Anger and poetry on electro-folk beats
Lola Lafon is a singer, songwriter, performer and author. Her novel Une fièvre impossible à négocier (A fever that cannot be dealt with), an intimate, autobiographical, rebellious story, retelling her own experience as a Romanian teenager catapulted into the poltical and cultural life of Paris in the late 1980s. With her band Leva, Lola Lafon has recorded her first album, Grandir a l´envers de rien, a collection of Balkan-influenced electro-folk songs, poetic and explosive, sung in French, Romanian, English and Bulgarian.
Lola Lafon was born and raised in Bucharest during Ceausescu´s regime where she lived until the age of 14. She left before the revolution of 1989 that removed the dictator from power. In her novel Une fièvre impossible à négocier she creates the character of Landra through whom she describes the existential uneasiness of a girl growing up between Romania and Bulgaria and then transplanted into the different reality of France and Paris. Here Landra´s uneasiness doesn´t pass, instead it is accompanied by the sense of dizziness of freedom. Landra feels a growing sensation inside herself of something that has only one name: anger.
In the novel, Landra is the victim of a rape committed by a person close to her, by a “man beyond suspicion”, who calls her the next day to ask if she’s ok. She cannot answer. She runs away and starts a rootless existence with a group of young antifascists. She engages in rioting and breaking windows, moves from one squat to another, makes friends and lovers, and marches every Saturday against the anti-abortion fundamentalists. Landra is also fan of surfers and electro music...
Lola Lafon spent her childhood in Romania and Bulgaria, avidly listening to old Stones records, Patti Smith, then Jeff Buckley. Her own musical works incorporated both her new (French) and her previous (Eastern European) cultural references. She formed her band Leva in 1999. The band´s songs, originally born in her bedroom, were inspired by Romanian traditional music. They mixed folk rock guitar and Balkan accordion with blurred samples of Prokofiev and hints of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Bartok, the Beastie Boys or Maria Tanase’s strange interventions. Leva´s music has a melancholic and epic texture, all flavoured with what has been called a “non-negotiable rage".
Leva is a cosmopolitan group: with a Macedonian on guitar, a Serbian on accordion, a Frenchman on bass, a Belgian sampling and a French-Byelorussian singer (Lola Lafon). Her lyrics are also influenced by Eastern European and Balkan folksong and her songs are profound and nostalgic, expressing a sometimes infinite sadness and full of unexpected moments of stillness. Her subjects, however, include an uncompromising political outlook, using accessible metaphors to address issues such as the expulsion of immigrants.
Leva´s album Grandir a l’envers de rien (Growing back in front of nothing) reproduces the intimate atmosphere of their live concerts with Lola singing and speaking like an off-stage voice-over reading from an intimate diary. The West-East hybridity of her work means that Rimbaud can form the prelude to a Bulgarian song or there is an unexpected duo between her and the poet Dylan Thomas (also an important influence on her writing). In some songs she rebels against authoritarianism (on such tracks as Drole de rage-Funny fury, Lele Jano, Les Steppes claires-The clear steppes); on others she creates an intimate, questioning persona (A quell age-At which age, Yulay, Decongele tes reves-Defrosts your dreams); on others she expresses agony (Decolere-Stops being angry, L’aube nouvelle-The new dawn). Musically the mixture of influences on her writing places her simultaneously inside and far outside of the French folkloric and songwriting tradition, somewhere between Jacques Brel and gypsy music.
In September 2007, she published her second novel, De ça je me console (I’m taking comfort with that).
Lola Lafon recently revisited Romania for the first time since her departure in 1988 as part of her involvement with the Black/North SEAS project.
She maintains a blog at http://levaweb.free.fr
Lola Lafon is the author of the novels Une fièvre impossible à négocier (Flammarion, 2003) and De ca je me console (Flammarion, 2007). She is also a singer and a musician with the group LEVA (Grandir à l´envers de rien, Label bleu, 2006).
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
The SEAS Platform 2008-2010
(02 December 05 - 31 December 10)