Divine Lotus Plays No Games
CreatiVity 07 V's pick of the week is serious about her music career.
CreatiVity 07 V's pick of the week is serious about her music career.
Text: Valerie Stepanova
For the seventh installment of our CreatiVity program in partnership with Quadio, a new social streaming platform dedicated to showcasing the best new college music, we introduced Kayla John — a soulful singer-songwriter who performs under the moniker Divine Lotus.
A Brooklynite with Caribbean roots, she draws inspiration from the likes of Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill to create her own musical path, connecting with her culture through faith and spirituality. This week, V spoke with Kayla about everything from high school bullying to her dreams of collaborating with icons like Beyoncé and Rihanna.
Read the full interview below:
V Magazine What is your name and where do you go to school?
Divine Lotus My name is Kayla John, but I go as Divine Lotus. I attend school at Brooklyn College, majoring in childhood care and education.
V Where are you from originally and what made you want to pursue music?
DL I'm originally from Brooklyn, New York and I’ve lived here all my life. Initially, I’ve never had plans of making music because I was afraid of my voice and who I was as a person because of past bullying in school. All my life, I knew that music and arts were my passion because I would be singing and dancing all the time and all over the place. I would have either a 90s CD, a Michael Jackson CD or a Motown CD playing in my CD player, and I would always walk into school singing and dancing especially because I knew that no one would be around... The security guard would tell me that I've got it and would make his day! From there I knew I had it, but I was always afraid because I was bullied, nervous about what people would say or do.
What really made me realize I should pursue music is the kids at my job. I just finished putting together a show created for the kids and it came out amazing, I was singing in the hallway into the staircase and they said, "Ms. John I know you're young and I see the passion in your eyes when it comes to music and production, you should really go into music, I think you'd do great! You sound like an angel mixed with Beyoncé!" And it took that for me to confirm that yes this is what I should be doing and so I did!
V Born and raised in Brooklyn and of Caribbean descent, how do you feel your different cultures are represented in your music?
DL I feel my different cultures are represented in my music because Loading Lotus, the song brings out a Caribbean dancehall type vibe where you can dance and play in clubs or parties, whereas the Brooklyn, NY culture is represented with the R&B soul type feel reflecting on love and relationships.
V With COVID-19 impacting your schooling and your lives, how are you feeling heading into the summer months? Are you making any adjustments?
DL This time of COVID-19 has made me feel sad because I felt like, 'OK, there’s a pause in what I want to do and what I’m trying to succeed in terms of doing concerts live shows and much more in that sense,' but it has taught me to be patient. It has interrupted some of the paths that I’ve wanted to take, but it also encouraged me to stay faithful and to believe in what I’m doing. Now is the time for me to focus and continue to do what I’m doing, time to reflect on feelings, take different sounds and different views of life so I could be able to connect with people.
V How did you hear about Quadio? Can you tell us about the relationship you have with the platform and your music? Why did you choose to showcase your music there?
DL I heard about Quadio from my friend. He saw that I’ve been trying to pursue music, so he was trying to find every way to get me out there to put my music on every single platform known. I really like this platform because I never knew so many college students were making music and it’s fun to be able to connect with them as well as to see other people’s work. It’s sick, it’s like we could help build and help one another in a sense, hence why I chose to put my music on Quadio.
V Can you tell us a little about your genre and who/what inspires your sound?
DL What has inspired my sound... I’ve grown up listening to Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson and others. But I also love the modern-day sound too, so my sound is just a mixture of today and back then, and I’m trying to give a taste of me while finding my sound in this journey. I love music that will touch me, so those different things inspire my sound and help me find what I want to do in the next thing that I’m trying to produce or put forward.
V Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? How do you make sure you connect with your listener?
DL In order for me to connect with my audience, I write about how I feel and what I’ve been through. I love poetry, so when I used to run away from my voice, I would often write poetry to express myself because I know that someone out there is probably feeling the same way but never got the chance to let it out. When writing, I hum a flow and put words to that flow based on what the beat made me feel. When I put words together, I make sure it makes sense and touches in a way where it can be felt yet uplifting, like 'It’s okay, we all go through it!'
V If you could work with anyone musically (past or present) who would that be?
DL I would work with Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Gladys Knight, Whitney Houston and others because to me, they are musical geniuses. I went to their concerts and they have touched me in many ways, inspiring me to do what I’m trying to do now.
V Can you tell us about your single, “Loading Lotus”? What was the inspiration?
DL "Loading Lotus" is about how I came from the bottom and how I’m finding my way to the top, like there’s going to be barriers but that’s not going to stop me from doing what I have to do and being the best at it and becoming something so beautiful. It’s about coming through something so messy and not looking back, only moving forward. I’ve been through a lot in my life to hold back the passions and desires I have, and I would never turn back to mess up the progress and process. The sky is the limit, and beyond.
"Loading Lotus" is my first project ever with me finding myself, my voice, and more. This represents us all because we are all "Loading Lotus!" At some point we all came from the ground and we picked ourselves up from the mud, becoming something beautiful no matter what the mud may have been. From the mud, we showcase our inner and outer beauty without holding back, becoming something fearless and unstoppable.
V Who is your music intended for and what do you hope fans walk away with after listening?
DL My music is intended for every and anybody who simply loves music and wants a taste of something new, people who felt the way I felt but never knew how to word it and now can walk away with a new set of songs to express themselves.
V Can listeners expect new music coming from Divine Lotus?
DL More music will be coming out by Divine Lotus very very soon! I’ve been working on a lot of new songs, and I feel they will be bangers.
V Do you believe music is important especially during a time where the world is in crisis?
DL I believe that yes, music is important during this crisis time because a lot of people lost a lot during this time. Staying in for months not being able to work or do your daily norm can also become stressful and hard to face. Music can help soothe the mind and soul helping people get through whatever they’re feeling, motivating them to do more, to relax and stay hopeful.
V Where do you see yourself and your music career 5 years from now?
DL 5 years from now, I see myself getting signed and recognized by many. I see myself on billboards and buildings, I see myself inspiring a nation and positively impacting the youth and other people!
V What are some of your goals for this year?
DL My goal for this year is to really get my music out there, to continue to connect with people more, to inspire. And hopefully perform, too!