Sensual and stylish, R&B musician Carla Prata turned heads in 2021 with her Colors show where she performed her latest single at the time, Certified Freak, an explicit and versatile blend of laidback rapping and singing. Prata’s musical style is a homage to her time spent living around the world, and with her base in South London. The young musician, at just 23 years old, has made a name for herself in the English capital and further afield. Her strong aesthetic sense comes across in her rich visuals, which feature dramatic storylines and gorgeous backdrops. The same ambitious energy comes through in her music, where Prata proves unbound by genre, whether its afrobeat, a styling of dark and cinematic pop, or lackadaisical R&B groove. Prata remains singular, championing a fresh, queer style, with a zeal that will surely carry her far.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an introverted creative born in London, raised in Angola, Portugal and London.
Your songwriting is at times both vulnerable, like in Time for Me, and unabashedly confident, like in Famous (freestyle). Is it difficult to find a balance between being confident and being honest with listeners?
Not really. I used to just make songs with catchy hooks and smooth verses. Now I care more about being authentic so really, my songs reflect my mood. Sometimes I feel like venting or flexing.
Your personal style really comes through in your videos. What/who influences your style of dress?
I used to skateboard growing up so some of my influences definitely come from that and artists like from Odd Future, Frank Ocean, Jaden’s Msfts brand and others that are similar. Though as I grow, my stance on my day-to-day fashion is shifting more to the ‘I don’t care’ style. On my J. Cole ish.
How do you see style as a means of expression as an artist?
I honestly envy artists who can express themselves through fashion and make it look so cool. I guess we all express ourselves through our outfits, but some people just make it look so fresh.
You have been described as a ‘figurehead’ for the LGBTQI+ music scene. Does that title come with pressure for you or does it feel empowering?
I feel grateful that I can be a voice for some LGBTQI+ members and empower them through my music. We need more of that.
Your sound is an extremely smooth sort of R&B, whereas the sexuality of your lyrics is very powerful. What inspires your songwriting and style?
I love artists who are honest in their music. You can always tell when an artist is being generic opposed to honest. It takes a certain level of skill to write about something that isn’t true but sounds real.
You currently reside in London, what is your relationship with the city? How does it influence your sound?
London is my home. It feels so familiar yet so new cause it’s in constant movement and I gotta keep up with it. That definitely reflects in my music.
You touch on lots of varying musical influences in your work, from the sweeping chords of 21:42 to the bounce of ‘energy,’ is there a genre you are looking to explore next?
I’m an open box.
Your Colors show is such a fun one, how was that experience for you?
That trip to Berlin is one I’ll never forget. I drove down to Berlin from London, with my best friend and managers at the time and it was so much fun. I hope to go back soon.
You place a lot of emphasis on storytelling in your music videos, which are very well crafted, what inspires their content?
Real stories about my life or of the people around me.
As a young artist, where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
I want my music to be a part of people’s memories, good or bad. I want to make soundtracks to people’s lives. I want to connect with as many people as possible.
Which artists inspire you, and who did you grow up listening to?
I grew up in a religious household, so my mom didn’t play a lot of music, mostly Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton and a lot of Angolan and Cape Verdean music. My brother and sisters though, they had their own tastes so I would always pick up on that but most of my inspirations came from my own research. Early on it was The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Odd Future, Jaden and Childish Gambino to mention a few.
Are there any artists you would be interested in collaborating with?
I’d love to collaborate with Arin Ray, Wesley Joseph, Che Ecru, Nami and many more.
What’s next for you, any exciting tour dates or new projects?
Yes! Headline show to be announced very soon and a special project I’ve been meaning to put for some time. Very excited for 2023.