Anna Koblish Maude Latour
Maude Latour wants to create spaces for pure human connection.
After growing up around the world and settling in New York City to study philosophy at Columbia University, the rising pop singer-songwriter earned a dedicated fanbase early in the pandemic on TikTok, where she now holds over 100,000 followers. Since returning to a somewhat normal society, Latour's gone from performing to crowds of a couple hundred people to 1,000-capacity venues in less than a year.
"A huge mission in my life is making strangers feel like they know each other," the 22-year-old musician tells PEOPLE over Zoom shortly before the release of her 001 EP via Warner Records on Friday. Over its seven electro-pop tracks, Latour's third body of work features introspective lyrics about everything from her physical surroundings and self-love to grief, protecting women and staying hydrated, all topics she cares deeply about.
"Nothing on  is about romance, nothing on it is about a boy, nothing is about heartbreak in any of the classic ways. Instead, it's about navigating friendship, sisterhood, trees and people I've lost," she says of the project. "It's me coming back to self-understanding in a new way, wanting to shine bright and feeling a new level of in-touch with my body — wanting to dance."
Born in Sweden to dad Almar, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and mom Abby, a journalist at S&P Global, Latour moved from her birth country to London, NYC and Hong Kong — where she attended middle school — before heading back to NYC for high school and college. Along the way, she learned to speak English, Dutch (which makes up half her background) and Chinese. "I have a very curious world view," she says. "I think it makes me view humanity in this, maybe, idealist way."
That mindset, which influences her support for progressive issues including climate activism and LGBTQ rights both in and out of her music (Latour identifies as bisexual) can be attributed in part to her worldly upbringing with journalist parents. "They both very much taught me to be opinionated and up to date on world events," she explains. "I was raised to really figure out what I believe and stand by it, for sure."
Latour found an interest in music from a very young age, performing in choir and other singing groups throughout her international education and "always trying to get the solo" in performances. "Acapella is, unfortunately, a massive part of my musical upbringing," she quips, noting that after years of singing to sheet music, experiencing her first heartbreak at 15 led to a revelation. "I was like, 'Wait a second. Songs can be about me?' That's when it really changed."
Anna Koblish Maude Latour
In high school, Latour became an avid songwriter and often put on "little shows" in NYC for handfuls of friends, who learned her lyrics long before the songs were available to stream. "I still look back on those years as my most prolific time of writing," she says. "I would just come home from school, be at the piano all night, write song after song and text them to my friends."
She began uploading music to SoundCloud and Spotify around age 17, but it wasn't until the pandemic hit amid her Columbia years that she soundtracked TikTok videos with her music in an attempt "to go viral." Her songs haven't exactly blown up to "Old Town Road" levels on the platform, but Latour's warm, welcoming online presence has led fans over to her Spotify page, where she now holds over a million monthly listeners. "It's been this weird, steady growth," explains the musician, whose fans have connected with songs like "One More Weekend," which has been streamed more than 31 million times.
"I started doing Zoom parties during my releases, and I went live on Instagram every night," she recalls. "Beyond the music, there's something deeply trying to connect and not feel lonely in my heart."
Thanks to her active online presence during lockdown, Latour and her devoted fanbase soon attracted record labels' attention, and she signed with Warner around summer 2021. Then, it was time to embark on her first concert tour — but one thing was in the way: college. While many aspiring artists would sign a record deal and immediately drop out, Latour didn't even consider that as an option.
"I don't want to choose between my passions, and I feel like finishing school was important to me as a soul, as a person," she says. "I didn't feel like I would be fulfilled just focusing on one half of my brain. If I'm going to have a voice in the world, I want it to be informed."
Given Latour's organic, yet swift rise to success as an artist, her dedication to prioritizing education over an already-burgeoning career is admirable — especially since she stems from an upper-class background, which she's not looking to hide. "That is inextricable from me," she details. "I got to be in college. That's a massive privilege to begin with, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to even think of pursuing a creative passion."
Anna Koblish Maude Latour
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Ultra-committed to school, Latour decided to schedule her tour dates on weekends, so she wouldn't miss any classes. Soon enough, she was unbearably busy. "Once [the tour] started, I was like, 'Oh my God, why did I just give away every weekend? I'm just going to class and shows,'" she says. "It was ridiculous. I was taking so many vitamin supplements. It was not healthy."
Luckily, she can now focus on music full-time, having graduated in spring 2021. Latour's diploma couldn't have come at a better moment, as she's now playing a packed schedule of her biggest concerts to date on a North American tour in support of 001, which she fittingly considers a coming-of-age project.
"I feel like I'm putting out something that is equally challenging and scary for me," she says, "and I'm excited for people to see me a bit."