Ahead of the release of ‘Don’t Take My Dream Away,’ the musician offers Document a soundtrack to herself—from first favorite songs to unexpected artistic influences

“I wanted to make the type of album people made in the ’90s with a million-dollar recording budget, except I had no money,” says Lauren Early of her record, Don’t Take My Dream Away. While the artist lacked funding, she found other routes to that otherworldly quality she strived for, employing her own creative network—co-produced by Tabor Allen (Cherry Glazerr), partially recorded by Joo Joo Ashworth (Automatic, Sasami, Froth), and mixed by Erin Tonkon (David Bowie, Grace Ives, Sad13)—and offering her whole self in her music, with an uncharacteristic commitment to sincerity.

The album is technically a debut, but the Los Angeles-based musician is a staple of the indie rock scene; touring with artists like Girpool and Surf Curse, her storied supporting career has been long marinating a smart solo break.

Ahead of the release of Don’t Take My Dream Away, out May 19 via Danger Collective Records, Early offers Document a selection of songs that define her person—from formative sonic memories to unexpected artistic influences.

“She” by Green Day
“‘She’ was my first favorite song. I was seven in the late-’90s, and I’d spend my entire summer in the break room of my dad’s office while he worked. There was a 13-year-old boy who was stuck in the same break room, and every day he’d bring a Nintendo 64 and a CD stereo system in a plastic grocery bag. We’d play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and listen to pop punk. He gave me Dookie. This basically informed the rest of my life. We knew very little about each other, but became great friends and were essentially each other’s entire life at the time. A couple of years ago, I asked my dad for information on this kid—I don’t even know his name—because I wanted to find him. My dad told me that, at the time I was hanging out with him, he’d just been adopted by his aunt who worked in that office, because his father had recently murdered his mother. I still think about this guy all the time, and want to find him.”

“Video Games” by Lana Del Rey
“When Born to Die came out in 2012, I didn’t listen to it. I kept hearing the name Lana Del Rey, and dismissed it. I was still an indie bitch at the time who thought I didn’t like pop music, which is… embarrassing.

I lived in San Francisco this year. There was a torrential downfall on a day so foggy you couldn’t see your own foot. It was moody as hell. I went into a little thrift store that had an incredible sound system, and, all of a sudden, they start blaring ‘Video Games.’ It was one of the most immediately impactful relationships I’ve ever had with a musician. A couple of lines into the song, I looked at the shopkeep and asked, ‘Who the fuck is this?’ That was the first time I listened to Lana.”

“Freak” by Doja Cat
“Doja, if you’re reading this, I think you’re hot.”

“Simple Kind of Life” by No Doubt
“This song destroys me. Gwen singing: I always thought I’d be a good mom / Sometimes I wish for a mistake, is, like, the most vulnerable moment in any song ever. It’s such a devastating, maternal moment from this absolute badass rockstar.

Gwen’s songs often have a very distinct bridge section, where everything suddenly slows down and gets psychedelic, and lyrically becomes way more literal or way more dreamy. I always think of it as the ‘underwater section.’ Like, the rest of the song exists in real life, and then we get pushed into some totally different world. In this song, it’s the, If we met tomorrow for the very first time part. It’s specific to Gwen and extremely influential to the way I produce music.”

“So Low” by Carol
“This is the most perfect song ever made. I don’t know anything about this lady or this project or any of her other music. I don’t know where I first heard this song, but I’ve listened to it almost daily for the past decade. Cat’s out of the bag though, because Clairo recently covered it.”