Lauren Phillips is one of those people. Artistic, talented and energetic, she is the type of person that inspires smiles and laughter in those around her. Her personality is infectious; her enthusiasm for life and those she loves is plainly evident. Yes, Lauren is one of those people. She plays bass in Sin Shake Sin, a rock band based in Nashville, and she’s a professional artist who just launched her own online space. Currently, she is living her best life in proximity to family, friends, the things that motivate her while making the most of the “2020 Summer of COVID”
As the interview begins, it doesn’t take long to clue into Lauren’s intelligence and insight. She speaks quickly, with an inviting openness to discuss just about anything. Her slight, but noticeable, southern accent is punctuated with easy laughter throughout the conversation. As she talks about her childhood, it quickly becomes apparent that she has a good sense of self and where she came from. “I was actually born in San Diego. My mom grew up there. My dad is actually from Canada. We moved here [Nashville] when I was super young. I grew up right outside of Nashville in Franklin TN. My grandfather was part of the Grand Ole Opry so that’s why they ended up moving down here.
“As a kid, I would go to The Opry. I mean, I didn’t appreciate it at the time, of course, but that was back when country music was still actually country. It’s so funny being surrounded by that in Nashville, but I ended up being the black sheep of the family. I got the rock n roll side of everything. I grew up helping my grandfather with his stuff and my dad wrote stuff on the piano, but it was, like, early 90s soft rock. I don’t know where it came from but I found rock n roll music on my own with some of my friends. That was my life.”
Her mother stayed home with the kids and provided inspiration and encouragement for Lauren to explore her talents. “When I was younger she was a stay at home mom. She is the one responsible for carting me around to all my music lessons and dance lessons and whatever the heck I was doing. She was a great cook, she took care of the house. She did a lot of art stuff when she was younger so she always had a lot of creativity. On the holidays, we always had the most bad-ass decorated house. Every holiday, she did it up big.”
Life starts out with nearly infinite possibilities for kids, but it didn’t take too long to see the direction Lauren was heading. “As a kid, I had so many things I loved to do. I mean, I loved art. You know, art was the thing I kinda thought I would do as far as a job. But then, of course, I found rock n roll and I was like, well…this changes everything!
“I danced for 16 years, so that was always the kind of thing I loved . And of course the nerdy side of me — I loved science and marine biology! It would be cool to study marine biology, but then I thought, ‘Man I don’t have time to learn all this stuff! What am I going to do?’ My mom always wanted me to go to school and become a graphic artist. But it’s hard to imagine sitting in an office. It’s nothing I ever had a desire to do.”
It was music, though, that really hooked her. “When I was super young, my dad threw me into piano lessons, but I never appreciated it back then. It’s not rock n roll!” But those early lessons would pay off later when she discovered the bass guitar. “I didn’t start playing bass until after highschool. I just randomly taught myself one day. Learning bass keying is very similar to piano, so I already kinda knew. [Piano] really is the gateway instrument. It made it easy to teach myself. Thanks dad for the piano lessons I didn’t appreciate!”
While it seems that some things come naturally to Lauren, it would be a mistake to assume that she doesn’t work hard to have a life that allows her the freedom to pursue her interests. “I bartend on the side. It’s great money, I enjoy it: the people, the regulars. Now we can’t go outside so it’s time to get this art stuff going. I have had this domain [laurenalexandraart.com] saved forever.
With her art now online, she has also had a bit of time to reflect on her life. “Quarantine, for me, has been a really cool blessing in disguise. It has forced me, for the first time, to not work. I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. Saving up money, traveling; I bought a house. I’ve always worked my butt off. And this is the first time in years I have not been overworked between two jobs. And then when I try to do music on the side and tour, which was an honor to get to do that…then everything shut down! This has actually forced me to be like, ‘Hey, I have all this time and I’m going to do something productive with this!’ “
Just before the Covid Pandemic hit, the opportunity to join Sin Shake Sin arrived. The creation of Stacy Hogan, an accomplished musician, singer and songwriter who has penned numerous hits over his career, the band consists of Stacy playing lead guitar and vocals, Johannes Greer on drums and Lauren Phillips on bass. The band has two albums to its credit but this was to be the first live tour, opening up for Beasto Blanco. It was a project whose time had finally arrived.
Stepping back a number of years in time, Lauren recounts how she ended up on stage with Sin Shake Sin. Years ago, “Right before we became friends he was in a band called Lovers and Liars. They were actively touring, they were doing well. But then he ended up focusing on his producing and recording and he was doing well with that.” In 2014 Stacy went on to record the first Sin Shake Sin album on his own and, with the second one released just this year, he decided it was time to go on the road with a band. “If he ever were to do that (take Sin Shake Sin live) he knew exactly who he wanted on board; Joe on drums and me on bass. Last April (2019) he came up to us and he was like ‘I’m going to actually make a music video for Sin Shake Sin and obviously I want you guys in it.’ We were like, HELL YEAH! We’re finally doing this! Okay! I was honored to be on board. We were shooting videos and he said ‘I want to do a tour; would you guys be on board with this?’ We went.. Duuuuuh! I can’t imagine a better trio of friends to go out on the road with.”
All of the music was originally written and recorded by Stacy Hogan. Between the style, message and friendship behind it all, taking ownership of someone else’s writing was never an issue. “I’m all about my 90s grunge rock. It’s my favorite genre of music. Growing up watching that– it’s raw and gritty. Not that I don’t appreciate it and respect it, but 80s rock, there was just something about it. I know there was a time and place for it; it just seemed too cheesy for me. I just don’t really care about this, like, ‘Yeah! Cocaine and girls!’ When the 90s came along it just felt more real to me.” While Sin Shake Sin is not exactly 90s style grunge, it still checks all the boxes: “It felt like it could not be more of an honor to be asked to do this with him (Stacy), and actually being excited to play these songs. We both (Joe) love them; it’s fun music to play. There’s a powerful message going on, and you throw that into the mix where there is a worldwide pandemic going on and the words couldn’t have been more relevant. And then you throw on top of that the longevity of our friendship. The energy couldn’t have been more perfect.“
Trying to conduct a live tour while the Pandemic began to shut society down was a surreal experience. “Getting up there every night as this virus became more and more real, at first it was like it’s just crappy flu. Come on now, what is this? Then it started to feel more real as the shutdowns happened and it was like ‘oh god, are we going to be able to play tonight?’ “
The band ended up returning to Nashville and resuming the “non-rockstar” portion of their lives. The conditions were right for Lauren to finally put it all together. Her father sensed it was time to give her the nudge that she needed, just as he had in the past with the piano lessons. He said, ‘This will push you to do more art during this quarantine.’” His instincts were correct and she is not looking back.
Tapping into the large network of people that have touched her life, she made the announcement that her artistic talents were available for hire. It was a simple social media post that got the ball rolling. “If anyone needs any art, let me know. I can’t really bartend right now!” The commissions started arriving and she now has a backlog of projects to get through for paying customers. With her digitized collection of previous artwork and confidence to use her abilities to make more, she launched laurenalexandraart.com. Proof positive that sometimes a person just has to take the plunge.
Sometimes in the newly dawned Covid world, it feels as if life is on hold, but there is no doubt that Lauren’s got this. “With Sin Shake Sin stuff we are just patiently waiting. So, definitely the band stuff, that’s going to pick right back up where we left off as soon as it’s able to. Then I’m just going to be really focusing on this art stuff. In a normal world I work two bartending jobs in downtown Nashville. If I can get this art to where I’m making a decent amount of money then I’d go down to only one of those jobs.
In the end, she is able to sum up her life and situation pretty well. “Just trying to take things one day at a time. I hate the unfortunate situation. People are getting sick and dying. But what can I do about that? I’m going to at least try and get myself where I need to be. You know, life is short. You gotta enjoy it while you can. Hold the people you love close, and love doing what you’re doing.”
That’s a great philosophy to live by.
This interview was conducted August 11, 2020. / Check our Lauren’s website: laurenalexandraart.com
Band photos courtesy of Sin Shake Sin / Hot Rod photo courtesy of Butch Pate / Art photos courtesy of Lauren Phillips
If you like good Rock N Roll that also comes with a message, you can see Lauren and the guys in action on the Sin Shake Sin website.