It's understandable if you're unfamiliar with the 21-year-old singer-songwriter. Although Love, Abbey — the stage name of Abbey Loren — released the indie-rock/folksy, genre-bending EP Lost at Sea in 2016 and the ear worms “Slow Love” and “Winter Air,” she doesn’t get out much.
“I’ve only played a handful of shows in South Florida” Abbey says. “A couple of them were just lucky spots opening up for Fitz & the Tantrums in 2016. I made a lot of connections and got to know a lot of people down here. I don’t play out too much because I’m mostly in the studio.”
Last year, she opened for the band Kids at the Culture Room. This year, Love, Abbey is the name on the marquee, and her friends in Kids, including bandmate Josh Diaz, who also produces her music, are repaying the favor by playing as openers. Christian Carcamo and the Haunt — the other supporting acts — are also produced by Diaz.
Abbey's day job is writing music for film and TV for a Nashville-based company that creates sync-licensed music. “It’s for TV spots,” she says. “For example, if a Target commercial needs certain songs with certain lyrics with a certain bpm, people get together and write for it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of stress because I have deadlines, but I have a lot of fun with it. It breaks down music to a science and a formula, which I think is fun when it’s not for my own thing.”
It’s a gig that Abbey admits has certainly sharpened her skills, but her musical path and wide range of musical talent were forged in an usual way long ago: dolls.
“My parents own a recording studio called 42nd Street,” she explains. “When I was 3, I started doing voices for dolls, the kind that you squeeze their hands and they sing. I actually only recently just stopped, which is really embarrassing because I’m almost 22. That’s where I got the practice and knowing the studio environment. My dad is the engineer, and he was always very harsh on me with pitch and tone and really trained me to be a well-rounded musician."
This brand of tough love only reinforced Abbey's ambitious, motivated nature. Before Love, Abbey, there was an all-girl rock band at 15. “We did Led Zeppelin covers almost strictly. I quit that when I was 17 and started this.”
This, as she puts it, also included a brief stint recording under her birth name.
“I had some songs come under my own name," she says, "and I think they’ve been taken down everywhere — at least I hope so, because they’re not good.”
It turns out music-making, as well as the hustle, is in her blood because her parents are musicians.
“They met in a rock band. My mother is a singer, and my dad does a little bit of everything. He’s now a sound man for local venues and gigs. He does weddings and all that kind of stuff in addition to the engineering.”
A talented jack-of-all-trades much like her father, the young multi-instrumentalist is proud of having played every part on each of her songs.
“My instrument is piano; I’m classically trained in that, but I stopped lessons a couple of years ago, and now I teach lessons. And I play guitar, drums, and bass," she says.
“I try to be very hands-on in the studio. Of course, if there’s a string part, we hire someone. I did rent a cello and we got it down, but that was pretty rough.”
As if playing an alien instrument weren't enough evidence that Abbey prefers the path of greatest resistance, she decided to go the route of Kickstarter for her first EP.
“It was a big undertaking to do it all on my own, but I told my parents a long time ago, before I even started music, that I wanted to completely fund everything myself in every way. There are a lot of artists down here that stage moms funded, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. So mixing, mastering, merch, touring, videos — I had no idea what that entailed.”
The entire process was fulfilling, but it was also a proper education and learning experience.
“I went into it a little bit with my nose up in the air — like, these are my songs and I know exactly what I want and this is how they’re going to sound. Once I got ahold of Josh Diaz and brought him on the project, it opened my eyes because he showed me different angles of how it cold sound and different ways of recording things. I just wanted drumspianobass! But then he was like, 'What if we undo an entire grand piano and turn it upside-down and re-record it?' And so the main thing that I learned is that I don’t know it all. People definitely are good at what they do, and I should be more open-minded.”
Having grown up in Fort Lauderdale, Abbey attended a number of concerts at the Culture Room and Revolution Live. Playing those stages now are, in a word, “satisfying.”
“Yeah. It’s really satisfying, which is a weird word to use," she says. "I went to so many live shows growing up. I went through a really big screamo phase, so I went to a lot of the hardcore shows. I was excited to go, but the second I was in the crowd, I hated it and I wanted to leave so badly. I only wanted to be on the stage. I was so frustrated that I was in the crowd with everybody and not having fun onstage like they all were. So it’s really satisfying to finally be able to do that.
“I was such a tough critic, and my friends hated going to shows with me because I was just like, 'They’re playing that part wrong' or 'The mix sounds awful — they should’ve miked it differently.' And my friends would go, 'Can you just enjoy the show? Oh my God.'”
Abbey will follow up her debut EP with the forthcoming North, featuring the single “Winter Air,” a record she describes as “spooky.” She plans to release a companion record, South, which she affirms has no hard date. “It could be a year from now or five years from now... just kind of going with the flow.”
Love, Abbey. With Kids, Christian Carcamo, and the Haunt. 6 p.m. Thursday, October 18, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $12 to $15 via ticketmaster.com.