For Lauren Hashian, the release of Love…and Other Things (Side A), the first half of her debut EP out Friday (Dec. 10), is nothing short of a watershed moment. Despite having some famous family ties and a million-plus social media following, Hashian spent much of her adult life envisioning herself as the one outside the spotlight.
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“For years, I was really afraid of singing publicly,” the 37-year-old singer-songwriter tells Billboard. “You see these artists like Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish, who are so young, but they have the guts to put themselves out there, to share their songs. It’s incredible. And I think for me, looking back, I was never that kid.”
Yet Hashian, the wife of global superstar Dwayne Johnson and daughter of famed Boston drummer Sib Hashian, finds her voice on Love…and Other Things (Side A), a sumptuous three-song introduction that primarily draws from ‘90s R&B and subtly showcases Hashian’s range. The set was recently previewed by the single “What You Want (DeJa Vu),” featuring rapper Naz Tokio, and will receive a Side B in spring 2022.
The songs of Side A “discuss romantic love in different forms,” she says, “so it felt natural to put these three together first.” Growing up in Massachusetts, Hashian had no choice but to fall in love with music — her father’s drum room was next to her bedroom, and the Boston percussionist would bash away on afternoons where a young Hashian couldn’t hear herself think.
“Even after his band had already split up, he practiced every single day of his life in the drum room,” Hashian recalls of her father, who passed away in 2017. “Seeing him practice every day, for me, it became part of my purpose — ‘He practices every day, I should practice every day, too.’ And so I have been practicing on my own in my room for years.”
After dabbling in songwriting in her Emerson dorm room and gradually learning to self-produce, Hashian made early overtures toward a full-fledged music career — briefly appearing on the reality show R U The Girl?, releasing a few songs on Soundcloud — but made the decision to forgo that path in her early twenties. Instead, Hashian became a creative synch coordinator at Warner Music Group, then worked in the music department at Paramount Pictures.
When she and Johnson, who met in 2006, welcomed their daughters Jasmine and Tiana in 2015 and 2018, respectively, Hashian felt her interest in creating music slowly begin to return. “I was too shy of a kid, and I really wasn’t not shy until … I became a mother,” she says. “And then I felt way more confident in my own body and my own feelings. It was like, ‘Well, you can’t be scared of anything anymore, because you don’t want to teach your kids that, right?’”
With music inspired by turn-of-the-century R&B icons like Destiny’s Child, Brandy and Aaliyah, Hashian says that her daughters, now six and three years old, love hearing their mom’s music take shape in earnest. So does Johnson — who recently dabbled in the music world himself with a guest verse on Tech N9ne’s single, “Face Off.” Over the past year, Hashian says that she and Johnson have worked together “a lot” on music for various film projects; the end credits of Johnson’s new film Red Notice, which set Netflix viewership records upon its release last month, features a Naz Tokio track, “On The Run,” which Hashian co-wote.
“Most of the time when I’m making music, he is my the very first person who hears anything, so he’s heard the good, the bad, the ugly,” says Hashian of Johnson. “I know a lot of people look up to him, but even I look up to him, and I trust his judgment and his instincts and his experiences. So for me, I’m so grateful that I have somebody like him, who’s also been in the business for so long, to give me his feedback and also work together.”
The second half of the independently released Love…and Other Things will focus on “self-love and self-acceptance,” among other themes, says Hashian. Beyond this project, the singer-songwriter is excited to see where her music career takes her now that it’s become a main focus, with a better-late-than-never attitude in place of any self-imposed expectations.
“I was a late bloomer,” says Hashian, “but it all happened for a reason.”