For her latest single, LOLA transforms into a digital avatar for a spiritual awakening
With its haunting melodies and spiritual musings, singer LOLA’s ethereal brand of R&B has been bewitching listeners since her 2018 debut single “Mountain Dew.” Now, she has released a new song “Feral Soul,” the first single from her debut EP coming this summer.
A deeply personal track, “Feral Soul” is a story of harmony through conflict following the singer coming to terms with her inner darkness and facing her fears head on. “Making the intangible, tangible, can be frustrating but music and art have a way of capturing emotion in a way words on their own can’t,” she tells us. “We made it happen with Feral Soul though!”
Accompanying the single is a video both intimate and otherworldly. Set against increasingly trippy backgrounds that feel alternately repressively lonely and hopefully tranquil, we see LOLA in full digital avatar form dancing and journey through this inner universe. The 3D artwork was a medium they were drawn to, LOLA says, because of the endless possibilities it offers. “When trying to paint a picture of what it looks like inside your mind, I feel like vast spaces of light and dark are the most fitting and that’s really hard to achieve when filming real life,” she says. “3D was as close to a warped reality as we could get, which is how I think of the mind’s eye.”
Here the singer tells all about the experiences that inspired the song, working in 3D, and her beauty aesthetic.
How would you describe “Feral Soul”?
LOLA: I think of Feral Soul as a fully-formed character – a dark masked figure that roams around in the shadows. It’s like an embodiment of my fears essentially. I was at a point where I thought that I was really content with my life, and suddenly this voice just popped into my head telling me everything had to change. It was weird for me; I tried to ignore it, but it just kept on nagging me at the back of my mind. I literally cried to my mum one evening in the kitchen, saying: ‘I don’t understand what’s happening to me! It’s like there’s another person in my head.’ I’ve always heard that small voice that made me do things I wasn’t proud of, or say things I didn’t think through or necessarily mean, but this was a much more intense experience.
Now, I realise that the Feral Soul was a part of me that I was scared of. The parts of me I didn’t like had finally confronted me. Feral Soul already knew all of my secrets, my desires, my thoughts, and my feelings, because it was living inside of me, and was a part of me. The song is specifically about the time where I was still rejecting it and feeling confused. I had started to mourn my ignorance, because I knew everything was going to change from the inside out.
Who was the video directed by and how did that process begin?
LOLA: The video was directed by my manager, Sharkkana, and Manu Pillai. As soon as we had the first Feral Soul demo back from Ragz, over a year ago, Sharkkana pulled up this animated avatar of Björk, where she was like a floating cyber-warrior-fairy, which we both loved.
When the time came to actually do the video, we went to Manu, who is a genius and close friend of ours, and he brought up a ton of amazing references for what we were imagining. We had been sitting with the idea of animating multiple faces which would represent all the different sides of me, so with that quite simple idea, Manu created the single’s cover artwork, and that set the tone for everything that was to come for the video.
You have a very distinctive beauty aesthetic, tell us how you’d describe it and what your influences are?
LOLA: The way I like to do beauty is a lot to do with evoking and enhancing the mysterious, ambiguous and elegant aspects of myself. I don’t want to look like a different person, but I don’t know if I necessarily want to look like a human – I always loved fantasy, and believed in fairies. I used to get upset about people telling me I was ‘interesting’ or ‘hard to place’, but when I began pursuing music it gave me the confidence to start playing into that, and really try to make it a strength of mine.
I’ve always braided my hair and I would brush and braid my grandmother’s every day as a child. Over the years, I got more intricate with them and started experimenting, mainly just from watching YouTube videos. Make-up wise, I have always been more graphic than anything: I believe liner is the most transformative make-up tool there is; it’s so diverse in terms of what you can create with it. That also has just been a development from finding my mum’s kohl and scribbling all over my face when I was seven, in combination with the internet, editorials, and film.
What are you doing during isolation?
LOLA: I’m trying to come out of this better than I came into it. I came to stay with my mum, and we realise we are incredibly lucky to be together and have somewhere to settle, so figuring out a way to help others in whatever ways we can at the moment is a big one for us. We have spent a lot of time trying to reconnect and support each other too. It feels like we haven’t had the chance to do that since I was tiny! Personally, I’m just trying to create healthy habits, look after my mental and physical health, and not be too hard on myself.
If you could face-swap with anyone who would it be and why?
LOLA: You know, no one immediately comes into my mind. If I could do a face-swap I would literally just want to look like a pixie lol. With the wide-set angled eyes, and the extra freckles, the glow, the ears! That’s kind of how I picture myself and in turn affects the way I present myself anyway.
You have the ability to live in a video game. Which would it be and why?
LOLA: Wow, I was obsessed with SSX Tricky and Crash Bandicoot when I was younger. I think it would have to be SSX – I’ve never snowboarded in real life but in that game I was on another level! The soundtrack, landscapes, and customisation options are mad. I love that game. I could live in that world; I’m pretty sure I’ve spent whole weeks, months even, playing it – so I’ve kind of lived there already.
What’s the future of beauty?
LOLA: The future of beauty is more acceptance, freedom, and possibility. I hope that individuality is appreciated more in the future, as well as more unconventional beauty. Enhancing rather than masking will go hand in hand with acceptance, in my opinion.