We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Bradley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Laura, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
1a. Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?

As it turned out, pursuing an artistic career was not an option; it was the only logical choice. I graduated from Florida International University with a degree in Political Science, specializing in ancient medieval philosophy, which makes for fun cocktail party conversation and absolutely nothing else. My intent was to pursue Law School, but while in University, I spent my weekends singing at weddings, bar mitzvahs’, fundraisers and performing in theatrical productions. At some point I was earning an income as a full-time singer working in bands and beginning to write songs. Law school seemed like something far off into the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked a few jobs that were not artistic in nature to supplement income, but my heart and soul were invested in performing, creating art and sending it out into the world. Once I made peace with the fact that I am an artist and nothing could ever take the place of life as a musician, I never looked back.

1b. Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?

My work/life balance is probably what I am most obsessed with on a day-to-day basis because I have chosen an artistic career. I’m cut from a fairly type A cloth, but needing to always be writing and recording an album or rehearsing a show. Even when I worked at a bank during college, I wanted to rearrange all my colleagues’ office furniture, paint the oh-so white walls a bright color and hang art. My co-workers wanted to lock me in the supply closet. It’s really much better for everyone that I am in a fully artistic field. If I worked in the corporate world or at a trade, there’s a chance I could turn off the job at the end of the day and turn my focus elsewhere, but as an artist, there are no “days off” in the classic sense of the word. You’re always in creative mode whether or not you’re composing or performing. I step away from the piano at a certain point, but I’m still thinking about what I just wrote long into the night and if a different lyric, melody note, chord or key would be a better option. What I’ve now discovered in attempting some kind of balance is that as hard as you try to stuff all your priorities into one basket, something won’t fit. You may be in harmony with your body, your nutrition, your sleep and your family, but your song research has gone out the window, or there’s not enough time to get to the gym. I’ve embraced the “almost-everything-is-in-balance” philosophy now and have found that not attempting everything everyday is what works best for me. I don’t run or hit the gym every single day, nor do I compose or practice everyday. I split up my creative writing, composing and singing days with desk days and vocal rest days.
Over time I’ve found that I really enjoy my songwriting and studio work so much more when I put them on the schedule and show up for them. I look forward to the sessions and have let go of six tons of useless guilt that I use to carry around for not “tending” to my flock of songs. I’ve spent my entire life trying to master the perfect balance, and all it took was the calendar on my laptop to put me on a schedule.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
4a. Please tell us more about your art. Our art is the culmination of the music, videos, live performances and brand we’ve created together as The Longing, my beloved band. We are an LA-based symphonic prog-metal rock band whose members are all formally trained and seasoned musicians. Our art grew out of a million hours of rehearsals and a burning desire to perform this music. Planning and shooting as many concept story videos as we could afford without starving is the way we connect with our fans and puts our artistic stamp on the sound.

Every member of The Longing is stellar in their craft, which makes us work all the harder together and push each other up this mysterious musical mountain. We each have a very diverse musical background that contributes to our unique sound. We all share music school experiences and the influences of rock, pop, metal, jazz and classical music from performing in other bands and our listening preferences.

Somewhere along the way while I was composing the music to our debut album, Bleed, I would sit at the piano and envision a much harder sound for the songs I was writing. I didn’t feel at home solely in the purely hard rock or metal world, so I couldn’t put my finger on what I wanted. Would it be possible to create the hard-driven sound that I wanted with our band, my compositional style and my soprano vocal floating above it all? John and Michael instantly knew the sound for The Longing. They pointed the band in the direction of an epic, movie-theme, progressive metal sound with an enormous amount of hybrid orchestral elements. By the time we began recording our sophomore album, Tales of Torment, we felt were fully in the fast lane with my compositions, John’s incredible arrangements and the particular orchestral feel that we had been searching for. The new form emerging from the clay and became our art.

4b. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others,

I don’t think it’s cool to attribute certain things to oneself, that it’s better to let others say it about you, but I’m going to do it anyway. I think what sets us apart from others, is that for better or worse we just don’t sound like any other band. We fit into genres of hardrock, metal and symphonic metal for gig lineups and radio airplay, but most folks are hard-pressed to liken us to specific bands. I’ll take that. And so we continue down our strange rabbit hole of songs that tell stories, set to

It’s been a remarkable experience to work with band members and producers John Huldt and Michael Wallace. Both were completely nonplussed and dove in feet first. Michael’s experience was deeply entrenched in the prog/rock world, while John’s experience was very much the metal scene and classical orchestration. It really was the perfect combo of influences for our sound. The songwriting lends itself to both the progressive nature and the symphonic aspect as well. To be the hybrid children of Queen and Nightwish would be my fondest dream.

4c. what you are most proud or excited about.

What I am currently most excited about is how I/we’ve spent our time during lockdown. We envisioned a brand new album of covers, so we’ve been recording and releasing as singles with accompanying videos, while I wrote the material for a brand new original album. Never in a million years did I think that I would write 17 songs that tell the tales of those lost to the last year and a half in lockdown. The pandemic made it possible for me to sit at the page or piano and really spend the delicious time on every single note and lyric with no rush or deadline. I’d write and rewrite until I’d eventually come up for air knowing that for better or worse this was exactly the song in its entirety that I wanted. I’m so excited to now be recording the songs and entering the next stage of production. We’re five video shoots into our cover album with our next release, Torture, next month. We’ll resume rehearsals soon for the live show while we record the original album to release in 2022.

4d. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?

I love this question. The answer is practice, study, write, record, and perform. In my case, piano lessons and voice lessons till I die. I’ve been told that I don’t need to study anymore, and with all my heart, I disagree. I think of voice lessons as a chiropractic adjustment for the voice. Get the kinks out, tune up the vocal engine and make sure everything is working well. In that regard I do feel that I’m in a good place vocally and professionally. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been consistent. Knowing you have a project and a deadline is the challenge, and I happen to love every minute of it. I respect my profession, I treat my work in a professional manner and it treats me well in return. Hopefully it will continue to improve with each song, album, gig and the passing years. I’m in it for the long haul.

There’s never been a day where I was able to rest on a particular success and think that perhaps I’ve made it. I’m surrounded by musicians who challenge me to reach higher potential on a daily basis, whereby keeping my ego in check. John and Michael do not sugar coat anything. If they think I can do better, they tell me. After a good sulk, I make room for the changes. Perhaps it attributes to our successful working relationship. At some point my expectations for my abilities have risen and I seek better gigs, better opportunities, better musical capabilities as a singer, songwriter and communicator of musical stories and tales. Once the expectations rise, you can never go back to anything less. Was it easy? No. But then again the world of music is never easy. You have to carve your own niche, climb in and find a way to be happy there. As far as overcoming challenges, I think we learn from every performance, every opportunity and every interaction with those in the industry. Anytime the experience is less than your own self worth, you have to ask yourself if it was worth it. In most cases the answer is no, but without the suck experiences you’d never have reason to raise the bar for the good ones. My goal is not to repeat my mistakes.

4e. What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

I’m not sure if this is lesson or not, but making peace with the fact that you’re not in the music industry for the money puts you on a different path. If you make ends meet, that’s remarkably huge. If you make more than the ends that meet, you’re a rock star, whether or not you’re a household name. Knowing that the daily passion for the work outweighs the outcome would be another way to look at it. I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way, is that the only opinion that counts is your own. Knowing you’ve given your all is what counts, and knowing when you could have done better, despite what the critics or your friends say is also valuable. Your inner voice needs to constantly kick your ass up the mountain, on a daily basis. It’s fair to say you get your moment in the sun to celebrate a successful recording, video or show, but the next day you need to sit back down and work your scales, practice your instrument and write. You’re never “there and done.”

4f. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

I’ll preface your question by saying The Longing, as a band, are a cohesive unit that understand each other’s styles and abilities, strengths and weaknesses in rehearsal and on-stage. I write all of the songs, and The Longing’s guitarist John Huldt, conjures up the arrangements and co-produces with The Longing’s bassist and engineer Michael Wallace. It’s a lovely division of labor and creativity. The last year we’ve done all of our work remotely, recording and sending files back and forth. And it worked unbelievably well.

Whether or not we’re working on a new album, I get up every day and try to make music. I have no idea how the songs will be received, if there will ever be a reward and it’s a risk that every musician takes. But I show up every day. It’s how we as artists live and what we live for. Hopefully our songs communicate familiar tales as old as time, but with a different spin on the arrangements, lyrics and vocals. I need to print a tee shirt that says, “If it’s not an epic theatrical production, I’m not interested.” The best description of our brand is what our fans continuously say, “The music took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting the sound, and I stayed to listen.”
Be still my happy heart.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Easy peasy. I’m a card-carrying “I love Southern California” girl and take advantage of every incredible iconic place in every way I can.

Day one I would definitely start with an early morning workout at my beloved Body Builders gym in Silver Lake, followed by lunch and coffee at Fred Segal’s to gaze at filmmakers and the stars not wearing makeup. Afterward, making the caffeine work for us, hitting the thrift stores on La Brea. Home for a power nap and a soak in the Jacuzzi, followed by cocktails and favorite memories by the firepit and a dinner on the grill.

Day two starts with a run the Silverlake reservoir and brunch at Ivanhoe. A visit to Getty museum followed by a picnic dinner under the stars at The Hollywood Bowl.

Day three gets low-key with an all-day adventure renting a cabana and chaise by the pool at the Fairmont Miramar hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica with cocktails and lunch served poolside. Home for a Netflix and takeout binge.

Day four and five get the adventure groove on with an overnight trip to Palm Springs, with lodging at the gorgeous boutique inn, La Maison, hitting the incredible hiking trails in Indian Canyon, margaritas at the famed Las Casuelas, exploring the post modern architecture and galleries downtown, and dinner at my favorite little French bistro Pomme Frites. Hang poolside the next morning until check out and make the drive to Joshua Tree National Park for a hike before heading back to LA with a late dinner at Bon Vivant in Atwater Village.

Day six deserves a lazy morning with coffee on the veranda and hummingbird watching. An afternoon trip to the Griffith park observatory for a walk about, and home to dress up for an early dinner downtown at Kendalls followed by the LA Opera at the gorgeous Dorothy Chandler Theatre. Intermission includes coffee and chandelier gazing at the crystal studded ceilings of the majestic theatre.

Last day in LA includes an early morning trip to Beachwood Canyon for a hike to the Hollywood sign and breakfast at the Beachwood cafe followed by a leisurely drive up the PCH to get a little salty air and hit the beach at Paradise Cove in Malibu. Last day in paradise topped off by a beautiful dinner under the stars at the Inn of the 7th Ray.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been blessed to be stubbornly tenacious in my life and seek out teachers and mentors on a continued basis. I’ve studied piano, guitar, voice, music theory and just about anything I can take a class in involving music, songwriting and writing in general. When I am asked to teach others, my eyeballs roll back in my head, as I think of myself as a lifelong student with so much more to learn and not a teacher. My dedication and gratitude go to my incredible teachers along the way and the brilliant bandmates whom I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from. My shoutouts go to my longtime piano teacher, Rob Mullins, my vocal coach, Sue Willett, my brilliant bandmates in The Longing: John Huldt, Michael Wallace and Tom Plumb, and my fabulous bandmates in ABBA LA: Christian Klikovitz, Lenny Widegren, Jim Xavier, again Michael Wallace and Lucienne Thomas. I’ve been fortunate to work with the incredible Stacey Taylor of Taylor Entrainment Group as my manager as well as my presswoman Samantha Giannini and my radio promoter Alex Whitcombe.

Website: http://www.thelonging.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TheLongingBand/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLongingBand

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLongingBand

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thelongingband/videos

Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3J4UF90FbjHSeRGrh6ZN0N

Image Credits
Photo Credits: Laura shot 1: Cat Gwynn Miscellaneous shots: 1. Mathias Fau 2. Selfie 3. Cat Gwynn 4. Cheryl Plumb 5. Sound the Groove 6. Mathias Fau 7. Jerry Averill 8. Lindsey 9. Lindsey

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.