By Lindsey Gonzalez
One of many artists to emerge from Berklee College of Music, Lela distinguishes herself with electropop beats that are straight out of the ‘90s.
Her single, “Pendulum,” which debuted on October 7, impressed listeners with soulful vocals, an infectious beat, and a tight rap verse from Ryan Easter of Trap Music Orchestra.
The song is the result of nearly five months of careful tweaking that has seen influences from many Berklee students and alumni, including Rollo Spreckley, Jason Strong, Noah Conrad, and Parker Nornes.
The lyrics tell the story of a strained relationship in which someone is being misleading. But they are more artfully subtle than the accusatory lines in some of Taylor Swift’s breakup songs, for instance.
“I don’t like Swift’s way of writing and calling out people,” Lela says. “My lyrics are less of a straight-up ‘fuck you’ and more subliminal—less basic and more witty.”
And as far as breakup songs go, she stresses, “There’s only one breakup song on my EP, and it’s not very direct.”
At a very young age, Lela expressed a passion for music. During middle and high school, she was a standout member of her school’s choir. And through it all, pop has been her go-to.
“It’s always been pop music,” Lela says. “I do listen to other genres, but pop has stuck with me, and I wouldn’t want to be under any other genre.”
While creating her EP, she drew a lot of inspiration from producer Max Martin, singer-songwriter Kehlani, and noted pop star Tori Kelly. But more than anyone, Ariana Grande has had a strong influence in Lela’s personal and professional life.
I always listen to a lot of Ariana Grande,” she says, “like, way too much Ariana Grande.”
It’s one of her goals to one day open for the pop star. “I would die,” Lela says.
For now, she is focusing on perfecting the rest of her EP. The next three songs will be published as singles, which will be available for streaming on both SoundCloud and Spotify. The completed project is set to debut early next year.
Listeners enticed by “Pendulum” can catch Lela performing at Five Cent Sound’s fall launch party on December 14 at Emerson College’s Bill Bordy Theatre, along with two other local acts—Slack Tide and Malachi & Yassky.