Lola is the London R&B singer floating up from the underground
There’s no shortage of hazy R&B floating around London at the moment. The past few years have seen an explosion in talent as a dreamy new sound has emerged from the depths of the capital. Despite this explosion, there are few talents like Lola.
Though she only has a pair of singles to her name so far, the singer has attracted a following thanks to her heavenly vocals and penchant for jazz-inspired, richly textured instrumentals. The granddaughter of legendary British jazz drummer Jack Parnell, the singer comes from a musical background and grew up obsessing over the funk of her grandfather’s record collection.
Her new single Care is neither funk nor jazz however. Instead Lola offers a luscious slice of contemporary R&B, inspired by the singer “envisioning a life beyond expectations and pressures, beyond life or death, and seeing whether what we prioritise is really important.”
We caught Lola in London to find out what the future holds.
Describe your sound in one sentence
I don’t know if I have particular sound, with every song I try to evoke a feeling rather than a style – which usually gives off a kind of nostalgia or ethereal energy more than anything.
Who are your artistic icons?
There are too many to name, I feel like I’ve consumed and injected so much inspiration from other artists into my own work. A lot of my own family members have acted as icons to me, my grandpa, who got me into classical piano and jazz, my dad who is a percussionist and a producer, and my mum who now sings chamber music around the country. Musically, Imogen Heap, Little Dragon, Björk and Sade Adu are the artists that made me want to write music in a way that was more eclectic, conceptual and spiritual. I admired that they were well-rounded artists and icons, where everything was thought out, visually and sonically, to represent and evoke exactly what they intended to.
(Top Left) Hat:Emma Brewin,Dress: Renli Su
(Top Right) Matthew Duffy
(Bottom Left) Top: Preen Line Dress: Steven Tai Boots:John Lawrence Sullivan
What inspires you to make music?
The admiration I have for a lot of artists and their work is probably what inspires me to make music most. Hearing something beautiful and personal is so impressive, It makes me want to create my own. Subconsciously, I’ve always had a want to share how I feel with other people. I’ve always just been open emotionally, even to strangers. I want people to really understand how I feel in that moment, and a lot of the time those feelings are otherworldly or intangible, romanticised, especially in sadness. I don’t know why I feel the need to do that. My mum told me recently that she thinks my purpose is to “define the wounded feminine”, which weirdly enough I think is right, although I’d never thought about it that way.
What’s your biggest passion outside of music?
Music encompasses all of my passions to be honest. Creating concepts, visuals and stories is exciting – when I get really into it, I’ll draw, paint, design and research for days, even weeks – I could probably do that for years. So I guess that would be visual arts, but I see it all as one and the same.
What do the next six months have in store for you?
I will be sharing more. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but I’m really excited for what’s to come. Hopefully just more love and more blessings for not just myself but my loved ones and the rest of the world.
What was the inspiration behind your latest single Care?
It’s more about the way that we usually only appreciate things once they’ve gone. When I’m sick, I regret not appreciating being able to breathe out of both my nostrils! From personal experience, there were times I would only care about people once they decided I wasn’t for them, which probably just reflected an issue I had in myself. I wanted to express that, and relate it to a more universal truth about the fleeting nature of people and their attention. Everyone’s minds are often in the future or the past. I wanted a gentle reminder, if anything, for myself, to be more grateful in the present.