Lauren Bannon, who now goes under the musical moniker Lloren, talks to Joanna Davis about striking out on her own since she found fame through The Voice. 

Interviewing Lloren was one of the the first jobs I did when I took over the features and entertainments desk at the Dorset Echo.
That was around five years ago and I remember an ultra bright, switched-on young woman who was unbelievably modest about her vocal talent. She turned up to the interview in an old banger of a car which she used to cart around her equipment as she diligently traversed the Weymouth pub circuit, something she had been doing for years. 
At the time we discussed the possibility of Lloren appearing on the X Factor or The Voice and I remember her answering the question in tight-lipped fashion but with a giveaway twinkle in her eye.
One of the few people to bother to say thank you for an article, a few days later Lloren turned up in said old banger of a car with a pot plant for me and a big beaming smile on her face as she was so pleased to be in her local paper. 
Fast forward to 2018 and lo and behold up pops Lauren Bannon from little old Weymouth on The Voice. For anyone who has heard her sing in a local venue, it was no surprise that she got a rare 'four chair turn' from all of the coaches, who all wanted Lloren on their team after hearing that superb voice, rich in timbre and soaked with emotion.
And again it was no surprise that Lloren reached the final of the ITV singing competition, coached by Olly Murs, only to be pipped at the post by 19-year-old Ruti Olajudbagbe.
But, as legend dictates, it is often the runner-up who has the last laugh when it comes to these kind of talent shows. And there is no better example than Lloren's mentor himself, Olly Murs, who was second on X Factor to Joe McElderry but has since released six albums.
As I pick up conversation on the phone with Lloren with so much having happened, I ask her what life has been like since The Voice. 
"It's been a lot of hard work," she says. "A lot of people think if you've been on a TV show that's all you need to do, but there's a lot of hard work involved afterwards. It has been worthwhile, it's been very exciting and I've managed to get to do a lot of things."
On November 29 Lloren will release new track Warriors and has just announced her first headline show on February 5 at The Waiting Room, London.
Lloren cites her musical influences as Sia and Billie Eilish. Her new album will be released early next year.
"It's very much passionate and cinematic," she says. "The lyrical content has a lot of meaning. It's a bit of a rally cry to get people energised."
Unlike her fellow alumni of TV talent shows, Lloren wants to continue as a songwriter and perform her own music.
She describes her most recent single Raised By Wolves as 'very political'. "There's lots of stuff that I've written that's of the same ilk. The song has a 'call to arms' feeling," she says.
"I want people to feel something and I want people to feel ready to do something about the situation."

Lloren has spent a large part of this year touring and has found fame in Germany, where her music has proved popular.
"It's been incredible. I've had the most amazing opportunity to tour with one of my favourite artists, Fleurie, we toured through Europe and it was such a cool experience. I'd never done that before and travelled to as many places, it's been such a different experience."
The day after we speak Lloren is due to fly out to Germany again, a country where she has spent a lot of time touring, this time to support Irish singer Michael Patrick Kelly.
I ask her why she thinks Germans have taken her to music the way they have.
"Because they have great taste!" she jokes. "I think they seem to have been the most receptive audience, especially on the tour. We seem to sell lots of merchandise and to get to play to a crowd of 5,000 people over there is fantastic."
It's at this point that I discuss with Lloren just how far she's come - it wasn't so long ago she was a regular entry in the Echo's gig guide, playing to a handful of people in Weymouth pubs. 
"I think if you can play in a tiny pub with two people listening you can play to a massive audience," she says.
And when she was playing to a man and his dog in a pub, how did she keep the faith that she would take her music to a wider audience, I ask?
"I had always hoped I would get somewhere. I'm quite a determined person. I said to myself 'it will happen, it's just a matter of perseverance'. I'm somebody who doesn't give up, I keep going and going."
And what advice would she give to any young, aspiring singer songwriter?
"I would say 'don't give up. Dedicate every spare minute you can to it. It has to be your first love. And surround yourself with the right people. If you don't have the support of the people around you it's harder. Having a great team is so important."
Lloren tells me that she is very happy with her management team and having the support of fellow gay women on her team is 'very comfortable' and 'very positive for me'.
I ask Lloren if she would like to think of herself as a role model for young lesbians. 
"I hope so," she says. "It's not like it's something I've set out to do. I'm living my life and one of the most important things for me growing up has been seeing other people doing their thing as gay women."
Lloren is fast becoming a pin-up for gay women and was nominated for an award by Diva, a magazine for lesbian and bisexual women. She headlined the women's stage at London Pride.
I ask Lloren if she was aware that Weymouth and Portland held its first Pride event in the summer. Not only was she aware but she recorded a video message for the event, she tells me. 
"It's been a little busy lately but I'm hoping to spend more time in Weymouth this winter. I've been doing a lot of gigs but working between Germany and London and not getting down to Weymouth as much as I'd like."
Does she get recognised when she's wandering around by the beach and harbour?
"I do sometimes, yes," she laughs.
"Weymouth is quite a small town, a few people used to recognise me when I did the pubs and now after going on the TV it is more people. I enjoy it! It's always good. Weymouth is 100 per cent my home. My partner and I have got a place by the beach. Coming to Weymouth always gets me into my tranquil zone. I come back and I like to be by the sea."
And there's certainly hope for this homecoming hero performing at the town's Pride event next year. 
"I got asked to do it this year but I was already booked in Germany. I would have loved to have done it but I'm hoping I can next year."
Lloren says her ultimate musical ambition is to sing the theme song to a James Bond film.
But for now she's happy to keep doing what she's doing and to carry on performing 'meaningful songs'.
She says: "A lot of my fans have followed me because I've come from a television show, but people like contemporary pop and seem to really enjoy it. I think people want to hear more meaningful songs. I've had really good feedback. You do get the odd hater but I think that's a good thing. I would rather be a few people's passion than not everyone's cup of tea."
This leads us on to discuss a comment on this publication's website about Lloren, which said she was 'just out to make lots of money.'
"I can only laugh at things like that! I certainly don't make lots of money," she says.
"Fame isn't really that important to me. I've come to understand that fame is the nasty by-product of success. A comfortable situation for me is the ultimate goal, I'm just wanting to make a comfortable living out of what I do."
*Warriors by Lloren is out on Friday, November 29.