London-based Swiss singer-songwriter LAGIOIA is not your average emerging Soul/R&B artist, she pens her songs with lyrics that are relevant and more importantly pertinent in todays society. With hints of electro influences, her aim is to bring listeners closer to her own zone of music, she does this so well on her debut single “Black Magic” — a song about fear and how you feel if you’re not under control of your life. It’s an impressive start by the multi-instrumentalist who aims to release a debut EP later this year.
With a captivating vocal performance and memorable melodies throughout the single, it was only right to have a conversation with the rising star. Read below:
How’s London treating you LAGIOIA?
London is treating me great. I love all the different people and how more things are accepted here than in my hometown. I feel way more free. There are so many things to do and opportunities, sometimes it’s also scary, but I enjoy it a lot.
What challenges did you face when you first moved here?
Moving from Switzerland to another country, and especially to the lively London, I needed some time to get used to this new big City life. I was living a whole different lifestyle back home, I had an office job back home, which I quit, to move to London and follow my passion. It wasn’t that easy to build a whole new life and making new friends etc. Because you’re most of the time on your own. It’s challenging and pushes you to your boundaries and definitely out of your comfort zone. But I think I can just win with all these experiences, for my life and person in general. And I’m happy about my decision and where I am right now.
Well we’re happy you’re here now. You grew up listening to Alicia Keys and Erykah Badu, what other artists would you say inspired you?
I would say I was inspired as well by the 70/80’s disco and funk that my parents were always listening to and artists like Cool and the Gang, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer (my parents played them all the time). I have also been a big fan of Destiny’s Child. And when I got older, more in my teens, I started to listen to more folk music like Ben Howard and indie rock like for example the Australian band The Temper Trap. I was actually listening to a wide array of music and was being inspired by all the different genres. I do also like a lot of music from other countries and cultures. I traveled to India and Morocco, and I always get so inspired by the beauty of other countries music.
Amazing. And now, who are you listening to?
Right now I listen to a lot of great but different bands like: Sticky Fingers, Maribou State, Mahalia, Tash Sultana, Moses Sumney and Fatoumata Diawara.
That’s impressive. What was it like growing up in Zurich?
I love my hometown Zurich and Switzerland in general, but for me it has always been a bit difficult to fit in or to satisfy the expectations of society. I think you don’t have it easy as an artist in this more economically driven city. So I thought leaving the country to try it out in a bigger city with a bigger market would be a great adventure and challenge for myself (I somehow never take the easy way). And here I am now, happy about my decision but also vey thankful that I can always go back to Switzerland and recharge my energy in the beautiful nature and around my family and friends.
Sounds great to me. Your name is Italian, but I assume you speak French and German too? Would you consider singing in any of those languages?
Story of my life *laughs*. My name is so Italian, but I don’t speak any Italian (unfortunately). My parents just gave me a very Italian name because my dad used to speak Italian in his hometown but his mother tongue has always been German just as mine. I learned some French in school, but I prefer singing in English because I always listened to English music since a very young age and I feel more connected to this language, especially when it comes to expressing my feelings and thoughts in my lyrics.
That’s really interesting! What’s the music scene like in Switzerland?
It is way smaller but I think it’s slowly growing, which is great. The thing is, there are not that much live music venues or bars where you can perform for free like all these open mic night here in London, which I love.
Fair enough. Let’s talk about your debut single “Black Magic” — talk me through the songwriting process.
I wrote this song in around 20 minutes to be honest (this doesn’t usually happen believe me). At the point where I wrote this song, I was in a perfect writing zone and the words just seemed right for me. This proved to me that whenever you have an idea to write something or you need to get something off your chest, sit down and start writing. You never know which ideas will come up.
I couldn’t agree more. What message are you trying to convey?
The story behind the track: most of the people, including myself, are sometimes going through life with a lot of fear and negative thinking. By honestly just being fed up of my negative thoughts, I realised that it is my own fault, that I’m creating this (how I call it) “Black Magic“ around for myself and that I should stop this and start thinking optimistically. Music has always been therapy to me, and again it proved to me how it can help. Hopefully this is my way to help other people.
That’s a great message and I’m sure a lot of people will connect with the song. Have you set yourself any expectations for the single?
Because it’s my first single I haven’t set high expectations. I wanted to put a good first track out there and promote it so people can listen to it. I’m sure I will learn a lot from this first experience.
That’s really good. Can we expect visuals for the single?
I’ve created a great single cover with my creative director Ben McConnachie (HalfCresent), who is amazing when it comes to visuals. I had the idea of the black line around last year and somehow it matched with the title of the song. I love to express myself with more extravagant and thought-out ideas or outfits. There is this sentence: life is too short to wear boring clothes. Kind of true when it comes to myself. Just be you, don’t be afraid what other people will think.
I respect that. Listening to your other music released on SoundCloud, your previous sound was folk-infused, what inspired you to switch it up to Soul/R&B?
Right, this is a good point. You see, the last two years I’ve been trying to find myself as an artist. I’ve never really dealt with this before because I was too busy working full-time and having another lifestyle. But I knew that I needed to go after this and find out not just who I am as a person, as well who I am as an artist. I do like folk music, but my voice and my background has always been more Soul/R&B influenced. I think it can be confusing if you just hear a guitar, a voice and the song is a ballad. But that doesn’t mean it is necessarily a folk song. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of categorising genres. But if I had to choose one and what does matter is that my voice is mainly Soul/R&B influenced (as well by all the music I grew up with). But it took me some time to find this out, by improvising a lot and just singing from my heart without mattering what other people will think or how they will categorise you. I try to create whatever feels right and honest to me.
I appreciate that in-depth answer LAGIOIA. I feel that’s something a lot of up and coming artists need to do as well. Are you planning to release a project any time soon?
Definitely. The single “Black Magic” is only the beginning. I’m working right now on my debut EP, which will be released later this year. Be prepared.
Amazing, and believe me I am prepared! I watched your voices live (Ron Voyage session) video on YouTube, such a beautiful intimate performance I must say, do you have any upcoming shows?
Thank you very much! It was an amazing intimate performance and I enjoyed it so much. Yes, I do! I will be playing at Under the Bridge on the 29th May with my full band. Some small intimate gigs are always going on, which you can be updated and follow on my social media profiles.
Gotcha! You’ve actually built a fan base playing live music around London, what was your most memorable show in your opinion?
Just one month ago I played at the 229 Venue in London and that was amazing. Me and my amazing band members had so much fun, everything went alright and I enjoyed it so much. Another amazing moment (not show) I can remember was, when I was busking in the South of France in Montpellier and an older man came to me and gave me a picture of me that he had drawn of me and he had tears in his eyes. Seeing the reaction of my listeners is one of the greatest gift. That’s what I live for.
Wow that’s amazing, you’re on the right track! I know how difficult it is being an independent artist, do you feel as though some people tend to make it through luck or talent?
Good question. I think nowadays you definitely need both. Just be the greatest as you can be, surround yourself with the right people and just get out there. As an independent artist it can be hard. But this is what I always tell to myself: Believe in yourself, be true to yourself and your work and never give up. You never know if you will be the one who will be at the right time at the right place.
Stream “Black Magic” on Spotify.
Connect with LAGIOIA