Lava La Rue backstage at Coachella 2023: “I’m embracing the moment!”

We caught up with Lava La Rue just after they'd played their first Coachella to chat blagging your friends into festivals, new music and creative directing Wet Leg's BRITs performance


It’s a balmy Friday afternoon in the Californian desert and Lava La Rue has just come off stage after playing their first Coachella. With the glittery silver and red star still drawn across one of her eyes, she greets The Forty-Five backstage with a grin. “It’s been hectic,” they laugh, before listing off all the other sets they’re excited for now they’ve got their work over. 

Before she headed off to get lost in the sounds of Coachella, Lava told us all about blagging your friends into the biggest festival in America, where her next release will take her, and masterminding the creative idea behind Wet Leg’s BRITs 2023 performance. 

Congrats on playing your first Coachella set earlier! How was it for you? 


“It was cool. There was a couple of technical difficulties, but all that aside, I didn’t wanna be a mardy bum about it. I just said, ‘Do you know what? Nobody here is gonna know that. I’m just gonna have a good time.’ And I did! And it was nice – it’s our first time playing an American festival ever and I think it was a good way to start. I’m never going to be able to do this for the first time ever in the rest of my life so I’m embracing the moment.” 

Who are you looking forward to watching this weekend? 

“Jai Paul hasn’t played for years and I was very young when he first came up on MySpace. I feel like I’m part of a whole generation that’s like, ‘We missed the whole Jai Paul train, we want our turn!’ So that’s exciting. But also, on Sunday, Kali Uchis, Björk, and Frank Ocean – if he turns up – play back-to-back. So that’s going to be something, you know what I mean? I could pretend to be all cool and be like, ‘Oh yeah, whatever’, but that will be sick.” 

Lava La Rue CREDIT: @blackksocks

You brought out Biig Piig for a song, who is one of your great friends and collaborators. Why did you want to share this moment with her? 

“Her and I went to school together, we went to college together. One of the things we’d fantasise about when we were 16, looking out of our shitty college windows was being able to play festivals together. She’s an amazing fucking artist, don’t get it twisted. I would definitely have wanted her to play anyway, but it did come from just wanting my best friend to be able to get an artist pass and be onstage with me and enjoy the rest of the whole shebang with me.” 

It’s been nearly a year since you released your last EP, ‘Hi-Fidelity’, which represents an end and a beginning for you. How do you feel about that EP now? 

“It does. That was the first little body of music – if you can either call it a body – that feels a bit representative of the music that I listen to and the music that I wanna make. It’s cool, I feel it’s opening a conversation of where I wanna go. I feel really privileged to be able to get bookings for festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury considering the fact that I’ve never put out a full body of music. It’s just been EPs. The ones I released before was stuff that I made when I was 16, 17, 18. I wouldn’t say it’s representative of my sound. It was just me being like, ‘Music? Yes I want to do this for a living’. I had no resources and was just fucking around with my mates, and I’d be like, ‘Yeah let’s put this out, I need to put something out’. So much more thought has gone into my music now. ‘Hi-Fidelity’ was me being like, ‘Right, let me make music that if I wasn’t the artist, I would still listen to on repeat’. That’s generally the goal.” 

You said when ‘Hi-Fidelity’ came out that it was the bridge between the Lava La Rue who you debuted and the person you’re becoming. Who is the person you’re becoming? 

“I think a lot of my early music was like, ‘Right, this is who I am, this is where I’m from, this is what my values are’. It felt super introductory – and I still feel like I’m constantly reintroducing myself – but I think that this is me, maybe now as someone who is going through adulting that is trying to find a way to say a lot more complex things and more complex emotions, but in less words. Maybe just going, ‘Ooh’ or ‘Aah’! It’s a hard to do and, not to put down any rappers because I think there’s so many amazing rappers out there, but when I was just rapping on my earlier work I could talk like this and say all these million things. But going to thinking about the musicality and the chords and putting it in short hooks, it’s like, ‘How do I say all of that in one fucking line and it’ll hit people so they’ll know exactly what I’m trying to say on a human level?’” 

You played ‘Push And Shove’ today, which I know is a new song you’ve played at other gigs…

“I actually wrote that song ages ago, before the pandemic. It was about me going through the trials and tribulations of realising that I was in a toxic relationship. That person wasn’t good for me, but I still loved them but I couldn’t love them the way they needed to be loved. Sometimes you’ve got to be like, ‘I love you, but I’m actually not the best thing for you and you’re not the best thing for me’. I do it in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads-inspired way and it’s nice tapping into that new wave vibe.” 

Aside from your music, you also have the visual side of your artistry too. Earlier this year, you creative directed Wet Leg’s incredible BRITs performance – what was your idea there? 

“I find Wet Leg an inherently very British band without trying. Their whole aesthetic isn’t, like, guns blazing, ‘We’re British!’. Where they’re from on the Isle of Wight, it feels like this place where you still have druids and people who celebrate paganism and do Maypole dancing. That’s an interesting part of Britishness that existed pre-Christian colonisation when the Romans came and made everything Christian. If you tap into the UK before that, the Anglo-Saxons were worshipping the sun before they were a Christian country and running around like pagans. 

I wanted to have a nod to that because I actually see some of that very old English, before it became colonisation and the Britain that enslaved the world. The Britain before that was actually like hobbits frolicking in the Shire. They genuinely have that energy to them and so I wanted that. We got a bunch of amazing Morris dancers. Morris dancing is something that’s conventionally more of a male thing so it was a female and non-binary Morris dancing collective. This is a Britishness that I think we should tell the story of.” 

READ MORE: A Cover Story with Lava La Rue