Mix together an urban beat, a classical influence, and a silky, charismatic voice, and you have Sarita Lozano. Ahead of the release of her new album, Lucid, which drops on February 3, the singer, songwriter and producer from London took the time to discuss her sound, her inspirations, and the feminist undertones in her work.
Having grown up with a flamenco guitarist father, as well as having spent her childhood immersed in choirs, the fusion of sounds and genres encapsulated in Lozano’s music is refreshingly unique. “I’m originally half Spanish, so I’ve got the sunshine in my heart, and my home is beautiful. I feel like I carry the ocean in my spirit”, she says.
In terms of musical inspirations, Lozano names her father as her “first and favourite” artist. “My dad was a flamenco guitarist and so I grew up around him always composing. He would have erratic phases where he would be in the artistic groove and be writing like crazy. I just loved the energy, I used to feed off of it”.
While these sunny, Spanish vibes colour Lozano’s music on one level, perhaps the most powerful influence that characterises her sound is her choral background. “It has shaped me a lot”, she says.
“Growing up in choirs meant that I had a strong classical influence, especially in terms of keys and classical chords. But it also influenced me in terms of the way I hear harmonies, or the type of discord that I like to create in some of my songs. Like for instance there’s a song called ‘Love You Back’ [on the upcoming album]. The background of the chorus is just layers upon layers of harmonies and discord, which I really like”.
When asked to pinpoint the genre that her music falls into, she pauses and then chuckles. “In terms of my sound… I never know what genre of music my music is. I think… it’s a bit urban, the beats that I make are kind of like classical music [mixed with] hip hop, a bit of pop…”.
Struggling to box her sound into neat categories, she concludes, “I don’t know, what the hell, it’s like a fusion, it’s fusion. It just comes straight from my spirit so I would say, ‘What genre?’ ‘Sarita’. I am the genre”, she adds playfully.
Lozano is satisfied with her genre-evading sound, unconvinced that music requires strict labelling, or that it should be geared towards pre-established genres in order to appeal to certain demographics.
“I think I’ve just managed to find my sound and it’s taken me a long time because you get involved with music industry people who try and tell you, ‘you should make music that’s like this because that will fit for this demographic,’ and I just don’t believe in any of that stuff.
For me, music comes from your spirit: has to be pure, has to be raw and it has to be real. And this project that I’ve made might not be perfect but it’s all of those things. It’s me”.
“Like a lot of artists, the times when I’ve made really cool music have been when I’ve been through the hardest stuff in life. I recently came out of a really horrible relationship; my ex was violent, controlling, manipulative, stole from me, slept with my friend and tried to take me to court”, she discloses candidly. “So it was really quite hard, going through something like that”.
She points out that a lot of women go through the same things she has, and that there is “not enough attention given” to the issue. The upcoming album is in part an outlet for coming to terms with what she experienced, but it’s also a way of reaching out to other women with similar experiences, and starting an important conversation.
She explains how, “when it happened to me and I started to open up, so many women were telling me they’d been through the same, or worse. I wanted to make a project that reaches out to these females just to say, ‘I understand, and it’s okay, and it’s not you’”.
She adds: “You find yourself, as a woman, getting into [an abusive] situation, and being asked, ‘Well, how did you get yourself into that?’ as though you chose to, as though you asked to get beaten… Come on man, no woman asks for that.
I think there’s too much emphasis placed on why women get themselves into situations as opposed to the fact that somebody did that, there was an aggressor, somebody did that to somebody else. And for me, that’s more what it’s about: letting people know that actually, it’s not you”.
In order to address the themes of domestic abuse and controlling relationships, Lucid is framed as a narrative. Lozano explains how the tracks are listed in the same order as they were written, except the last track “Stones”, which was written first.
“In terms of the way that the album flows, it’s a story. It starts from being in London, all excited, getting the best out of the city. That first track [“London”] is so upbeat and energetic; it’s like everybody’s hopes and dreams.
The second song is about getting locked into a negative relationship and it starts telling that story, as well as exploring all the emotions that you go through when you come out of that“.
“Then”, she muses, “you take a bit of a trip within yourself, you have a few rebounds, you contemplate, you go deep into yourself to come out of yourself again, and address situations”.
The songs making up the core of the album capture “that feeling when you’re taking the edge off of life and you’re flowing and you’re free – when you’re like ‘yeah, I can relax after everything that has gone on, everything’s ok’”.
The final song of the album, “Stones” was the first song that Lozano ever produced. “So ‘Stones’ is the last one but also the first one. And it’s so weird because I wrote that song years ago and the lyrics are still true to this day. And the lyrics have grown; they’ve got greater meaning now than when I first wrote them even”.
This idea of bringing her music full circle, by linking the start of the album to the end, ties in with a philosophy with which Lozano views life. “It’s basically the view that we operate in loops. Sometimes you’ll go to the same place on a different frequency – maybe you’ve grown. But also, you need to be able to break loops“.
“So negative relationships, negative work relationships, expectations that hold onto you, [sometimes they need to be broken]. So my music has this deep kind of pattern running throughout. ‘Stones’ [reinforces] my whole philosophical idea that everything happens in loops”.
As well as speaking openly and sincerely about important issues, Lozano’s music also boasts catchy beats, mellifluent vocals, and fruitful experimentation. When asked which of the songs on Lucid she thinks is the best, Lozano jokes, “Ooh savage! Those are all my children”!
She then speculates, “I think the song that most people are really going to love and be able to relate to is ‘London’. It’s just got that feeling of excitement when you’re moving to a city: all the cultures, all the vibes, all the energy. It’s that feeling when you’re living your best life, feeling like it’s eternal, enjoying the moment”.
The question of which song posed the most problems on the other hand, is far more readily answered: “Oh my goodness, ‘Dirty Maria’“, she responds, without hesitation.
Based on the classical song, “Ave Maria”, this track gained its name partly as a result of how Lozano perceived its sound post-production. “The production is so dirty that I think it just makes sense to have called it that”, Lozano laughs.
“I based it on ‘Ave Maria’, so a classical track. I played in the keys and made it a bit more trappy, and it just took me ages to get the levels right. I was doing this song over and over again and I was like, ‘I love this song but this just doesn’t sound right’. To this day it’s probably not right but it’s dirty and I love it”.
Comprising 13 delicious tracks, Sarita Lozano’s Lucid album will be released across streaming platforms on February 3, stream and download it here.
Words by Jodie Sheehan