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R&B sensation Filah Lah Lah delights fans with debut album “On Air”

A journey that began during the confinements of Covid-19 unleashed the soothing sounds of Filah Lah Lah. Born to a Jazz enthusiast father music was bound to find her and 2020 was just the beginning. Recently released debut album ON AIR is Filah’s first offering since her two EP’s “On Air is literally me in a sonic form” says Filah. On the album she explores her diverse musical background and distinct voice while navigating personal thoughts through lyricism.

We chat to Filah Lah Lah about the album, career and more.

What made you pursue music?

I fell in love with the effect music has on people, but at the time I didn’t know how the gift would manifest but I knew I wanted people to have that same experience with my music.

Your music draws a lot from Hip Hop, was that an intentional approach?

My older brother grew up in the 90's and Hip Hop was a big part of his musical experience and I have always thought Hip-hop was clever - being able to put words together in that manner and rhythmically play with words - It reminded me how jazz musicians play with instruments, how they make saxophone and instruments do crazy things that are not the standard and I feel like hip hop mirrors that, and I love to write and being clever with my words so my sound is like paying homage to Hip Hop music.

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What makes this album different from your last two EP's

With the EP's I was testing the water and I didn't really care if people would listen - I was doing it for me, the world was going through a global pandemic so I thought whatever happens I could say I did that. ON AIR is my first proper offering - people will get the full Filah Lah Lah music experience.

How did you come up with the tittle and what does ON AIR mean to you?

The name has 3 different meanings - When I first signed to Sony they ask if any of my music was on the radio and there was very little of it at the time, so while I was busy making the album I thought let me make a fake radio show on the album so even if it does not get played on radio it will centrally be on air. It also means being present, being alive and also just being on a frequency.

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Who did you work with and what was the inspiration behind the album?

I worked with six producers in total but not too many features, I wanted it to be a clear Filah Lah Lah sound. On the album is Patty Monroe, Blackie exploring his romantic side on Nobody, Ndabo Zulu a great jazz artist and Mars Baby. It was a really beautiful collaborative effort I am excited for people to see a different side of these artists.

What themes does the album carry and how do you want people to receive them?

I was very self deprecating with previous work, I was unsure and felt like I was not enough but ON AIR is like NO ENOUGH! with that, its time for you to tap into your greatness, its there and its clear and all these people would not be rooting for you if it wasn’t clear. That’s pretty much the tone, its so affirming, self aware, all about me tapping to the Leo energy.

R&B is viewed as one of the hardest genres to tap into in SA, how do you plan to cement your sound and grow your audience

I think consistency is key, the importance of fostering community but not necessarily people who do the same genre or have the same interest as you but with artists outside our genres. Even if you don't make Amapiano you can still be in community with the Piano guys. I also think our audiences appreciate that. We are suppose to be different and there is nothing wrong with that but that doesn’t stop us from creating a community that co-exist with each other’s music.

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What challenges have you faced as a young musician and how have you overcome them?

My biggest challenge has been my mind, the inner sabotage, and not giving myself a pat in the back. I believe there is time for everything, music goes through waves and as an artist you will face challenges but if you know who finds you necessary ,values what you do, you gotta keep making music for them - but it also has to start with you - you have to see it first I don't think you can get far if you stagnant and not believe you are the exception.

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How do you make sure your songs carry the same emotions visually?

Firstly I have a very strong visual team and they understand me very well, they understand my music, messaging, personality and creativity, having a team that knows the story of the album and being able to bring our strengths together is how we communicate between the music and the visuals

What has been your proudest milestone?

Signing to Sony and getting nominated for Metro FM Awards but also realising how much the music means to the people. I’ve been doing shows at Untitled basement, its a very intimate space so after the show it allows audience interaction and people come up to me and share how my music have impacted them, how it got them through depression or a really bad break up.That for me is the biggest reward.

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