Meet British-Lebanese rapper, producer and AIM Awards' 'One To Watch in association with BBC Music Introducing' nominee, Laughta.
In 2023, we’re truly living in the age of polymaths, and multi-talented musician, producer and presenter Laughta is no exception. Making waves with her critically acclaimed single ‘Flex’, she’s grown from strength to strength, with songwriting as her weapon of choice, Laughta is killing the game with sharp bars and playful beats.
Born in Nigeria and of Lebanese descent, Laughta draws from her multicultural heritage, letting it bring life and love into her work: “being exposed to so many different forms of music is why you will find my music does not really sit in one style or genre”, she explains, “If I didn’t fuse the styles I wouldn’t feel complete”.
Hot off a triumphant UK tour across London, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham, Laughta is preparing her new project as we speak. Up next is a vibrant rap fusion track called ‘Ain’t the Same’, encapsulating her diverse influences and exemplifying just how much she’s got to give.
With an undeniable star power, helped by her infectious and hilarious personality (where did you think the name Laughta came from?!), she’s someone you need on your radar and in your playlists. Named as AIM Awards’ ‘One To Watch in association with BBC Music Introducing’ nominee, Laughta is ready for what’s to come, and so are we.
To celebrate the AIM Awards, we caught up with the rising star and found out just what we can expect up next…
Hey Laughta – great to chat with you! Starting off, where does the name Laughta come from?
Lovely to chat with you too. The name Laughta has stuck with me from my teenage years. Growing up all my friends had tag names and my friends called me Laughta because I would always giggle, laugh out loud to the point of turning red and eyes watering especially in places where I shouldn’t be laughing hahah.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with music?
I would say I am always falling deeper in love with music at different points in my life. Growing up I would say music found me as I grew up on a council estate and rapping and sharing each others lyrics was a part of the day to day culture. I would listen to the grown ups on my estate go back to back and would be fixated like a tennis match. More recently having taught myself to produce & engineer my own music during the pandemic I grew a deeper connection with music and it’s captured my soul in a whole new shape and form that will be with me forever because it has just become part of me DNA.
Did you have much of a cultural upbringing? What sort of music were you surrounded by?
I am Lebanese, born in Nigeria, and grew up in London so my cultural upbringing was strong. Growing up I would be surrounded by Arabic music, hard hitting darbuka drums, belly dancers but also Grime and Hiphop music. Being exposed to so many different forms of music is why you will find my music does not really sit in one style or genre. I am very versatile but also incorporate all different sounds I am used to and fuse the styles and in a way build my own style. For example I may start with a flow and melody and lay down a rap style melody but fling in some Arabic percussions and big fat drill 808s. But if I didn’t fuse the styles I wouldn’t feel complete.
Lyrics and wordplay seem to be hugely important to you, tell me a bit about that.
I’m glad you noticed this! It really is, I take my time thinking of each lyric and ensuring it stays in line with the concept of the song but in a clever way. I am hard on myself to make sure my flows, clarity and lyrics are strong. Grime and hip hop have been hugely influential on my style and it’s the competitiveness that keeps me on my toes to keep the standards of my world play high. I love metaphors, similes, alliteration and all the rest haha because I want my music to paint a picture that draws in the audience. I want listeners to not only listen and feel the song but also see and imagine the lyrics clearly, bringing them to life. Music is part of my life, it’s true to me and I have my own unique way of expressing it.
Do you find songwriting a cathartic experience?
Music is my medicine. I don’t know what I would have done without it because my mind is always ticking, sometimes quicker than my heartbeat. Every day in my life I experience situations that I release and pour into my art so delicately. Every release is like a breath of fresh air, giving me a new lease of life. Making beats makes me lose myself taking me into another universe where I am alone with nothing on my mind, it numbs me. Writing lyrics, exposes my suppressed feelings and thoughts and heightens all my senses, taps into my vulnerability, often causing one big explosion that eventually reduces the pain I may be enduring temporarily. I find that situations I experience in life, especially emotional ones, get trapped in my episodic memory and never disappear. One song is not enough to free me from all my feelings which is why I see it as a on going long-term tool of expression in different manners eg happy upbeat songs or heartfelt songs and empowering ones but could come from the same root.
How do you balance writing lyrics that are personal with making music that’s relatable for your listeners?
Good question. I engage in a lot of debates whether I’m on my radio show while presenting and interviewing others or when I’m hanging out with friends and family. I listen and observe what is happening and take in the reality that also surrounds me. Music isn’t just about my personal experiences but also others. I am very inspired by others and when I make a song that connects to others like ‘Likes Don’t Define You’ and receive so many messages from people about how it has helped them or how they relate to the social media pressures etc it makes it even more worth it, it makes music a shared experience and I love that, as I want as many people to relate and connect. Music should be just as cathartic for the listeners as it is to the creator.
Where do you seek inspiration from?
Everywhere. I found recently travelling and working with artists internationally has been so inspirational for me. As an Arab woman I have been really inspired by seeing so much more music from the Arab diaspora shining through. In May 2023 I was invited to be the first artist in residence at the Music Hub in Riyadh after meeting the team at XP music conference a year ago. I felt so emotional seeing music being accepted and it really made me feel more in touch with my roots than ever. I realised that I had been holding a part of me back for a long time, and for that reason started incorporating Arabic language in my music for the 1st time. I actually cried today recalling that entire experience, and connecting with artists like Seera, an all female Arab rock band from Riyadh and getting in studio with them, hearing their stories and jamming it was a unique and overwhelming experience. Also fashion gives me a lot of inspiration as I feel music and fashion go hand in hand, and having performed earlier this year at Paris Fashion Week at Place Vendome for the Emerge Fashion Show during the finale I was left feeling more inspired than ever with new ideas flowing. I feel more suited and booted than ever!
What are the artists who have had the biggest impact on you, personally and professionally?
Missy Elliot has always made a huge impact, she’s absolutely iconic and has always been way ahead of her time and a trend setter, we can all learn from her always. I would also say Skepta is someone I really look up to because he has an independent way of thinking and is a true innovator. He’s also shown me support, shared my music etc which is really motivating.
Talk me through the making of Dare 2 Be Different.
Dare 2 Be Different is an album I wanted to create that represented me at the time of making it. It’s a very DIY album, with half of the songs, produced, engineered and mixed by myself, reflecting my independent status at the time with limited resources and having to be self sufficient. I explored topics that I am particularly passionate about like the treatment of women in the music industry and the pressures we face as women like our image and what is deemed ‘sexy’ and what sells. I only had one featured artist Saskilla who is a great MC as it was driven by me. I released it for my close fambase on Bandcamp only and was lucky enough to have done my 1st UK tour off the back off it, travelling city to city regionally, completing a successful grass root tour independently. As an independent artist I have had to explore different ways of releasing music for it to be sustainable and at the time Bandcamp was a great option for me. I have sold merch on there and just think it’s a great platform for artists in general but especially independently releasing artists.
How would you describe that project in 3 words?
Bold, relatable and daring.
How was collaborating with MIRI on your track ’Burn Their Lies’ earlier this year?
Yes really lovely. We face timed each other and I created that beat over the phone for her from my home studio. She has an incredible voice so I loved producing it for her and also mixing her vocals. It was then mastered by Katie Tavini who is incredible at what she does. All of a sudden it was women in music coming together to create a masterpiece.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Doja Cat is epic, love her rebellious nature and she’s an epic lyricist. I feel we could create something special. I would also like to collaborate with Nancy Ajram a Lebanese singer who I grew up to. I think magic could be made in the studio if we came together!
How does it feel to be a ‘One To Watch in association with BBC Music Introducing’ nominee at the AIM Awards?
I am still buzzing and everyday wake up with a smile on my face because of it. It is such an honour to be recognised by a platform that I truly value and see highly. BBC Introducing has been an important part of my journey as an independent music artist, as it’s accessible to everyone. Songs like ‘Garbage’ from Dare 2 Be Different album was played on BBC 1Xtra and BBC Introducing shows because of it! Sian Anderson BBC 1Xtra gave me a ‘Next Generation Shout Out’ and interviewed me while I was on tour and that was such a memorable and special moment for me all thanks to BBC Introducing. Also Abbie McCarthy BBC Introducing who again I am a huge fan of also supported the record on radio and it made all my hard work and sacrifices all worth it. I am so grateful!!
What can we expect from your performance?
Expect to see me in my full element bringing you the best of me, amazing vibes with a nice cultural fusion… I won’t say much more because I don’t want to ruin the surprise!
Who are you most excited to see at the AIM Awards?
It’s my first nomination at an award show so to be honest I am so excited to see everyone in the building! Haha I can’t wait to see people I know, meet people I don’t, I just want to see as many people as possible!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am all set to release my new album Layali in 2024 with my lead single ‘Ain’t The Same’ (produced by GG) due to drop October 12th 2023 on MDLBeast Records. The album is executive produced by myself with majority of the tracks produced/engineered by myself at the Music Hub in Riyadh. It features a range of incredible talent from the region and internationally and is my best project to date. It is a project that pushed me to another level, gave me experiences I have never experienced like recording live musicians using live instruments like the Oud, Violin and more! Get ready…
What’s next for you?
For me it’s music music music. I am always creating and collaborating, but the focus is releasing this new project Layali and showcasing it to my fambase in due time!