Lowell on ‘Bloodthirsty’ Horror Flick and EP, Feminism & More
Lowell’s career can only be described as multifaceted.
The Calgary, Toronto and Los Angeles-based musician has spent most of the past decade writing songs, both for herself and for today’s rising pop stars. She rose to prominence with her debut in 2014 We liked her very much, filled with progressive feminist and LGBTQ + anthems. While still writing her own music, she has also established herself as a powerful double-platinum songwriter, writing songs for Bülow, Tate McRae, as well as ten colossal songs for Madison Beer’s debut album, Life support.
Now she’s added another notch to her belt, co-writing the horror film Bloodthirsty. She also wrote an accompanying EP, Sanguinaire (music from the film). Both are expected to drop this Friday.
Check out her haunting ballad “Greta’s Song (I Love You To Death)” from the new EP, which Complex Canada premieres.
Bloodthirsty follows the evolution of Gray, a freelance singer, transforming into a werewolf as she records her second album. The film was written by an all-female creative team, an experience Lowell found liberating. “A lot of times when you have these gatekeepers who don’t fully understand you, it’s going to diminish the quality of your work,” she tells us.
She says this creative team, which includes her mother, Wendy Hill-Tout, has bolstered her ability to write strong female characters. “Gray, for example, is this really complex character. It is imperfect. She is powerful. She is desperate. She transforms. It is that beast, but it is also the prey of another person. All of these things are really complicated, and I think it’s okay. I think that makes a real human, and that’s what we lack in the movie: real humans who are women.
Lowell’s sound has evolved over the years from buzzing indie pop with brilliant synths to more contemporary pop. These clearly evolved piano ballads blend perfectly with her wide vocal range, making it extremely difficult not to imagine her writing these songs while sitting in front of a piano.
“For me, it’s always about the person first. Let’s say sex sells itself in a song, but if that person doesn’t want to sing about sex, then they shouldn’t have to sing about sex.
When writing songs intended for Sanguinaire (music from the film), she was able to adapt to Gray’s evolution, making the EP a mix of sucking sweet pop and sultry grunge-inspired transformations, best seen on the eponymous track “Bloodthirsty”. As Lowell was so closely involved in the process of creating the film and the music for Bloodroot, she created the perfect environment to showcase her ability to write immersive songs in many different contexts.
The EP contains all the songs she herself released since her 2018 album lone wolf, which served as a bridge between his two styles of writing. She shifted her focus away from releasing her own music for a few years to focus on her other songwriting efforts, cementing this stylistic shift. In doing so, she rediscovered what it means to be an artist in an ever-changing music industry.
“When I was 12 or something, I knew I wanted to be a musician. I went to turn on mics, played songs for people, and played. I’ve always been a performer and that’s always what I wanted to do. But at one point the world just got away from what that meant to me, so I had to do a lot of soul-searching about it.
While platforms like TikTok have the ability to make songs go viral within hours, Lowell is not interested in dancing and performing in that title herself. “What I realized as a pop songwriter is that I can really be an artist, as I believe I am artists. I can sit in a studio everyday and create art, and I can reflect on life and make it a song that touches people. For me, that’s what I’ve always thought of being an artist, and I don’t really have to do all of these other things. It doesn’t make me happy at all.
That’s not to say that Lowell doesn’t have a lot of respect for artists who use TikTok to their advantage, especially since some of the songs she wrote have gone viral because of it. “You used to write songs to be on the radio, I write songs to try to get on TikTok. It’s a different style of writing, for sure.
That respect spills over to the TikTok stars she wrote for and who cares deeply, many of whom are young women. By drawing on her own experiences as a young woman in the studio, she hopes to give her collaborators autonomy over the music they make. “For me, it’s always about the person first,” she explains. “Let’s say sex sells itself in a song, but if that person doesn’t want to sing about sex, then they shouldn’t have to sing about sex. I don’t know if some people can have that sensitivity in the room if they don’t understand what it’s like to be a young girl in a studio.
As well as being an advocate for women both on set and in the studio, Lowell has externally protested against Canada’s sex work laws for years. In 2015, she released a documentary with Vice on the recently implemented Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. This bill has recently returned to the public eye because 25 groups representing sex workers have launched a legal challenge against.
For Lowell, this shows that more protections are needed for sex workers across Canada. “Manufacturing [sex work] more illegal in some ways does not help anyone. It just makes it dangerous for sex workers and costs lives. Unfortunately, this is a small problem for most people, which I have always tried to change. This younger generation seems to have a better understanding of humans as a whole. “
She also underlines the importance of intersectionality when talking about feminist issues: “I hope sex workers’ rights can be an issue we talk about more, especially because it mainly applies to people of color. , and it’s a question of women. These are things that people get excited about, but for some reason people can’t see why this is talking about sex workers as well. In the same way that white feminists find it hard to talk about black feminism, but they don’t understand that this is all a problem. You cannot be a feminist and not support black feminist issues.
Despite this, Lowell believes things are slowly changing and his experience working on Bloodthirsty is indicative of this. “I saw how liberating it was to work with a group of women and to work with queer women. You know, everyone, even the actors, was weird. I think it felt a bit like a progression, even though it was just in my tiny little bubble of a world.
Watch the trailer for Bloodthirsty below.