Thanks to the sudden success of her introductory Warner Bros. EP-DVD, “Into the Wild — Live at Eastwest Studios” — spurred by placement of the exuberant title track in a recent Citibank commercial — it might appear that the artist who records under her initials, LP, has become something of an overnight sensation. That couldn’t be further from the truth, the petite powerhouse says.
Born Laura Pergolizzi, after struggling through four failed record deals over 10 hardscrabble years, LP gave up on performing and settled into quietly penning publishing-house songs for others such as Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, the Backstreet Boys and even Heidi Montag.
And that was it, thought LP, 31, who plays Café Du Nord on Friday. Aside from vocal work on a JC Penney Christmas commercial, she happily stayed in the shadows.
“Because what I’d discovered through all this stuff I went through was that I could write,” she says. “Collaborating with other people was a fun, social process, and I felt like with songwriting, if you hustled and kept on writing, you could make a living and do well. So I really wasn’t thinking about going back to being an artist again.”
But while she was waiting for her fourth contract to kick in a couple of years ago, at her then-manager’s urging the guitarist tentatively began playing clubs again — under a few conditions.
“I said, ‘OK, but I’m not changing my look or going off in some other direction.’ Then I added, ‘Oh, yeah — I play ukulele now,’ because I’d just started playing ukulele and I was totally in love with the instrument.”
Soon, LP was belting out galloping new numbers such as “Into the Wild,” snapped up by both Warner Bros. (which spotlighted her rafter-rattling voice via its concert release, prefacing her 2013 full-lengther) and Citibank, which showcased the operatic verse “Somebody left the gate open” in its TV ad.
“When they’d asked me to submit a Citibank song, I was like, ‘Yeah, sure’ — I’ve submitted so many songs, I don’t even think about it anymore,” she says. “But when they first sent me the link to the commercial, I was like ‘Those guys! They couldn’t even use the chorus?’”
LP is a true stardom-worthy original, with a Marc Bolan-huge hairdo, her own custom-built Martin ukulele and an Elvis Presley-honoring ‘TCB’ lightning-bolt tattoo on her right forearm.
“I’ve always liked the sentiment of it — taking care of business,” she says. “To me, it meant that I would just do my music, take care of my business and see what happened.”