Breaking Down Barriers and Making Magic: A Chat with LU KALA
Next up in our Magic Makers series, we’re celebrating a rising star and absolute icon, LU KALA. The fiery-haired powerhouse of a woman first captured our attention with her glam style, raw honesty, powerful voice, and honest lyrics that speak to the soul. And did you know her first language is French?
Born in Congo, and raised in Toronto, LU’s resilience, determination, and unapologetic vulnerability have propelled her to success. Over the past few years, she’s gained a large following with a dedicated fanbase that just keeps growing.
LU's music is a reflection of her struggles and triumphs, as well as a powerful statement on body positivity and self-love. Through her music, she seeks to dismantle the divisive barriers of the music industry and pave the way for more diverse representation in the pop genre. Her EP, “Worthy,” released during the height of the pandemic, is a reminder to everyone that we are all worthy of self-love, acceptance, and happiness.
2023 has already been shaping up to be a big year for LU, with her track “Lottery” with Latto debuting at #83 on the Billboard Hot 100. We’re excited to see what else the year has in store for her – read on for more.
Meet LU KALA
First off, will you please tell us a bit about your Congolese-Canadian background, what it was like growing up with such internationality, and how you got into music?
I was born in Congo and raised in Toronto, Canada. It was cool living in two different cultures, a Congolese culture at home and a very multicultural one outside of my home as most of my friends come from different backgrounds. It was a bit difficult at times when I was younger living in two worlds as no one wants to be different but now I appreciate my background so much more because all of that makes me who I am.
I’ve always known I wanted to do music, I’ve always written songs, even from a very young age. I started performing locally and then traveling to network with people in the music industry. I never knew how I was going to make it but I knew that I would somehow and I was relentless in my approach.
You have been labeled as a pop singer. Would you define yourself this way, and what or who has most influenced your musical style?
Yes 100% I am a pop star through and through. It’s taken a lot of work to attain that title and I am glad people are finally seeing me for what I am.
Many different artists. Some of my favorites are Rihanna, Sia, Katy Perry, Destiny’s Child and Aretha Franklin. A bunch of strong women who set the bar.
Your music is emotional and real. So real that you tied a mental health campaign to the launch of your EP, Worthy, covering the cost of therapy sessions for 12 people. Your lyrics cover topics of self-love and acceptance. Do you have a favorite song, or one so personal you keep it closest to your heart?
It's a toss up between (DCMO) Don’t Count Me Out and Love Shit. DCMO was the first song I ever released and it’s about feeling counted by this world and being told you aren’t good enough. I feel like I entered the industry swinging saying F that I am good enough and worthy of being here. Love Shit is my baby because I wrote it at a time where I felt like I was ready to love and worthy of being loved.
How do you continue to find new creative inspiration?
All my inspiration comes from living life and whether I’m writing a song about what’s going on at this current moment or about something that happened 3 years ago, every song I write is about my experiences.
What have been your proudest accomplishments to date? Biggest challenges?
Having my songs charting on radio in the US and Canada, moving to LA, 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! Pretty Girl Era and Lottery are both currently in the Top 15 for Top 40 radio in Canada so I’m really proud of that. Working with some of my idols these last few months & releasing my first project independently. Getting billboards from Spotify, TikTok and Amazon Music in different cities like New York City, Toronto, and LA.
Being a black woman in a plus size body in pop music comes with too many challenges to name. Especially having to fight to be labeled as a pop artist but I know I will break down the barriers for more artists to follow after me.
What artists and songs do you currently have on rotation right now?
People by Libianca featuring. Arya Starr & Omah Lay, Trustfall by Pink, Die For You Remix by the Weeknd & Ariana Grande, Heart Wants What it Wants by Bebe Rexha, Heaven by Niall Horan & Cuff It – Wetter remix by Beyonce, Worth It by Raye, Special by Lizzo and Sza, Low by Sza.
If you could create a record with any musician throughout history, who would it be?
Rihanna – that’s my girl, an absolute icon.
Do you have any favorite Black Girl Magic Wines?
Black Girl Magic Rose and the Black Girl Magic Bubbly Riesling.
What does “Black Girl Magic” mean to you?
Black women being able to be any and everything they want to. Black women working on their craft, black excellence, not being afraid to be yourself and do what you love. Supporting and celebrating other black women. So many of us have that magic, it’s a matter of letting it out.
What can we expect next for LU KALA?
Lots of new music, a project coming this year and more performances.