While most things are still a mystery, the one thing we know about her that she has always found her way through rough terrain of the global landscape only to emerge invigorated, camouflaged and more ambiguous than ever. After being jaded by the New York art world, she found herself feeling disconnected from her roots as an artist and found solace in her adopted second home of Mexico City. There she was able to reinvent herself and craft what has now become her primary project LaFawndah.
Topical Cream caught up with LaFawndah at her new home in Bedstuy, Brooklyn where after drinking smoothies we spoke about her new E.P, Zouk-Bass music, as well as her thoughts on the social telepathy.
Topical Cream: Thanks for the smoothie its nice to have a reason to meet up after
knowing your work online.
LaFawndah: Something that I’ve noticed and find interesting is that when you’re a girl you don’t need an activity to bond with another girl. Say you don’t know a girl and you want to spend time more time with her. More likely than not you’re like “Hey do you want to come over to my room to chill and go deep”. The idea of spending time with someone without any excuse is something that I feel most guys don’t do. Of course this is linked to socialization and culture.
Topical Cream: I definitely think it’s not beyond some guys to get to that point where the lack of a shared activity might prevent further bonding.
LaFawndah: I mean once you’re friends after a long period of time then it becomes a little easier to let go of any pre-planned bonding activity. I feel like immediate intimacy is definitely a barrier that’s more difficult to cross amongst guys. I for one tend to have really strong instincts toward people. You know, it’s almost like I walk into a space and I’m just like “oh yeah I guess we’re best friends” toward a random person. Then of course it goes deeper.
Topical Cream: Do you ever find yourself breaking away from that person once you’ve come to that that immediate conclusion?
LaFawndah: It happens but it’s really rare. Usually when I have those strong instinctual feelings toward someone 90% of the time it remains true. The counterpart is of course not being necessarily open to everything and everyone.
Topical Cream: Let’s talk about your record LaFawndah LaFawndah which came out May 6th. How long did it take you to produce?
LaFawndah: Garagem Banda and I recorded it in 3.5 weeks in October 2013. It was definitely a challenging exercise. Since we only had a limited amount of time to be together we didn’t really have a choice, which is kind of interesting in that it doesn’t necessarily make the most polished or “achieved” E.P. I feel like those tracks that ended up on the E.P. in a different context would have been more polished and elaborate but I kind of let go of that idea given the time constraint. I gives the tracks an edge and also makes it very direct to the audience like “yep that’s it right here”. In a way the music or rather electronic music as a tool allows for the artist to go deeper into the craft of music. It is immediate to the energy the artist experiences at any given moment.
Topical Cream: Have you ever made music that didn’t fall under the broad genre “electronic music”?
LaFawndah: Yeah. I was in a really cool girl band during my time in Mexico called Nidada, which means the delivery of a “multitude of animals” in Spanish. After playing together for a while we realized we were creating music for actual babies. We were all playing instruments we’ve never played before, like the accordion or the bass. It was a little clumsy and uncomfortable. We were all figuring it out as we went along. We never played a live performance that was slick. It was definitely rooted in punk rock from the end of the 70s to 80s.
Topical Cream: So in a way did that prepare you for the self-titled E.P.?
LaFawndah: Oh yeah definitely. I’m still dealing with the same interests and ideas.
Topical Cream: So can you tell me a little about what the genre Zouk entails?
LaFawndah: Well a lot of people have been referring to my tracks as Zouk but really there is only one Zouk track on this record. There is this relatively new genre called Zouk-Bass. It originates from different places in the Caribbean. The Zouk that I’m most familiar with and have been playing around with alongside other artists comes from the French Caribbean and sounds different from other forms of Zouk. It was the music we were listening to when we were children. It was music we were dancing to when we eight years old. The lyrics to those songs were very explicit and so sexually direct. Almost to a point where it would be considered disgusting and we were dancing to this when we were children. It’s definitely interesting and funny to look back and think about it as an adult. In a way the lyrics on the current E.P. are an homage and a shoutout to Zouk predecessors. I certainly believe no matter how you progress in your music the first experiences you had with music and particular songs are what you will be channeling as you continue to produce tracks.
Topical Cream: What do you have planned right now? Do you have any upcoming performances or residencies?
LaFawndah:Yes actually Red Bull Music Academy has invited me to take part in their upcoming New York residency for a month. They’ve been really supportive and I really appreciate that. I’m also releasing a new E.P. in September and have a new song produced by Bruno of Light Asylum coming out in June.
I think the Red Bull residency is great also because it allows me to be in complete control of production, which I haven’t been doing fully since the release of the Lafawndah E.P. because I’ve been mostly collaborating and featuring on other artist’s tracks.
Topical Cream: Have you already started producing music for the upcoming E.P.?
LaFawndah: Yeah I’ve been working on new tracks for it but just need to figure out which ones I want to include on the final product. I’m also going to be working on a 2 week residency on Fire Island with Nick Weiss of Teengirl Fantasy to work on new music. I’m really excited about this residency with Nick as he is so talented. In fact he’s offered me a track to feature vocals on for a project. So yeah I’ve been really productive and it seems like that’s the path right now.
Topical Cream: Awesome. It’s exciting to hear all this given the LaFawandah project has been going on for less than a year now.
LaFawndah:Yeah it’s all really exciting. I mean I started out in the art-world curating shows and working for galleries so when I moved to New York I was not in contact with any musicians and felt really lonely. This E.P. has given me the opportunity to out myself and let people know that I’m out here and I have ideas not just to do with music but of myself and I want to present that in a direct and controlled way that makes me happy. I feel relieved and ready. It’s also nice that I have a dream team beside me who are helping me out.
Topical Cream: Well thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. Also your hair looks amazing.
LaFawndah: Yeah thank you also. The hair was styled by Sara Mathiesen from Berlin. She came to New York to visit and styled it according to a ceremonial braid from Gambia. I absolutely love it and in a way it encapsulates the type of music I’m trying to make. It’s also great in that I wanted a hairstyle for the shoot that wasn’t easily pinned in the western world. I want to create a discourse around my images that speaks to other ways of being that isn’t stuck in Western discourse and I think my current hairstyle allows for that. For a long time my mom and others didn’t know how to deal with my hair because of its texture and appearance so it was always straightened and I didn’t like it that way. In fact I met a little girl not too long ago whose mother was telling me how she wanted her hair straightened because the way it was naturally wasn’t going to be accepted by her peers. I realized that I want my personal image to make it okay and create a discourse that crafts a global worldview around the politics of hair amongst other things.
Photography: Lyndsy Welgos
Photography Assistant: Danielle Mathias
Featuring: Cheap Monday, VFiles, Muji,
Make Up: Laura Mitchell
Braids: Sara Mathiasson
Special Thanks: Rawson Projects, Stephanie Lynn Prugh, Melissa Burns, Zainab Mahmud