PAUSE Meets: Lava La Rue

By June 13, 2019Featured, Features, Music

Lava La Rue

Talks music, fashion & inspiration.

Creative Direction and Styling: Samantha Ria // @samantharia
Photographer: Benjamin Glean // @benjaminjamesglean
Hair and Makeup: Jam Deluxe // @jam_deluxe
Interviewer: Johnson Gold // @johnson_gold
Location: Bird Restaurant, 42/44 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London

“Wash The Streets”

From the early days Lava La Rue knew school wasn’t her thing, opting to follow the path less taken by graduating from the “School of Life” and growing up quickly with odd creative jobs here and there to pay the bills, the all-around artist soon began to realise that music was her true passion. Now with popular hits like “Burn” and “Widdit” under her belt; London, and the world, is her Oyster. We sat down with the rising creative to see what’s next…

Cropped top, Jacket and Trousers: Urban Outfitters, Trainers: Schuh, Sunglasses: Stylist’s Own

Lava la Rue, is that your real name?

It’s an anagram of my real name, Ava Laurel. You get the ends of Laurel put it in front of Ava it makes Lava. I did that just by playing around with my name at the back of class and it turns out that La Rue means the street and Lava means to wash so when you say Lava La Rue it means to wash the streets, which goes with everything that I represent which is seeing the positivity and empowerment from where I come from – the streets. Rather than glamourizing the negative aspects of it which is us killing each other off, I don’t believe in that I believe be proud of it and look after your community.

T-Shirt: Urban Outfitters, Trousers: Collusion @ ASOS, Shoes: Buffalo @ Schuh

What was it like for you growing up?

I really struggled with school in that I would always be asking questions and the teacher would be like you don’t need to know that to pass the exam, so I was like well why are we here studying? I had that knowledge from quite young, I’ve been like that since I was 12 years old so to teachers they didn’t see that as she’s hungry or courageous they saw it as she’s disruptive so I was in and out of trouble and I was like you know what let me do my own thing let me just get the experience of life let me go to the school of life. I just started working with the people around me putting on my own parties charging people on the door doing little bits here and there to make money. I got my place when I was 18, I would find little ways to pay rent when you’re from the hood you don’t have one job you have several jobs especially when you’re creative you’re like: ‘I can assist you, I can do photographs for you, I can make cover art for you, I can produce for you, you do this for me, go on the door at my event’ and eventually you work your way up and if you really have your own tunnel vision of where you’re going you find yourself in the creative world and suddenly people are respecting you, people who can actually provide things who can actually invest in you and that’s how I got that investment.

You do so many different things what clicks for you in terms of music. So you know: I want to be a rapper.

I think because I’ve always seen myself as a creative as a whole, I design clothes I’ve done stuff for like the British Fashion Council, I’ve done exhibitions and stuff but for me music is the best source that I feel there’s a space I can really fill quite instantly because the thought pattern from going from thoughts straight into lyrics and poetry I find so much quicker than maybe doing something that takes more time and thought. It’s quite personal music so I can talk about me and sing about me and my experiences and my perspective for days so that’s what I currently use as a vessel but at the same time if I have a creative block I’ll start painting something and the moment I have a creative block painting I’ll go back to the music so I do all the things kind of helping each other grow, so I’m never doing nothing.

Are you one of those people you can’t just do one thing you have to have multiple things?

Yeah I can’t do nothing and I came up here being like I was at this show yesterday and then I was here and here but honestly its so much better being busy than to being doing nothing and when you’re a creative person you know you can do well and when you’re just sat there not actually exercising you’re abilities it’s the most frustrating thing and every creative person knows when you’re not working your hardest you feel a bit shit about yourself. If you’re just partying and drinking with friends you’re like where is my life right now what am I doing, I feel scruffy.

Who’s inspired your musical journey?

S0 many people! I’m a big fan of Erykah badu, Sade, Prince a lot of the greats a lot of people who had a drive and I think they walked into a room and everyone’s like: who are they? Before I started doing music when I was really young I used to watch interviews the way that they would speak and talk to people in a way that’s not overly arrogant but captivating and how they were able to relay information and not just in an interview but as an artist how they were able to portray a story or make people feel stuff or make people cry I’ve always really looked up to people like that.

So Erykah Badu is number one?

I’m a big fan of Erykah Badu, she’s always been a bit weird and cookie, I think there’s been a second generation of young people picking her up now, but they forget people in the 90s when they actually saw Erykah Badu come out she was always cool but she was always weird and spiritual very proud of her blackness she’d start talking about aliens and stuff like that, now we just think that’s cool we see her as a legend but I love following her journey I love watching back. She didn’t put her first album out till she was 27, I put my first project out when I was like 19 so I understood that there’s a lot of learning and a journey to become a woman.

So you just released your first track?

So I’ve released Burn the first track off my next project. I dropped my debut EP around this time last year when I was just turning 20 and now I’m dropping another mixtape. It’s not quite an EP its not quite an album but its this tape and its more like a scrapbook of sounds of the different stages of me starting to make music and I’m talking about different parts of London and my identity and relationships and sexuality so it’s cool.

Why did you call it Burn?

So burn is the name of the single, the mixtapes tape is called stitches. It’s called Burn because it’s quite political, it’s a lot about identity I didn’t want it to be a sad song because most people think a lyrical song has to be sad I wanted it to be like you want to dance, you’re burning inside the fire in your belly.

Who would you like to collaborate with UK wise?

I think in terms of the UK there are loads of really cool underground artists. I also love a lot of legends like Neneh Cherry, The Streets, Ms Dynamite. I love people that just made me think growing up in London in the 2000s, Nina Cherry is a bit 80s but she was part of the whole buffalo movement which is a style that I feel like there’s modern-day embodiments of, like subculture. But to be honest I more want to collaborate with artists and visionaries I would love to collaborate with some designer (because) music and fashion that’s a relationship that’s been there since the beginning of time. Anyone out of the UK I really want to work with I’d want to work with some proper UK designers.

In the current UK music scene who have you been listening to?

Quite a lot of people, I’m part of an arts collective there’s a lot of amazing musicians in that like Biig Piig she’s an amazing singer, she’s neo soul but she’s Irish and grew up in Spain so she’ll be doing D’Angelo type stuff but speaking Spanish and English. I’m a big fan of Bone Slim, masked rapper really cool very British hip hop but his lyrics are like poetry you have to decipher them every time you listen you hear another thing. I like people who like to take things to new places.

You seem very much like a researcher. Do you think it’s important to research your craft before you get into it?

I think social media these days makes it a lot easier for people to just jump on things. A lot of people are like I want a brand, I’ll just get my friends in a t-shirt and post it on Instagram and I’ll have a brand. Actually there’s a lot of work, what’s your individual style? What’s your narrative? What do you want to portray? I always say whatever you’re into do your research if you’re really passionate about it you will only gain from learning about it. That’s what it’s been for me, I’m always someone where I love to learn about stuff. Why are we on this earth? One of the reasons is just to learn and discover and pass information to people who will outlive you. That’s one of the many wonders of life and music is the best way to do that music lives longer than you I hope that people are listening to me decades after I die.

When you do music how does it make you feel?

It depends what the music’s about sometimes it’ll be very empowering sometimes it’ll be kind of sexy, sometimes its quite emotional and makes me feel very vulnerable. It’s like when you dress how do you feel? When you make a painting how do you feel? Well whatever you’re trying to portray.

When you complete making a song how do you feel? Is there a specific feeling for that?

One of the hardest things I think for any artist is trying to detach themselves from a song and be like its finished. Because I’m the kind of person where I listen to it and I’m like this or this could be added. You can always add things but when I finally detach myself and its out its not mine anymore it’s the worlds I just move onto the next thing.

Suit: Collusion @ ASOS, Trainers: Schuh, Sunglasses: Stylist’s own

How do you get to that point where you detach yourself? Because some people would just keep tweaking.

I focus myself on a bigger and better project I’ll put something out and that’s the worlds to listen to and while they’re listening I want to be working on the next thing that’s going to top the last thing. Because I like the idea of always progressing. I don’t believe any artist can hit their peak if they’re really in love with what they do you find another thing, there’s always a different way to take things and turn it into something else

Describe your style in one word.

Can I have three? 2000s cartoon character. I didn’t even know I dressed like a 2000s cartoon character and then loads of people started saying it. I spent so much of my childhood watching Cartoon Network, Powerpuff Girls, Nickelodeon I realized the way I dress is quite animated to the character I’m embodying. Actually if you want one word I’d say fluid. Sometimes I can feel proper tomboyish I feel like Bart Simpson on my skateboard, sometimes I feel like Kim Possible and I’m on a mission and I’m going to finesse drinks off a rich person it just depends who I want to be that day. I don’t think anyone should ever dress one way, that’s just boring switch it up go through phases that means your growing. I don’t want to look at what I was wearing last year and be like I’ll wear that tomorrow, you’ve always got to develop and grow.

What do you think about brands like ASOS doing unisex collections?

I think on the face of it the commercial world is recognizing it but its always been a thing. Look at punk women in the 70s they were dressing unisex they were dressing in leather and men’s clothes and I just think now people are really letting it be accepted. There’s always people that have been rebellious look at Frida Kahlo she was dressing in suits then she’d be dressing all floral. There’s always going to be a world where people are fluid whether that means style wise, creative wise or in terms of their identity that’s always been a thing since ancient times but I think now people are recognizing it and that’s only a good thing and it means we can take it to more places and people can feel safe. That’s the most important thing, for people to walk out into the street and whether that’s someone who identifies as a male but their wearing a skirt of if that’s someone who identifies as a female but they may look androgynous or someone that doesn’t identify as either, that they can walk down the street and feel safe in what they want to wear. If brands like ASOS doing gender fluid stuff is a way to make people more acceptant of it then let them do that.

How important do you think it is to be yourself when you get into your career?

To keep artistic integrity you have to feel like yourself otherwise you simply wont be happy, but its easier to be like: ‘just be yourself’, the first step into that is finding who yourself is there’s this whole thing like be yourself especially to younger people but they don’t even know who they need to be to get there yet so you need to go through the whole process of who am I? what makes me uncomfortable? Otherwise they skip that process and they might think just being a type of way is not caring, like being really rude. Some people think being themselves and not giving a fuck is going to someone ‘honey that’s not it’ – that’s not being yourself that’s being mean, that’s hurting people’s feelings. Really being yourself is to not feel any type of way because you know who you are and you know what your path is and you know what you need to do to get there. It takes a lot of experience to do that, it’s easier said than done. Especially if you’re a young person, I’ve just turned 21, it takes a while to be like this is who I am. As with any artist I can say the first thing to do is go on that mission, travel, meet people, never be apologetic for things that make you happy, kiss people slowly, go to that party you weren’t sure you wanted to go to, don’t go to that party and stay home and read that book if that makes you feel better, just do what you need to do in that moment.

What are your dreams for the future?

I’d just like to do what I’m doing now but on a bigger scale. I’m very blessed that I’ve just been playing festivals and shows, I’ve been performing to people who know my lyrics, I’ve been making my own clothes, I’ve been wearing my own clothes, I’ve been paying my rent with my music – that’s all I ever really dreamed of. I’m very happy with the life I have now I just want to elevate it to a bigger scale because I know I haven’t shown the world everything I can do yet I know in due time they’ll see, timing is key.

Follow Lava La Rue on Instagram

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