It was a bittersweet day for Fifth Harmony fans when the girl group collectively released a statement announcing they were going on an indefinite hiatus, all ready to pursue solo careers. But the upside is that means more new music is coming from Lauren Jauregui, Normani, Dinah Jane, and Ally Brooke, letting fans hear who they truly are. And according to Lauren, it’s been a freeing process.

The 22-year-old songstress just dropped her first solo song, “Expectations,” and speaking to People, she explained that being in the studio actually creating music she feels passionately about is something she was lacking before.

“When [Fifth Harmony] ended, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m free.’ And that kind of set off this whole inspiration in me that hadn’t been there before to write. I wasn’t inspired. And I’m personally so connected to myself emotionally, if I feel blocked or stifled or I’m not being myself or I can’t be myself, then I can’t create. I actually thought that I couldn’t create anymore, which is the craziest part. That’s how off I was, you feel me?” she said. “It’s completely different [making music now.] When you’re in a group, of course, it’s the group’s image and the group’s perspective on music, which isn’t necessarily individual. I can speak for all the girls, I feel like, when I say that — that the group didn’t necessarily reflect who we are as individuals. So this process has been incredibly different. First of all, I’m part of it, so that’s great [laughs] and I’m doing it. I’m just getting to explore that musicality inside of me and figuring out who it is that I really am. It’s been a healing process.”

All of the girls have been vocal about how when they were in the band, they didn’t have nearly as much creative control and freedom to express themselves the way they wanted to, and it’s hard to get a group of very different artists all on the same page too. Lauren went on to reflect on the exact moment when she and her bandmates decided it was time to take a break and go their separate ways and there was nothing dramatic about it. They just knew it was time for something different.

“I was in Thailand when we spoke on the phone and decided that we were moving forward individually, and we had a respectful conversation; it was really beautiful. We all just kind of understood. It was so amazing. That feeling of, it’s all good and we’re good — it opened my heart up to my creativity again,” Lauren said. “I just felt inspired by everything around me, and I was like, ‘I need to get in a studio. Why am I not writing?'”

And now we have her first solo song! As for her relationship with Normani, Dinah Jane, and Ally Brooke? While it’s all love between them, Lauren confirmed they’re all just busy doing their own things right now and aren’t in constant communication.

“I mean, roughly, yeah. We’re all kind of in our own space right now, which I totally respect. We were in each other’s faces for years,” she said. So they might not be spending every moment together anymore, but they’re happy to see each other thriving and all working hard making new music. And that’s what girl power is all about.

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