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LOVRA

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Germany
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Artist Spotlight

Gray Area Interview: LOVRA

Nearly a decade into a music career that has taken her to stages across the globe, LOVRA has decided it’s time for a change in direction. Born outside Frankfurt and based in Berlin, the DJ and producer is perhaps best known for radio-friendly, ‘80s and ‘90s-inspired house tracks like “My Beat” and “Spinnin'” featuring Justin Jesso. Recently, though, she’s started leaning into a grittier style of tech house. If you ask her, it better reflects where she’s from and where she’s going. “I play shows here in Berlin,” LOVRA says. “Berlin is a big techno city, as you know, so I play techno here. I really feel a connection to the higher BPMs but I also love my vocals, and that’s why for me, It comes straight from my heart to connect the two with tech house.” This isn’t the most unexpected development in her career by a long shot. LOVRA, whose real name is Laura Lungen, has been curating music since childhood, when she recorded mixes on cassette tapes—and later, CDs—for her friends. These evolved into weekly playlists that she published on YouTube. Before long, the audience grew much bigger than her friend group. Her channel quickly and organically amassed a staggering 2.5 million followers. “I woke up one day and realized there were no girls on my channel,” she recalls. “Literally no girls, just guys. I decided I wanted to learn how to produce and DJ. This is how I started my project, LOVRA!” To her point, when she first started uploading her own music under the moniker, most fans assumed she was a male. Her first endeavor was a bootleg remix of “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. She uploaded it to SoundCloud and it went viral, racking up 2 million plays in a matter of weeks. Universal Music Group, which holds the rights to the original, stepped in and had it removed from the streaming service. They nonetheless recognized the value of LOVRA’s rendition, so they made her a deal. The remix would not only mark her debut release, but also her first on a major label. The catch? She was not entitled to any of the earnings it generated. 2014 saw LOVRA deliver “Love Sensation,” her debut solo single, on the now-defunct German record label Emma. “It’s still one of my strongest tracks,” she says. “This year when I was in Ibiza, I was eating ice cream at an ice cream shop in the city and they were still listening to it in there!” Shortly after the release, Ministry of Sound approached her on SoundCloud. She became a resident DJ for the iconic London club-turned-dance music mega-brand and toured across the globe to perform at their events. During a visit to Ibiza in 2017, she met French superstar DJ David Guetta at Pacha. The two were fast friends; he enlisted her to open for him regularly at Ushuaïa from 2018-2019 as well as at some of his shows around the world. "Of course, then, everybody was interested in LOVRA," she recalls. “'Who’s that German girl who was opening for David Guetta and is going with him on his world Tour?' Of course, it was a big thing that opened lots of doors for shows around the world. I'm so grateful—it was really the time of my life to play in Ibiza for him, and for the world tour." This career whirlwind ultimately led LOVRA to sign exclusively with Sony Music Germany and perform at festivals as big as Tomorrowland in Belgium and Parookaville in Germany. "When you're on these kinds of stages, it feels like you're just there for a minute and then the hour is over. You're like, 'What?'" she says. "The energy and the connection with the people is indescribable. For example, at Tomorrowland people come from all over the world and wave different flags, and they're coming just to see you onstage. There are also a lot of people coming to the stage who have no clue about you. They discover your music, and then you get messages like, 'Oh, that was fantastic, and now I'm really happy that I found your music.' This is something that makes me super happy." As was the case with many artists, the COVID pandemic gave LOVRA a chance to think critically about her career direction—and she chose to hit the reset button. Sprinkled in alongside her usual, feelgood fare at an increasing frequency are tougher tracks like “Squid Game” and “Let’s Freak.” She’s also toying around with an even more experimental fusion. LOVRA is pairing these tech house rhythms with elements of old techno and trance hits like “Sonic Empire” by Members of Mayday and “The House Of House” by Cherry Moon Trax. The result is an entirely fresh, new sound signature. LOVRA has parted ways with Sony, and now labels like Toolroom and Glasgow Underground have given a home to her recent tracks. It’s a brave step forward, albeit one that will enable her to engage her every whim. LOVRA’s time in the music business has taught her that you can’t trade anything for creative freedom. At this point in her journey, she has no other option but to follow her heart. Where will that burning passion lead LOVRA in the years to come? Only time will tell. If the past is any indication, though, it looks to be a wild ride.