From motivational speaker to R&B songstress, LA-based rapper is shaking up the music scene.

The incredible, 22-year-old Lauren Sanderson, started as a Youtube personality sensation and motivational speaker out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her love of presenting brought her to the stage, where she delivered a TedxTalk, spreading her movement to "stay positive n' stay you", at the age of 19.

While wanting to continue to broadcast her message, she knew she wanted to incorporate her love of hip hop, as well as the love of being untethered to any rules. So, Sanderson transformed her speeches into raps, and since her strikingly unique and raw musical metamorphosis, she hasn’t looked back.

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Photography by Peter Roessler

Before being signed by Epic Records, she fearlessly managed herself under a fake name for five years. Booking her own shows, she sold out an 18-city tour, and gained almost 100,000 Instagram followers. There’s not much Lauren Sanderson can’t do. It’s a matter of whether she wants to or not.

Her newest, and third EP, “Don’t Panic”, is out worldwide, and encourages those who aren’t with the movement yet, to unapologetically express their true selves. And loudly.

Your music has always been transparently open and honest, do you think that comes with having a Youtube personality background?

I think I'm just an honest, open person in general, I've always been that way. The only way to inspire people, for me, is to be my real, raw self.

Lauren Sanderson, Lauren Sanderson youtube, Lauren Sanderson motivational speaker, epic records, don't panic, inked magazine, tess adamakos, inked exclusive

Photography by Peter Roessler

You started as a motivational speaker before music, but what motivates you?

What motivates me is creation. Pure creation and the freeness of it. The idea that you can literally go anywhere with art is super inspiring to me. For example, if I'm in a sad mood I can literally create a song, a piece of clothing, or a video that depicts that emotion. Same with happy, excitement, blah blah blah. Somehow it all means different things to different people. I think that's insane.

Which of your tattoos is your favorite? 

I think I like my neck tattoo "don’t panic." It symbolizes my anxiety that I used to have and is kind of sarcastic towards myself. Like, when the whole world is against you, don't panic!

How did you pick the EP title "Don't Panic"?

I actually got "don't panic" tattooed on my neck way, way before I knew it was going to be the title of my EP. I got it right when I moved to LA, signed to the label, and started feeling the pressure of being in the industry. It was just a reminder that everything will always be alright, always. It's cool going to gas stations and shit and the cashier will see it and kind of laugh to themselves like, “yeah, you're right.”

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Photography by Peter Roessler

Do you have one artist that does your tattoos?

No, I get them done by pretty much anybody that seems reliable. I'm not picky about it at all. I just like American traditional.

How do you decide what ink makes it onto your body?

I'm really open to whatever. I usually just walk into the shop and pick something from the wall. If I get something with no meaning, then as time goes on, it develops its own meaning through different memories with it.

How do you feel about fans getting Lauren Sanderson-inspired tattoos?

I love it. I think it's fucking sick when I see my lyrics and shit tattooed on people. Super surreal to be honest.

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"Don’t Panic" opens with the desire to be disconnected from the stressful lifestyle of a musical artist. How do you disconnect from it?

Feeling the stress from the industry kind of goes in and out all the time. My mentality and attitude really directs the energy from the outside-world pressure though. If I wake up and I'm like, ‘I'm gonna have a good day,’ most of the time I do. I don't think there's a way to FULLY disconnect from it. I just gotta remember to have fun with it and be myself. That's all.

In what ways would you like to help shape the music industry better than you found it?

I want to make the music industry a more real place. Be more real with your fans, be more real with your art, and be more real with yourself. Music right now to me is boring. I'm tired of hearing the same style and the same lyrics from so many artists. Tell your REAL story the way YOU want to tell it, and stop keeping yourself in some made-up box. Be more you.

As for female empowerment, who is your icon?

Oooo my icon. I feel like right now it's Lady Gaga. I think this would really surprise my supporters but, the more I get into the industry, the more I realize females are NOT being their true selves. I love that Lady Gaga has always been raw, and weird, and done crazy shit like meat dresses and crazy makeup and that kinda stuff. It's even doper that she can go all the way weird, then come back down to earth and be more "human" for a second. She really does it all and I think that's dope.

Lauren Sanderson, Lauren Sanderson youtube, Lauren Sanderson motivational speaker, epic records, don't panic, inked magazine, tess adamakos, inked exclusive

Photography by Peter Roessler

If you had to get a portrait tattoo of someone, who would you pick?

Abraham Lincoln, hands down.

How do you feel about "significant other" tattoos? Do you have any tattoos dedicated to a love?

Significant other tattoos are cool. I have a tattoo with one of my ex-girlfriends but I'm not really the person to regret that kinda stuff. I'm more like, ‘yeah that happened, and even if we're not together anymore, I appreciate that part of my life.’ By the way, they're cool unless you get each other's names. Even then, whatever. Get whatever you want, we all die anyway.

Where is your dream destination to tour?

I wanna do a show in France, London or Hawaii. That would be crazy.

Lauren Sanderson, Lauren Sanderson youtube, Lauren Sanderson motivational speaker, epic records, don't panic, inked magazine, tess adamakos, inked exclusive

Photography by Peter Roessler

What can we expect from you in the future? Any projects you're currently working on?

The DONT PANIC tour is about to go down, but by the time this magazine comes out i'll probably be done with another project and have a book out or something. There's a lot I'm creating right now. Stay tuned!

Your EP ends with "stay true to who you are and don't do it quietly." What is your advice for best achieving this?

For me, before I do anything, I always think, ‘Do I REALLY want to do this? Will this make me happy? Do I only want to do this because other people think I SHOULD?’ I think a lot of us get stuck in the pattern of doing things we don't actually care to do, or do things that make us unhappy because we feel like we can't do what WE want. For whatever reason, I just follow my heart and my gut and do that.