CookiesWe use cookies to make it easier for you to browse our website. If you, as a user, visit our website, it is our understanding that you are granting your consent to the use of cookies. You may obtain more information on cookies and their use hereOK
London-based musician LOLA lets us in on her secrets in debut EP The Sleeping Prophet. Her haunting and ethereal music showcases the contrasts of life in a complexity of emotions, which alongside a digitalised version of herself in latest video Feral Soul, culminates in a healing manifestation of her inner demons. She speaks of wonder and magic fused together with human feeling to express the breadth of feminine power. Today, we chat lockdown, spirituality, and the stability provided by music.

Congratulations on releasing your EP! What an exciting time. Were you worried about the release happening during lockdown?
Ah, thank you! You know, I think at the time that we were considering releasing it (which was at the start of lockdown) it was almost impossible to know how it would go because it was a unique situation. This kind of took the pressure off of the release for the most part – I had to let go of any expectations because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. Of course, it was still terrifying (laughs); but I don’t know if that was because of lockdown or because it’s generally terrifying to release something so personal.
The music is so unique and holds so many layers, I think people would be quick to describe it as futuristic. How would you describe Sleeping Prophet?
Really?! Wow, I’ll take that! I’m never sure how to describe it, my answer changes all the time. I feel like it’s pretty eclectic. I always ask people to listen to it instead of having me rambling and struggling to find the words for them, which I think happens because I’m so close to it. When I try to imagine someone else listening to the project, I like to think it feels like you’re being let in on a secret. It’s complex and emotional, and I guess quite experimental. I was working out my own sound and place in the world.
What is the centre focus of the EP?
I didn’t really have a centre focus per se while I was making it. The four works on the EP were the only songs I made in the past two years that I was 100 per cent sure I wanted to use as a representation of myself for my debut, and I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is. It was just a feeling… The concept of the EP came later in the process after a majority of the music was done.
I think the centre focus has become that of unravelling complicated states of being and feeling and making sense of them. I wanted to bring an essence of wonder and magic to something as regular as an emotion, and this project probably describes those things more from the point of view of a woman.
The video for Feral Soul is very fragmentary and surreal – it’s a beautiful piece of art, especially with the unique sound of the song itself. What does the video represent?
I was having a difficult time mentally, which I think you probably described perfectly – it was hard to comprehend; fragmentary and surreal. I was essentially being faced with parts of myself that I didn’t understand or like. The video represents the many inner voices we all have and how they can start to take over. The vast and seemingly endless landscapes in the video are meant to be a visualisation of the mind, and the ever-changing clones of myself within that world are the distorted personifications of my thoughts. Overall, it is about the process of letting go and fighting our inner demons – a story of harmony through conflict.

What was the process behind creating the video?
It all happened very easily. My manager, Sharkkana, came up with the idea of creating a visualizer of me as an avatar when she first heard the song. A year later, when Feral Soul was finished, she brought the idea back up and we took it to the co-director of the video, Manu Pillai. Immediately, Manu knew what we wanted, and then I got 3D scanned by the amazing artists at Form Capture. We kind of just went with what felt right. Manu began to build our organic yet surrealist world, and we figured out how to tell our story as we went along. It was so much fun, I had never had such a joyful process in creating a visual!
We mentioned lockdown – for so long, the only versions of others we interacted with were behind screens. Do you think the digital aspect of your video holds more significance because of the ever-growing presence of the digital in our everyday lives?
I don’t know if it holds more or less significance for that reason; I haven’t really thought about it. Maybe to some people. It depends on the individual’s interpretation I think. I can definitely see how it would – a few years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. It’s crazy to think about how quickly we are evolving and how accessible technology like that is these days.
The name of your EP is a reference to the spiritual thinker Edgar Cayce, who was nicknamed ‘The Sleeping Prophet’. What sort of impact does spirituality have on your creativity? Do you think the two go hand in hand when writing or creating music?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, my spirituality and creative process have become intertwined. Honestly, it has had a profound effect on my creativity. I think so far, it has been the force that has pushed me to express myself in a way that is more truthful, and at times, more difficult. It has become a form of healing for me for that reason.
You’ve spoken in previous interviews about striving to represent and portray the ‘wounded feminine.’ What significance does this wounded feminine hold for yourself?
I think that growing up, my interpretation of the ‘wounded feminine’ was straightforward and uncomplicated. I thought that when the feminine was hurt we cried, mourned and became shut off and cold-hearted. I feel like this was almost romanticised through different forms of media and art. Simultaneously, there is an overwhelming sense of shame that has been placed around being ‘wounded.’ It was very confusing and made things even harder to work through.
It took many years of unlearning old habits and mindsets for me to realise that there is no ‘wrong’ emotion to experience, and no one way to feel. When we are hurt, we are able to feel everything at once. I am able to feel elated and broken-hearted at the same time. It’s so important to acknowledge our feelings and that we each have our own processes, and furthermore, to experience them without shame. For me, personally, the wounded feminine takes many shapes and forms – with vulnerability, freedom, expression and power at the centre of it.
How did you come up with the idea that the digital self could be an exploration of this wounded feminine?
Since, to me at least, it is such an obscure and complicated concept, it made sense to take it out of the real world and into a completely imagined space. We needed to create something otherworldly and boundless, and that didn’t feel possible to do without going digital. An amazing amount of emotion can be conveyed through art that is completely digital. I don’t know what it is, but it’s fascinating and disconcerting in the same way that the idea of the wounded feminine is to me.

It was your mother who introduced you to spirituality, and at the end of Feral Soul, there is a line – “cried to my mama in the evening / never seen me like this / you don’t even sound like the real thing” – which is such an intimate and powerful image. How does your relationship with your mother affect your work?
I feel like my mother has influenced me more than anyone; she influences me in almost every single way, even those that I’m not aware of. Above everything, my mother inspires me and does so much to expand my understanding of my surroundings and of myself. She knows me better than anyone, and is both my mentor and biggest fan… I just wouldn’t be this version of myself without her guidance. The way I view the world is a lot to do with her, and that is a majority of what my work is. I could really go on talking about this forever!
So, you grew up in a musical household, are there any artists in particular who you feel have influenced your work the most?
Well, my family is made up of musicians, so I think they all have had a huge influence. My mother has always sung avant/art-pop and chamber music; my dad is a producer/percussionist, and my grandfather was a jazz musician. I feel like you can hear elements of each of their styles in my music. The female musicians my family played throughout my childhood have definitely influenced my style – Sade, Frou Frou, Little Dragon, Kate Bush, Björk, Corinne Bailey Rae, Gwen Stefani, Erykah Badu, Eve, Amy Whinehouse, Teedra Moses… the list goes on.
What has your relationship with music been throughout your life?
It’s been one of the only things that has been constant in my life. It has been a lifeline, a form of healing, an escape, a passion, a career. I feel like I’ve gone through so many phases, and it has been everything to me.

“I wanted to bring an essence of wonder and magic to something as regular as an emotion.”
Your lyrics are incredibly personal and laden with emotion, do you use writing music as an outlet for grappling with the world?
Definitely. I use writing music as a way to understand what I experience. There are times when the world feels overwhelming and impossibly hard to understand, and there are also times when there is no reason for why that is. I feel like art is a universal language that can be understood and interpreted however each individual needs to do so. Sometimes I can’t understand something until I have transformed it into something else that I can understand.
The recent pandemic has put a halt to live music. What do you think the effects of this will be in the long-term? Are you looking forward to live music making a comeback?
I think it’s almost impossible to know for sure. I hope that because of what has happened, people will at least appreciate live music a lot more. I’m definitely looking forward to the comeback – one of my earliest memories is of watching musicians play live. It can be life-changing and transcendental. And I’m excited to develop my own live show and to connect with whoever comes to experience it.
Have you got any projects set up for the future? What are you hoping for with the success of your EP?
Yes, I do, but I think I’ll keep it to myself for now. Really, I’m just hoping for more growth and happiness, and getting to share that with my loved ones.

Polly Neill
Creative Directors
Alia Aluli & Furmaan Ahmed
Furmaan Ahmed & Sukey Parnell Johnson
Furmaan Ahmed
Alia Aluli

ic_eye_openCreated with Sketch.See commentsClose comments
0 resultados