Interview: Lola Young

In April, I had the opportunity to interview the lovely Lola Young, a nineteen year old award-winning singer-songwriter. We chatted after the release of her debut Intro, a nuanced, atmospheric allegory about love and growth, since then her EP Renaissance has been released. Creative process, success in the industry, and artistic influence were just some of what we discussed. You can read the full interview over at Helicon Magazine but here are some of my favourite excerpts.

Lola’s music resists categorisation. In her own words:

I make different styles of music, which makes it quite hard for people to put me in a box because my music constantly changes. When I was younger – well even now still – I listen to a lot of folk music. Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. A lot of RNB too, Summer Walker currently but always old school stuff as well. And soul, neosoul and singer-songwriters. So I guess quite a wide range of stuff.

Photographed by Francis Plummer

Lola talks performing:

It’s therapeutic in a way. It allows me to improve my art as I can receive immediate feedback from the audience. A lot of artists might say recording but to me live performance is the best aspect of doing music. If I could play any arena, it would probably be the O2, the sound is shit but I just love that venue and the history it has. I’d love to open for Anderson Paak or Frank Ocean, that’s the dream!

On studio sessions, famous producers and writing songs:

It’s very cool to work with producers that are so experienced but my favourite people to work with are just my friends who I hang with all the time.

I love working with them (Conor and Will from Manuka) because you’ll never hit a better vibe than you do when you’re just with your mates. You know what I mean? It’s so different to working with someone you don’t know. Getting in a session with a producer for the first time when you don’t know anything about them can be difficult because you can’t really write with them…

Lola on making music videos and visuality in music:

Most of the time I really enjoy it, it’s just really cool to create a visual for a song. One of my favourites Frank Ocean sees his music as a visual thing (I heard him say on a BBC interview), he sees it very much as a visual product. But I don’t, I’ve never seen music like that. For me it’s purely about the sound and how that makes me feel. While it’s interesting to create a world you can immerse yourself within after creating a song, it can be difficult once you start delving into visuals – if it’s not perfect it can really piss you off. For example, when I wrote ‘Blind Love’ I didn’t want a visual for it because I didn’t want it to be some cringey love video. It’s a song about a relationship with a person that you’ve loved or lost or maybe both, I didn’t want that to get lost. But everyone said ‘you should do it, it will be great’ and actually it came out nice. I did see ‘6 Feet Under’ more as a visual… But this is why it’s sick working with directors because you get to talk to them about their vision, what they think about the song. It’s super interesting because it makes you realise art is very much subjective, because you can take something from a painting or song or book or whatever and someone else can take a completely different thing from it, that’s pretty cool.

Lola’s fear of subtracting from the words of what she’s saying and the meaning she’s invested in a song, and wanting to do justice to it makes so much sense. As does her expression of the subjectivity of art, how we can all build on top of each other creatively – definitely one of the coolest things about making art. 

Lola tells me who’s in her current playlist:

Lola: I’ve been listening to a bunch of things: I really like Lana’s new record, and Baby Rose is really cool, and Remi Wolf – I met her at the Annie Mac show and she’s really cool. Also some trap. I quite like The Weeknd’s new album and Jhene Aiko’s too. Omg! Also my new favourite song, ‘If The World Was Ending’ – it’s a pop track, but it’s so good. It’s just a pretty love song, it goes ‘but if the world was ending, you’d come over right? You’d come over and you’d stay the night’. That’s my guilty pleasure in music, super poppy records. 

The Intro and Renaissance album covers

Full interview originally published in Helicon Magazine.

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