Lafawndah released her debut full-length album ANCESTOR BOY in March, and since then has been sweeping through countries and continents with an intense ease. Like the albums creation between Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, London, and Paris, at the forefront of Lafawndah’s practice is freedom – the freedom to be undefined by archaic ideals and terms. Her self-proclaimed pop music is far from what we’re used to, yet she is infiltrating the mainstream, instead branding her pop into ‘thrillingly unresolved, ultramodern erotics’.
Hands locked, fingers intertwined, lips just touching her eyes, The New Order is Lafawndah’s testimony to sisterhood. Styled by artist and good friend,Cõvco, featuring myself and brilliant Maia Hawad, and produced by Jessica Canje of Vulgarteen productions, Lafawndah ensured that the process that photographer Yumna was capturing was pure and genuine. ANCESTOR BOY cries of the ‘uncertanties of growing up’, with this New Order affirming Lafawndah’s independent direction not only as a musician and producer, but as an artist capable of manipulating all artforms. Lafawndah’s presence not only belongs now, but cements her voice and vision into the past and the future.
Here I spoke to Lafawndah about the New Order, the power of collaboration, the importance of movement and just what she wants people to feel with her music.
What is the New Order to you?
The New Order is not to be talked about, it is to be implemented by actions. All I can say is that you won't be able to miss it when it's fully here - the world will feel very different.
We’re just halfway through the year and you’ve already toured all over the world. Seeing you perform at the Barbican alongside Midori Takada was monumental. What have been some of the highlights for you?
The Barbican with mother Midori Takada. And Form festival in Arizona, because playing outside and being part of the rocks and the stars is a whole different experience where you can feel your scale and what you belong to.
Yes, your music is not just to listen to, but to feel and engage with every sense. How would you describe your practice?
I’m a communicator, a gatherer. Music is just one way to do so. The general state of numbness needs to come to an end - that's what my practice is about.
We shot this with Vulgarteen productions back in March just before ANCESTOR BOY’s release? What has the reception been like since then?
I'm not sure, I don't read press. But I know I'm booked to play all over the world and that sometimes means I'm able to be moved and attain an alternate state. I also know that sometimes this can move people and that's kind of all I need to know.
This shoot for me wasn’t the usual. There was an air of not just solidarity or even collaboration, but of a family and a sisterhood – and you can feel that in the images. What did this day mean to you?
I rarely feel good during photoshoots. They are too rarely meaningful, and I'm not a model. I love telling stories and sometimes I feel like no one really cares about that. So working first of all with Yumna, was a dream because she understands that and the way she directs emotions or directs the body is so helpful in bringing the best in you out. And then having all my girlfriends be at the shoot and for it to naturally weave into a story, an embodied one, not the kind that comes from a mood board - it was perfect. It's important to show affection, playfulness, solidarity between friends. There are many ways to show power and I feel like when you put two girls together there is usually one default one. I guess that's what this shoot is about, what an alternative way would look like.
You are featured with artist and friend Cõvco, what does collaboration mean to you?
It means life. I don't believe in the myth of the solo artist doing it all by themselves. For sure as a woman, the assumption is that you NEED people. I produce, I sing, I write, I mix, I direct, I edit. But it becomes so pregnant to do all these things with other people because it just becomes an extended version of yourself. It doesn't come from a place of lack but from a place of abundance.
You also recently collaborated with close friends on an intimate performance at Set in Dalston, London - How was that experience for you?
It was pretty dreamy - a family show where everyone got to try things mostly for the first time. I want to create more space for first times, for experiments. Also sharing the stage with so many people doing different things gives us all super powers - we feed of each other’s greatness.
Yumna, like many creatives have proclaimed their love for your artistry. How was it shooting and collaborating with her on the direction?
She is my favourite photographer that I ever worked with. She understands the importance of a story, of a context - not once have I felt awkward or out of place. And the way she captures movements and emotions is unreal. It feels so effortless being in front of her camera but the results are so elaborate and nuanced.
Yes, elaborate and nuanced describes most of your body of work - like your recently released video for ‘Daddy’. The single alone is magnificent and opened 2019, promising it to be an exciting year for you. How was it creating the concept and imagery for the video?
It came at a very early stage, pretty much as I was writing the song. I knew it would be a video used to heal and get closer with my mom. I knew she would dance and exert power. I think it's important to think of films not only for the end result but also for the power that can exist within the process of making them. A lot of things can happen in that moment and I guess I was interested in trying to use that opportunity in this way.
I would say your music is opportunistic – the sound moves across any tangible border. What do you want people to feel with your music, with this album, ANCESTOR BOY? When interviewed about your album, TAN, you said ‘I never want you to be not moving when you’re listening to my music. I want to control your body.”
Lol - this sentence of mine - soft fascism. I think I make music mostly for people who have felt pretty lonely, for those who don't feel like their genealogy is clear or solid. But more widely I guess mostly for movement. And I'm not talking about physical movement although it can translate physically of course. I’m talking about emotional movements. and ideally if that can be transformed into feeling powerful and capable and courageous, and then I'm very happy. Courage might be the main goal really.
Finally, what have you got stored for the future, both near and far?
Growth, expansion, takeover, a film, a new album, new collaborations… but you know, holler at me if you feel like we should be friends.
words HELENE KLEIH
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