By Amari Newman
On April 17th, I conducted an interview with aspiring Hip-Hop and Experimental artist Auto-Lola. This was the inaugural installment of a weekly series of Zoom interviews that SleepWalker Radio, a show on Oberlin College’s WOBC-FM radio station, will be conducting over the next month. We were also joined by fellow SleepWalker members/affiliates Musa, Quentin, and Sara.
I Zoomed into our meeting room and encountered a smiling Auto eager to discuss. This was the first time either of us had done a virtual interview, and this had been planned since January. The interview was originally scheduled for Mid-March to follow his performance at Oberlin’s Dionysus Disco. Unfortunately, two days before his Friday night show, the College announced that all large gatherings would be canceled and students would have to leave campus by the end of the weekend due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Despite this unprecedented setback, we were still able to virtually link up and discuss some of the issues we’re all facing. When asked about growing up in Washington, D.C., Auto explained how his upbringing gave him the tools to deal with situations such as the current one stating “That shit keeps me equipped for times like these, know what I’m saying. Just being disciplined, but still having fun, staying sharp. It’s city shit yo! Being an independent artist, people not having jobs right now bruh, I’ve been lowkey, with the help of blessings, supporting myself as an artist.”
Now 21, Auto-Lola has steadily matured in his artistic output since he began to make music in 2014. When asked how he would describe his sound, Auto states “Timeless. Experimental but rooted from something precise. Not experiment as in I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s an experience, and I’m doing everything intentionally, like I don’t not know what I’m doing.”
He also noted the positive impact his friends had in accelerating his musical development, shouting out fellow D.C. artists The Khan for getting him into rapping, and NappyNappa and Pat Cain (Model Home) for encouraging him to explore his sonic boundaries. Auto mentioned the importance of digital communication in his collaborative processes. “My method on finding creatives, period, is finding people that are interested in the same shit I’m interested in. I still be on SoundCloud, talking to people, like whatever they be on. Even the IMVU joint,” referencing his recent collaboration with yungcyberprincess, creator of the virtual social media app IMVU, on his music video LEGOVER.
Auto has not only progressed musically during this period, releasing his 3-track project A Love Letter Does(n’t) Make Sense a few weeks ago, but has also made strides in his visual output. During the interview, he showed us designs he planned to use for a t-shirt collaboration with WOBC-FM while he was in Oberlin.
Auto also touched on an art installation he did this past January, explaining “I was just tryna put together a bunch of shit in my life that I fuck with.” As we scrolled through photos from the collection, he pointed out “I have barb wire tattoos. I love those pants. I love those shoes.”
When showing off a pants piece, Auto said “I got this brand with my homie Mahi, All Dawgs Matter, so that print on the pants is a screen print of an image that we have.” He went on to explain “that’s not like an official All Dawgs Matter piece, like I wouldn’t just sell the pants, I would sell the whole mannequin.” Auto continued on his personal attachments to the installation, noting his urge to include his “silhouette, shit that I wear, and broken phones,” into future pieces. He also spoke about the role his friends play. “I look at all the friends coming through. They’re the installation. I install my friends into the event and we have a good time.”
Our conversation with Auto gave us a peek into his creative processes and his ever-expanding imagination. Even though, like many, Auto’s plans have been completely rearranged during the current pandemic, he has been able to embrace those changes because that’s what he has been doing his whole musical career. When asked what to expect from him in the near future he confidently bodes, “Videos, jewelry and more art for you to see without going outside, you can just be on your phone.” Clearly this is a man with a plan and a vision that seems essential during these peculiar times.
Check out the full interview stream HERE.