Songwriter Profile: Lowell

Canadian singer Lowell is well on her way to go-to songwriter status. Her forthcoming album (Spring 2021) showcases her innate storytelling talent and represents her most vulnerable, intimate lyricism to date.

Lowell’s writing began as a response to the death of a friend at age 14. Her gifts soon became obvious and a graduation song she wrote for her high school choir even played on local radio stations. Today, at 29, she’s a force to be reckoned with, both behind the mic and behind the scenes, demonstrating the truest form of musical artistry in an ongoing quest to push herself to new heights.

With accolades that include double-platinum for “Not a Love Song” performed by Bülow and gold status for “Selfish” by Madison Beer, as well as certified plaques for her work on songs for JoJo, Demi Lovato and Charlie Puth, Lowell’s reputation continues to grow. Her latest personal releases, “God Is a Fascist” and “Lemonade,” have also turned heads––but her journey to such hard-earned praise was far from orthodox.

As a student in the University of Toronto’s music program, she became disenchanted with the prospect of spending years to become a music teacher. She recognized that her real goal was to create and record her own material. Looking back, she confesses that she never really wanted to go to school, but knew that her favorite artists—like Feist, also from Calgary—had moved to Toronto to pursue their music. After performing at open mics, audience members told Lowell that she had something. Much to the horror of her family, she dropped out of school and set a course to record an album, working as a dancer and writing poetry in her spare time to document her experiences.

A Via Railway program (“Artists on Board”) offered free or reduced train fare between Toronto and Calgary to artists who applied with a credible demo. She decided to record something, but there was a catch. The contest required acoustic instruments, so she taught herself to play the ukulele. Her demo was accepted, and she won a free trip home.

An acquaintance in the music industry passed Lowell’s demo to friends, eventually reaching the hands of Manager, Mike Dixon. Dixon forwarded the demo to Swedish producer Martin Terefe, who is also a member of the band Apparatjik. Lowell debuted as guest vocalist with the band, leading to a mini album (2012’s If You Can, Solve This Jumble), for which Lowell wrote all but the title track. Joining the band for a year, she played shows all over Europe. Terefe also lead her to collaborations with Coldplay, A-Ha and Mew, and shepherded Lowell’s first EP, I Killed Sara V, for Arts & Crafts Records in February 2014. A follow up, full-length album, We Loved Her Dearly, arrived in September 2014.

Lowell’s next big step was a 2017 collaboration with Juno award-winning Canadian artist Bülow, writing all three songs on Bülow’s EP, and Lowell’s sophomore album, Lone Wolf, following in October 2018 (also under Arts & Crafts). Toward the end of 2018, having hit a wall following intense touring and promotion, Lowell took a hiatus and began commuting between Los Angeles and Toronto doing songwriting for other artists. With the pressure of her own deadlines gone, writing came pouring out each morning before her scheduled sessions. Lowell explained that the process felt different and more relaxed. “I was just writing out these songs,” she says. “They were really coming from a super honest place. In the past, I would think about what I can get on the radio, or wanting to be cool. [Now] I was just a human with a pen and paper again—kind of like when I was fourteen.” She continued, “You think that people want to hear some perfect song, but the truth is that people just want something honest and it doesn’t always matter if the math lines up.”

As for her best advice, Lowell says, “I really believed in myself and no one was going to tell me otherwise. Even when I failed, I got back up.”

Contact Sarah Avrin, [email protected],