Flaunt Premiere & Interview | Avalon Lurks “Papi Chulo"
Written and recorded in her bedroom, Avalon Lurks introduces us to her gothic and surreal world of Santa Ana and East Los Angeles by ways of “Papi Chulo”. The singer samples “I am in Love” by Jamaican reggae artist Jennifer Lara, which immediately makes you want to cruise down a palm tree-lined street in an old convertible.
Decorated by neon lights and rhinestones, “Papi Chulo” is a song about falling in love with someone who is “up to no good” and, in turn, being complicit in all of their gangster activities. Avalon gets inspiration from the G-funk movement, paying homage to her West Coast predecessors like Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg, and Dr Dre.
Lurks met Twin Shadow, the producer of the song, while DJing vinyl at a bar in Echo Park a few years back, and the two eventually hit it off due to similar music interests. “Papi Chulo” serves as their first musical collaboration, and fortunately, the artists have much more in the works for 2019.
The video serves as a visual representation of the song’s message, dreamt up by Avalon Lurks and collaborator, Ambar Navarro. Inspired by the films of Dario Argento, Martin Scorsese, and Gregg Araki, “Papi Chulo” paints a nostalgic image of Los Angeles that is both accessible and enjoyable for the new generation.
Your last song “downhill together” was released over a year ago. How do you think you’ve changed since then, and how do you think “Papi Chulo” will reflect your growth as an artist and person?
I've changed in some ways, but I haven't in most. The main change is that I started as a producer with making beats as my main drive, however, this past year I've been concentrating my energy way more on the art of pop songwriting and honing that skill. I think when you listen to “Papi Chulo” and my other upcoming work, you can hear that.
You do a lot of things on your own, including directing your own music videos. How important do you think it is to have complete creative control of your art?
I really didn't know anything other than doing things DIY, because that's how I came up. Recently I’ve been carefully involving more collaborators who share similar visions or complement my own.
While I conceptualized the video for “Papi Chulo” at the same time I was creating the song, when it was time to actually make the video I decided to ask my friends Ambar and Andrew to help me execute the vision. I really couldn't have done any of it without the extremely skilled and talented friends who worked on this video.
It's important to have creative control when you have a strong vision. I'm only this hands on because i'm extremely detail oriented.
Your new single 'Papi Chulo' was co-produced by Twin Shadow. How did you guys link up?
George and I met a few years back. I was DJing one night and he asked me what record I was spinning, apparently he said I was kind of a bitch, I don’t remember. From there we kept seeing each other around at parties and bonded over music.
We just have a lot of the same influences and the collaboration fell into itself super naturally. We would send each other demos of new songs we were working on, and he just really loved "Papi Chulo", so we decided to work together on that.
We actually have a few more songs I may or may not be putting out in the near future ;) He's real genius in the studio, such a pleasure to work with and i've learned so much from him.
You hosted a video for Broadly “Celebrating Selena’s Legacy”. How has Selena’s influence as a Mexican-American artist impacted your art?
You know, traveling to corpus christi and being there surrounded by her friends and family, and other people who had such a deep connection with her and her legacy was really intense. As a Latina, especially a fellow Chicano, Selena is an extremely important and integral figure for my community - in what she represented and in her achievement as the most successful Tejano crossover act of all time.
Her crossover definitely means something to me and I will always honor that. Her success shows me that anything is possible. She was such a star.
That video is actually the first in a series about Latino subcultures for Broadly. Filming the show was an amazing experience and such a blessing, hopefully they drop the other episodes soon!
You change your hair color a lot: brown, blonde, red, etc. Does changing your image signify a change in the music and the art you make or do you tend to keep those aspects of you seperate?
I use image to convey what I want to say without having to say it. I view image in a Warholian way. I look to my idols like David Bowie and Lady Gaga who have always made image a focal point of their careers; signifying changes through image.
Plus when you're friends with the best colorist in Los Angeles, A.K.A. Danny Moon, it's hard not to go a lil crazy ;)
You were in the music video for Father’s “Heartthrob”. How did that come about?
Fat is an old homie of mine, we met when I was DJing a lot of rap shows around LA and OC when I was like 19. I opened for him and Playboi Carti at the observatory one night and we hit it off.
A few months later he reached out about the video super last minute and I was barely able to make it. We banged the video out in one afternoon at the UNIF office and now it's lowkey iconic. Shouts out to Fat, Dash, and Awful Records - everyone on that label is genius.
You started out as a painter — how does your painting ability inform your music and music videos?
There is never a moment of music for me that isn't visual in some way. Usually all sounds in my head are attached to textures, colors and lighting. I wouldn't say I have synesthesia, but something close to it. Probably from doing too much acid when I was younger and seeing sounds, hearing visuals lol.
When you write music, do you think of a beat then fill in the lyrics, or vice versa? Does it all come in one eureka moment? Do you ever write poetry then reverse-engineer it into a song?
Both. I never really sit down TO create, it's just a constant ever-flowing thing. I'm always writing, always making beats, and sometimes I have the song first or the beat first and it all comes together like that. No formula or anything. Just try to keep everything I consume (media-wise) something I love, so that when I create, the influence comes out the way I want it to. I want to release a book of writing eventually since there's so much of it that will never make it into my music or fit into any sort of song structure.
Do you have any desire to film things other that music videos? Do you have any inspirations in the film medium?
Of course, there's that part of every creative I think that wants to direct movies, but I have yet to figure out how to get my foot in the door in that realm or how to even get started.
I imagine it will be quite the feat but I am very interested in telling stories, conveying moods. I think film is the most dynamic medium. It's the height of expression to me, films have the power to move people and start movements, I think it's so amazing. I'm inspired by movies like 'Suspiria', 'Casino' and 'Eyes Wide Shut' visually. I always felt Kubrick to be a most perfect director.