Pop Polymath Lafawndah Breaks Down the Inspirations for ‘The Fifth Season’

After the critical success of last year’s 'Ancestor Boy', the multifaceted musician is gearing up to release an LP inspired by dystopian sci-fi, overlooked female composers and the legendary Beverly Glenn-Copeland.

Take it from us, Lafawndah is one of the most compelling — and challenging — voices in contemporary experimental music. Having worked with ambient pioneer Midori Takada, toured with transcendent RnB artist Kelela and dipped into genres as disparate as zouk and avant-folk, her fluid, transcendent sound knows no bounds.  Last year, she released her first full-length, Ancestor Boy — an expressive, multi-lingual album that was eagerly consumed by critics of all leanings. Now, she’s readying to drop follow-up The Fifth Season, a suitably enigmatic and textured release pulling on futurist fiction, sci-fi and French rap. 

Below, Lafawndah has slipped us a cheat sheet of the major references and inspirations informing the new project. Read on and learn!


The Broken Earth Trilogy by NK Jemisin

The name of the record is borrowed from the first volume of The Broken Earth Trilogy, The Fifth Season. I won’t tell much about it cause I just want you to go and read it. If I start, I’ll spoil it for you but let me just quote the beginning of the trilogy:

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. When we say “the world has ended”, it’s usually a lie because the planet is just fine.
But this is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
For the last time.”


Jessica Forever by Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel

An important movie for the record. Jessica is a queen but she might as well be a knight, a mother, a magician, a goddess or a star. Jessica is above all the one who saved all those lost children, those lonely, orphaned and persecuted boys who never knew love and who turned into monsters. Together they form a family and seek to create a world in which they have the right to remain alive.

“Vieille Prière Bouddhique” by Lili Boulanger

Lili is Nadia Boulanger’s sister, who was the ultimate teacher of pretty much all famous composers of the 20th century. Lili was a composer herself and died at a very early age. The legacy she left is dense and very ahead of its time. “Vieille Priere Bouddhique” is the inspiration for the opening track of my record, “Old Prayer”. It sits right between East and West and is a very intriguing piece of music.


Lala &ce

Lala is one of my favourite musicians. She’s a French rapper, with the best pen and a unique style. She features in “Le Malentendu”, the last track on the record: a duet about the end of a friendship. I  wrote in French for the first time in this album and offered her to collaborate on the track cause I love how she uses words and her flow.


Beverly Glenn-Copeland by Beverly Glenn-Copeland

When I first heard his music, I felt like I found a new family member. The way he conveys emotions and the kind of emotions he conveys occupy such a special place in my heart and my ears. It’s an honour for me to be able to cover his song “Don’t Despair” on my new record. Go listen to the original on his eponymous album. Also, his synth work is out of this world. It’s like Disney with values I share: fairy Tales from an ancient time, before patriarchy, before gender conformity, before religious values, before racism.


Lafawndah’s latest single, “Don’t Despair” is out now. ‘The Fifth Season’ is released on 8 September via Latency

19 August 2020