Lao Ra has premiered new single ‘Me Gusta’ (ft. Afro B), which is available today on Black Butter Records. Her most infectious and immediately assured release to date, ‘Me Gusta’ follows latest track ‘Body Bounce’ (ft. Konshens), which saw Lao Ra surpass 10 million early streams. Having also recently opened for Zara Larsson and Joe Goddard, worked with Lully on a Gorillaz-curated collaboration at Demon Dayz festival and spent the summer playing stages ranging from London’s Bussey Building to Benicassim, Lao Ra will next headline Haggerston’s Archspace on September 20th.
Another world-colliding cut of global pop – fusing elements of afrobeat, reggaeton, dancehall and Lao Ra’s own Bogota-via-East-London background – “Me Gusta,” says Lao Ra, “is about a woman who’s in control of her sexuality, looking for a situation where she doesn’t need to ask any questions, but can invite a guy to relax, drink some tequila and enjoy the moment while it lasts. I think it is important for women to own their desires and not be afraid of going after what they want.”
On ‘Me Gusta’, Lao Ra continues to distil an eclectic array of underground sounds – and an at-times extreme upbringing – into songs with as much bite as they boast colour. The signs were arguably there on her first day of school when she ate a worm in front of her own class to exert her fearlessness, or later that year when she went on a protest because the school didn’t have a girls’ football team. Lao Ra later sought an escape from the looming talk of bombs and extradition in the Bogota playground by spending afternoons watching MTV, before discovering punk and deciding that if that scene originated in England, then Lao Ra would follow it over there once she graduated.
New to the capital, Lao Ra then pursued a comically diverse run of different jobs, from stints as barmaid, a dog walker and working in a shoe shop to becoming the PR for a smoke alarm manufacturer. She’d simultaneously been producing her own demos, but nothing was sticking. “I’d been trying to hide my Colombianness,” she says now. “I was inspired by bands who weren’t Colombian, so I was trying to do what they did – I didn’t realise I could mix it.” Citing acts from Gwen Stefani to Santigold as helping her turn a corner, Lao Ra’s debut track ‘Jesus Made Me Bad’ ruffled feathers and the local charts back home, with an acclaimed run of empowering early tracks since then winning her a suitably-international following.
‘Me Gusta’ reaffirms Lao Ra’s innate ability to produce pop music with a lyrical sting in its tail; embracing the highs and lows of your heritage, and turning it into something unmistakeably yours. And this is unmistakeably Lao Ra.