Arcane Meets: Rising Pop Artist, Lila Drew. “No one knows you better than you…”

In today’s interview, I had the chance to speak with the singer-songwriter who’s being labeled “one of the most refreshing voices in music”. At only 18 years old, the LA based artist, Lila Drew has quickly gained attention for her smooth vocals over r&b influenced pop beats, most evident on her latest single “November”. With Lila juggling between school and a budding career, OA was extremely fortunate to get the chance to speak with Lila about her debut last October, the creation process of her songs, and much more…

Enjoy the interview 🙂


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Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Hi, I’m Lila Drew, I’m a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, but spent my childhood in London. I am also 18 and am a full time student in my senior year of high school.

 

If I’m correct, you’ve only been releasing music since 2018 right? How has the experience been so far?

A: Yes! I put my first song, “faded/2am” with GoldLink, out in October of 2018, and my second song, “november”, out in November of 2018. The experience has been super positive! I was honestly pretty nervous to put out the first song – the idea of putting yourself out into the world and never being able to take it back definitely freaked me out… Since the songs have come out, I’ve just been surprised at how many people have heard my music and how supportive my friends and family has been. There’s something really special about people you’ve never met understanding and connecting with music I made basically in my bedroom – it’s a really unique and poignant feeling.

 

Both of your songs are very R&B and Pop inspired, I’m curious to know the type of music (artists or genres) you grew up listening to?

A: I grew up listening to a huge array of music. My dad had an insane collection, and I immediately fell in love 60s and 70s music. I remember hearing Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life and Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You and Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy for the first time, those were my very first vivid memories.

 

Once you made the decision to pursue music, how did you go about it? Were you already actively writing and recording or did you learn those things along the way?

A: I started singing in choir when I was six, and songwriting when I was eight, so things just progressed very organically and naturally! I started making my own demos, first on GarageBand, and then on Logic and Ableton, and learned to harness my production and writing abilities through that. I don’t think I ever made a decision to pursue music, it was just a huge guiding force in my life and I could never imagine myself doing anything else.

Now, back to your music. You released your first single “Faded/2AM (featuring Goldlink)” in October. What was the creation process for that song?

A: I started writing faded/2am on the way to the studio one day. I was in the car (stuck in traffic), and as I was about to put my headphones in, noticed the absence of noise in the car, which stood out to me. I am constantly surrounded by sound – by other people and by music – and the silence felt so strange. That’s when I opened up the notes on my phone and wrote the first line of the song, “I’m scared of the silence / how it flutters through my room / it just feels violent / I think you feel it too.” The rest of the song kind of flowed after that, I actually ended up writing 12 verses for faded/2am. We ended up going with the first verse! The recording and production of the song was really specific, I knew that the song was my favorite one I had written, and wanted everything to be as close to perfect as possible. GoldLink brought a whole new element to the song that I absolutely love too.

 

Your latest release “November” has also seen moderate success, can you explain what the song is about for those who have yet to hear it?

A: To put it simply, “november” is a nostalgic story of childhood innocence and the natural duality that comes with growing up and getting older while trying to hold onto those bits of youth and purity. It goes through some of my earliest memories, “sitting in your backyard or driving in your dad’s car,” but also expresses my fears of growing up.

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As I mentioned earlier, you are a new artist. Are you excited about your future as an artist? What are some of your goals for 2019?

A: I couldn’t be more excited. I have so much more music to share and I want to explore some new sonics and sounds. I am planning to release at least one EP (maybe two!) in 2019 with some weird visuals to go along with each song. I also want to get to play more live shows!

 

Before we end the interview, are there any words of wisdom (advice) you can give about reaching your goals/dreams; and if there’s anything you would like to say to your supporters, please feel free to do so.

A: It sounds cheesy and cliche, but follow your instincts! No one knows you better than you, so try to find a balance between your own creative mind and others’ advice – I’m still working on this 🙂


Make sure to stay updated with Lila by following her on:


Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud to stay updated.

The New Faces of: R&B (2019 Version)

As a continuation of last year’s: The New Faces: R&B, I bring to you 3 artists I have come across within the last year. If you recall, in last year’s list, I included 3 artists: SiR, Phe, and Lolo Zouai; and if you paid any attention to R&B music last year, you would know that each of these individuals blossomed throughout the year. All original OA readers know this, but if you are new to the site, I have often said that R&B is the genre I hold dearest to me. Although the genre has had a resurgence in the last decade, in the last couple of months, these are some of the overlooked artists I hope will get some shine in 2019. For every artist, I have provided links to their music as well as their social media, so I hope it will influence you to check them out and hopefully you find some good music along the way!


 

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Casedi

Casedi (formally known as Cassidy) is an upcoming American R&B vocalist coming out of California. Since her musical debut in 2018, the singer-songwriter has released around 6 songs, with the latest, “You On You” released just last week. If you are a fan of musicians like H.E.R, Ella Mai, and Justine Skye – I would recommend checking out Casedi. Aside from music, she is also a public figure on YouTube, with over 45,000 subscribers and an abundance of content surrounding music (behind the scenes, covers, etc.) Make sure to check out her music whether it be on SoundCloud, Apple Music, or Spotify and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

 

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JNR. Williams
Although not much is known about Mr. Williams, it is known that he is an upcoming artist from London, England. His debut came at the end of 2018 with the release of “What A Difference”, a rendition of 50’s jazz vocalist, Dinah Washington  “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes”. Although he only has one song under his belt, I would suggest that if you listen to artists like Joy Crookes, Cosima, you will enjoy the upcoming artist. With news of him signing to the newly relaunched Artista Records, you can be sure to hear new music within the first quarter of the year but in the meantime, be sure to follow him on Instagram for updates.

 

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Symphoni Soto
Like Casedi, Symphoni Soto is another musician who found their core fan base through social media, specifically YouTube. With a career spanning almost a decade long, the R&B/Pop singer released her first project All I Know in September 2018. As of January 2019, (my) personal favorites off the project are “Don’t Feed My Ego” and “Feelings”. If you are interested in hearing the project, it can be found on both Apple Music and Spotify and be sure to follow her on Instagram for updates.


Honorable Mentions

  • Billie Bodega
  • Amaal Nuux
  • Tanerelle
  • Rimon
  • Mikhala Jene
  • Arzlee
  • Christian Kuria
  • Hanna Lashay

Arcane Meets: Isold. “I don’t consider myself as an influencer, I’m just trying to do what’s right.”

For the first interview of the year, OA had the privilege of connecting with Icelandic beauty, Ísold Halldórudóttir. The body-positive artist and model, who gained traction in 2017 as a model for LOVE Magazine, has used her platform to spread inclusivity since the very beginning. In today’s interview, we had the privilege of discussing the importance of diversity in the fashion world, defying beauty standards, and much more…

Enjoy the interview!

 


 

Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Hi, my name is Ísold. I’m a model, artist and activist from Reykjavik, Iceland.

 

 

Q: Let’s start from the beginning; your origin is in Iceland correct? Iceland has been described as one of the most progressive countries in the world as well as one of the best countries for women equality. How do you think growing up in this type of environment influenced you?

A: Well, I didn’t. Me and my mom moved to Copenhagen when I was around 7 or 8 and I didn’t move back to Iceland till I was 16. My mom has always been very vocal about the importance of equality.

Being a feminist from the moment she was born, she raised me to believe that I could do anything I wanted to, regardless of my gender; and while Iceland has progressed a lot further than many others, I feel that we still have a long way to go.  

 

 

Q: You’ve used your platforms as model, artist, and activist to push the idea of showcasing diversity and inclusivity. Growing up, is this a subject you were always vocal about, or did it gradually happen the more you got into the industry?

A: From an early age I knew I didn’t fit in, literally.I was too different because I was too fat.  It wasn’t until after I started modelling that I realised how much of a voice I had, or could have.

I’m not doing this JUST for me, I’m representing everyone that’s ever been made to feel that they’re ugly because of their size, or that they don’t belong in this society because they’re “different”.

 

Q: In an interview with i-D, you explained that there were certain standards that made you feel that you weren’t beautiful; I’m curious as to how you got yourself out of that mindset?

A: We have to accept our insecurities so that we can let go of them. Only then will you realise that your “flaws” aren’t real.  

Ask yourself who’s profiting from these emotions? Ask yourself why you think your cellulite defines how beautiful you are, or why you feel it is almost a necessity to have a flat stomach. It’s not you, it’s them. We’ve been manipulated to think everything is wrong with us. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re perfect.

 

 

Q: You’ve used social media as a way to push your movement of body positivity. I’m curious, are there any influencers that you look up to/are inspired by?

A: Oh of course! I would have to give a huge shout out to La’shaunae.  She’s so fucking inspiring and honest about everything that she does. I truly admire her, she’s gonna change the world.

I recently discovered Lotte Vaneijk on Instagram, she’s a plus size model ( even though I hate using that word because I find it so degrading ) and while fighting for diversity in the industry, she does it in a way without attacking anyone, and I find that really important, and so pure.

Also, Lucinda Graham. She’s so inspiring to how she presents herself and the way she raises awareness to mental health. There should be no shame about taking care of yourself and she truly makes sure to let her everyone know that.

LOVEME Campaign

Q: Social media is actually the reason I discovered you! In 2017, you were photographed by Kendall Jenner for the #LOVEME17 Campaign – what was that experience like; especially with it being your first modeling experience?

A: That was such a surreal moment, yet I still can’t believe it happened. I never considered being a model.  It seemed like such a unrealistic dream. Not because I didn’t find myself beautiful, but because I was fat.

So to get that opportunity, was so overwhelming and empowering at the same time. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was super uncomfortable, but it opened my eyes to something so much bigger than just me.

 

 

Q: How do you think you’ve grown as a person/model since that shoot? Are you now more/less comfortable in front of the camera? What are some tips you could give aspiring models?

A: Definitely more…

My mom being a photographer was always taking pictures of me when I was little, but after graduating from high school I had to completely start from scratch. I didn’t know who I was anymore, so I really found myself when I started modelling, and remembered the comfort and the normality of being in front of the camera.

You have to be uncontrollably ruthless to be able to survive in this industry. That’s what everyone tells me. I call bullshit. Be whoever you want to be. In today’s world there are no rules, there’s no “how to” book, all you have to do to succeed, is believe in yourself. That’s it.

 

 

Q: In being so open and honest about your journey of self love & raising awareness about the lack of diversity in the industry (specifically fashion), you have become a source of light for those who feel underappreciated/valued, at least when it comes to society’s beauty standards. What is the overall mission?

A:  I don’t consider myself as an influencer, I’m just trying to do what’s right. No one should ever feel that they’re ugly.  All of us are so special because of our individuality, we all deserve to feel that we belong, and that’s the mission.

To whisper, no to shout, to all those little girls that are out there right now comparing themselves to each other, arguing, crying, fighting about who’s prettier, who’s fatter, who’s the “it girl” that it doesn’t matter. That there is no such thing as ugly. There is no such thing as flaws or imperfections.

 

Q: Lastly, is there anything you would like to tell your supporters?

A: I love you. Really.  And to anyone that’s fighting for their dreams, their sexuality, their identity, I support you and I believe in you.


 

If you would like to stay updated on Isold’s journey as an activist and model, feel free to follow her on Instagram 🙂

Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud to stay updated.

2019 / pt. III / Artists to Watch

To close the our first week, I have compiled a small list of Artists to Watch for the rest of the year. I have been keeping an eye of these artists and see potential for them to breakout within the year. If you recall, last year I mentioned artists like Rina Sawayama and Dounia, who both exploded on the music scene last year so hopefully we get the same luck with these candidates!


1. Isaac Dunbar

ATW, Issac Dunbar

Although he’s relatively new, Isaac Dunbar has already found moderate success with his songs “Freshman Year” & “Blonde”. At only 15 years old, the Barnstable native has found his niche in the industry, following the footsteps of indie pop artists like Billie Eilish and Bülow. His songs, which are more or less like the diary of someone raised in this social media era, are created in a way that (for the lack of a better word) document how he’s been dealing with growing up. Speaking on subjects such as high school, peer pressure, first heartbreaks, I think it’s only a matter of time before his music catches on.

 

2. Joy Crookes

ATW, Joy Crookes
Photographed by: Grace Rivera

 

As an English vocalist coming out of United Kingdom, I’m already prepared for sources to compare her to R&B vocalist Jorja Smith, luckily OA isn’t that source. Although she’s been active for around 5 years, the South London native, whose voice has been compared to the late Amy Winehouse, has been gaining traction overseas since her performance on COLORS in 2017. Listening to her delivery and cadence, you can tell that she’s an artist who’s practiced and mastered her sound. Throughout 2018, Crookes remained consistent releasing a 7-track ep named Influence in July and a single & visual for her latest song “Don’t Let Me Down” in November.

 

3. Lolo Zouaï

ATW, Lolo Z (by Sara Khalid)
Photographed by: Sara Khalid

If you are a regular OA reader, I’m sure that you already know know Lolo Zouai is. Since the start of the site, I’ve been an advocate for the French-American songstress. Most known for her song “High Highs to Low Lows” released in 2017, the singer/songwriter has been featured on sources like Complex and i-D for being an artist to watch among upcoming R&B singers. Outside of writing her own music, the lyricist who tends to write in both French & English, has penned for artists like H.E.R (she co-wrote “Still Down” off H.E.R’s Grammy nominated album H.E.R). I think she is rising at a gradual pace and hopefully with the amount of music she released in 2018 (Desert Rose, Challenge, …) we can prepare for a debut project within the first half of the year!


Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud to stay updated

2019.

Happy New Year(s) OA Readers!

As we celebrate the start of a new year, we also celebrate OA turning a year old…

 

I’ve always been keen on thank you’s – especially towards the OA audience, but there honestly isn’t a word (I can think of) to convey the admiration & appreciation I have for you all. This platform, which was created to showcase influencers, has gradually became a safe haven for those looking to find their voice.

 

OA is something like a personal experiment that panned out successfully. Because of OA, I have had the opportunity to connect with some of my favorite up and coming influencers, whether it be musicians, photographers, or anything in between. I honestly had no expectations for the site, so when I look back on the statistics of 2018 and see that our readers are spread throughout 5/7 continents (North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa) it’s an overwhelming feeling.

 

I do not have many goals for the site in 2019, my only hope is that it continues to be a source for upcoming influencers & that we continue to grow. Last year, most of the influencers featured came from a musical background, but this year I would like to embrace any form of influencer. I think social media can quickly be over-saturated and my goal is to bring you quality content (even if it takes a longer time than other sites).

 

I hope that you all continue this journey with me and that we all have a blessed & prosperous 2019!

 

Happy New Year!

SB.


Make sure to follow OA on social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud to stay updated.