Laolu is back and better than ever. The fast-rising R&B singer from southeast London recently released a new music video, ‘Buffering’. ‘Buffering’ was her most popular single from her debut EP, ‘All In Me’, which was released last year. For the music video, Laolu filmed in California with filmmaker Yhellow. The visuals represent Laolu’s frustration at living a stagnant, or buffering, life.
I sat down with Laolu to discuss the visuals for ‘Buffering’ and much more.
Responses have been edited for clarity.
Mia Vittimberga: Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
Laolu: My name is Laolu, I was born and raised in southeast London from Nigerian parents. I started singing in primary school choir in year 5. The first song I ever sang was from Sister Act, it was ‘Oh Happy Days’. I’m a university graduate and I released my EP ‘All In Me’ in November 2018 which was a huge accomplishment for me.
When and why did you start making music?
I auditioned for the school choir and everyone ran up to me after saying, “you can sing, you can sing”! I then sang in the car for my mum on my way home and she was like “oh my god, you can sing”. I think that piqued my interest and I started delving into music more and learning songs. Performing really brought the love and enjoyment of music to me.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about the music industry?
My favorite thing in the music industry is the collaboration with other music lovers and connecting with people. My least favorite? This would probably be the gatekeeper mentality that some people unfortunately have. I think it removes the joy music brings and can sometimes block good musicians from flourishing.
How does it feel to be returning to music with the video for ‘Buffering’?
I feel really happy. I traveled to LA in April for a month. I knew I wanted to shoot a video for ‘Buffering’. I originally was only going to do a short visual. But the last week before I returned to London, I spoke with Yhellow and Bailey (who did the artistic direction and produced the concept for the video) and was blown away. This was all created in less than four days and we shot the video in a day. It’s all the more important to have this video out now.
The visuals for ‘Buffering’ are gorgeous. What’s the inspiration behind them?
The meaning of the song is shown via the imagery of the video. We shot the video in the desert, to symbolize the emptiness you feel when you feel like you’re in a cycle of not moving forward and just wandering, looking for a way out. The clothing we chose were primary colors, and we used the fabric to show the restraint of everything blocking me but eventually setting me free as it blows in the wind. I knew what I wanted the video to represent and I didn’t want it to just be me singing to the camera. I wanted the viewer to see what it looks like to be in that space mentally.
You wrote ‘Buffering’ when you were coming out of a depression — do you have any tips for
those who are struggling with their mental health?
I would to take each day as they come. There are days where you’ll feel strong and other days you won’t – and that’s okay. Allow yourself the freedom to feel what you’re feeling but don’t allow the down days to keep you down. It’s easier said than done but it gets easier with time and practice. Therapy is a good thing and shouldn’t be something that anyone should be ashamed about. Remove things and people that aren’t bringing any good to your life. And always remember that you’re number and are deserving.
What are 3 things that always make you happy?
Spending time with my family, making music, and seeing the people I love succeed.
If you could put your music into a TV show or movie, which would you pick?
I would put ‘Buffering’ in the TV series Euphoria and ‘How to Feel’ or ‘So Right’ in Issa Rae’s ‘Insecure’ TV series.
What’s your favorite memory from recording your debut EP?
I think my favorite memory was knowing when I had the final song, and having the satisfaction of completing the project. I took a moment and just felt true happiness that I had achieved what I set out to do and had created a project I was really proud of.
What was the most challenging part about recording the EP?
I think writing some of the songs. I had to be very vulnerable and go to places that caused me a lot of pain but I wanted to sing and write about my true experiences so that I could let go of the pain and those times through song.
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
To releasing new music and connecting with people who struggle with mental health through my music. I hope to continue to create and collaborate with other musicians and artists as well.
If you could tell your sixteen year old self one thing, what would it be?
You’re strong and deserving of all you want and desire.
Featured image via Laolu Press