Maxim Meyer-Horn

21 Feb
Music

Interview: Lava la Rue About Fighting For Equality and ‘BUTTER-FLY’

If there’s one thing our world needs, it’s future-minded frontrunners like Lava La Rue that really want to make the world a better place. West-London’s musical gem has created a whole collective, where people from all backgrounds gather to make art. In our interview with the groundbreaking artist, Lava talks about the impact of the BLM protests, the need for more inclusive media, and the beautiful new project ‘BUTTER-FLY’. 

How would Lava La Rue introduce herself to someone who isn’t familiar with her project yet?

I would say: My name is Lava La Rue and I am a musician and visual artist from West-London.

You’ve started a collective, where you bring many creatives together. Is there a difference between working on something for your solo project and for the collective?

That’s a very good question. With my solo work, it’s very thought through and I am always planning five years ahead, so the whole has a narrative and is quite conceptual. With the stuff I do with the collective, it’s exactly how we’re feeling in the moment. It’s very rarely thought through and more embodying the energy of having loads of different people from your community in a room together. We just make what we want to make and are more impulsive or reactive.

You’ve created a whole community around you. Was that important for your self-development?

Having my own creative family, creates a supportive net that even outside of my art/music I can just trust their opinions to be honest as I’ve known these people since young. Regardless of what you do, these kind of friends/collaborators are important to have in life as you don’t spend too much time looking sideways and comparing yourself to others or trying to be accepted in the wrong crowds – because you already have your friends, collaborators and ambitions – so you can just focus on that and happily live your life. I think during the time I was writing BUTTER-FLY I was realising this and understanding the kind of person I wanted to be and a key to that was the company I keep.

2020 was quite a rollercoaster. What would you consider your ups and downs?

To be honest, my biggest up and my biggest down were probably the exact same thing at the same time. It was when all the BLM protests happened and having an overwhelming doomed feeling of the world collapsing, a loss of morals, and politics being polarised in everybody. There’s just so much oppression towards vulnerable people and then suddenly within a couple of weeks, see the people protest and actually do something about it, I went from a super low to a super high. I was quite angry at first but then I was around people I care about, which was my ultimate high, so that was a rollercoaster week.

There’s still a massive lack of representation of POC and queer people in the media. Have you witnessed an evolution since the BLM protests?

I think there’s a step in the right direction. I think it’s really easy to see a tiny bit of more representation and be like “okay, cool!”, but there’s still so much more to be done. A lot of windows and doors have been opened, but I still feel like we have to walk through it and progress. There’s still a huge demographic of people in power who may be endorsing equality towards people of color, because it feels like a popular opinion and probably don’t actually give a fuck. The most important thing is to have people who actually give a fuck, because they feel that they should. That’s when there will be a real evolution.

How do you try to contribute in that needed evolution?

I feel there’s still a lot of spaces in music that I believe could be more like of queer places. Specifically, a lot of queer musicians feel like that they are expected to make queer music rather than music that’s appreciated in all forms. When you think of queer music, you often think of club music or stuff that isn’t as respected. There are so many incredible queer artists who are incredible musicians, but it’s almost seperated from their queerness.

It would be great to have more musicians to feel the way that I do. We should be taken up all spaces because a lot of non-queer people take up queer spaces. Some of the biggest queer idols are straight, white women, which is fine but we should have as many queer people across all fields of genres and have their narratives be normalised. We’re not quite there yet and it would be amazing to make fucking great queer shit that everyone loves.

Every song you released so far sounded different. What do you do to keep it interesting for yourself and your audience?

It changes for each project, but specifically for my newer projects like Butter-Fly and everything that I’m working on, I never had a problem with it not being interesting. Every time I go into the studio, my goal is to make a better song than the last song I made. That helps me to keep it interesting for me because I always try progress and learn from my experiences. That ranges from the productional aspect to the story I want to tell.

As the queen of DIY, what attracts you in doing everything yourself?

I always did things DIY because I had to to begin with. If an opportunity isn’t given to you and you don’t get booked for a gig in a club for example, you have to throw there a night yourself. If you see an artwork you like, but you don’t have the money to commission someone to make that, you have to go on YouTube and learn how to make it yourself.

Moving forward, I always had a great team of people around with especially my collective. I’m taking on advise and I love hearing different opinions. Even though I’m quite DIY, I still have an amazing selection of people around me who’ll be honest with me. It’s maybe less DIY and more ‘do it together’.

How would you define your visual aesthetics?

That’s a good question because it’s always evolving for me, but people often describe it as a grounded punky vibe and I can see that. There’s a lot of influences from the British rave-culture and subcultures that were around me when I grew up. I’ve put it all together with a little sprinkle spice of queerness in it with my Jamaican heritage. I just try to make something cool that feels good.

Is your new EP BUTTER-FLY your favourite project so far?

Every new song I make is better than the last one as I said before, so I think BUTTER-FLY really represents my growth as a musician and person. It’s definitely my favourite project that I will have ever released to date and I am always five songs ahead anyways. These songs are literally the first songs that I would really listen to even if it was a different artist who dropped it, and that’s a good sign.

In “Magpie” you’re singing that London has set you free. How did this global metropole influence your transformation as an artist and human being?

I guess there are so many different people from all over the world in London, you can find a community for anyone, no matter what you’re into. Whether that’s queer cybergoths or basketball heads who are into stock exchange, tor Jamaicans who just wanna play dominos in the back of a West London barber shop all day. I’ve seen all sorts of niche circles of people here who connect over specific things. London is the playing ground for that.

Some songs were made in downtown LA. Did the different dynamic of the city have an influence on the songwriting?

It helps coming out of a place to be able to reflect/write about it – for me coming out of London made it easier to talk about how I feel about London because you start to recognise things that are a part of your daily life that may not exist in other cities. Doing that from LA definitely informed the more upbeat vibes of the project too. I was in a good space and a good mental place just really vibing with nice people.

The EP can be labelled as a crossover between classic R&B and psychedelic sounds. What makes this such an irresistible combination?

I feel like if my life between ages 14-22 had a movie soundtrack it would be mostly psychedelic rock & RnB tunes in there – so my music being a combination of those sounds actually makes a lot sense.

You’re ending the EP with “Lift You Up”, a collaboration with Karma Kid. What was the starting point of the sensational EP-closer?

Me and Karma Kid were on a roll the day we made “Life You Up”. We were jamming and had already finished writing whole songs from start to finish in the daytime. 5 hours in, the sun was setting and we looked at each other like “lets write another song to close the day” by this point I was starting to mellow out from bouncing off the walls singing upbeat playful tunes all day and the energy was like “I’m gunna take the mic and spit some real shit and you (Karma Kid) can write/sing the hook” Karma Kid has a beautiful voice and the world should hear it more. The result was very real and authentic.

BUTTER-FLY is out now.

Pictures by Jack Cullis.

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