They say that “to err is human, to forgive, divine,” but Lulu Simon isn’t in the mood on “Strangers.” In her new song — which HollywoodLife is lucky to have the first stream – the rising pop star wants to put some distance between her and a former flame. “I don’t want to know / what you’ve been doing / or who you’ve been doing it to / ’cause nothing hurts more than the truth,” sings Lulu, against a groovy 80’s-inspired synth beat that’s so vibrant, you can feel the neon glow while listening to it. It’s a perfect ode to setting boundaries, not because you really want to, but because you know you have to. “Baby, we’re just strangers now / I don’t want to be your friend / I don’t think I know how / Baby, we’re just strangers now / let’s keep it that way,” she sings.
“Strangers,” co-written with her older brother, Ade, is Lulu’s first single since independently releasing her self-titled debut EP in August 2019. It’s also an indication of the bright future ahead of her. Though she comes from a music family – she’s the daughter of music icons Paul Simon and Edie Brickell – Lulu is forging her own path. She talks about the specific romance behind “Strangers” in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife. She also dishes on why she absolutely loves Britney Spears, how she’s grown over the past year, and why she might be the one person most excited for the upcoming Lana Del Rey album.
HollywoodLife: There appears to be a complicated relationship at the heart of “Strangers.” What inspired this song’s creation?
Lulu: I got myself into a “situationship” where I should have known better, and I just let the whole thing make me miserable. I was so insecure and anxious, and really I’m neither of those things. So, I had to remove myself even though I didn’t really want to. It’s like that quote, “let go or be dragged,” and I was absolutely being dragged to filth. It was honestly just as much my bad as it was his, but when he was like “Well, we can still be friends,” I thought, “actually no, I don’t think we can, we’ve never just been friends, I don’t even know how to do that, and I don’t really wanna learn, you hot dummy, either date me or get lost” [laughs] Just kidding, unless…
What drew you to the 80s synth-pop sound for “Strangers”? The sound/vibe at the moment, but what about it is so appealing to you, specifically?
I love the drama of ’80s synth-pop. All of the sounds are so big and reverberated. It makes you feel like you’re in some kind of movie montage. I like music where you hear it, and you’re immediately like ok, I need to be in a convertible driving down the Pacific Coast Highway right now or else.
You’ve said that your first “favorite” song was Britney Spears’ “Lucky.” What was about that song that resonated with you?
As I said, I think it was the drama that drew me in. I LIVE for the drama. Not mine, of course, but anybody else’ s—love it. I also love a good story, and the story of “Lucky?” Amazing. ‘Girl, you’ve got everything, but you still cry cry cry? Why DO these tears come at night?’ The drama! I love her!
You independently released a self-titled EP last year. What would be the biggest takeaway from that? Did you realize the value of total creative control, or how hard it is to get your music out there?
I’m honestly really glad and lucky to have released my EP independently. I think as a songwriter, and as someone who in general has really strong convictions and who is (admittedly) kinda stubborn, it’s so important for me to feel in control of myself and my music and my image. If I make mistakes or missteps along the way, I can sort of just take it on the chin and move forward with a better understanding of how to carry myself and take responsibility for myself. I don’t really like being told what to do or being told what’s “cool.” The most important thing for me is to go with my gut and follow my intuition, and I’m lucky enough to have the resources and wiggle room to do that.
What would you say is the most significant difference between Lulu Simon 2019 and the Lulu Simon of today?
I think the biggest difference between 2019 Lulu and present-day Lulu is the experience. I’d never released music before, never played a show before, never been admired or criticized by people I’ve never met before, never knew how to stand up for myself, or stick to my guns in a way that really mattered before. I’m just learning all the time, writing banger after banger, learning to be confident in calling every song I write a “banger.” Catch me in 2021, finally learning how to dance. Then, I will truly be unstoppable.
You’re following in your family’s footsteps. You’ve worked closely with your brother, but do you consult your parents for any advice? Or do you keep that side of the world separate?
It’s really important to me that I find my own way in the music industry. Both of my parents are extremely supportive and would be there for me should I ever need advice, but I’m enjoying figuring things out for myself, and I feel that’s something I need to do.
Everyone’s doing cover songs during the pandemic. If you were to have an artist put their own unique spin on “Strangers,” which artist would you pick?
I would love to hear a super stripped-down acoustic Phoebe Bridgers cover of “Strangers.” I feel like she could make the song sound so sad, and being sad is fun when you’re not actually actively sad.
Lana Del Rey has a new album coming out. Are you “excited” or “extremely excited” about it?
Ok, I didn’t even know this information, and now I’m freaking out. I’m still crying to a different song off Norman F****** Rockwell every day, so I’d say “extremely excited” is an understatement.
“Strangers” will be released on all DSPs on 9/18.