Warner Bros. Records artist Lianne La Havas will be releasing her next album “Blood” on July 31. The Knockturnal had an opportunity to sit down with the talented British artist this week in New York City. Read our exclusive interview below:
Give us a brief description of your album and why decided to title it Blood?
Lianne: Well the title comes from my heritage and thinking about that. And traveling to Jamaica with my mom and making me think of when I went to Greece with my dad when I was a kid. I answered a lot of questions about my family and my decedents and things. So it got me thinking and then I ended writing a lot of songs to do with that. So I called the album Blood because of that.
How does this album compare to your previous album Is Your Love Big Enough and your other bodies of work?
Lianne: Well, I can only compare it with the sound of it I suppose most literally. It sounds different to the first album because I’m a bit different now. I was able to explore a lot more and meet lots of producers this time around instead of doing it with just one. And, I had a lot more to say this time I think. I have a lot of different stuff to say.
With you being from a musical family, how did that influence you as an artist?
Lianne: It’s just kind of second nature in that case. I always liked music and I felt compelled naturally to try and play music from a very young age. And then I realized it was just so close to my life and the things I care about. That I realized actually later that it was do with my dad and the fact that he played music. Also, something to do with my mom and the fact that she was so sensitive to music and always would play. I think it has influenced my taste in what I listen to, what I play and why I choose to play.
What artist did you listen to growing up?
Lianne: There was quite a variety of things that I listened to growing up. There were people such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. There was a lot of pop music at the time which as a 7 year old kid I loved Bewitched, I don’t know if you ever heard of them. I used to watch the Eurovision Song Contest avidly and watch it every year. I would find out songs from that. Then later on when I was 12ish onwards, I started discovering artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, bands rather, and Kings of Leon come out then. I listened to The Strokes. Then I started having singing lessons so I was discovering lots of jazz. My teacher would get me to sing songs from shows and jazz songs. We listened to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald from then I started listening to Nina Simone, Patsy Cline and Peggy Lee. Then later on I discovered Erykah Badu. I loved Jill Scott and Lauren Hill. A lot of women and bands.
With you being so multi-talented as far as singing, songwriting and being able to play different instruments, explain your experience with that.
Lianne: Well I mean it’s what I do. I feel glad to have some capability. I also think that there are so many ways to express yourself through music that it’s good to do a bit of that with everyone. You can imagine sounds and visualize how you want things to be so it’ll be even more like your identity I suppose. You can play with it. I like fusing sounds together perhaps to try and get a new thing out of both of them.
You worked with Paloma Faith. How was that experience being in her band and learning from someone like her?
Lianne: Well essentially I was a session musician. It was really fun, a good job to have. I’m friends with her so it was nice to see her do well when I know she’s been working so hard. It was good to have a bit of an inside scoop on what it’s like I suppose. It’s funny just to see how the music industry can be or just to see how it works and how much work you have to do, being camera ready all the time. Also, dealing with having to be many places at once and to keep smiling.
Are there any particular producers or artists you would like to work with now?
Lianne: Yes. I would like to work with Kanye West and I would like to work with a friend of mine named Keenan O’Meara, which I probably can because I’m his friend. I think he should be really well known because he’s amazing. So yeah, I would like to work with those two people. I think that would be interesting. Like I said about fusing sounds together, I always imagined if my sound was fused with something else, what might happen.
What inspires you in particular about Kanye?
Lianne: I think he’s a very good producer. There’s not a lot of his stuff I don’t like. It’s that thing where it’s not just one type of thing. It has a third dimension. I think he’s constantly looking for that thing that is not like everything else and that intrigues me.
Can you share three of your favorite songs on Blood or highlight three?
Lianne: Well I have to say I love them all for very different reasons and I have different favorites for different reasons. But if I’m only picking three, that would have to represent the whole album. I would say “Green & Gold.” This is in no particular order. I co-produced that one and I love it and it is all completely literal and true stories and it means a lot and it is the reason for the title of the album. So that one and then also “Midnight” because I think it represents a type of singing that I never thought I can do. There are lyrics I wouldn’t have done unless I went to Jamaica where I recorded it. I have good memories of recording it. The third one would probably be “Never Get Enough” because sonically I think it’s defining of what I was trying to look for in sounds of stuff to just link styles together.
Talk about your personal style. What shops in particular do you like in London? NYC?
Lianne: I think that my personal style is however I feel on the day. It’s kind of linked to my songs but I see it as just another way to express myself and I think that’s what it should be for everyone. I like vintage shopping maybe one day I’ll be able to shop designer. I like going to second hand shops like OxFam, and having enough time to look around, put stuff together and weird combinations. In regards to shopping in New York, I haven’t had that much time when I’ve been here before to do that. I did go to one vintage store. It was amazing. I can’t remember where it was though. But I never really get enough time to come shopping here.
Let the fans know what they can expect from Lianne La Havas. Is there anything else in the works? How do you plan on taking your career to the next plateau?
Lianne: That’s a good question. I just intend to do what I’m doing. I just believe in it so much. There are also other things I want to do. I want to be a producer maybe one day. I want to maybe act in films. I would love to design clothes. I really like cooking so I would love to have a restaurant one day or a bed and breakfast. There are lots of things I want to do. Because of this (singing), there are lots of avenues that I could take but definitely I want to remain singing and writing songs.
2. Green & Gold
3. What You Don’t Do
9. Never Get Enough
10. Good Goodbye
Photo credit: John-Paul Pietrus