This month’s indie artist you need to hear: Lava La Rue

The project

Lava La Rue’s new EP, high fidelity, is out now via Marathon.

The origin

Growing up, Lava La Rue always played in bands. “When I was 13, I wanted to be in an all-girl version of The Clash. Very West London, ska-punk inspired. The intersection of Caribbean culture and British punk.” But as they got older, the expense of the rehearsal room drew 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 that 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,” explains La Rue, but the lack of proper equipment didn’t stop the group of friends who would soon call themselves the NiNE8 Collective (including Biig Piig, Nayana Iz, Bone Slim, Mac Wetha, Nige and LorenzoRSV) from creating something of the most exciting music to come out of London.

But at first, La Rue says, it wasn’t that serious. The then-unnamed NiNE8 was just a gang of newfound friends hanging out in the smoking area between classes, freestyling over borrowed beats blasted on a mini-speaker. “We’d only have little pockets of time to do it at school, so I’d say, ‘F—it, after school we should go to mine and carry on.'” From there, the home sessions attracted more friends, swelling until the troupe decided to rent proper venues.

Ever since, La Rue has been busy developing a grassroots career in music that allows them to flex their creative muscles as a rapper, singer, songwriter and even a music video director. Recently, they were even tapped to direct Wet Leg’s lively, irreverent music video for “Ur Mom.” As evidenced by their wide-ranging projects, La Rue’s unfettered career is a testament to what is possible for an indie artist who dares to dream big today.

The sound

When you title La Rue’s new EP, high fidelity, the idea was simple: describe the sound in words. With the title, La Rue declares that while they’ve previously been called “lo-fi rap” by critics and fans, their new project is a polished, cleaner take on La Rue’s earliest roots playing with friends around West London. “I think now I’m circling back to the more live band feel to my music, like when I used to play guitar and stuff when I was younger,” they explain.

Today, with more resources for their creative projects than ever, La Rue says, “Now, if I make something sound lo-fi, it’s on purpose.” They say their sound has evolved so thoroughly in part due to access to instruments and recording equipment. “I always make do with what’s there,” explains La Rue. “In the beginning it was just a real ghetto microphone and a sock to put on top.” However, working around the limitations was what pushed La Rue to freestyling and learning their own voice as a producer, a crucial part of developing the sonics now exemplified on High Fidelity. “Now, when I work with other manufacturers, I know which plug-in to ask for. What a way to record something.”

On high fidelity, Inspired by early Beck songs, Neptunes, Gorillaz, Turkish arabesque music, La Rue sought to emulate the strangest, most satisfying sounds through their own lens. “I experimented. There are some very small details I put in that people might not notice, but it’s really satisfying to me.”

However, upon careful listening, La Rue is right: High Fidelity’s brilliance is in the details.

The breakthrough

For La Rue, deciding that they didn’t have to choose one particular path as creatives 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 like the idea that I can do anything I want,” explains de. “Not to get too philosophical, but the only thing we’re promised is this life. We should live as many experiences as we can. I don’t like the idea of ​​saying, ‘I’m a musician, but maybe in an alternate universe I would have tried directing.’ No, it’s bulls -. I can do both in this life. There is enough time.”

The future

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 that revolves around High Fidelity as “a center to paint the picture of a more connected world, including live shows and merchandise. It all tells a story together that I want to make bigger and more polished and funnier than ever, but still very much me.”

The advice every new indie artist needs to hear

“If you want to find the right collaborators and your musical soulmates, then you first have to work on being very comfortable being on your own. Like knowing what you specifically like and knowing what your bag is. That is, 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 sounds are clear, then the right people want to work along with attracting you. If you are meant to work with someone, it will happen once you have the confidence of your own vibe.”

The most surprising thing you’ve learned about the music industry so far

“It’s pretty crazy how many musical genres and the concept of categorizing music can stop a lot of artists from thriving. For example, in the UK we have the MOBO Awards, which are the Black British Music Awards. There’s no alternative or dance category for music , which is a shame because it’s basically saying they don’t recognize black people making music in that category. I think sometimes putting an artist in a category doesn’t allow them to thrive.”

The artist you think deserves more attention

“There’s a band called English teacher, a post-punk band from the UK, it’s really cool. I have also been obsessed with this super young artist called Psyche. He embodies this combination of alternative and punk worlds joining the hip-hop and rap worlds. He almost flows like Playboi Carti, but he really produces grungy s—. He’s pretty underground, but he’s sick. I think he’s going to blow [up]. The UK has some incredible alternative artists and bands right now. Both of these artists are POC-fronted, and it’s nice to see more people of color taking up space in alternative music.”

What needs to change in the music industry

“When it’s International Women’s Day or Pride Month or whatever, companies will show their support for artists during that period, but they never look at their company’s infrastructure. Even though they might highlight these minority groups visually, are they actually hiring these people? I think no, there’s not going to be any change or progress if we just put people’s faces on social media instead of fixing this from the inside.”

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