Bitchwave Co-Founders Talk New Queer-Friendly Record Label & Premiere La Louma Track: Exclusive Premiere
La Louma’s Let The World Be Flooded Out is a powerful upcoming album releasing Nov. 3. It’s a raucous call to arms that speaks volumes in the current political climate, both a rowdy war cry and a look inside Louma herself.
Lauren Ross, otherwise known as La Louma, has a message for the world, and she’s not afraid to share it. That much is clear the first time you hear the opening track “The Decline of Nations," which Billboard is premiering exclusively. It’s catchy and cool, but drenched with a call to action amidst the crunchy guitar and refrains. Something’s gotta give, and she urges the listener to “stay until you try to make things right.”
Ross is one half of Bitchwave, a queer woman-ran label that’s just about to launch its first album from La Louma. Together with co-founder Terra Lopez, the pair have created a mecca for LGBTQ-friendly artists to grow and support each other.
Lopez and Ross spoke about Bitchwave’s mission and everything that comes along with creating a music label just for queer women. They also explained the origin of the name Bitchwave, and you’ll definitely be upset you didn’t think of it first, because it’s pretty hardcore.
Billboard: How would you describe Bitchwave and what would you say your mission statement is?
LR: Bitchwave is a mentality. It's about being strong individually and sticking together. It’s about being personally empowered while empowering each other. We are queer women who champion culturally important art made mostly by women who are mostly queer.
"The Decline of Nations" is a rollicking, nearly surf-punk track that's hard to get out of your head, but it sends a stark message about staying impassioned, awake, and cognizant of what's going on around us. Is that the core of La Louma at heart?
LR: That’s a big part of it, absolutely! My songs are often written as reminders to myself. In “The Decline Of Nations”, I am forced to hear myself sing “promise me you’ll stay until you try to make things right” and take it as a self-directed order. Or there’s a droney psychedelic flute song on the album called “I Am Here I Am” in which I sing from the perspective of several escaped female refugees whose first-hand accounts I had read. The chorus is a repeating declaration that “I am here”, and while it’s meant to be their statement, it’s crucial for me to hear myself sing those words over and over, too.
Were there any specific musicians that inspired the art-rock sound in "The Decline of Nations?"
LR: I worked at Kill Rock Stars many years ago, so bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, and Deerhoof are undeniably in my blood. Also, I grew up as a hardcore classical woodwind player, so I've got to give a shout out to composers like Grieg, Dvořák, and Tchaikovsky.
What do you want listeners to take from listening through Let The World Be Flooded Out in its entirety?
LR: I know I’m not the only person who battles insecurity, depression or a loss of self-identity. It’s crippling. I want listeners -- especially ones who are familiar with those feelings -- to be inspired and motivated when listening to the album. We can dig ourselves out. We are capable of emerging from those dark caves we often feel stuck in. We have the power to create our own realities. I hope other people find their own ways of expressing how they take in (and take on) the world -- and that they don’t wait to do it. One of the songs on the album is called “If We Don’t Now We Never Will”. Cause seriously, ya’ll, we’ve all got to just go for it. Make your art and don’t let anything stop you.
What challenges come along with having to play, record and mix all the instruments on the album alone as well as adding vocals to the mix? It's an impressive accomplishment.
LR: I'd have found it more challenging if I didn't do all of those things myself. Working alone gives me the room to be completely uncensored and unhurried and to have a meaningful connection with every single word, note, and sound in my music. The biggest challenge was being brave enough to sing, and to ultimately share these songs with people.
What other queer subject matter can we expect La Louma and other artists who may debut with Bitchwave to tackle?
TL: Bitchwave is still very much in the early stages of development but what we hope to create is a platform and space for queer voices to be heard. We want this space to be inclusive and to be a platform where people can address many topics whether it be the political, the personal, social justice or just to create a sense of community.
What's the inspiration behind the name Bitchwave?
TL: It came to me one night as I was thinking of what my gang would be called if I had one. It just stuck -- I fell in love. It's rough, it's hard, it's fresh. It's a new perspective, a new mentality moving forward that will include and embrace people who get it. If you get it, you're in.
Is there a message you'd send to any queer fans looking to get into the business or looking to work with a label like Bitchwave?
TL: Just be authentically and beautifully you. You matter and your experience and your ideas deserve to be heard, so find the right platform for them. That's all we are trying to do with Bitchwave.
LR: The queer community is generally tight-knit and supportive, so go find music industry allies and mentors who want to see you succeed. And remember, hard work and gratitude go a very long way.