At just 18, U.K.-based singer Laurel Arnell-Cullen, known as simply Laurel, was formerly signed to Universal subsidiary First Turn Artists (now part of Warner Bros.). The deal, a product of buzz generated after she’d uploaded a number of songs to SoundCloud, was an overall positive situation. Unfortunately, her youth worked against her––as she matured, so did her sound. “I don’t think I really knew what I wanted to do,” she confesses. “I was surrounded by a lot of pop acts and maybe I wasn’t necessarily like that.” After three years, she decided on a change and the contract was amicably dissolved.
Then lightning struck twice. Now 21 and releasing material via her homebrew label, Next Time Records, she returned to SoundCloud. One of the songs she uploaded, “Life Worth Living,” was markedly different from her previous artistic incarnation. It became a bloggy sensation and that’s when Counter Records contacted the artist via email.
“The staff people seemed really genuine. I got a really good vibe.”
She wasn’t looking to get signed, but this time Laurel was faced with the opportunity to join forces with an indie—a label, incidentally, that is owned by Ninja Tune, the legendary underground vehicle known for acts like Kid Koala and Kelis and whose electronic artists Laurel deeply admires. The label’s staff attended her gigs and the Southampton native reciprocated by visiting the Counter Records offices. “The staff people seemed really genuine,” she attests. “I got a really good vibe.”
The appeal of 50/50 splits proved irresistible, particularly after having previously extricated herself from a 360 deal. The agreement commits her to one EP and two full-length albums.
Recorded in her East London bedroom studio, Laurel’s Counter Records debut EP, Park, was released this past fall. Her first LP with the label is expected in April.
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