Art is about connecting with people’s emotions, and music as a medium can help people understand both the feelings of others and those of our own. On renforshort’s debut album, ‘dear amelia’, the artist elicits both.
‘dear amelia’ sees renforshort (real name Lauren Isenberg) unpack deeply personal topics, examining her own self-image and mental health as she opens up about her depression and dissociation.
It’s the act of opening up about her innermost battles that allows Isenberg to connect with others.
After the release of ‘dear amelia’, Isenberg set off around North America on a 12-date tour across September and October. Only one month later, she jetted across to Paris to begin her eight-show tour across Europe and the UK.
Having risen to fame during the pandemic, Isenberg had not yet experienced first-hand the impact that her lyrical honesty had had on people, and the way that her music had resonated with people around the world. For the young artist, it was life-changing.
On the day of her biggest UK headline show yet at London’s Islington O2 Academy, Clash sits down with Isenberg for a soul-baring chat about the beauty of creating art that others can relate to.
Your debut album ‘dear amelia’ takes us on a journey through the darkest parts of your mind. Excavating those thoughts and experiences can be both incredibly painful but also incredibly cathartic at the same time. Is that the case for you?
Yeah, it totally is and that’s how you know that you’re doing the right thing. I find that when I feel emotional when I’m doing something, whether it be like talking to an audience, or writing music, that’s when it will resonate the most with people. I think that’s your duty as an artist in whatever medium you create in is to really take your, whether it be pain, or joy, or whatever emotion you feel, and put it out there for others to interpret and they will be like, ‘This is what I have been trying to say, but can’t and I don’t have the platform and the ability to share whatever that is’.
There’s this idea that making art can be healing, but personally, I find it’s more that it brings a sense of understanding about emotions or actions, which can contribute to the healing process because of awareness.
I don’t think that writing down your feelings alone is going to fix any issue, it just brings them to the surface for you to be able to handle those as you will. Having it out and having it written down and put out in the world, it gives you the ability to talk to people – be open and people will relate. There’s always someone that will relate. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. And that’s what’s so awesome about writing down what is going on in your brain and visualising it.
In the instances where you have to work on a deeply personal song several times to refine and finalise it, do you find yourself revisiting any painful emotions? Or is it that once the initial feeling is out, you can detach?
No, I think it’ll always transport you back. Similar to how certain smells remind you of certain people, it’s the same, writing you bring that thing back up. And you’re immediately back where you were. Even if whatever that is was resolved, you could always remember the way you felt in the moment that you created that thing. And I think that’s what’s that’s what’s so unique and helpful. I have like, certain songs and certain paintings and stuff that I look at. And it reminds me of a time in my life, and no matter how happy or how sad I am, it can just flip me, because I have an association with it. I think that’s a pretty cool thing.
Do you relive the emotions in a song each time you perform it?
No, some nights, more than others. Last night, I was doing ‘amelia’, which is a song on the project, it’s the closing song, it’s a very emotional song. In rehearsals, I can sing it and be regular old me. But there’s something about being on stage. And seeing all these people that resonate with the song and feel the song and are hearing it live for the first time that makes you feel like you’re singing it live for the first time. And you see how that song makes them feel? And you feel for them. So, like, you know, I see people crying and I’m like, fuck, I’m gonna cry now. Like, get that lump in her throat, which is what happened to me last night. And I was like, Oh, my God, am I really gonna like cry right now on stage? I’ve sang the song a million times, but you see how people react. And you rememberthat’s why you wrote that song to have people listen to that song and be like, ‘I have an Amelia in my life. I have that person. I am that person. I know that person’, whatever it is. They give that song a different life than I you know, wrote it for if that makes sense. That’s pretty awesome.
There’s so much strength in sharing something so vulnerable. Are you comfortable with that feeling now?
Yes, I think you get more comfortable over time. I mean, I was like at the beginning I was so scared for my parents to hear my songs because it was like, these are things I never spoke to you about. But then as it goes on, you’re just like fuck it! Fuck whatever anybody’s thinking bout me, this is going to resonate with people. If this song was written before I had written it, I would have had that same sense of catharsis listening to the song that others will get from my song, you know?
Which track from the album resonates with you the most right now and why?
Right now? I would say maybe ‘not my friend’. When it becomes cloudy and dark, I become moody. I mean, I’m a 20 year old, I’m a moody gal [laughs]. But right now, it’s just like feeling maybe you’re not enough, feeling a little down. Feeling like you need some intimacy and love that you can’t really get. I feel like I’m resonating with that right now. Because sometimes, when you’re on tour, the times that you’re not playing a show, it’s very easy to start feeling very lonely. And I think that would be why I resonate with that. It’s been six months of that, and I’m starting to feel a little bit lonely, maybe isolated.
A key theme on the album is self-image. How do you see yourself?
I think it changes all the time for me – how I see myself. Sometimes it could change multiple times in the day. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you suck’. And then sometimes I’m like, ‘You’re great. You’re doing great. You’re trying your hardest, that’s awesome’. Right now, me and me, we have a complicated relationship. I’m trying to sort that out.
You’ve just come off the back of a North America tour too, which you said was “life changing”. Can you expand on that?
I think for a lot of reasons. Being put in a room with a group of people that share something in common is pretty incredible. And to have people that would have sat with my music and know every word to every song, it’s shocking, because you can’t see that unless you’re at a show being like, I guess this song resonates more with people than I thought it would. It’s kind of cool to see what people find comfort in. Meeting a lot of these people, they remind me of myself. And you meet so many cool, interesting people that otherwise you would have never met. You see a lot of places. It’s the most hands-on way you can interact with these people and understand them, which is so cool. And I feel like you begin to understand a lot. Life changing, I think.
We’re approaching a new year. What are you hoping 2023 will bring?
I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. Hopefully be able to reach more people that maybe need to hear what I’m saying. Enjoying it and meeting these lovely people. And just having having a good time doing it.
‘Dear Amelia’ is out now.
Words: Aimee Phillips // @aimeephillips94