Image Credits: James Pearson Howes
Lola Schroer interviews Lola Young.
20-Year-old Lola Young may have 200,000 monthly Spotify listeners, but she wants you to know that she is figuring out life just like you.
This last year has been rough for emerging talent. The norm of gigging, promo, meeting fans, and much more has been near impossible. Yet this has not seemed to stop Lola’s rising star, or her work rate. Releasing two powerful singles and an EP aptly titled Renaissance, amongst some beautifully crafted music videos, she continues to succeed. Her honesty is refreshing to hear not only in her lyricism but also in our exchange where she talked candidly about her own mental health and the introspective nature of being an artist.
In this interview Young delved into why she found the lockdown’s particularly tough, her growth as an artist and what she would tell her younger self. It is exciting to see an artist passionate about their future and how they intend to use their platform to help others. For these reasons and so many more, she is an artist to watch in 2021/22.
Lola Young’s latest single ‘Ruin My Make Up’ is out now!
Lola Schroer: How did you find the different lockdowns and what did you get up to on April 12th?
Lola Young: I found the lockdown pretty intense, a bit strange really. I had Covid so I had to isolate for a little bit, it was a really horrible experience. I’m excited for things to reopen, for June mainly, when the clubs open! On the 12th I was really excited and ended up doing a bit of shopping. I bought some eyelashes! Oh and I went to a restaurant briefly with my managers.
LS: Did the lockdowns affect the process of your writing of music, inspiration wise?
LY: I think what I found to be really tough was the lack of inspiration and not being able to go outside and meet new people. The whole process of getting to know someone was gone. That’s a massive part of your inspiration for artists, being able to socialise. It’s also given time to be super introspective and that has been a bit intense for me.
LS: As an emerging artist it must have been particularly hard, what are you most excited about doing musically wise now? Tours? Shows?
LY: Gigging! I’m so excited to be performing live, it’s a massive part of what I do. Since I have not been able to gig, I have sort of forgotten what it feels like to gig. Therefore, I really want to perform, tour and support other artists.
LS: You’re performing at the Jazz Café on the 26th May? Congratulations! What would a live show of Lola Young’s look like?
LY: I don’t have a particular aesthetic at the moment, it is still in the process of being developed. I have a band put together which means the sound is more developed, it is bigger. That’s what I am focusing on at the moment. However, I do like dark imagery and I feel like I can incorporate some of that into my live sets.
LS: You wrote Same Bed over four years ago. What would you say to the younger version of yourself that had no idea about the success you are currently receiving?
LY: I’m going to be honest I have a really bad memory. [Laughs] What I would say is when I was younger, I was quite angry about a lot of stuff, had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I went through a period of my life not knowing what I was doing and acting like I did. So, I would probably tell myself to calm down. For me at that age, it’s not about remembering who you are, because you don’t know that yet. You have to figure yourself out. Before you create this intense version of yourself you should try to understand the world around you and what you like to do. Oh, and also practice more!
LS: For me it’s really special to hear a voice that I recognise and sounds like me and my friends. How do you think being from South London has affected your music?
LY: Growing up in South London around lots of different cultures has massively affected my music and who I am. People have different sexual orientation, different ethnicities. London is a lot more of an accepting place than other places.
LS: There is a rawness to your lyrics, especially in songs like ‘None for You’. You are very honest and open about heartbreak and feelings of loss. Was it always easy for you to write such open lyrics or has it become easier with time?
LY: Honesty is what I like to play with in my music. Some artists are honest to a certain degree in their lyrics. Billie Eilish, for example, is super honest, it’s really great to see. The music that I am trying to make is super raw, I can be shit sometimes, I hate myself sometimes. I have been heartbroken; I can be the heartbreaker. I think that is massively important to be honest about experiences. What is music for if you are not going to be completely honest with yourself and your audience. That then also means your audience will connect more with what you are saying. You have to be down to earth.
LS: When listening to your music I would say it draws on many different genres from hip-hop to Jazz at times. Woman is a perfect example, very powerful song, tell me about the process behind the creation of it?
LY: It is quite tongue and cheek. As a woman you feel like you cannot do anything, you cannot be openly sexual as you will be judged, you can’t wear this, you can’t talk too loudly. I wrote that song because I wanted to list out all the things’ women are pressured to not do. The history that we learn is filled by men, not women. I wanted to write this song to express how I feel as a woman and I want change.
LS: Ruin My Make Up is a song that really shows off your vocals. You’re a powerhouse and the video for it is just as emotive. How do you come up with the concepts for your videos?
LY: It is often me sitting with a team of people. For ‘Woman’ it was a collaborative process, I wanted to get naked. I worked with a woman called Olivia, she brought my ideas to life. It turned out amazingly and its one of my videos I am most proud of.
LS: I read somewhere that you were the first artist the V&A has allowed to record a music video/video for the piano version of ‘None for You’? How does it feel to be able to have opportunities like this?
LY: It feels amazing to have these opportunities. Everything that my team and I have achieved is so rewarding and incredible and things like that make us feel good. There is loads more to do, more songs to write.
LS: From just scrolling through your Instagram, I can see that fashion is something that is important to you and that your fits often compliment the vibe and style of your music. No one pulls off red and black like you do! If you were invited to the brit awards, who would you wear on the red carpet?
LY: This sounds a bit Lily Allen, but I would probably wear a dress and trainers. Or a really nice red suit and designer trainers. I’m obsessed with trainers.
LS: What is your favourite food after a night out?
LY: I used to be a Morley’s girl but I have eaten so much of it, it makes me feel ill now. If I had to choose it would probably be Thai, I love Thai food.
LS: Who do you think writes the best lyrics?
LY: Frank Ocean, he is an incredible lyricist. I loved Berwyn. He’s incredible. He’s got a song called ‘Vinyl’ and a song called ‘Trap Phone’. Have a listen.
LS: First place you want to go on holiday when you can?
LY: I want to go to two different places. I want to go to Jamaica and Norway. Norway seems so beautiful, the landscape, and I want to be there in a little cabin. Jamaica because its peng!
LS: What is the festival you most want to perform at? Or the venue you most want to perform?
LY: My biggest dream is Glastonbury, or O2. I would love to do Reading and I have it booked in. It would be amazing because it’s a teen memory.
LS: If I could ask you one question, what would you want it to be?
LY: The one thing I want people to know about me is that I think that everyone in the world does not really know what they are doing. We are all trying our hardest to keep ourselves happy and stable. I suffer extremely badly from mental health, and if my platform gets bigger, I really want to discuss this more.