Lauren Isenberg, known to the world as Renforshort, had just come back home to Toronto from a tour in Europe a week before the coronavirus pandemic put her city on lockdown.
“I went back to school for a week, and a lot of my close friends don’t go to my school. I have three friends I consider to be friends friends,” the 18-year-old explains over FaceTime. “I didn’t have the chance to see them, and then a week later the world shut down. So I was like ‘Kay, I guess I’m never gonna see you again.’ That was my thought process.”
Holed up with her family and fresh off the release of her debut EP Teenage Angst via Interscope, Ren soon began Zoom writing sessions to keep herself productive while self-isolating.
“They were dreadful at first. It was such a pain in the butt to figure it out,” she admits. But the sessions proved fruitful: while stationed in Canada, she was able to work with more writers and producers from the States and ended up culling so much new material from those Zoom sessions that she’s now taking a bit of a break. One of the first songs she wrote with her team in early April turned into the perfect piece of quarantine pining: “Fuck, I Luv My Friends,” a song she released earlier this week.
“When I was trying to come up with a concept for a song, at first I was like ‘What am I going to write about? I’m not doing anything,'” Ren recalls. Instead, she pulled from her very real and relatable desire of missing your chosen family while staying home to keep yourself and the people around you safe.
“This was the perfect opportunity to do something else with my content because I can,” she says, adding that she wasn’t used to veering from songs about romantic complications.
Nowadays, Toronto is slowly coming back to life. “It’s not over but there’s 10 new cases a day so we’re going into Phase 3 [of reopening] now,” the rising star explains. She’s still not really leaving her house but she has been able to see those few friends as cautiously as possible. Even as Toronto reopening, she will still be reliant on Zoom sessions for the foreseeable future.
“I’m so over it,” Ren admits. “It’s real difficult to get into it 100 percent. It’s hard to catch someone’s vibe on video chat or on the phone, I personally find.”
In the meantime, she’s been keeping busy with a music rollout plan that extends to the end of 2021. Most important part of that plan? Recording and releasing her debut album.
“I’m stoked because that’s an all-around creative project to work on,” she says. “I’m excited!”