From Congo to Canada, Lu Kala is Breaking Boundaries With Sound Waves
Every once in a while, an artist appears who is destined to break the mold, LU KALA is one of them. The fiery-voiced songstress with signature vibrant orange hair to match, is redefining what a pop star sounds and looks like.
“I don’t feel pressure to change myself, I’m here because I am myself.” – LU KALA
At the age of three LU KALA’s family immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Canada, first living in Toronto’s Regent Park and later Ajax. Gifted with a talent for writing striking pop tracks and memorable hooks, LU, who is independent has written for other artists, including renowned R&B star Jennifer Hudson.
With over 19M streams, LU KALA is a force! LU has also found success on TikTok and IG Reels. Her many viral snippets include “Love Sh*t” which was highlighted by fellow songstress SZA, as well as “Pretty Girl Era,” which currently has over 58K UGC videos on IG reels & TikTok and over 11M views across platforms. Since its early December release, P.G.E. has received global play listing across all DSPs and a billboard from Spotify in downtown Toronto. Her debut 8-track EP “Worthy” was released in 2020, since then the pop songstress has amassed 3.5 million listeners and supporters are itching for the next project. The great new is that the next EP is set for the summer.
For those of us who don’t know you, tell us about yourself. How does being from Congo and moving to Canada influence your sound?
I am a singer/songwriter who makes anthemic pop songs inspired by my life and experiences. In Toronto I grew up around many cultures including my Congolese culture so I am influenced by all the things I heard growing up.
What is the story behind your name, Lu Kala?
The first syllable from my first name and the first two from my last name.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Rihanna, Sia, Katy Perry, Aretha Franklin, Destiny’s Child.
You recently released the song “Lottery” with Latto. Additionally, you performed the track for Billboard. Tell us about this collaboration.
It was so amazing working with Latto! I co-wrote the hook during a session in LA back in early 2022, and after Latto heard it and the beat, it became an organic collaboration between the two of us. It was a really fun collaborative atmosphere, which inspired this hook that’s really fun and pop. Latto wrote her verses with her witty flair to it. From then it took on a whole new life!
What were some of the most memorable parts in collaborating with Latto?
I got goosebumps when I heard her verses, shooting the video in the back of a limo in Vegas, taking shots to keep warm and just getting to know her and bonding with her at the shoot was amazing.
Did she push you to create differently?
Lottery is very in line with the Pop sound I do, and it was amazing to collaborate with such a talented rapper.
How did you work together to honor each other’s creative process?
We actually didn’t meet in person until the video shoot, we recorded parts for the song separately and it was amazing how it all came together so organically.
“Lottery” made it in the top 20 charts. How do you feel about this accomplishment?
It feels amazing! Growing up I always listened to the radio and my goal was one day to have my songs on the radio. I heard Lottery for the first time on the radio the other day in my uber in LA with my cousin and we were both freaking out! It was a surreal feeling. I can’t wait to visit my hometown Toronto to hear both Lottery and Pretty Girl Era on the radio there since both songs are charting in the Top 20 for Top 40 radio in Canada.
In 2022 you released the single “Pretty Girl Era”. How do you define beauty for yourself?
I think one of the biggest parts of beauty is confidence and loving the parts of you that make you you even if that’s different from others.
You recently were on a billboard in Times Square, congratulations! You shared on Instagram that this was on your vision board. What other goals from your vision board have you accomplished?
Having my songs charting on radio in the US and Canada, moving to LA, working with some of my idols these last few months & releasing my first project independently.
What are some goals off of your vision board you hope to see come into fruition?
Having my first number 1 single, my first number one album, working with Rihanna, my first tour, being a household name.
How do you feel you set yourself apart from other artists?
I try not to compare myself to other artists. I write songs that come from my own personal experiences, I try to present my true self in all the music I release, whether it’s being vulnerable singing about feelings that I often don’t speak about with others or having fun bops which showcase my fun-loving, sassy personality.
How is your creativity disrupting culture and pushing boundaries?
Just being who I am in the body I am in already disrupts culture in pop music as you don’t see many people like me living in the mainstream pop space.
After cooking up for three years, you will release an EP this summer. What can listeners expect?
Lots of fun moments, a couple bad bitch anthems, songs that will have you dancing wherever you go, 1 or 2 vulnerable songs to get you in your feelings and to get to know exactly who LU KALA is after listening to this project.
Do you speak French or Lingala?
French is my first language which I speak to my family in so I’m bilingual. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Lingala but my parents and older siblings do, so maybe I should get on my family to teach me.
Would you ever consider releasing music in a different language?
I released my first single DCMO (Don’t Me Out) in French because I wanted my parents to understand it and I am looking to release more songs in French hopefully soon. I would love to collaborate with some Spanish speaking artists and artists in other languages.
What is your sign?
I’m a Cancer-Leo
Do you think this influences your creative process?
My vulnerable songs probably come from my Cancer traits, my bad bitch don’t play with me songs definitely are a direct reflection of my Leo side. I can either be emotional or cutthroat.
What is some advice you have for young black girls who create music but are unsure how to take their voice to a larger audience?
I would tell them to write a lot of songs, never stop working on their craft, perform locally, travel to perform in different markets, network heavily but most importantly to develop their own individual sound.
What’s next for Lu Kala?
More music, a project coming this year, more performances and to just know you will be seeing and hearing a lot more of me.
Photographer: Thom Kerr @thomkerr
Styling: Steph Major@steph__major
Makeup: Armando Garcia @armandogarcia
Hair: Alfred Lewis @alfredlewislll
Art Department: Phoebe Darling @darling__design
Production: Rebecca Miller @checkaboo
Galore Art Direction: Perrin Johnson @editsbyperry
Editor in Chief: Prince Chenoa @princechenoastudio
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