Since the release of her first EP, Lost and Found, in October of 2011, Lianne La Havas has had no time for breathing, simply singing. She has played countless shows on both sides of the Atlantic and finished her first full-length album. Despite having catapulted from back-up singer to international fashion dove, La Havas has stayed firmly planted, both feet on the ground.
The full-length titled Is Your Love Big Enough? is set to release in the U.S. August 7th via Nonesuch Records. We caught La Havas while on a quick press tour in New York City. Exhausted from multiple interviews, photo shoots, and a last minute gig at The Darby, she was looking forward to a little sleep before her 5 a.m. flight back to London. At the end of our chat, she eagerly and politely says, “Thank you for wanting to know about me.” Dear Ms. La Havas, everyone in the world wants to know about you.
How are you finding New York at the moment?
I love it. It’s one of my favorite places to come to. It means a lot to me because the title track was recorded in Brooklyn, along with two other songs that are on the album.
You have been traveling a lot lately. When you’re traveling, do you try to make time to sit down and play? What’s your creative process like when you are on the road?
If I am sitting with a guitar for long enough, I’ll come up with something. There is always enough going on around me to have inspiration to write. This is a very inspiring time. Having finished the album, I am able to think about things again and have some space to formulate new song ideas. I do find time on the road to play. And because I’m with my band, we’re always playing with each other. There’s no shortage of new inspiration.
I have been listening to the album, and it’s beautiful. I heard you once referred to “Forget” as your hate song?
Yeah, it’s just kind of a musical response to an ex-boyfriend who was also involved in music but used to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough at music. So I wanted to make a song that I was really proud of to show him that I didn’t need him.
I think everybody can relate to that. I actually heard a remix of “Forget.” What do you think about people taking creative liberty with your songs? What do you think of the remixes you’ve heard?
I love them. I think it’s a great way to get the music to appeal to different audiences. And I happen to really like the remixes that have been made. There’s one that was on the EP. It was done by my friend; his producer name is Two Inch Punch. I was a big fan of his stuff before I met him. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that he wanted to do a remix.
What do you think is the most exciting thing that has happened in the whirlwind that has been this experience so far?
Well, I think it’s all very exciting. It seems to get crazier and crazier. I am making sure I don’t get used to anything so that in case it goes away suddenly, I won’t miss it. I am catching everything as it comes and enjoying every moment. It all feels like a highpoint. But probably the best thing is playing a show and people have come to the show. When I went on my first tour, there were actually people there that heard about it and wanted to hear the music.
Compared to solo shows, how do you like playing festivals?
I very much enjoy it. I love the festival atmosphere, I love the fact that it’s a lot of like-minded people who are all there to just have a good time and listen to some music. I like that you can drink beer in the day. I like that you can walk around in the mud and there’s dancing. And I love playing live. Whatever situation I find myself in, playing live is always fun.
What are your favorite shows you’ve seen or bands you’ve heard of this year?
Well last year, exactly a year ago now, I saw Erykah Badu. And that was the best show that I’ve ever seen in my life. I really aspire to that level of presentation. Her voice is completely on form and she’s been making albums since I was a baby. It was amazing to see her just being a goddess on stage. She’s fabulous.
You had a wish granted recently; you’re going to be playing with Erykah Badu?
Yeah! I am going to be opening for her in London. I am absolutely over the moon. I can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true to even meet her. I can’t believe it. [Laughs].
Did you know that she was interested? Or that this was in the works?
I was always saying, kind of jokingly, to my booking agents, ‘You know, if anything with Erykah Badu comes up, will you please let me know?’ And to my surprise, she was playing in London, and I was actually going to go to the show anyways. I’d already bought tickets and then found out I’d be supporting. I’m absolutely thrilled. I don’t know how it happened, but she is apparently into it. I can’t wait to do it.
When are you planning on being back over here in L.A.?
Hopefully in the autumn so I can play some shows on the West coast.
Luckily, L.A.’s summer weather carries into autumn. We’re actually starting this new picnic series for summer, and I was wondering where would you go for a picnic?
Oh, London! Summer is beautiful. I think since we have the sun so rarely we really appreciate it when it happens. I would probably choose Mitcham Common, a park in South London that I used to go to as a kid. It’s my favorite.
And what would you take with you?
I would probably take some different salad leaves with like beetroot, feta cheese, all kinds of good spinach, and mix it all up and make a dressing. Maybe even some cold meats like smoked salmon and ham. I’d also take some nice crusty bread. And a couple bottles of wine and some glasses. Oh, and cheese of course! I love all cheeses. [Laughs].
La Havas' single, "Is Your Love Big Enough?", hits iTunes today.