The Cover Story

LØLØ: “I’m either heartbroken or anxious! There is nothing else”

With the release of falling for robots and wishing i was one, LØLØ has delivered one of the best debut records of 2024. Here, the Toronto pop-punk talks about the journey she’s been on to make it – from heartache and mental breakdowns, to hanging out with Green Day and tackling online trolls head on… 

LØLØ: “I’m either heartbroken or anxious! There is nothing else”
George Garner
Megan Winstone

Lauren Mandel was 16 years old the first time she experienced an unscheduled romantic disintegration. She met the guy through work. He was older. She had big dreams for the relationship. He didn’t. It fucking sucked.

“I thought we were in love, that we were gonna get married,” she sighs. “He was way older and he was like, ‘You’re too young for me; actually, I’m embarrassed to bring you around my friends.’ And looking back, he should have been embarrassed (laughs). I get it now. I understand. But yeah, that first heartbreak was hard.”

Fortunately for Lauren, all was not in vain. For a couple of years, she had been developing a remarkable defence mechanism, something that has since turned her into one of the most exciting new rock stars on the planet. Long before she became known as LØLØ, and prior even to aforementioned work dude breaking things off, Lauren had been penning songs. Galvanised, she emerged from her first break-up with one called Dear First Love. A second one soon followed. Then another.

“I wrote so many songs!” she howls. “Thank God, none of them really saw the light of day.”

All of this, LØLØ recounts from the comfort of her bed. Hey, it’s one way to conduct your first Kerrang! Cover Story interview.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m doing this in my pyjamas,” she grins.

It’s 8:30am at her family home in Toronto, so no offence taken. Propped upright against her bed’s headboard, her legs swaddled in sheets, she cuts a friendly, relaxed figure – at various times she’s either showing off her custom Looney Tunes mug, Deathly Hallows arm tattoo or the contents of her iPhone notes. The charming, laidback aura she exudes belies the fact that she’s actually kinda freaking out. LØLØ is currently experiencing that nerve-shredding moment all artists must one day face.

“You only get to release a debut album once, oh God!” she exclaims, her eyes widening behind her black rimmed glasses. “It’s a lot of pressure.”

The truth is the self-proclaimed “lovechild of Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift” needn’t worry. Having already impressed with a procession of killer EPs and singles, her debut record, falling for robots and wishing i was one, marks her ascension into pop-punk’s big leagues. Consisting of 15 riotous, razor-sharp tracks, they portray LØLØ as both hopelessly romantic and romantically hopeless. Riddled with lacerating, often hysterical lyrics, a song like 2 Of Us establishes her as the high-priestess of heartbreak, albeit one equipped with weapons-grade sarcasm.

Don’t worry darling, you still make me wet,’ she sings to her ex, before delivering a barbed addendum. ‘When tears roll down my eyes onto my cheeks onto my chest.’

Yet what truly separates LØLØ from her peers is her Rivers Cuomo level of rigorous self-deprecation and interrogation. She appears in her own lyrical crosshairs every bit as much as her decommissioned soulmates.

“Sometimes I’m like, ‘Am I ruining my life just for the plot? Just for the song?’” she offers. “I self-sabotage. I mean, I wrote, ‘I kill everything I’ve ever loved’ [on the 2021 song Death Wish] and I don’t want to manifest that, but sometimes it really does feel like that. I’ve definitely ruined good things, good relationships that were perfect, so I know that I’m not perfect either. I’ve had a lot of assholes, but I guess I’ve also been the asshole unintentionally.”

Depression. Anxiety. Social grace, or lack thereof. All of this and more animate her lyrics. One key song on her debut, wish i was a robot, starts with the piercing line: ‘I didn’t eat dinner, I wanna be thinner / Sometimes I think I’m ugly, other times I’d love to fuck me.’ It’s a brave thing, indeed, to address self-esteem and body issues so boldly…

“I was sitting in LA in my apartment after not eating dinner, and feeling like I was fat,” she recalls. “Lately, I’ve been super-honest in my lyrics and I just felt like, ‘Oh, I don’t need to edit this, whatever – I’m sure people can relate.’”

Which was all well and good until she had to watch people listening back to the song.

“I had meetings with Spotify and Apple Music and they’re like, ‘Let’s hear your single,’” her face barely concealing her cringe as she recalls it. “I pressed play and was like, ‘Oh, God, they probably think I’m so fucked.’ I couldn’t look them in the eye when they were reacting to me singing, ‘Sometimes I think I’m ugly, sometimes I would like to fuck me.’ I was just like, ‘Argh! This is so honest! These are really deep, dark parts of myself.’ This album is such a purge of all of my emotions.”

The picture emerging here is of a pop-punk superstar in-waiting, albeit with an introvert’s nature. LØLØ is coolness personified onstage, but also posts about playing board games like Shark-opoly. She wants nothing more than to tour the world, but also sorta wishes she had more time to stay in bed watching The Vampire Diaries. A gentle, empathetic soul, yet one that has no qualms about gleefully destroying online trolls.

It’s time to get to know the pop-punk sensation feeling everything all at once…

Before she wanted to become a rock star, Lauren dreamed of being one thing. Or rather, one person.

“I wanted to be Shirley Temple,” she says, explaining how watching the films of the all-singing, all-dancing child star of the 1930s with her grandad turned into a fixation. “I was obsessed.”

Her mum enrolled her in acting and dance classes. By 2006, her sights were set on one day being cast as Elphaba in her favourite play Wicked. So, why are we talking to a music artist today and not a Broadway star?

“Tap was the only dance I was actually good at,” she explains, before teeing up a classic LØLØ demolition job of a self-appraisal. “With tap you could look like a fucking loser but all the other dances you have to look cool… And I looked like a fucking loser!”

She promptly threatens to dig out a video of her teen self dancing to Sk8er Boi while dressed in full Avril Lavigne vest, cargo pants and tie cosplay.

“When I was writing songs, that’s when I knew I wanted to be an artist”

LØLØ reflects on who she was when she first started writing music

It was a guitar teacher named Elliott that changed the trajectory of LØLØ’s life in Ninth Grade. Not only was she learning songs by her favourite band Green Day, she had found someone who believed in her.

“You should really explore writing your own songs,” Elliott said.

He may as well have asked her to pet a funnel web spider. 
“Zero chance,” she replied.

The issue was that LØLØ was deeply in tune with her feelings via habitual diary writing. And no-one else was getting near the contents of her mind. No, like, seriously…

“I grew up with very, very invasive parents that would come into my room all the time,” she laughs. “I would write in the diary to let my feelings out, but I was so scared that anyone was going to read it that I would rip the pages out and throw them away. Eventually, I just had all these empty diaries!”

What LØLØ hadn’t anticipated was Elliott’s masterful retaliatory move.

“Well, I’m not coming back unless you try writing one song,” he said.

Touché. Unable to bear the idea of losing those sacred guitar lessons, she stepped up.

“I tried to write a song,” she recalls. “I remember sitting on my bed writing one, and then I ended up writing six that night because I was obsessed with it. I felt like I was Taylor Swift.”

The first official entry in the LØLØ canon was It’s Hard To Dream With A Broken Heart. At our request, K! is treated to an a capella rendition, which is delivered with hella face cringing from its creator.

It’s hard to dream with a broken heart / It’s hard to breathe when you’re falling apart,’ she sings. ‘It’s hard to laugh, it’s hard to smile / But the worst part of it all, it’s hard to think of you at all.’

Suddenly, she stops.

“I can’t believe I rhymed ‘all’ with ‘all’!” she deadpans.

Repetition aside, she had a gift, one that would – when supercharged by a few real-life heartbreaks – eventually help her find a mass audience during the chronically online days of the pandemic. She hopped on the TikTok trend of re-writing Plain White T’s Hey There Delilah from Delilah’s perspective and got 200,000 views. Then she did the same with Taylor Swift’s Betty. Soon LØLØ was zig-zagging between Toronto and LA doing writing sessions and wound up signed to Hopeless Records. And to think, all of this because a guitar teacher called her bluff.

“I love Elliott so much,” she says. “But my dad hates him.”


“He really wanted me to be a lawyer, he just had it in his head.”

Never say never, maybe once you knock this punk rock shit out of the park you can try that?

“Yeah, I’m gonna take my LSAT after this,” she chuckles. “No, I don’t think so.”

The one constant during this period of change was finding a way to translate heartache into pop-punk par excellence.

“I remember my manager used to always be like, ‘Write something else besides heartbreak!’ and so I would write The Floor Is Lava,” she says. “Then he was like, ‘Write something else apart from being anxious!’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, what else is there? I’m either heartbroken or anxious! There is nothing else.”

That idea reached its apex with falling for robots and wishing i was one. LØLØ’s debut’s title and artwork are informed by her enduring adoration of The Wizard Of Oz and Wicked. Over the years, she noticed a parallel between Dorothy encountering the Tin Man on the yellow brick road and her own penchant for falling for heartless dudes. Album closer u & the tin man spells it out plainly: ‘The Tin Man and you are exactly the same / Except he’s actually looking to fill up that space in his chest.’ Also lurking within the album title, however, is a speck of jealousy. She doesn’t just fall for robots, she envies how impervious they are to emotion. She’s sometimes undertaken some drastic measures to quit feeling so much.

“I didn’t have a problem killing her,” she says, explaining the lyrics behind one particularly intriguing song. Typically, words as unrepentant as this come from a serial killer in their final interview before execution, rather than a friendly pop-punk sipping from a Looney Tunes mug. It turns out LØLØ had to murder some old versions of herself to get here today. It’s what her track kill the girl is about. So, why did the old LØLØ have to die?

“The girl in that song was hung up on a guy – don’t ask me why, literally, I didn’t even date him, but I was thinking about him constantly!” she explains. “She wasn’t so much nice as she was more, like, pathetic. It was so embarrassing, I wrote so many songs about him. But after I wrote Kill The Girl? Fun fact: I really did kill the girl! I never thought about him again. It actually worked, weirdly. Normally, when you’re like, ‘This is the last time I ever write about you!’ it’s not. I killed the girl!”

From the outside looking in, it certainly seems that the line separating Lauren Mandel ‘the real person’ and LØLØ ‘the artist’ in her lyrics is growing precariously thin…

“It’s weird,” she begins. “Sometimes I feel like I’m Hannah Montana, because I’m LØLØ and I’m Lauren. Those lines are blurred. I used to be more Lauren than LØLØ, and then recently, especially with spending so little time at home in Toronto, I’m more LØLØ. It’s definitely hard to balance it. They’re both me. I guess LØLØ’s just a more exaggerated version of myself and so sometimes Lauren just feels boring or not full. I just have to try to remember that we are the same person – and we all want the best for me!”

These have not been the only lessons, either. There’s much more to becoming a rock star than flambéing your exes and writing massive choruses. Especially when you feel things as deeply as LØLØ does…

It was, by any stretch of the imagination, a remarkable confession that LØLØ gave Kerrang! back in April as she unveiled her debut. At pains to prove just how much more sensitive she is compared to the average person, she recounted a story from her childhood.

“I should not even say this publicly!” she admitted. “But as a little kid I would steal twist ties from grocery stores because I thought they were real and had feelings. I would take them home and made them a bed and outfits – all for twist ties, for fruit! I really think Toy Story fucked with me.”

Today she regales us with more stories, like how she needed to “zap” her stuffed animal’s brains whenever she left it alone in the car so “it had no memory of me leaving”.

“It was maybe in my 20s that I finally was like, ‘Okay, I’m not a kid anymore so this is a little weird – inanimate objects aren’t real!’” she shrugs.

That’s not to say that that sensitivity has been diluted in the present.

“Another part of the reason why I named my album falling for robots and wishing i was one is that in LA we have Uber Eats robots that walk around and deliver food to your house.”

You didn’t move in with one, did you?

“I’m dating one! The wedding is in June!” she jokes. “They all have names, and I take a picture of all the ones I’ve seen and keep a list on my phone called Robots Collection. I used to catch Pokémon; now I catch robots.”

LØLØ proceeds to get her phone out and show K! by scrolling through all the robot names she’s collected.

“Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to be as a mother,” she says. “Are my kids gonna be fucked up, like, ‘Mom, why is my sister a twist tie?’ God forbid!”

This hyper-sensitivity is important because, to state something obvious: LØLØ is a solo act. Bands typically get to share the weight of the work, pressure, attention, love and hate. That LØLØ squares up to all of this by herself was never by choice. She dabbled in groups in the early days, but never to the point of playing shows. One time she fell in love with a band member, but it fizzled out after they went on a date (“I got the ick”). But the real reason LØLØ is solo is much more… LØlonely.

“The reason I’m not in a band is just because I don’t know anyone to be in a band with! Or I didn’t in Toronto anyways,” she explains. “There was just no-one. I would have loved to be in one…”

The solitary path has not always been easy. LØLØ still remembers a one-hour 20-minute walk home from a session and having “a mental breakdown”. She called her mum to tell her she was “quitting music”. At the end of the very same walk she found out her song had just been added to radio in Toronto. She quickly came out of retirement.

As her profile has grown, the pressures have multiplied. One accelerant in LØLØ’s career has been her hilarious online presence. She prides herself on engaging with fans, but lately it’s getting harder to do that as their numbers swell.

“Fans have said to me, like, ‘Are you mad at me? Is everything okay?’ because I used to really have so much more time to answer people,” she says.

This is possibly the only exchange today where she has no zingers to hand.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not mad at anyone – I’m obsessed with you guys!’ It’s hard.”

How do you deal with that, then?

“I don’t even, I literally just get so stressed out and go under my covers.”

At least LØLØ fares better at tackling online trolls alone. Taking men to task in songs is, of course, like ringing the dinner bell for certain testosterone bros determined to take offence at anything. You know the type.

“I get the craziest messages from shitheads,” she says. “People are commenting the most insane shit, like, ‘Women should have no rights.’”

Fortunately, she knows how to deal with them. Sometimes she digs into their profiles and replies by tagging their wives with a ‘Is this your husband?’ comment.

“When someone is hating on me, I have to reply, ‘Well, I fucked your dad.’ I can’t help it. My manager’s like, ‘This isn’t good for you, this isn’t healthy!’ And I’m like, ‘I have to answer.’”

“My songs aren’t mine anymore – they’re everybody’s”

Hear LØLØ on the range of emotions she’s going through as she prepares to release her debut

LØLØ has also experienced gender inequality first-hand. She loves touring with guys, that is no issue for her (“It’s like I have a million older brothers that are watching out for me”). But there are instances where she sees double-standards operating...

“A lot of the time, I definitely feel, ‘Oh, why did they get added to this festival and not me? Oh, yeah, there were no new female rock people added – it was just males!’”

She ponders this some more.

“Actually, you know what? It is shitty. It is harder [for women]. One hundred per cent. People always are gonna judge. Whenever I start a tour, people are like, ‘Oh, LØLØ, she’s gonna be this fucking pussy on tour,’ or whatever – which, don’t get me wrong, I am a pussy! But I always end up surprising people. I feel like women need to really show [the audience and the bands on tour] that they can rock the hell out and only then they’re like, ‘Okay, we respect you.’ But it’s like, ‘Well, why didn’t you think I was cool from the get-go?’”

It’s one question of many she has. Indeed, if falling for robots and wishing i was one is riddled with something that isn’t heartache, anxiety and earworms, it’s rhetorical questions. This is why, to close things, K! decides to turn some of the questions LØLØ poses on the lyrics to OMG back to her, just to see if she’s reached any conclusions since recording it.

Am I fucking weird, or am I funny?’ you sing – are you any closer to the answer?

“Lately a lot of people have been telling me I’m funny, so I would like to accept that as reality,” she smiles.

You also ask, ‘Will I ever be as cool as Green Day?’ Well, will you?

“No, I don’t think so,” she says. “I don’t think that’s possible. Even though I met Green Day, and they told me that I was cool, but that was before I wrote that. I met Billie [Joe Armstrong] and Mike [Dirnt] at a bar in LA randomly, I ended up hanging out with them all night and the next day, Billie DMd me saying, ‘I checked out your music, I really liked Junkie!’ I was like, ‘I can die now.’”

You also sing ‘Does anyone truly love me?’ – has all of the affection from fans around the world done anything to replace all the love you lost in writing your debut?

“It’s funny because on my last tour, when I would sing that question, two fans would yell back, ‘We do!’” she says. “They don’t know this, but it actually brought me so much fucking joy. It’s my favourite thing. In my head, I’m like, ‘Please never stop doing that!’ So yeah, I’m definitely feeling the love now.”

So, maybe, just maybe, you’ve got better at going easier on yourself since you wrote the album?

“No,” she laughs, before she gets ready to get out of bed. “But I’ve definitely got better at caring less. But then again… there’s still those moments that you do really care, and those are tough.”

She takes one final moment to ponder the life and times of LØLØ.

“I’m medium-better!”

LØLØ’s falling for robots and wishing i was one is out June 7 via Hopeless Records

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