Interview: Filah Lah Lah

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story by Ella Audrey Rae

When did you fall in love with music and realized your vocals were golden?

“I fell in love with music well before I realized I was a fair singer. My parents listened to really good music and that kind of seeped into me. It was inevitable.”

What artist or sound influences your music?

“I have quite a lot of influences. I grew up really loving jazz. And it’s funny because when I was little it was the sound and feeling of it, the chaos and order of it. I didn’t really become properly acquainted with the artists themselves until much later, when I was in my teens. That’s when I began to understand why a Miles Davis record will feel and sound different to a John Coltrane or Abdullah Ibrahim, you know? I had to mature into jazz. As far as other genres like hip hop, soul and rock my interests ranged from digable planets, Black Starr, Jay Z, Biggie and Tupac, to an Erykah BADU, Jill Scott, Angie Stone, Amel Larrieux,Amy Winehouse (rest in peace) and India Arie and then trickle all the way down to Nirvana, Oasis and Jeff Buckley.”

Your newest single, ‘This Is’ is simply beautiful. What inspired that song?

“Just beginning a new journey, man. I had been through a lot this past year to the point where I wasn’t even sure I’d still do music. The song is the death of my self-doubt and the birth of a new self, an uncompromising self. ”

How did the visual come about?

“Honestly I just had what I assume was a previously owned Wedding dress which I bought from a thrift store for R30 ($1.80,c), a camera, and a suit. We didn’t know how it would turn out but we went for it.”

You were added to the Kalamobo Records roaster this year as a new artist. How did that partnership come about?

“Mike Kalombo discovered me on Instagram and thank God. Honestly. He found a video of me singing a rendition of “hallelujah”. It’s funny because I never really wanted to post that video because I didn’t think I sounded my best but I mean imagine if I hadn’t.”

How is it working with Mike Kalombo?

“He’s great. We’ve really formed a pure and genuine bond. We understand each other and it helps produce a genuine sound. ”

How has the journey been up to this point and was there ever a time you were about to let it go? If so how did you get past it?

There really was a point where I wanted to say f*ck it, let me just become an attorney and make other people’s problems my own. But you know there’s an intangible spirit inside every artist that I think has the power to keep them going even when they don’t realize it happening. It’s in the little things. It’s in writing a song instead of studying for an exam, or making beats out of boredom. I don’t know, it sounds weird but I couldn’t shake music even if I tried. ”

How is it doing music during the pandemic?

“It’s interesting. Haha. It’s definitely not what I’m used to. But I don’t back down from challenges. And it’s allowed for me to be more creative. We’re so isolated right now that we’re almost forced into a sense of self-introspection. And that can be a great thing for an artist. Or a terrible thing. Depends how you look at it.”

You are also a model, I see. You did a campaign for Levi’s which is awesome. You are you gorgeous by the way. How did you get into the modeling field?

“Another gratitude I owe Instagram. I got discovered for modeling there as well. It just kind of snowballed into a full-blown career after that.”

Is there any model that inspires you?

Adut Akech. I love seeing her win. I also love Slick Woods. She’s so defiant and sexy. ”

What is your advice to others who want to become a model?

“Rely on your own sense of self-esteem. Don’t get too caught up. It’s a brutal industry. And have a passion for it as you would any other profession. I didn’t have enough passion so I stopped enjoying it at some point.”

You have a law degree, I’ve learned. Why did you decide to still go to college and get that degree?

“African parents. That’s it. That’s the tweet.”

What do you think can be done better in the justice system?

“END INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM! You ever have one of those bad dreams where you’re screaming to the top of your lungs for so long that you lose your voice and the only thing coming out is tired breath? Black people and people of color asking for space in this society feels like that dream. When it comes to racism I don’t believe we can rehabilitate each and every single racist. We simply can’t. But the systems that perpetuate racism and the marginalization of black lives and the lives of POC need to be DISMANTLED. We can no longer politely ask for space. We’ve been asking. I think now is the time to take it. To create it. People are fed up of being pacified and forced to accept a system that doesn’t defend or protect them. I don’t have all the answers or a game plan. But I think for as long this generation is having these conversations fearlessly, is in those streets, is using their voices and their influences we will be able to see this structure fall. ”

Talking about the justice system, have you ever dealt with racism? If so how did you handle it?

“Yes, yes, and yes. South Africa’s democracy is so young. Our parents are still products of apartheid. Our grandparents are still products of apartheid. And the same goes for the people whom benefited from that period in time. So yeah racism is definitely something I’ve experienced. ”

What do you say to those afraid to stand up?

“People tend to not give a damn about things they don’t feel directly affected by.”

What encouraging words do you have for little girls growing up thinking they aren’t pretty because of their skin tone?

“You’ll never be able to stop the hate. But you can let the love you have for yourself be louder.” You can watch her debut video, ‘This Is’ on YouTube now. Don’t miss out.

View the entire spread in issue 42 online + print.

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