Facing issues surrounding immigration, gender and social inequality head-on with their brutally honest lyrics and fusion of Latin, Afro and Western beats, Wara are a band who are establishing themselves as one of the most culturally influential bands in the UK.
Over many years, London has firmly established itself as the cultural capital, welcoming migrant musicians from all over the world. As a six-piece band with members hailing from Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Ghana, Congo and Spain, the city has embraced Wara’s infectious energy, Latin and jazz-funk inspired grooves and meandering vocals – which has earned them a headlining spot at this year’s London Remixed Festival.
There is a fear that London will lose some of its vibrant cultural representation should Brexit affect our growing migrant music scene, though London Remixed Festival may be one of the last of it’s kind to celebrate emerging global talent. We chatted with Wara vocalist and keyboardist, Elaine Correa about the future of migrant musicians, the closure of London’s independent music venues, and why the band are looking forward to headling London Remixed Festival 2018.
How did you react to finding out you were on the London Remixed Festival lineup?
We are really excited – it’s such an eclectic, vibing festival and we are super happy to be back!
What are your favourite music venues in London?
Most of our favourite venues have closed down or are in danger of closing down in the near future. We started out at Passing Clouds and it will always be in our hearts; the Silver Bullet and Vibe Bar, too. Of the venues that are still open today, we love the Bussey Building, Village Underground, Total Refreshment Centre, Ronnie Scott’s, Juju’s Bar & Stage… and of course Rich Mix, where we will be playing at the festival. We feel like London’s live music venues need all the support they can get at the moment – running a venue in London in 2018 is an uphill struggle…
What do you like most about London and its music scene?
It’s about the vibe, the variety, and the resulting melting pot. London is like a miniature version of the world. You can hit a Cuban party and there’ll be a Cuban band playing proper Cuban music; you can hit an Afrobeat party and there’ll be some a top-notch Afrobeat collective on the stage; the jazz scene is so on fire it’s steering a whole new wave of jazz across the globe; reggae, dub, and all forms of electronic music also have their homes in London. We all have access to all of these “scenes” and when we start interacting with each other across different genres, musical languages etc what comes out is a unique sound that could not exist without all of us here. This is also why we are so vocal about migration in our lyrics because without all of us immigrants London wouldn’t be half of what it is today.
Your music draws on many different cultural influences from Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Germany and the UK, but how would you describe your own unique sound?
In four words: Latin London groove revolution! In more detail? Imagine a fusion of Cuban and Afro-latin sounds (such as mambo, merengue, conga, cumbia…) fused with some cutting-edge, bass-heavy dembow + reggae + ragga influences, fronted by three Latinas who sing about migration, gender socially conscious topics, whilst dancing up a storm with the audience!
Wara has many band members – six to be precise – how does everything come together during the songwriting and composing process?
I am the one that comes up with the song topic, the demos, and most of the lyrics (Fedzilla writes her own sections) and then I’ll pass it on to the band and we finish the arrangement together, toy around with it, tweak it etc until it gels and grooves nicely.
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The politically charged ‘Leave to Remain’ discusses the realities of immigrant life in London, how do you think Brexit will impact migrant musicians in the UK?
We could sit down for a drink or three to discuss this one… The way non-EU migrants are treated keeps getting more and more inhumane, but on top of that Brexit is a disaster. Open racism and xenophobia have become a lot more socially acceptable since the vote. It’s an increasingly hostile and divided climate, but not only that: we are facing a horrendous crisis that will affect everyone, not only musicians. Like my dad says: it’s like spitting upwards.
When it comes to London’s community of musicians, as artists I feel that we won’t be so easily divided, but it’s still heartbreaking. One thing is for sure, those of us with EU passports are in a pretty uncertain situation right now, and a lot of us are preparing ourselves for a potential ‘fight or flight’ decision. It’s sad.
London Remixed Festival is hosted in Shoreditch – a hotbed for creativity and innovation. How do you keep your sound fresh?
By going OUT! By going to gigs, gigs and more gigs, performances, art exhibitions and the like. The only way to keep the scene moving forward is by supporting our fellow musicians and artists and performers, as well as supporting the venues. Don’t stay at home, this is London! For the price of a latte and a brownie at Starbucks or something, you can take yourself to a top quality gig…
Because we are all going to the festival for the same thing: to get down together and celebrate!
Which bands are you looking forward to seeing most?
Everyone! There are bands we’ve never had a chance to catch, such as the Baghdaddies and Agbeko, that we are really looking forward to seeing; we love the Odd Beats… and K.O.G is going to be pure fire. And lest we forget the almighty Disco Lift!
What can we expect from Wara in 2018?
There will be a release this year; we’re still figuring out whether we make it a single and music video or an EP or both, but the material is right there and it’s coming very soon!
London Remixed Festival tickets are available to purchase via Eventbrite – or click on the image below.