Photo by: Louis Browne (WMA)
Most of us may know who Bri Hall is, so it’s time for us to get to know La Hara.
Interview by: @IAMNJERA
We often underestimate the power of our potential. However, true artists don’t follow a traditional path, but instead, we follow what’s true to us and our passions. Beginning her YouTube channel back in 2013, Bri Hall couldn’t predict the world of opportunities that Youtube would provide her with, but her unique journey has allowed her to explore her many talents.
The beauty guru has successfully managed to use the media platform as a launching pad for her other ventures, including her musical career under the name of her alter ego, La Hara. Behind the influencer is a raw and imperfect artist who wants to share her gift with the world and so far she’s doing extremely well for herself. The young independent artist considers herself a voice for the people, using her music as an outlet to inspire, empower and evoke empathy from her listeners.
I had the pleasure of getting to know La Hara and talking to her about her extraordinary path, finding a healthy balance between YouTube and music and her plans for the future.
Where did the name ‘La Hara’ come from?
The name La Hara actually comes from one of my favorite paintings by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was so ahead of his time and used his feelings of being different, especially being a black man in New York City, and translated them into five-figure paintings – that’s what I want to do.
Now a lot of people would say your claim to fame is being an influencer in the beauty world, but what really came first for you – YouTube or music?
Music and art definitely came first. The first instrument I ever played was the clarinet in third grade. By then I was already drawing and had created my first handmade book. I feel like YouTube became a creative outlet that allowed me to combine music, art, and beauty.
Did your upbringing have a lot to do with the path you took getting involved with music and YouTube? How so?
I think my upbringing definitely played a huge role in my involvement in YouTube. I could not stay away from the camera. My mom and I joke about this because we’re complete opposites. She hated taking photos, but she said “sometimes your children are your opposites in the best way.” My mom messed up when she got me a Barbie video camera because I could not stop making videos. From cooking shows all the way to Black History Month specials, anything I would learn I had this desire to document and teach people. We reflected on this many years later and realized that I was a YouTuber or before YouTube was YouTube.
What got you interested in music to begin with?
I noticed that all of my creative passions have one thing in common – taking something that has very little meaning, such as a blank canvas, a small tube with holes (clarinet), or even a ball of yard, and making it extraordinary. The thought that one day this blank canvas could become something that people look at and have an emotional response to, wind from my lungs that a tube could turn into a lullaby, or a 99 cent ball of yard that could become a scarf or blanket to keep warm amazed me. Creating music makes me feel like I have the power to change things.
When did you decide to make this transition from posting YouTube videos to putting out your music?
This transition is something I’ve thought about since college when I would stand in on rap cyphers with the boys and hold my own. I, of course was just having fun and making fun of my friends to a beat, but a lot of my friends said that I should record something seriously. I’ve always admired the courage it takes to release music, but to be honest I was so scared. Now I invite the challenges.
How is it balancing a career in music and also keeping up with your YouTube channel?
It’s tough. I’m starting to realize the value in really outsourcing and building a team. I’m also realizing that just because I have so many talents doesn’t mean I have to do everything myself. Balancing music in my YouTube channel has taught me to be even more trusting. Now that I’m getting into the swing of outsourcing the stuff that I don’t like to do, I can focus on what I love to do.
How have your social media platforms helped you launch your music career?
Having social media platforms has helped a lot with launching music. However, you don’t get the luxury of trying a bunch of things and finding your sound quite as much as an artist starting with no platform. When you have a following, even if another avenue is new to you, you’re held to a certain standard. There’s more room for judgment. I’m working on being more playful with my music and trying new things as though I am a brand new artist with no platform, so I can have some fun and find what’s best for me.
What’s your muse for your music? Who or what is inspiring you to make these songs?
My muse is real life and poetry. I’ll let you in on a secret – most of my songs have more than one meaning and apply to more than one person. I encourage my audience to go back and listen to the songs and really try to see how many meanings they can find within each song.
What’s your creative process when you’re making music?
So when I make a YouTube video I have to have the music first so I can edit to the beats and I envision the video from start to finish before I hit record. When I’m creating a song I do this backwards – I put myself in a scenario or a dream, I hum melodies, and let thoughts flow. Something will just click and I write it down.
Now talk to me about this new video “Unlawful,” first off what’s the story behind the single?
One evening I was watching the show The 100 on Netflix and I saw two characters from different backgrounds and beliefs fall in love. They “fought dirty” for their love, literally in the mud, running through the woods, and in all these wild settings. It made me start thinking about how intricate of a process love can be and how there is often a fight whether it be with your lover or the two of you as a team against outside forces. The thought, “I like to fight a little dirty,” or enjoy the challenge, came to mind and I just kept writing from there.
What inspired the sequence of this video?
I actually had so many ideas for this video, the idea is something I said as a joke on the phone with my mom. I was frustrated because I couldn’t pick an idea that would stick, then as we talked about other stuff, I mentioned I was watching Waiting to Exhale earlier. I said “ I should use the Angela Bassett scene as inspo for the video.” It was intended to be lighthearted, but then we both paused. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I said and literally screamed, “this is it!” From there I must have listened to the song about 200 times while writing the creative direction.
What era of music do you think has had the biggest impact on you as an artist?
I would honestly say the late 80s into the early 2000s. I still play Stevie Wonder’s Ribbon in the Sky when I’m drawing late at night. Music before my time and in my upbringing just has that indescribable style that’s hard to recreate.
Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences?
Denise Williams has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was in heavy rotation growing up. I also love a lot of classic Reggae and some Dancehall: artists like Bob Marley & the Wailers, Jah Cure, Vybz Kartel, etc.
Are you interested in collaborating with other artists?
Absolutely. Right now I feel like I’m paying my dues and working on establishing myself as a solo act. I want collaborations to come about organically, similar to how it has been with some of the amazing brands I’ve worked with (Google Pixel, Calvin Klein).
What are some musical collaborations you’d like to see happen in the future?
Kehlani, Masego, Megan Thee Stallion, and honestly a lot of the amazing women in the industry. It’s so important for us to show each other love and support.
What’s your end goal as far as music goes? Is this something temporary you’re exploring or do you have big dreams for the future?
I have huge dreams! My goal is to be a household name, not just musically, but as a philanthropist and business owner. I see myself continuing to release music and projects for a long time.
What advice would you offer those who want to pursue their passions?
Tunnel vision. When you feel it passionately just do it. Passion and motivation can be fleeting, so it’s important to catch it and really give it your all.
Where can people find your music?
What’s next for La Hara?
Practicing my craft for sure. I have my first show coming up August 10 at the DC Bungalow Music Festival. I can’t wait to see everyone there, tickets are on sale now!