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Lauren Jauregui on Collaborating with Ex Ty Dolla $ign While 'in Love' with Partner Sasha Mallory (Exclusive)

The former Fifth Harmony member tells PEOPLE about her new EP 'In Between' and going public with her new relationship: "We're so solid"

<p>Natasha Austrich</p> Lauren Jauregui

Natasha Austrich

Lauren Jauregui

Lauren Jauregui is in the In Between.

On Friday, the singer-songwriter released her new EP In Between, a collection of introspective songs written over the past five years, largely about romantic experiences — including her time in a two-year relationship with ex Ty Dolla $ign and the emotional aftermath.

Jauregui, 26, launched into the new era last October with the vulnerable "Always Love," a ballad that expressed her positive feelings toward their amicable split. The EP concludes with a collaboration with the 40-year-old rapper and Russ titled "Wolves," which was created years pre-split but finished and released afterward, proving just how cordial the breakup was.

"Wolves" marks the especially mature and healthy place the former Fifth Harmony member's currently at in her life, as she's collaborating with an ex while in a blissful new relationship with partner Sasha Mallory. The pair went Instagram official in February, around a year after the So You Think You Can Dance alum, 34, danced alongside Jauregui in the live performance film that accompanied her debut EP Prelude. "When we met, it was instant chemistry," Jauregui tells PEOPLE. "It was like, ‘What the f— is this?'"

Ahead of releasing In Between, Jauregui caught up with PEOPLE to discuss the EP's writing process, reconnecting with Ty for the release of "Wolves" and going public with her and Mallory's romance.

Related: Lauren Jauregui Says She&#39;s &#39;Healed&#39; from Ty Dolla $ign Breakup as She Drops New Song &#39;Always Love&#39;

Your last EP was called Prelude, and this one's called In Between, which feels like a very natural follow-up. How did you decide on that title?

Me and my manager were talking about just potential EP names, and I was like, "This is the in between." Then, I was like, "Wait a minute. In between. That's it." It was very simple. It’s in between the time of Prelude and the actual official debut album. These are songs that were written way back when that just needed to be released. They need to go into the world, do what they have to do and come out of me. I'm tired of holding onto s—. I just want people to be able to hear it. Now that I'm independent, I can actually make those kinds of decisions, where I can just release stuff because I feel like it's what the people need from me, instead of waiting for the perfect moment. I just want to keep giving people music, and I want people to see my heart. These songs were written a while ago, but they speak to a part of me that’s still healing.

The EP ends with "Wolves" featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and it's cool to see you two working together and showing that "Always Love" was written from a true place of friendship between you two. Tell me how that collaboration came together and what it feels like to release it post-romance.

After "Always Love" came out, we reconnected and I just asked him, "Do you feel comfortable with me still using this song?" And he was like, "Abso-f—ing-lutely." Because he's a musician, first and foremost. If he f—s with something, he doesn't care about clout or whatever. He's a really serious savant when it comes to music.

How does writing songs like these and sitting with them impact your approach to love and romance going forward?

I think they're just part of the process of me healing s—, getting those feelings out of my system and being able to move on from those situations. That's really what my writing is in general, since I was little. Writing, for me, has always been a way that I can channel a feeling outside of my body. Pencil, paper, get it out and let it go.

Related: Lauren Jauregui Calls Dancer and &#39;SYTYCD&#39; Alum Sasha Mallory &#39;My Valentine&#39; in Sweet IG Post

Sasha Mallory/Instagram Sasha Mallory and Lauren Jauregui
Sasha Mallory/Instagram Sasha Mallory and Lauren Jauregui

You went Instagram official last month with your partner, Sasha Mallory. How did it feel to go public with that relationship?

It was great. I'm in love. We'd been together for a year by that point, and I was like, "You know what? F— it." Because most of my relationships, I keep under wraps, just because it's really odd to have so many strangers have an opinion about who you're choosing to love or what goes on between the two of you. But I just want to be able to love them out loud and be able to share that with people. On Valentine's Day, I did it very impulsively. I didn't even talk with them about it first. I was just seeing people post their significant others, and I was just like, "Dude, I'm in love. These pictures are so cute. We're so cute. People deserve to see this s—." Queer representation is important, I think.

It's probably nice to wait a year to post a relationship, and the opinions don't matter as much because you're already confident at that point.

Oh yeah, we're good. We're so solid, and we have such a beautiful foundation and so much trust and love between us. So, people's opinions don't really don't matter. Honestly, for me, it's more so about protecting them and making sure that they don't feel attacked because fans are fans. Sometimes they're really supportive and beautiful and care about your happiness, and that's their first priority. Then, there's other fans who call themselves fans that I don't really consider fans — people who feel very possessive over you and feel like they have a right to tell you who you should or should not be with, which is really fascinating to me because you're literally a stranger who's never met me in real life. So it's really interesting that you think about who I should or shouldn't be with.

And people have prejudices. Racism is a very real thing, and I don't like when she gets attacked or people send her really crazy-ass messages or send weird messages to her family. I really wanted to avoid that, but it was kind of happening anyways because people assumed we were in a relationship. So I was just like, "I guess it doesn't really fully matter at this point." We just have to ignore those kinds of people as much as we can, because sometimes they're really violent and need to be handled. But for the most part, it's really just harmless, online s—.

<p>Natasha Austrich</p> Lauren Jauregui

Natasha Austrich

Lauren Jauregui

Related: Lauren Jauregui Says She Wrote Her New Song &#39;Trust Issues&#39; About Feeling &#39;Unhealed&#39; from a Breakup

How has this relationship impacted the way you're writing now?

I haven't really written a lot since 2020. I have a lot of pent-up s— inside of me. I've written mad poems. There's a new perspective of love in my energy because it's a very different experience with Sasha. There's a lot of patience and a lot of presence, and sometimes when you find somebody who really complements your energy, you start growing further and further into the person that you're meant to be. And it's effortless because you just want to be the best version of you, not only for them, but for yourself. It's a love that feeds that growth, encourages that growth and nurtures that growth. It's a very new experience. So y'all will probably get a few love songs from me.

What do you hope listeners take away from In Between?

I think with any of my projects, my only hope is that you resonate. That you find a lyric that makes you feel seen, that you find a song that you can dance to and feel good with. A song that you can move your body to put on a playlist, chill to, smoke to, have fun to, cry to, whatever it is. I just want you to feel.

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