If you don’t know the girl with the big brown eyes, beautiful voice and quirky style, (buttoned-up shirts and hair pulled jauntily to one side are her signature), you soon will. Really special artists only come around every now and then, and the international music community and the public seem to be in agreement, Lianne La Havas is one of those unique talents. Half-Greek, half-Jamaican and London-born, she has brought something fresh to the current music scene. Her dreamy debut album, ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ guides us through the minefield of young love, with the soulstress blowing listeners away with the honesty and humour in her lyrics.
‘You broke me and taught me how to truly hate myself’ she sings in the gut-wrenching chorus of ‘Lost and Found’. Other situations she chuckles at though, as in ‘Age’ when she asks ‘Is it such a problem if he’s old? As long as he does whatever he’s told! I’m glad it’s just my heart that he stole, and left my dignity alone.”
It may seem as if La Havas has come out of nowhere, (her album is now at No.4 in the UK album charts and despite only being released in the US this week, is already at Number 31), however she’s been quietly building up to this moment for a long time. She spent virtually all of last year and this year on the road, touring around the UK, Europe and the US to intimate venues packed full of clued-up music fans. As recent months have gone by though, word about Lianne has started to spread like wildfire; the venues have gotten increasingly bigger and the company ever more star-studded. Last month she opened for Erykah Badu at London’s Hammersmith Apollo and Stevie Wonder attended her latest gig in L.A. Did we also mention that Prince got in there first at the beginning of this year, inviting her into the studio with him? Yup, girlfriend is killing it. The endearing thing about Lianne though is how refreshingly normal and down-to-earth she remains. It’s no wonder she is so popular to see live; she has that unique ability to create real intimacy between herself and her fans. At a gig you can feel everything else slipping away, even her brilliant backing band, until it’s just you in the room, watching a girl strumming her guitar on stage, telling you a story and then beaming at you afterwards like a mate would.
So if you didn’t know Lianne before, you certainly do now. ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ she asks. The answer from everyone who hears her seems to be unanimous: ‘Yes!’
Currently on tour in the US, Highsnobiety have tracked her down for a quick and exclusive Q+A.
1. What is the one thing that you are a high snob about and why?
Music. I’m very sensitive to it and therefore I have a strong opinion on how certain music should sound.
2. Highsnobiety is big into sneakers – we know that’s not really your style for stage but when off duty, what are your fave kicks??
I love Dr. Marten’s, Vans or Converse
3. What does it feel like to have such a positive reception to your debut album?
It’s an amazing feeling. I’m absolutely over the moon and I’m so happy that this is my job.
4. Stevie Wonder came to your last L.A show – (what a major compliment by the way, big ups) – what was it like to meet him?
It was the most surreal but exciting thing to happen to me for a long time. Probably EVER. He was a lovely man with a lovely bright fun-loving soul and I could learn a lot from him.
5. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from all the intense gigging and touring you’ve been doing the past 12 months?
I’ve learned to know my limits and that it’s SO important to love the people that you are working with so that it makes for an amazing experience as if you are a family. Also, DON’T SMOKE.
6. Have you had a stand-out moment recently where everything that’s happening has hit you?
Yes, being recognized in the street in New York – so far away from my own hometown. That’s when it hit me that the music is somehow reaching far and wide and I’m so grateful.
7. Artists these days often have side projects; like acting or fashion or other bands. Is there anything else you also want to do at some point?
Yes. I’d like to do all of these things. Like have my own fashion line one day, collaborate with friends to form a band separate from my solo project and perhaps be the lead character in Sister Act 3…
8. It’s been nice to see how everyone has (finally) got behind the Olympics. Do you feel proud coming from London right now? And were you good at sports at school?
I am very proud and I was always excited about it. Also, being half-Greek means that the Olympics run through my veins in a way. I wasn’t so good regarding sports at school but I loved dance class, gymnastics and badminton.
9. Are you already thinking about your next album? Can you give us any clues?
Yes. I’m very intrigued about what it might sound like and maybe I’d like to record it live. I’ve started writing for it but nothing has been set in stone or laid down as yet.
10. Are there any current artists out there who you would be interested to collaborate with?
Yes. I love a producer/artist called Jai Paul and I love a band called Everything Everything. They both would be fun to work with I think.
Interview by: Elizabeth McGrath / Highsnobiety.com
Check out the official video of her track “Is Your Love Big Enough?” here below.