective “Trust Issues,” picks up where that song and live performance music video left off. Featuring production credits from Malay, “Trust Issues” finds Jauregui returning to the stripped-back nature of “Expectations” and tracking the evolution of her emotional maturity over the past few years.
To coincide with the release of “Trust Issues,” Lauren Jauregui Zoomed in for quick chat with Uproxx about her plans for 2023, the writing process for “Trust Issues,” and how her time in the industry since her Fifth Harmony days have impacted her current outlook on her life and career.
Where was your head at when the idea for “Trust Issues” first came to you?
I was actually in Bali when I wrote it, and I was on this ten-day writing camp situation that I went to right after a breakup. I think that “Trust Issues” was just me thinking about the next chapter of my life. I had worked up a lot of personal trust issues over the course of a lot of different relationship dynamics, some self-inflicted, some just residually left over from past heartache, or things that had happened to me in my life. So, I was just assessing where I was at and thinking about how if I were to get into another relationship, I’d have to just be cautious and mindful because I wasn’t all the way healed yet. All of my songs are pretty introspective and just figuring out how I’m feeling about things. I feel like “Trust Issues” is definitely one of those where I’m just like, “Listen, I’m not ready for a relationship at that point in my life. I know we all got trust issues, but it wouldn’t really be fair to you to get into anything right now.”
The song’s outro is such a surprise. What was the writing process for “Trust Issues?” How was this song constructed?
I wrote it with PJ. The producer is Malay, and, well, JP was also a part of it, too, when we were over there in Bali. [The outro] makes you jolt a little bit, and you’re like, “Wait a minute. Is this the end of the song? Is it the bridge?” And then it ends very abruptly, which I feel makes people want to replay it because they get to the point where they’re like, “Wait, is that it?” When I got back to the States, Malay really put his hands on it and added the strings. I think PJ and I were just on the same page when we were writing. The relatable issue is that everybody’s got trust issues, I think, and that just came out.
There’s a lyric in which you sing, “Fighting feeling helpless. Oh, darling, I knew this would come.” Those feelings of helplessness and inevitability really drive “Trust Issues.” Where did you pull those emotions from?
I think it’s self-sabotaging as well… where you already put a precedent on how something is going to play out, which is a part of having trust issues because you have these remnants of a past situation in your mind. Then, you project that onto the situation that you’re in currently. Sometimes when you’re unhealed, it’s that kind of, “Oh, I knew this would happen” thing, where it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You didn’t really give this person a chance because you weren’t really ready to dive into something.
Sounds like taking accountability for your own actions is a recurring theme here.
I tend to do that all the time in my lyrics. I’m very self-reflective and I like to give that perspective because for me, the process of writing is very much coupled with my healing process and learning from my own mistakes. A huge part of growing is self-awareness. I think a lot of mainstream music, or a lot of music in general, lacks self-awareness because most people are just exploring their feelings in the moment. While I do that too, I always try to take accountability. That’s something that I really love about myself; I’m able to see myself clearly, like when I’m the one fucking up or when I have this pattern that I’m repeating or whatever. I tend to be very harsh on myself for being aware and not doing better. But that’s also part of the process, becoming aware of your shadow and being able to incorporate it into the new self that you’re creating.
“Trust Issues” is a gorgeous vocal showcase. Who are your influences when it comes to vocal performance and interpretation?
I have so many people who inspire me. I grew up with a lot of Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé, like, heavily influenced by them. Beyoncé in her articulation of things and her use of backgrounds. Also, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Céline Dion. I used to sing the shit out of all their songs growing up. Of course, Amy Winehouse.
The music video for “Trust Issues” is basically just you writing and recording the song. It’s simple and very effective, what spurred you to make that choice?
I was really inspired by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” video. I had this idea of the last thing that you all got from me was the live performance of “Always Love,” which is very glammed up, very diva energy. In the beginning of the [“Trust Issues”] video, you see me come out of that reality and into my reality, which is just me stripped down in the studio writing a song. And so, I just like that juxtaposition and that vulnerability and that rawness to convey the energy of “Trust Issues.”
How has the pandemic — and life in general since — impacted your healing process, and by extension, your writing process?
I feel like my process for this upcoming album is definitely going to get the gist of what I’ve been going through for the past three years, for sure. I’ve just been living life and experiencing things, and I feel like I have a lot better grip on who I am as a person. In turn, I feel like that’s going to reflect in the music when the process begins. I’ve made stuff sporadically here and there and I’m still in my introspective bag. I think I’m always going to be in that, but I’m getting to tour and being able to perform for people. I’ve also been ignited with a want to create more things that people can vibe to and just move to and be able to get lost in as well. So, I think there’s going to be more of that incorporated amongst the thoughtful stuff in my album.
You’ve dabbled in everything from pop and R&B to reggaeton and alternative. What sounds can we expect to hear from you next?
I do a lot of shit [laughs]! Definitely still sticking to my pop and R&B roots. There’s always a soulful element to everything that I create. Being that I’m a singer-songwriter, a lot of the stuff just comes from my heart. So, there’s a wide range of “genre” that I tap into depending on how I’m feeling. There’s also a lot more rhythmic energy, there’s a lot more movement. They’re mid-tempo, they’re not crazy upbeat songs, but they do have a groove and they will have you moving.
I know your fans have been waiting with bated breath for your official debut album. Any word on what’s on the docket concerning an album and a tour?
I’m definitely going to be in the studio and I’m going to be writing. I only have that goal for the rest of this year: to work on this album. It could come to me in a month, it could come to me in six months. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have ideas thematically for things that I want to explore, but I haven’t done anything concretely yet. It’s up in the air until I get my ass in the studio.
How have your past experiences in the industry, whether that be with Fifth Harmony or in your career after the group’s hiatus, impacted your approach to both music-making and being a businesswoman and pop star?
I’ve learned a lot about being a businesswoman and about this industry in general and how it works. I’ve had my failures and I’ve had my mistakes made. I was really young when I got into the industry. I didn’t really have a lot of mentors or people who guided me on how to move. So, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I feel like I’m so grounded right now, and I have such a great team around me who really sees me and is mentoring me and guiding me in ways that I trust and allow me to relax into my creativity. All I ever really wanted was to be able to create from an authentic place and that’s a lot more difficult than it should be, I think. But I feel like I’ve gotten to a point now that I’m independent and I have full creative control, and I’m able to really move in ways that align with my spirit, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.
Who in the contemporary pop culture sphere has been in inspiring you as a creative lately?
There are so many incredible people right now just making incredible music. I’m always very inspired by the R&B girls like SZA, Kehlani, Summer [Walker], Jhené [Aiko], those are the four that I have in rotation the most. I’m also very inspired by female rap. Right now, there’s so many incredible baddies doing incredible shit through their bars. I love writers. I love people who share their stories and who articulate their stories in a playful, colorful, interesting way.
If you could describe what 2023 holds for you and your fans in just three words, what would they be?
More music, bitch.