With her new single Liars charting at Number 4 on iTunes, Lauren Aquilina’s star is definitely on the rise. Iggy Fenech finds out how the Maltese-born singer is fast becoming one of the hottest names on the London music scene.

Most of us rarely get to see a rising star. They often appear out of nowhere and take over magazine covers, E! Entertainment and our conversations in an uncontrollable and often addictive manner.

But Lauren Aquilina’s ascent to a world-class singer-songwriter has been different. With no record label and no funding, she broke into UK charts practically overnight with two self-released singles, Fools and Sinners. Now, Liars, her last instalment from the EP trilogy, made it to Number 4 in the main iTunes chart.

The release of Liars, although a major step in the singer’s career, was only one in a series of achievements that have turned this open-mic girl into one of London’s most popular up-and-coming songstresses.

Her first ever UK tour, which took place over February 2013, sold out and her song Sinners reached number 72 on the Official Singles Chart UK Top 100, even though she didn’t have a record label.

“Getting into the UK Top 100 without a record label or any funding was a really proud moment for me, along with playing at the Reading Festival and headlining my biggest show to-date at the O2 Islington Academy in London,” she says.

“That was really special and I couldn’t believe I’d sold out a venue that held almost 1,000 people! To be honest, I still can’t believe anyone would pay to come and see me. I love meeting everyone afterwards too. Being able to say thank you to people in person is a real pleasure.”

Documenting each release of her EP trilogy to a 47,000-strong Facebook following, Lauren has indubitably become a people’s artist in an industry that often feels over saturated.

She has taken her audience and fans with her through the turmoil and joys of turning a dream into reality, and has created a huge following for herself that is based around mutual affection rather than crazy antics.

“At the age of 13, I started doing open-mic nights, and set up my own Facebook and Twitter pages,” explains Lauren. “I forced all my family and friends to like my Facebook page and then eventually it started to grow on its own.”

This is definitely an understatement. Lauren puts as much effort into keeping up with her fans as she does with her music. She often has myriad competitions on the go.

She puts signed, limited edition copies of her EPs up for sale. She holds bonding sessions with her fans - these include picnics and a billboard in central London with the names of some of the people who pre-ordered her latest EP. All have become the norm.

Having said that, Lauren also has a divine voice that belts out the truthful and relatable lyrics in a haunting way. Sharp, to the point and unapologetic, her music is both a therapist and a scornful friend. Her fans have described her music as touching upon something so human that it just feels like she is talking directly to you.

“For me, writing is different every time but it always comes from experience,” says Lauren. “I often start with a word or lyric, as lyrics are often the focal point of the song for me. But that’s not necessarily a rule.

“I’m inspired by things that happen in my life, and also by other music. I grew up listening to bands like Coldplay and Stereophonics. Then, as I developed my own taste in music, I moved on to listening to Bon Iver, Ellie Goulding and Annie Lennox, just to name a few. From the age of eight, I started writing poems and learning the piano, and eventually combined the two together and turned to song-writing.”

Undoubtedly, it was a combination of heartfelt lyrics, gorgeous voice and dedicated fan base (along with hard work and determination) that have contributed to the singer’s on-going success.

A favourite among audiences, on top of sold-out tours all over the UK, she was one of the headliners at last year’s Farsons Great Beer Festival. And although it was her first performance in Malta, the fan base from her father’s native country was an ardent one.

“When I played at the Farsons Beer Festival last year, which is still the biggest audience I’ve ever played to, I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was to me. I’m already looking at coming back over for another show this year. I’m desperate to return as soon as possible.”

This time round, Lauren’s father wants to come with her.

“My dad was born in Malta, which makes me half Maltese and I’m very proud of my surname. I’ve been coming on holiday every year since I was born, so I know the island pretty well. My grandparents and my auntie moved back there a few years ago too.”

As things stand, Lauren’s first EP, Fools, has made her the second most successful artist of Maltese origin of the past two decades, just behind Sharleen Spiteri and her band Texas’s Careful What You Wish For, which was in the top five of the Official UK Top 40 Albums Chart.

“Now that my third and final EP has been released, I think it’s time to start writing an album,” Lauren tells us. “I’d also like to try and do a mini-European tour this year, and as many UK festivals as I can.”

Seems like Lauren’s opened a door into the reality of stardom, and we can’t get enough of it.


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