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Lava La Rue has been making her way around West London’s creative scene for a while now. Along with working on her experimental RnB Hip-Hop music, Lava has immersed herself in various projects throughout the art and fashion world culminating in NiNE8, her DIY collective of friends and collaborators.

Since catching up with her last year, a lot has changed for the rising star, but her commitment to carving out a larger space for queer hip-hop music that doesn’t cater to the stereotypical eye has remained. Her latest mixtape, Stitches, features music she wrote when she was 16, along with some of her newer works; essentially “stitching songs and moments together” to convey her world of unapologetic expression to her audience. 

Milk chatted with Lava regarding her career, new music, and her experience performing at Glastonbury earlier this summer. Don’t forget to also check out her curated Weekend Playlist to discover what Lava calls the soundtrack to her past year.

We spoke last summer – since then you’ve collaborated with COLORS, performed at festivals across the UK, and put out new singles, “Moschino in 83”, and “Burn” — what has the last year felt like? 

It’s been pretty surreal and fast-paced. I’m always working on mad creative projects between all the shows and I’ve got to constantly remind myself to take moments to reflect and appreciate everything that’s happened before I’m already on to the new project. But there’s been many beautiful moments where me and my best friends just look at each other and say, “Shit, we really doing the stuff we said we wanted to do in school.”

How was your set at Glastonbury?  It was a much larger crowd than from when you first started; how has that affected your overall performance? How did you prepare for going on stage?

Haha I didn’t really prepare at all. At festivals you can never truly expect how the crowd is going to be because there’s so many factors regardless of weather, if you’re first or last on, playing the mainstage or a little tent in the far corner. I try and treat every show with the same energy as if it’s my own headline even if I’m playing to 5 or 5000 people – but damn everything just worked perfectly at Glasto, the weather was lovely, loads of people came just for my set and as a result I feel like loads of other people who were passing the stage were like “Okay, who’s this?” and by the end I felt like I had converted them all. I had fun.

For the “TLSL” video, you highlighted the places you grew up, your foundations, and the friends you keep – who and what are we looking at?

Ladbroke Grove and NiNE8 COLLECTIVE baby. That whole visual was shot on two days with little planning and all my best friends. I just wanted to capture the area I grew up in and all the people I’ve come up with creatively! I felt like the visual did just that, kinda shows what I’ve been up to this summer between the shows n stuff.

Tell us about your new mixtape, Stitches? What inspired the name?

Stitches is almost like an audio scrapbook of loads of different moments of my life living in London. Some songs I wrote/recorded when I was 16-17 and some songs I literally finished a couple weeks back. I’m literally stitching songs and moments together, hence the name.

How has your sound evolved since LETRA? What inspires you when you are creating music?

Oh my god, my sound has evolved so much. I feel like LETRA as my debut EP was an introduction to me, like “Hey, I’m Lava…this is a bit about me,” whereas I feel like the music I’ve been working on this year, shows my capabilities much more of how I can experimentally stretch my sound and present ideas in completely different genres. Watching my friends who produce do their thing really inspired me to get more involved in the production side of things for sure.

What message do you want people to take away for your music? How do you want your listeners to feel?

All I can really do in my music is show different perspectives on how I feel artistically.  I want to be able to open conversations for many kids like me who might not have felt as heavily represented in music previously. We still need way more openly queer rappers who make complex sounds beyond the stereotype and I’m totally down to be part of a movement that fills that space.

Do you have any upcoming projects for your collective, NiNE8? How have you grown as a team since we last spoke?

Hellssss yaaaaaaaaaa. I feel like we’re tighter than ever right now but I’m always saying that and then we get even tighter, so I guess that’s a good thing. Everyone individually in the collective has been working hard on their own music which means we come together stronger on future projects. Stay tuned, and keep an eye out for the younger members of the group Nayana IZ and LORENZORSV. They were still in school when they joined NiNE8, but over the past year been able to be part of all the mad stuff we’ve been doing with our careers and are now debuting their own projects. All I can say it’s what Hip-Hop/ alternative RnB needs right now from a generation of kids born in the 2000s.

How has working/creating in London influenced your artistic vision/career path? 

It’s as simple as the people in it. So many people confined in one city your bound to meet your creative tribe your energy is right because there are so many different walks of life here.

How have you found it, breaking into other countries and new audiences?

Exciting, surreal. My music is so personal to my own experience; in London, it’s crazy seeing kids in other countries sing back my own lyrics and use London slang /say talking about my area. 

What artists are inspiring you at the moment? (in any medium!) 


Tell us about the playlist you created…

Literally soundtrack to my year so far.

Image Courtesy of  Matilda Hill-Jenkins. 

Stay tuned to Milk for more Weekend Playlists

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