A Kaleidoscope Of Happiness And Hope: A Conversation With Lauren Daigle

By Darren Tromblay

Lauren Daigle exudes a certain colorful effervescence

Her upbeat, sometimes downright giddy takes on the events of the past couple of years of her life journey are refreshingly full of sparkle and positivity and reveal not an ounce of the stressors of an oncoming 30-date fall headlining arena tour and the simultaneous release of a new, 23-song album two days into it for the two-time Grammy Award winner.

No pressure, right?

“None,” she jokes in a recent phone interview with ListenIowa in advance of her Sept. 29 “The Kaleidoscope Tour” stop at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 

Things haven’t always been this cheery for the 31-year-old Louisiana native in years gone by. She’s been a target. Arrows have been slung. Things have been said and written about her that, in her own words, “were hurtful.” It can be lonely at the top. Right now, though, Daigle is extremely happy with her life and where things are headed.

And that’s what counts.

Since the release of her platinum 2018 album, “Look Up Child,” Daigle has been a mainstay on Christian — and now Pop — charts. When “Look Up Child” debuted at No. 3 on the Top 200 Albums chart, Daigle became the first female artist in history to simultaneously hit the Top 10 on Billboard’s Pop and Christian Album charts. She went on to break another record when the album stayed at No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums chart for an astonishing 100 weeks, the longest period an artist has spent at the top of any album chart. Ever.

Her latest release, a self-titled effort produced by Mike Elizondo (Twenty One Pilots, Mary J. Blige, Fiona Apple, Carrie Underwood) is set to hit the streets on Sept. 8 on her new label, Atlantic Records. Daigle couldn’t more proud of the new record, and is eager for her fans to hear it in its entirety.

“I had so much fun with this record,” she said. “I genuinely love it.”

As for the tour, Daigle said she can’t wait to show her fans this new iteration of herself, her music, and her stage. Accordingly, Daigle also recently announced her continued partnership with KultureCity to create and renovate 17 “sensory rooms” at venue stops on the tour, including one at her Des Moines stop. 

Specially designed by medical professionals, the renovated or refurbished spaces provide dedicated environments for individuals in need of a quieter and more secure environment from which to enjoy events. Each sensory room is outfitted with bean bags from Yogibo, visual light panels by Nanoleaf, activity panels, Sparkle Interactive Light by NunoErin, bubble walls, and a custom tactile artwork created by an autistic artist. In addition, sensory bags will be available at all tour stops for those who might need them.

Daigle took time from her busy schedule to sit down with ListenIowa and discuss the new album and tour, the moment she “knew,” and the joys of getting to make videos with her best friends, amongst other things.

ListenIowa: Congratulations on the upcoming “The Kaleidoscope Tour,” which is kicking off soon. Talk about the preparation it takes for something like this nowadays, Lauren, when it’s your show, your name on the marquee.
Lauren Daigle: We are in the thick of tour rehearsals right now. It’s so fun, honestly. Everyone is practicing and getting with it, and are excited and engaged. It’s going to be real special. Yes, there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of work that goes with it, but I genuinely love it. It’s like I’m a kid in a candy shop. You go in and it’s, “OK, look at these production items, look at these colors. What colors do you want? What do you want to change here?” And then there’s the music, of course, which is everything. It’s a lot of fun. I love it.

LI: And that’s not even getting to most important part, the music. Now that you’ve got some albums under your belt, Lauren, it’s probably getting difficult to pick out a set list anymore for these tours.
LD: It is tough, oh my gosh. We sat down probably four or five months ago, and really went over each song and tried to figure out how we can showcase as much of the new music as possible. So many people have heard “Look Up Child,” and came to that tour, that we wanted showcase as much of the new music as possible but also give them the songs that they have grown with me through. It’s trying to figure out that really sweet balance of all the songs that you want to sing out at the top of your lungs, the ones you want to cry to, dance to, whatever. The ones that you have some connection to previously will be in there. And then there’s the new music to show you the new record. It’s hard to balance that, but it’s fun.

LI: In a “challenging” fun way.
LD: Yes! I love puzzles. I’m a puzzle person. Even this morning, my grandmother was texting me a photo of a puzzle that she had put together with her friends. Putting a set list together is very similar to putting together a puzzle. It’s a lot of, “OK, how do these keys work together? What iterations of this song can we do? Is there a really cool bass part that we can pull out to showcase something unique? It’s ever-evolving. 

LI: Did you see any live performances in your younger years, Lauren, that made you think, “Yeah. That’s what I want to do right there. I want to be that person, and do THAT.”
LD: Oh, so many. I remember being a kid and seeing the Mickey Mouse Club on TV and seeing these kids dance and sing. And then NSYNC came out. I remember telling my mom, “You have to let me stay awake! I know it’s past my bedtime, but I have to see it! (Laughs) And then trying to find a way to sneak out there see it. I also went to this festival called Festival International, which is still one of my favorites to this day. It kind of “made me, me” if you will. We were all there seeing this local artist named Marc Broussard. I remember watching him, and he had this background vocal trio with him called Chic Gamine, who were from Canada. I heard their voices, and was listening to the harmonies and hearing the textures, and I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh. This is perfect. I have to do this forever.” 

LI: How old were you at the time?
LD: I was maybe 10 or 12 years old, and was standing out in the middle of this loud, kind of raucous crowd, and I had tears running down my eyes. I just remember thinking, “This is really hitting me. I have to do this someday.”

LI: As if a new tour isn’t enough, two days after you begin that, you have a new, 23-track, self-titled album dropping on Sept. 8. That’s about as good as it gets.
LD:  Oh my gosh, I worked with a producer named Mike Elizondo, who I can’t sing his praises enough. He’s such a treasure to me. He’s such a good man, and somebody who really understands what it is to work with artists. He allowed a lot of my ideas to come to the forefront and flourish. I remember being in there and hearing different guitar or drum parts and being able to sing the parts off him, and him going, “OK, I love it. Let’s go with this.” It was really such a collaborative effort and has become some of my favorite work I’ve been a part of. It really was one of those things where the music redeemed the time for me. 

LI: That being the COVID period?
LD: Yes. I remember being caught up in COVID-land, and thinking, “Oh my gosh. Is this ever going to end?” And then we started writing for this record, and I began to feel like my heart was kind of finding its way back together, you know, through these songs, and through these experiences of making this music.

It’s interesting to see that you have a collaboration with Gary Clark Jr. on the album on a song called “Salvation Mountain.” How did that come about?
LD: I heard Gary Clark for the first time when I was 18. My best friend showed him to me, and remember listening and listening and listening and thinking, “OK, this is pretty cool. What is going on here?” There’s so much soul and tone. I’m from Louisiana, he’s from Texas, so there’s kind of that “neighbor” thing going on. Fast forward, I was playing Austin City Limits, and he was playing the set right after me. I just sat there and watched him play. Talk about live experiences that encourage you and inspire you. Wow. His was one of them. So when we went to make this record, Mike (Elizondo) had worked him in the past and asked me if I’d be interested in Gary Clark Jr. playing on this song, “Salvation Mountain,” and I was like, “Absolutely. Let’s do it.”

You’ve made a video for the song “These Are The Days” from the new album. I’ve watched a few thousand music videos in my lifetime but I don’t think I’ve seen one person have as much fun as you did in that one. It looked natural, and it truly didn’t seem like you were acting.

LD: It was so much fun. I had this video idea in my mind to bring to screen what’s it’s like to have joy. What it feels like to be alive. I grew up in Louisiana, and there’s so much culture here, so much vibrancy. People talk to each other on the streets. Growing up, I felt like there’s something to celebrate around every corner, but I didn’t necessarily know the extent of that until I left Louisiana and started working. I remember thinking that I wanted to figure out a way to share this with people. I wanted a way to bring them into the experience. I had this vision, and my team was so awesome. They let me direct it with a friend, John Gray, who is incredible. All of my friends came along and joined me. 

LI: That had to make it even more special.
LD: Oh yeah. You said it seemed natural, and I couldn’t agree more; it was. The people in the backgrounds were my genuine friends, the people who have walked all through this life with me. We were cutting up and just having a good ol’ time!

Lauren Daigle
w/ special guest Brandon Lake
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
When: Friday, Sept. 29
Doors open: 6 p.m.
Event begins: 7 p.m.
Tickets: $39.50 – $169.50