As Lola Lennox and I talk over Zoom about her new lockdown-shot video, for her in Los Angeles it’s just gone midnight. Nonetheless, the singer looks unfairly fresh-faced and radiant – perhaps unsurprising in a former model. If her surname sounds familiar, that’s because she’s the daughter of Annie Lennox, the gender-stereotype-defying frontwoman of that ‘80s powerhouse, Eurythmics.
Lola’s first musical memories, however, do not centre around her mother. As a child in the 1990s she blissed out during summer holidays to a mixture of Lauren Hill, Zero 7 and the Cuban diva Celia Cruz. “Very different artists, but I remember that feeling of music as so transient and so joyful and so emotionally potent,” she reminisces. “I would listen to the songs and pause them and I would write the lines down and learn the songs that way.” Even now, her tastes are more directed towards the 1960s. “I love Dusty Springfield and Nina Simone. I love a powerful voice, and I love the women who have taken those artists as inspiration and made it into their own thing like Adele or Amy Winehouse. But it’s not all soul and that sound. I love the prowess of Debbie Harry and the innovative creative craziness of Kate Bush. I think there’s a leaf out of every artist’s book that can inspire you and you can take something out of.”
She started writing her own songs as a teenager, on her basement piano. “I knew that starting off writing didn’t mean you were going to be instantly great. But it was fun and cathartic. It was riddled with insecurity because I was quite judgemental and a perfectionist. With any kind of craft you’ve got to start somewhere and stick to it.”
Recently she rediscovered her old notebook of lyrics. “The songs were sweet and quite sad. I had a lot going on. Any teenager is going through a lot. You’re processing this new adult life, and finding out who you are. Song writing was my way of processing that.”
She always knew she wanted to be a singer, inspired less by her mother’s songs than by her work ethic and how much music gave her. “Now we discuss it a lot, but when I was a child to a young adult I was living it from the sidelines. We’d go on tour and I’d watch her rehearse for shows and music videos and she would write songs for the album in the basement. I’d hear her singing down there.”
Watching Annie’s solo tours was a revelation. “Every night the band was just so incredible – watching live music that’s just amazing quality is such an escape. I was drawn so strongly to that feeling that music gives you.”
Lola’s latest song, ‘Back To Wrong’, comes with a video shot during lockdown in Los Angeles with her boyfriend, Braeden Wright. In the video, Lola and Wright play the part of a dysfunctional, passionate couple in a house surreally flecked with lush colour washes and flickering lights, a modern take on David Lynch’s aesthetic. “I wanted it to have little nods and Easter eggs of symbols. It’s all about facades and a relationship that you think is all together and fine but you’re in denial. You love somebody and you’re trying to make it work so you tell yourself this and that and it’s fine. Then in the video there are scenes in red lighting or things breaking where the cracks show and there are flashes of something isn’t right – and you know the chaos and something bad is coming. I wanted to have nods towards the pandemic because we’re all living through that right now and it would feel so off and irrelevant to not include that.” The song deals with a previous relationship that was coming to an end. “We were both fooling ourselves trying to make it work and then butting heads. I wanted the song overall to feel like it was my statement of ‘This is my self-worth. You’re not treating me right. This is how I would like to be respected, seen and heard.’ The song is empowering despite it being about such a tangled, complex situation.”
Now, in her late 20s, Lola has felt confident enough to ask her mother to co-produce her songs, along with Wright. “I went to a few different producers and nothing was gelling. Then I spoke to my mum about it and we were like, why don’t we just experiment? We had the best time. They get my musical taste and style. We just had this really great dynamic as a three working together – bringing the colours of the song alive.” Working together has refreshed their relationship. “We both grew into a place where we could meet each other to talk about music and about different musicians. She has so many stories and so much advice and perspective about being an artist and writing and being a creative person. We get on so well.”
Watch an exclusive premiere of 'Back At Wrong', above.
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