Lola Young

With her soulful vocals, Lola Young’s cover of Together in Electric Dreams creates the perfect backdrop to the magical story of the Unexpected Guest. Here she tells us what becoming the latest voice of Christmas means to her and whether she prefers pigs in blankets or stuffing on the big day

The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for Lola Young’s mum. ‘When I rang to tell her she said “no way you’re lying”,’ says Lola. ‘I was like, I'm actually not lying for once I actually got this! She was over the moon, she was laughing her head off as she found it hilarious for some strange reason. It was a proud mum moment.

‘I will literally never forget the day I got the call from my manager, and it was quite late at night. It was just honestly the best feeling. I really, really wanted it, when I obviously got asked to pitch for it I just knew I had to get it. It’s just such a surreal experience but also so amazing of course.' 

The heartfelt cover version of Together in Electric Dreams forms the perfect accompaniment to the Unexpected Guest – a story about discovering the magic of Christmas all over again – and is the first time many people will have heard the soulful vocals of the Brit school graduate. So we sat down to find about more about the voice behind the advert and what Christmas means to her.

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John Lewis & PartnersQ&A WITH LOLA

Tell us about yourself, where you grew up, how you ended up going to the Brit School…
I grew up in Beckenham in South East London, but I was actually born in Croydon… that fun fact that I tell everybody because it sounds so cool. And yeah, I went to the Brit school and another school before that, and I've been making music for ever, since I can really remember to be honest. I’ve been actually writing my own songs since I was 11 and I’ve got songs from when I was around 13, 14 that I’m still using at the moment.

Growing up, what inspired you to have a career in music and what artists influenced you?
Growing up I listened to a lot of classic singer-songwriter styles. I was a big Avril Lavigne fan, I listened to a lot of Paolo Nutini, I was a big Eminem fan and I love kind of old hip-hop. Then a bit later I started devling a bit deeper into music and I listened to a lot of D’Angelo, Prince, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen… I love folk music and was a massive fan, but now I like any music, I’m pretty selective but also quite eclectic in what I listen to.

What’s it like to be covering Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s 80s hit Together in Electric Dreams?
It was a really interesting experience, taking the song and having to rework it into something quite different – keeping the same lyrics, same melody – because I love the original, I think it’s a classic. I think it was just about me putting my own slight twist on it so that it would work with the advert.

Where did your inspiration come from when recording the song and how do you think you made it different – gave it the Lola Young touch?
Originally I kind of approached it in I’d say quite a melancholic, sad way because when I think about how I’m gonna sing a song, especially in my head I think if I sing it in a sad way it’s going to move people. But then I saw the advert and I was like, OK this is obviously quite a joyous uplifting story that has a lot of hope in it. It’s obviously sad in many ways, because they have to go their separate ways. But I think even with the whole sentiment in the song, it's like, people will always be within your heart.

What’s the fondest Christmas moment that you can remember?
My fondest Christmas memories have been quite recent actually, and I think the most important thing also to take from the advert; I think what it stands for is that Christmas isn't like an incredible time for everybody, but there's a sense of a celebratory love that everybody feels more giving and more generous and more loving at Christmas. I think that’s really important, like helping people who may be alone or don't have as much, or don’t have as much to give you know.

There’s a sense of a celebratory love that everybody feels more giving and more generous and more loving at Christmas

Lola Young

How will you be celebrating Christmas this year, what’s on your Christmas list?
I think I’m going to need a new phone so that people don’t call me as much… I’m joking. I do need a new phone, there’s so much I need. The worst thing about Christmas is that you just want to ask for everything you’ve ever wanted. I think I might spend it just with family this year as it’s about family time isn't it, I think that's another really lovely thing about Christmas.

What songs do you have on your Christmas playlist?
What a hard question… I really like Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, that’s one of my favourite Christmas songs.

What are you looking forward to in 2022, what plans have you got, what are you hoping for?
Next year,  I'm basically just kind of going to be doing a lot more gigging, releasing another single which is very exciting and gonna be a very special moment. Really just working, maybe doing some more support and some more touring and definitely some festivals are on the horizon which is exciting, I’m just kind of seeing where things take me really.

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Chocolate money or chocolate orange?
For me it’s got to be chocolate money, you get it in your stocking and you feel really happy with yourself!

Christmas pud or mince pies?

Pigs in blankets or stuffing?
Pigs in blankets.

Home Alone or Elf?
Home Alone.

Christmas Eve out with mates or Boxing Day on the sofa?
Christmas Eve out with mates.

Turkey sandwiches or turkey curry?
Turkey curry sounds a bit strange, maybe turkey sandwiches.

Christmas jumper or Christmas socks?
Christmas jumper.

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