"I like me better when I'm with you... " I bet you automatically started singing the rest of the lyrics to that incredibly catchy alt-pop track. If you didn't, then you clearly need to go and listen to it! It's a bop. Anyway, the song was such a viral success in 2017 and it got me thinking, who is behind this melodious bop? It's actually an artist by the name of Lauv. So, who is Lauv? And is "Lauv" pronounced like "love?" Well, all those important questions will be answered right here.
He Likes Writing Nostalgic Music
Lauv, whose real name is Ari Leff, is a 25-year-old guitarist that was born in San Francisco, California, and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He started writing love songs in middle school even before he'd been through any sort of heartbreak.
"The first song I can remember [writing at age 13] was called 'Parting Ways,'" he explained to Billboard in February 2018. "But I had never been in a relationship, so I don't really know how that works. For whatever reason, I've always gravitated towards music that feels nostalgic or longing or beautifully tragic." Oh, but it is sweet perfection to my ears.
His Stage Name Means Lion
Lauv probably isn't a name you've heard before, and that's because it's in another language. "Lauv" is kinda pronounced like "loud" with a "V" and it is actually the Latvian word for "lion." In iHeart Radio's Ask Anything Chat in December 2018, Lauv shared how he actually wound up with the pseudonym.
"My real name Ari means 'lion' and I'm a Leo and so I took the Latvian word for lion which is Lauva with an 'a' and I just got rid of the extra 'a.'" His mother is also Latvian so it all ties back to his roots.
He Went Viral Kind Of By Accident
In 2012, Lauv moved to New York City to attend New York University and intern at Jungle City Studio. During that time, he began to focus on writing songs for others. Interestingly enough, in doing so, Lauv stumbled upon his signature sound "kind of by accident," he told TIME in August 2018.
He was writing a midtempo, alt-pop track about heartbreak and figured it was just too special to sell, so he uploaded it to SoundCloud in 2015. "It was my first song where I felt like I couldn't give it away," he told Billboard.
It's a good thing Lauv didn't. The song, called "The Other," became super popular on Hype Machine, a music aggregator that compiles the latest tracks released on blogs by popularity and date. "All of a sudden, instead of me having to reach out to all these labels and publishers, they were reaching out to me," Lauv added. He later signed with Prescription Songs before even graduating from college.
Here's the song that started it all:
He's Gone Platinum
Yes, it's his current hair color, but it's also his wildly popular track "I Like Me Better." It went platinum in six countries, including the U.S. It also hit the No. 27 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly enough, he kind of made this track on a whim, too. In October 2018 he shared how he came up with alt-pop bop with MTV News: "I came in that day and... I had no concept, no lyrics, no idea I was going to write that song. I had just gotten some new synth sounds, and then I threw in this drum loop, and then I got the whole melody." He also recorded part of it on iPhone's voice memos. I guess when greatness strikes you gotta be ready.
Lauv's Already Worked With The Best Of Them
Even with the success of his own music, Lauv is still penning new music for other hitmakers. In 2017, Lauv wrote Demi Lovato's and Cheat Codes' "No Promises" and he appeared as a vocalist on DJ Snake's "A Different Way." That same year, Lauv opened up for the Asian leg of Ed Sheeran's Divide Tour, as well as his Sheeran's North American tour in 2018.
As of Aug. 1, Lauv teamed up with Anne-Marie on a new track called "f*ck, i'm lonely," which is set to appear on the 13 Reasons Why: Season 3 official soundtrack.
At this point, I think it's safe to say if you don't know who Lauv is he's an electro-pop artist that doesn't seem to be going anywhere — except the top of the charts — anytime soon.