She’s 18, lives in the UK and is half-Maltese. A living example of how to use the social media effectively and build up one’s profile, Lauren Aquilina’s official Facebook page has soared to more than 25,000 likes in the space of just two years, which is really not bad going for a teen who started out making music at a very young age, tinkling away on an old piano at her parents’ home.

Her music, of course, plays a big part in the way she has gone from being a virtual unknown to an in-demand singer-songwriter with an international fan base that just keeps on growing.

This is all the more remarkable when one considers her success has come with no prime time radio support, no lavish public relations campaign, no television talent show and no record label – it really is all about the music.

With two EPs to her name – her latest, Sinners was released just last week, getting to number five on the main iTunes chart within an hour of being released – the young, rising starlet speaks here of her Maltese connection and her love of music, ahead of her Maltese debut with a live performance on the main stage at the Farsons Great Beer Festival on Wednesday night.

Can you introduce yourself for the benefit of our readers?

Hi, I’m an 18-year-old singer-songwriter from the UK. I’m half-Maltese and have spent pretty much every summer since I was born in Malta and Gozo with my dad and visiting my relatives.

I started writing poetry when I was eight years old, and after our neighbours gifted us their old piano, I became fascinated by it, learnt to play it and started to write songs. I haven’t stopped since.

The music you’ve shared with the world so far has a lot of depth and quite a mature ring to it for an 18-year-old. What inspires you to write such touching, at times poignant, songs?

I’ve always been quite mature for my age. I tend to write about personal experiences as well as things that happen in the lives of my friends and family. I think honesty is really important in songwriting, so I rely on my own life to influence me really.

Were you expecting your music to make such an impact and attract such a widespread international following after you posted it on the internet, and how are you dealing with the success?

No, I didn’t expect it at all. I’d been putting music on the internet for two years, before it really began to take off very quickly, so I guess it’s been building up for a long time.

I put out the first EP, Fools, in October last year, just so that people would have something to listen to, but the reaction to it was insane. It hasn’t changed me or my lifestyle particularly. I still consider myself to be really normal.

I’m really excited to see how the Maltese people respond to my music as they’ve been so supportive online

Earlier this year you recorded Wanderlust for Comic Relief, which was quite a significant opportunity. How did that come about and what was the outcome of that extra exposure?

It was my idea to release a song for charity, as I’ve done it before for The Meningitis Trust and wanted to continue to use the little following I have towards a good cause.

I also knew there was going to be quite a wait between the first and second EP due to my academic commitments, so doing that one song was a great way for me to put out something new, without it distracting too much from my exams.

Again, the Wanderlust video was received way better than I could have ever expected; it was really nice to see so many people get behind it.

You seem to be quite tuned in to how to use social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to your advantage. Was it all by chance or did you have a plan the first time round, and how useful was it in the run-up to releasing your second EP?

Thank you… on Facebook and Twitter, I think the key is honesty. There’s obviously a little bit of a plan in terms of hyping up releases and stuff, but I post pretty much just as a normal teen would. I think people like that, they relate to it.

The best thing about social media for me is being able to personally thank the people who have supported me and really get to know them. It’s been so rewarding, and is probably one of my favourite things about the whole process.

You’ve mentioned that apart from your parents’ record collection, you’re also inspired by dance/techno music. Do these influences blend into your songs?

Definitely! I grew up listening to a lot of dance music and still do now. I love the euphoric, atmospheric sound it generates. I think you can definitely hear the influence in my music, as I often use very simple melodies and a lot of synth-based sounds.

I had some remixes done for the first EP and would love to do the same with this one, as it’s really interesting to hear different people’s interpretations of a song you wrote.

Your new EP Sinners was released just last Monday. What can you tell us about it?

Yes, it’ a lot bigger all round, in that the songs show off my voice more, they’re even more honest and the production is bigger. Yet I hope it still carries the same fragility that the first EP did.

Further to your Malta gig, what else is planned for the rest of this year in terms of touring, releases and breaking new markets?

I have some more British music festivals lined up, as well as a headline show in New York, which I’m very excited about. After that, I have my UK headline tour in September and then I hope to start writing and recording for the next release. It’s all go from here with no stops really, so it’s a good job that I love what I do!

You’ll be playing to a Maltese audience for the first time in a few days’ time… any particular expectations?

I’ve never actually been to the Beer Festival but I’ve heard about it. I’m really excited to see how the Maltese people respond to my music as they’ve been so supportive online. Malta always feels like home for me; I can’t wait!

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us