Younger and wiser than you, she’s unapologetically taking charge.
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“I’m one of those people who needs to control everything.” 18-year-old Londoner Ama Lou is laughing but we both know she’s not joking. “I’m totally open to other people’s ideas… but I can’t do anything unless it sits well in my stomach.” Lou’s mantra is undisputed originality, because what is worth doing if it’s not done properly, or differently?
The singer applies this to not only her music (we’ll get to that shortly) but her look too. “I try and be as authentic as possible,” she assures me. “If I’m doing Mafia Italian gangster/Cuban gangster, I try and have all my gold on.” As a rule, Lou always wears jewellery, rarely wears makeup and never wears women’s clothes. She bought a pair of gold grills in Miami, but she left them in a glass of water at a restaurant. “The worst day of my life,” she sighs.
In case you weren’t already convinced she’s infinitely cooler and more self-assured than most, you should know that she wrote her first song aged 11 (apparently it was, “Quite good! Well formed!”). Raised on Gil Scott-Heron via her history teacher and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday via her mum, there was little chance of any other result. After finding her songwriting feet with guitar classes and a stint at music college, Lou flew to New York on a creative pilgrimage two days after leaving school last year.
“I was going to go out there with my guitar and stay with my friends for five weeks and see if anything happened, if I was inspired,” she explains. Lou loved the city so much she returned just three months later in September, it was then she wrote her latest thundering single in collaboration with Likeminds, “Lost My Home”.
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“My accommodation got a bit messed up so I was slightly homeless,” she laughs about the predicament in retrospect. “One night I had to stay out until four in the morning waiting for this woman to come home which was pretty fucking traumatic. I didn’t realise at the time because I’d already started writing the song, but I felt so disconnected from everything and I wanted to come home.” Compounded with Brexit and the Syrian refugee crisis, Lou found herself subconsciously creating a poignant and timely statement with the ethereal yet powerful single.
Her first release in October 2016, “TBC” took note from the world around her too, repeating the now infamously heartbreaking last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe.” Tackling such tough topics as a teen is commendable, but for Lou, it’s intrinsic. “I’m like a cell,” she claims. “I’m just growing. The number is so strange, how many hookups there are and how many limitations there are on what an 18-year-old can do.”
Not that she’s let that stop her. Leaving for writing sessions in Los Angeles just days after we meet, Lou’s working on new music for what she promises will be an “exciting year”. “I think the universe is letting me have—instead of this one big plateau and me getting overwhelmed—little stages,” she says of her blooming career. “It’s grown quickly but in linear time… Enough to cope with.” What’s next—just like the single that surfaced her—is TBC.
Taken from the Summer 17 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.
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