Lara Andallo Talks 'What U Want,' Growing Up Filipino and Her R&B Inspirations

Born to a musical family, Lara Andallo always knew her destiny was to be a performer.

At 19, she took a leap of faith, signed with Warner Music Australia and never looked back. Today, the Filipino songstress comfortably finds herself in the music she makes. It's not about money or fame, but it is a place for her to shamelessly express herself on her own terms.

On Oct. 6, Lara released "What U Want," an ode to her irreplaceability. She aptly pins Christina Aguilera as the inspiration for the track's music video. The fashion and choreography, cultivated by Lara's personal style and background as a dancer, create the perfect formula to channel early 2000s nostalgia.

We sat down with Lara via Zoom to further discuss her latest single. Continue reading to hear more about the women who empowered her to make the song, headlining her own show and growing up in a Filipino household.

lara andallo closeup

(Image Courtesy of Warner Music Australia)

Sweety High: "What U Want" is an empowering anthem that discusses the multidimensionality of women and fights against the expectations put onto us by the male gaze. Who are some of the women in your life who inspired you to become the confident woman you are today?

Lara Andallo: First and foremost, my mom. She is such a strong role model. For example, she always asks for what she wants, so, I've never been afraid to ask for what I want. The worst that I can get is a "no," and I would just ask for something else. I've never been afraid to ask, which is pretty funny because of the song title.

Within music, I love the R&B queens. Kehlani, Ciara. People who have been trailblazers and made the path for women who don't fit the stereotype of what an R&B girl or pop star should look like.


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SH: The music video for "What U Want" has a very futuristic, Y2K aesthetic. Why did you feel this was appropriate for the music video? Does the styling reflect your everyday self in any way?

LA: I'm super influenced by the Y2K era, especially because of my roots as a dancer. Back in the early 2000s, they had so much choreography. There was this level of performance in all their videos. I really took from that as a performer.

I think my videos are an extension of myself. I get to tap into these different sides of myself in these videos. I'm fluid as a person. Sometimes, I'm dressing masculine, wearing a hoodie. On other days, I'm wearing heels and a skirt with a full face of makeup. These videos and visuals are a time where I can tap into one side of myself depending on what the song is talking about.


SH: Did you have any specific music videos or artists that you pulled the idea from?

LA: It was a combination of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. I wanted to emulate that kind of dirty, grimy feel from their older videos.


SH: This year, you had the opportunity to headline your own show in Sydney. How did your experience performing at your own show differ from opening up for another artist? Was there any pressure going into it?

LA: In my eyes, when you play a show for people who are actually buying tickets for you, there's less pressure. They're there for me. They know the songs. They know the records. When I had my headline show, that was really when I saw people come from TikTok. I met a few people from the audience after the show, and a lot of them seem to have found me through TikTok. That was the first time I'd ever seen [social media] translate to my audience.

I went on tour with Blxst two months ago, and that was a great opportunity in terms of tapping into a new audience. He's an amazing hip-hop artist from the United States. Sometimes, you don't get to have the common ground of [genre.] I felt super welcomed in his audience because they could relate to my music. We had a similar vibe.

lara andallo sitting

(Image Courtesy of Warner Music Australia)


SH: In another interview, you mentioned that music has been a part of your life since you were 3. How has your relationship with music changed over the years? Do you consume music differently now that you make music yourself?

LA: Funnily enough, I was thinking about that this morning. Music has always been the one consistent thing in my life. When I was younger, it came more from a place of curiosity. I started playing violin when I was 3 and eventually started playing more instruments. It was more classical. Reading music and playing what I'm told. Then, I started dancing, and I was like, "I love dancing to this. Why can't I make it?" That's when I realized I could have a different relationship with music because I could make the music I enjoyed listening to.

After I became an artist, I had this other side of my head that analyzes and listens to music differently. However, as a lover of music, I can always be a consumer of it and be curious about it. I think there's a playfulness and childlike approach to music that is constant for me, no matter how the relationship evolves.


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SH: Did you have an introduction to music by someone else, or were you just naturally drawn to it?

LA: I don't know if I believe it, but, apparently, when I was 3, I came home and said I wanted to play the violin. Apparently, it was all me! But my mom played jazz music while I was in the womb. I'm influenced by jazz, and that kind of leads to R&B.


SH: How has your Filipino heritage shaped your artistry?

LA: Filipinos are known to be singers and dancers, you know? I love karaoke. When I went to family parties on Christmas and New Year's, there was always karaoke. I've been singing "All By Myself" by Céline Dion since I was in preschool.

My parents played instruments when they were younger as well. They were born and raised in the Philippines, and they didn't have the opportunities to look into those hobbies and interests. That was something I was able to do growing up in Australia.


SH: Are there any Asian artists that inspire you now or when you first began songwriting?

LA: I definitely look up to H.E.R. I saw her in 2019 when she came to Australia to perform at the Opera House. It was pretty iconic to see her, and she was around my age now when I saw her perform. That was the first time I saw a Filipino break through on an international scale. To see her thrive and be in touch with her Filipino roots has been really empowering for me. That's something I also want to highlight, being fully Filipino and born in Australia. I want to be that representation too.

lara andallo upside down pose

(Image Courtesy of Warner Music Australia)


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SH: Overall, what do you hope listeners take away from your music?

LA: This era of music that I've been releasing has been a discovery of self. It's the first time I'm feeling empowered by all sides and not shying away from things. I just want people to also feel empowered by who they are and not have to hide from their different sides. I hope that my music can be a comfort zone for people to express themselves.


SH: What can listeners expect next from you? 

LA: Lots of new music. There's definitely a project in the works. I also want to step more into the live side. More shows. That's my favorite part.


For more from our favorite up-and-coming artists, click HERE to read our interview with Hayes Warner on her latest single, "Shut Up."