London Lens: Ladbroke Grove with Lava La Rue
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If you've been keeping your ear to the ground, you may have noticed some serious rumblings in West London. Lava La Rue is at the epicentre of this thumping scene and we have a hunch that it won't be long until the whole world is rattled by her unruly force. The head honcho of DIY collective NiNE8, a glossy rapper with thoughtful bars and silky beats, a fashion designer, and an events curator - the gal is like a Swiss Army Knife of cool shit.
We rendezvoused chez Lava and had her show us her go-to stops, here's the round-up.
The dreary weather accentuated Lava's bold presence as she snapped her skateboard at the door. Flexing a customised puffa complete with safety-pinned patches and graffitied doodles (check out @nine8garms to see more of her designs), she sauntered over and slouched into a chair. We asked her why she loves this place:
'It was the only place growing up I could turn up with 80p and actually get something'.
Lisboa Patisserie is a W10 institution - a bustling lynchpin of the Portuguese community, humming with thick accents and perfect pastel de natas. As Lava dunked her flakey croissant into some hot chocolate, she tells us about the higgledy-piggledy nature of these ends.
'This area is like a puzzle piece - you've got Latymer over there, which's got three estates and Grenfell Tower, then just round the corner is Notting Hill with some of the most expensive houses in the UK'. Lava goes on to describe the melting pot of rich and poor, and the varying ethnic hubs co-existing around these ends - but 'that's just London, innit'.
A COMMUNITY CENTREPIECE:
Lava sighs about the Pret that's just opened up in an old community space - 'that's literally the definition of gentrification... I think it's even a veggie one, too'. When asked if the tides of gentrification had washed away the community vibes that made this area what it is, she points to Maxilla Space and shakes her head in a resounding no.
We asked Lava what Maxilla Space does - 'what it says on the tin, really' - we couldn't see a tin, but we imagine it would have the word 'wholesome' somewhere on it; it's a spot where locals are doing it for each other, from free yoga classes to art therapy sessions, it's a great example of how West London has managed to keep its charm.
'Notting Hill was one of the first areas in London to get gentrified'.
'There was a memorial to DJ Lepke who started the first black pirate radio show a couple weeks back - that sort of shit is mad inspiring', she continues to list off other events that have been held there, and discusses the importance of sustaining these sub-cultures. 'That's what happens when you push out all the artists, Shoreditch used to be a vibe - now it's dead, because all the communities got pushed out'.
PLACE TO GET INSPIRATION:
As we walk to the next stop, Lava darts in and out of the stalls greeting and haggling the owners like a seasoned local. She confesses that she doesn't normally tell people about this spot as she doesn't wanna ruin it - but with a twinkle in her eye she says she'll make an exception for us - *blushing*.
Considering how varied Lava's extensive creative portfolio is, we were seriously interested in how she manages to churn it all out.
'Necessity' she laughs, 'Growing up I didn't have money or connections, me and my friends had to really back each other if we ever wanted to get anywhere'. Through this they would swap 'creative currency', as Lava dubs it, where 'you produce for me and in return I'll make your cover art'.
Still, dabbling in design, writing and curating requires a constant stream of creativity, and Lava marks this exchange as a good spot to get inspo. From old I-Ds and Vogues, to smutty porno zines and a sprinkle of hard-to-find comics, Notting Hill Book and Comic Exchange is a trove of treasures to plunder - especially the covers, according to Lava.
Makan is a real ramshackle gem, teeming with flavoursome Malaysian dishes slapped up for stupidly low prices. Lava tells us that this is the local hangover spot, and that, surprisingly, the full English bangs here. We'll have to take her word for it as we instead plunged head first into their lunch menu.
We went in all guns blazing and ordered some Singapore noodles, a nutty chicken satay, a noodle soup packed with morsels of meaty shrimp, and a hearty potato stew which we dunked chunks of fluffy roti into.
We asked her what her dream project would be, 'To take over the whole of 180 Strand and put on Lavaland; and put on film screenings, exhibitions and live music on all the different floors'. Considering all the shizz this girl's got going on, we can't imagine Lavaland will stay a fantasy for long.
Check out Lava La Rue's EP, Letra, for some laid-back grooving.