Must-Have Independent Artist of the Month (July) – Billboard
Lava La Rue’s new EP, Hi-Fidelity, is now available through Marathon.
Growing up, Lava La Rue always played in bands. “When I was 13, I wanted to be in an all-female version of The Clash. Very West London, ska-punk inspired. The intersection of Caribbean culture and British punk. But as I got older, the high cost of rehearsal space attracted the young creative to freestyling “because you just need a microphone”.
At college in London, La Rue met the group of artists who would soon change their lives. “I think people assume we met at a really established music school, but it wasn’t like that at all, it was a bit run down. The music equipment was falling apart,” says La Rue, but the lack of proper equipment didn’t stop the group of friends, soon to be called NiNE8 Collective (including Biig Piig, Nayana Iz, Bone Slim, Mac Wetha, Nige and LorenzoRSV), from creating some of the most exciting music to come out of London.
But first, says La Rue, it wasn’t so bad. The then unnamed NiNE8 was just a bunch of new friends, hanging out in the smoking area between classes, freestyling to borrowed beats blasted over a mini speaker. “We wouldn’t have much time to do it at school, so I was like, ‘F—this, after school, we should go to mine and continue.'” From there, the sessions at home attracted more friends. , swelling until the troupe decides to rent real rooms.
Since then, La Rue has been busy developing a grassroots music career that allows them to develop their creativity as a rapper, singer, songwriter, and even music video director. Recently, they were even tapped to direct Wet Leg’s vibrant and irreverent music video for “Ur Mom.” As evidenced by their large-scale projects, La Rue’s boundless career is a testament to what is possible for an independent artist who today dares to dream big.
During the title of La Rue’s new EP, Hi-Fidelity, the idea was simple: describe the sound with words. With the title, La Rue says that although they’ve been called “lo-fi rap” by critics and fans in the past, their new project is a polished, cleaner take on La Rue’s early roots, playing with friends in West London. “I think now I’m going back to a more live band vibe for my music, like when I was playing guitar and stuff when I was younger,” they explain.
Today, with more resources than ever for their creative endeavors, La Rue says, “Now if I do something lo-fi, it’s intentional.” They say their sound has evolved so much, in part because of access to instruments and recording gear. “I always make do with what’s there,” says La Rue. “At first it was just a really ghetto microphone and a sock to put on it.” Working around boundaries, however, is what drove La Rue to freestyle and learn his own voice as a producer, a crucial part of developing the sounds now exemplified on Hi-Fidelity. “Now when I work with other producers, I know which plug-in to ask for. What a way to record something.
On Hi-Fidelity, La Rue took inspiration from the early songs of Beck, The Neptunes, Gorillaz, Turkish Arabesque music and tried to emulate the weirdest and most satisfying sounds through their own lens. “I was experimenting. There are some really neat little details that I added that people might not notice, but it’s really satisfying to me.
Listening, however, La Rue is right: Hi-Fidelity the brilliance is in its details.
For La Rue, deciding that they didn’t have to choose a specific path as a creative was key to building the varied career they wanted. “I feel like I’m never just one thing. I don’t know if it’s the Gemini in me or the non-binary in me, but I love the idea that I can do anything. I want,” they explain. “Not to get too philosophical, but really all we’re promised is this life. We should have as many experiences as possible. I don’t like the idea to say, “I’m a musician, but maybe in an alternate universe I would have tried to direct. No, they’re bulls—. I can do both in this lifetime. There’s enough time.”
With a headline show in London in November, La Rue says, “Like my music, my live show is very different now.” They hope to build a world in orbit around High fidelity as “a focal point to paint the picture of a more cohesive world, including live shows and merchandise. It all tells a story together that I want to make bigger and more polished and more fun than ever, but still very me.
The advice every new independent artist needs to hear
“If you want to find the right collaborators and your musical soulmates, you first have to work on being very comfortable with being alone. Like knowing what you like specifically and knowing what your bag is. C That’s when I feel like those people are drawn to you. While it’s good for new artists to want to build a network, I think when you’re on your own wave and your sound is clear , then the right people to work with will gravitate around you.If you are meant to work with someone, that will happen when you first trust your own vibration.
The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learned About the Music Industry So Far
“It’s pretty crazy how genres of music and the concept of categorizing music can prevent many artists from thriving. For example, in the UK we have the MOBO Awards, which are the black music awards british. There’s no alternative or dance music category, which sucks because it basically means they don’t recognize black people making music in that category. I think sometimes putting a artist in a category does not allow him to flourish.
The artist you believe deserves more attention
“There is a group called English teacher, a post-punk band from the UK, it’s really cool. I was also obsessed with this great young artist called Psychic. He embodies this combination of alternative and punk worlds joining the world of hip-hop and rap. It flows almost like Playboi Carti, but it produces some really grungy s—. He’s pretty underground, but he’s sick. I think it’s going to explode [up]. The UK currently has some amazing alternative artists and bands. Both of these artists are represented by POC and it’s nice to see more people of color taking their place in alternative music.
The thing that needs to change in the music industry
“Whenever it’s International Women’s Day or Pride Month or whatever, companies will show their support for artists for that time, but they never look at their company’s infrastructure. Although they may visually highlight these minority groups, do they actually hire these people? I don’t think there will be any change or progress if we just put people’s faces on social media instead of sorting this out from within.