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Photography Jeff Hahn

LVRA is making intergalactic pop for our dystopia-driven times

The London artist talks the release of their EP soft like steel, their earliest musical memories, and the worst advice they’ve ever been given

A cybernetic cloud looms over Chinese-Scottish artist LVRA’s (pronounced loo-rah) latest release soft like steel. Inspired by the dystopian mood of our current times, the 23-year-old’s seven-track EP is dark and unrelenting, with futuristic sound design that pulls from the experimental sounds of deconstructed club, industrial and hyperpop. Mirroring the frantic pace of social media, and the pressures of life under capitalism, LVRA journeys through various mental and physical states, crafting an all-encompassing world (the EP is accompanied by a 15-minute film) that appears strange and otherworldly.

soft like steel is about exploring the power of perception and how limited we are by nature to fully engage with the world and the vastness of ideas that exist, because we form such strong beliefs as a result of the environment and situations we happen to be born into,” they explain. “It’s quite heavily influenced by the kind of philosophy I enjoyed studying, particularly questions surrounding free will and personal identity. What I’ve always loved about philosophy is not necessarily the complex and technical proofs that are ever evolving, but that even the mere exploration of a question can trigger a lot of reflection about ourselves and the world around us.”

Since their arrival on the scene in 2020, the London-based artist has fast become a familiar face in the city’s queer underground scene, with high-voltage, glitching sets that further bolster this sense of unreality. Below, we speak to LVRA about their EP, their earliest musical memories, and the worst advice they’ve ever been given.

Congrats on the release of soft like steel. What’s the thinking behind the EP name?

LVRA: Look at anything – an object, a word, a person, long enough, and you can start to develop new ideas and feelings about it. My primitive reaction to the blade of a weapon might be danger, death, aggression. But once that is gone, I am able to explore the beauty of its craftsmanship, the smooth and soft shininess of its surface, the precision of its curves. 

What’s your earliest music memory?

LVRA: When I was like 10 I did a private gig for my parents and my brother in our living room and sold them tickets to see the show. I stood on a box and sang a bunch of pop bangers, the one I remember clearly being “Hot n Cold” by Katy Perry. Some would say I was a natural… 

What song could you not stop playing growing up?

LVRA: I had a ripped-off Chinese version of Gaga’s “Fame Monster” in the car when I was like 10 – I binged that whole album on repeat. “Bad Romance” will always and forever be my karaoke tune!

Please share the most recent note from your notes App!

LVRA: My to-do list for today: reply to a bunch of people, fix my live set, and catch up on a load of admin, basically…

And the last meme you saved? 

LVRA: I don’t even want to know – something probably from r/abruptchaos.

Your favourite cornershop snack?

LVRA: Haribos.

What’s your ghost outfit? 

LVRA: Juicy tracksuit bb.

The worst advice you’ve ever been given?

LVRA: Any time my dad advises me on the kind of music I should make.

What conspiracy theory are you quite into actually?

LVRA: Princess Diana’s death wasn’t an accident…

What do you put on your rider?

LVRA: KFC and Appletiser.

soft like steel is out now via Eastern Margins

Photography Jeff Hahn, Creative Direction and Set Design Jonquil Lawrence, Styling - Suz Walsh, Top and Skirt Lynn La Yaung, Jewellery Amy Rodriguez, MUA Alice Dodds, Hair Moe Mukai, Nails Tatyana Ryujin, Photo Assistant Abbie Fisk, Set Assistant Tatyana Ryujin, Esther Dillner