Love has always been a guiding force for Montreal artist Lesley Foster. Leading with her heart, the stunning R&B compositions that she creates as L.A. Foster are tender reflections of the world around her. Foster’s most streamed song on Spotify is her 2019 single, “Cruel Love,” and today she re-emerges with a fresh new take on “Damn Love.”
“It’s all a mess so we might as well love each other,” Foster says. “‘Damn Love’ is a song about that; what’s next, especially considering what we’ve all just been through with the pandemic. It’s a big mess but there’s so much damn love.”
A well-versed traveller before the pandemic, Foster takes cues from the Montreal scene that she came up in as well as from her time spent living in Buenos Aires. Operating in the same creative sphere as artists like Charlotte Day Wilson, Kelela, and Tirzah, Foster brings a unique energy to the evolving genre with her vulnerable lyrics, gentle production, and breathy vocals.
The video for “Damn Love” is made up of vignettes from Foster’s travels and tours in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paris, Barcelona, U.K., and Montreal. With these shots of other countries playing out like a travel diary to fill our longing for exploration and new experiences, we connected with L.A. Foster to find out how her travels have impacted her perspective, what home means to her, and how it plays into the beautiful music she creates.
You’ve done an impressive amount of traveling, how has that impacted your understanding of the concept of “home”?
Massively! I consider myself to have many homes which are attached to different phases of my life. Edmonton is where I grew up, Montreal is where I spent my formative years as a musician, and Buenos Aires has my heart and spirit. To me, home is where you can be yourself, explore, and grow.
When/where do you feel most at home?
I feel most at home in Latin America and am eating good food and have access to water. I have lived in Buenos Aires and spent a lot of time in South America and Mexico. I’m currently living in Kingston, Ontario doing my Phd, focusing on feminist movements in Argentina and Latin America at large. I will hopefully be returning to Argentina for most of Winter 2022 to carry out research. I still consider myself to be based in Montreal but recently I’ve been describing myself as ‘in transit.’
At first glance “Damn Love” sounds like the track might embody a negative context but in fact you’re talking about how you actually “have so much damn love” – Did you intend for the message of the track to carry these two polar meanings?
I think we’re living in a time of contradiction. We are wading through multiple meanings and the nuance of situations. I don’t believe the song itself embodies a complete polarity but I believe that existing through the transformation we are collectively experiencing is one filled with multiple meanings and ways of knowing. I like to reside in the nuance and feel the complexities that we all inhabit that make us who we are.
What does “Damn Love” mean to you?
“Damn Love” speaks to the chaotic state of the world we are living in. Despite this chaos, I sing, “I don’t want to stop / No I’ve got / So much damn love.” That amid the uncertainty we cannot lose our capacity to love. It’s a sort of romantic approach to saying, “It’s all a mess so we might as well love each other.” “Damn Love” is a song about that, what’s next, especially considering what we’ve all just been through with the pandemic. It’s a big mess but there’s so much damn love….we are very resilient, us humans, and we are reckoning with so much… What will we make out of this moment?
The clips you used for the video were all shot prior to the pandemic, creating a sense of longing and nostalgia. How does it make you feel looking back on them?
You know, I definitely miss being on the road and the spontaneity of life pre-pandemic but mostly I just feel grateful. Grateful to have travelled so much and played music all over the world. Grateful to the community of friends, musicians, and others who have helped me book shows and facilitate me reaching new audiences. I just feel really grateful. Siento muy agradecida!
There are some really beautiful images in the video. Do you have any particular fond memories from your time spent travelling that shaped you as an artist that you’d like to share?
Well Bahidora Festival, which is in Las Estacas, Mexico, was quite an experience. I went to help my friend David Romero put up his Monarch butterfly installations for the stages. You can see the butterflies at the beginning of the video and in a shot of Las Estacas at the end. We were there for a week setting up and then the festival roared through. I first saw Princess Nokia there so that will always be a fond memory. There was also the hurricane in Montevideo that was wild. I was having a nap and woke up to the sound and looked outside and a massive hurricane had ripped through the port of the city. You can see some of the debris in the video. These are all just snippets of the adventures that the past five-plus years have held.
Where is one place you want to go when things open back up?
I’m pretty excited to get back to Latin America. I’d love to be back playing in Mexico City and with folks I met in Mexico. I also look forward to getting back to the U.K. and hopefully meeting up with some musicians who I’ve collaborated with off and on like Brother May and Tone of FARAI.
What sort of music have you been listening to lately that brings you happiness?
Sault has been my go-to pandemic band, an incredible mix of musicianship, artistry, and genre bending. Their records bring me an immense amount of happiness.
What’s next for L.A. Foster?
Stephen Ramsay (Young Galaxy) and I are gearing to record through the fall and winter and have my first full length ready for 2022. It’s a long time in the making and I’m very excited to get the process underway.