"I did not want to romanticize gun violence": Laura Pieri on sanitizing her 'I Will Follow You' music video
Laura Pieri currently resides in New York City and attends New York University as a full-time student
Born and raised in Brazil, Laura Pieri is ready to captivate the United States after being discovered in New York City by Grammy Award Winning producer and writer Cory Rooney, who's worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. Laura’s Latin-pop music is heavily influenced by her Brazilian roots. With idols like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira leading the way for other Latina pop singers, Laura is hoping to make her own mark in the music industry by taking a stand for her beliefs.
Laura currently resides in New York City and attends NYU as a full-time student. As an ethnic student and performer, she fully understands the fear and sensitivity surrounding gun violence.
Last year, Laura released the music video for her single I Will Follow You, which turned out to be an instant hit, with some dubbing her as the next Jennifer Lopez. The music video depicted a modern take on a Bonnie & Clyde-like story.
Following the multiple recent mass shootings across the country, Laura decided to take down the music video to remove the gun violence portrayed. In doing so, Laura put a halt to her music career, realizing it was time for her to call the shots by eliminating the negative impressions left from the initial visual narrative and lending her voice to a cause that has greatly impacted her.
I had the recent opportunity to catch up with Laura to discuss her bold move with the 'I Will Follow You' music video, balancing her college and professional life, her musical roots, upcoming projects and more. Read the full interview below.
Meaww: How does it feel to work with a Grammy-winning producer like Cory Rooney, who’s worked with industry greats like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and others? How did Cory discover you?
Laura Pieri: It's surreal! Beyond unbelievable. Cory has most definitely changed my life. The most amazing thing to work with him is to just learn from him. He has the patience to teach me, which only motivates me to learn more. It's truly a unique and rewarding experience. We met when an acquaintance we had in common introduced us, we began working together and still are.
Meaww: You’re still in college at NYU and you’ve already been touted by some as the next Jennifer Lopez. Is that overwhelming at times?
Laura Pieri: It's overwhelming at all times. NYU is a challenging school and the entertainment industry is a challenging industry. Yet, I have found a passion in both of them. It's important to me to get a college degree, I'd be the first in my family to do so in the United States. So I make it work. I barely sleep and I constantly feel like I am losing my mind. But it's been a great journey until now, I am definitely interested to see where it takes me next.
Meaww: Your music video for the single ‘I Will Follow You’ has an interesting story to it. Initially a Bonnie & Clyde-style heist video, you actually took the video down and edited it after the recent spate of gun violence instances in America. Could you tell us why you felt the need to do that?
Laura Pieri: Well, the Bonnie and Clyde inspiration came from the song itself. That toxic all-consuming love that makes you do anything for someone else, follow them where ever they go, no matter how dangerous. However, after the recent events that took place in February, I came to realize how I was contributing to a dangerous cycle that I did not wish to continue to contribute. I did not want to romanticize gun violence, and we could do without the scene. It was a change worth doing.
Meaww: Do you think the new, gun-free video still stays true to the original meaning and emotion of the song?
Laura: I do! The song is about love, and we don't need guns to communicate that.
Meaww: Do you think the depiction of guns and violence in art, films and music could add to the already tense situation in the country? Or can it be used as an effective tool to educate people?
Laura: I believe that it can be used as dialogue for sure. Yes, Bonnie and Clyde were a criminal couple who got so consumed with each other that it ended tragically. Had the video ended in the same way that the original Bonnie and Clyde did, then I would probably not have edited the video. It would have had a message of caution. As a foreigner, I have an outsider's perspective into the country's tense times. In a time where politics is so clearly divisive, I hope to be an influence of empathy and communication. Hopefully the change in the ‘I Will Follow You’ music video began a conversation, rather than romanticized an already dangerous situation.
Meaww: There is also a strong imagery of social media and the digital age in your music video. What’s your take on the Twitter bombing generation of today?
Laura: It can be a curse or a blessing. I absolutely love the power that Twitter gives me. It allows me to keep up with my fans in ways I don't think my idols were able to. I can see what they're doing on Instagram, they can tweet at me on Twitter and so on. It allows me to stay connected in so many ways, so it's impossible to say it's purely toxic. However, I definitely have times where I need to go on social media detoxes. It's all too much and sometimes all too fabricated. As long as we remember to turn our phones off sometimes, Twitter gives my generation a power to make a stand and speak louder than ever before.
Meaww: What kind of music were you exposed to growing up in Brazil? When did you know that music is your true calling?
Laura: I grew up in a very mixed musical household. My mom is the most musical one. I remember being very young and watching her sing along to the Celine Dion Las Vegas DVD. It marked my childhood. We listened to a variety of styles. I do not think I had a specific moment where I knew it was my true calling. It's just something that's been present in my whole life, and I don't think that I could ever be without it. It's been my passion for as long as I can remember.
Meaww: When can we expect a new single? Any plans of recording an EP soon?
Laura: We are going into the lab this summer to record a bunch of new music so you can most definitely expect a new single from me. We will continue to drop new music for the fans. Quality content is key.
Meaww: You’ve said in past interviews that you would like to collaborate with Zedd. What is it about his music that appeals to you so much?
Laura: I love his energy and the personality that he brings to his music. It's refreshing to see an artist collab as much as he does and maintain such originality. It's something I wish to emulate.
Meaww: What’s next for Laura Pieri?
Laura: I have some interesting things on the horizon. Look out for me performing in a city near you soon, and don’t be surprised if you catch a glance of me on the big screen.