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In House With Lianne La Havas: British Songstress on 'Annie Hall' Style, New York Love and Hanging With Stevie Wonder
- Posted on Aug 15th 2012 3:00PM by Caitlin White
Gino DePinto, AOL
"Have you seen the movie 'Annie Hall'?" Lianne asks. "I love the way Diane Keaton looks in that and generally her '70s looks in those movies, so I kind of loosely based my style on that, mixing tomboy style with feminine style. I like to dress for my shape, so I love a lot of high–waisted stuff and covering up when I can."
On the day of our interview, La Havas is certainly channeling Hall, as you can see in our exclusive photo gallery below. The singer and her retinue are walking on air today thanks to the recent news that she'll be the main support for John Legend's upcoming North American tour, which will certainly call for stylish stage outfits.
"Sometimes on stage I prefer to feel more glamorous, so I'll go all out when it's a stage outfit like sparkly, colorful, and have a certain shape. If someone is watching it from far away they can maybe remember the shape or the color," the singer-songwriter says,
This sense of glamor is certainly exemplified in her video for "Forget," one of the powerhouse tracks off her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough, featuring a solitary La Havas, fierce in glittery red and her signature side bun.
La Havas readily expresses her love for New York, admitting that the title track of her album was written as an ode to the city itself. After working with Matt Hales (aka Aqualung) in London, she came to New York to rekindle that writing relationship.
"We came to Brooklyn a year ago and wrote three songs, the first ended up being my single 'No Room for Doubt.' The final track that was written on that trip was 'Is Your Love Big Enough?' and it's about how much fun I had in New York and how I found myself. It was literally that -- just having the space to think and be alone somewhere like the Lower East Side."
Although many of Lavas' songs reference heartbreak, loneliness or past relationships, the title of her debut album and its title track are taken directly from her own happiness in creating the music.
"I thought the album should have a positive title that didn't involve any of my boyfriends because I'd been writing and I'd been productive and creative and it was making me happy," she says. "I had my whole self with me again and I felt complete again."
Whatever the impetus, Lianne's album has been catching the ear of music industry veterans, including indie god Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and soul legend Stevie Wonder. The former saw La Havas performing on the British television show "Later... with Jules Holland" and was so impressed that he called her a few days with a big-time offer.
"It was always a big dream of mine to be on that show," she says of "Later." "I started setting up and [Justin] stuck around to hear my sound check. I was just so surprised, it was really cool. He gave me a good round of applause then a few days later I got a phone call saying that he'd requested that I'd support him on his North American tour. I love touring anyway, but to tour with Bon Iver was just another thing."
To have Bon Iver sign off on your sound predicts indie success, but to have Wonder singing your own songs back to you is practically a sign from God. When she performed in Los Angeles this past May, the Motown legend both attended her show and met her afterward backstage.
"It was amazing. He came to meet me after the show and he brought his son along. We literally sat down for 45 minutes just chatting. And he was singing one of the songs to me, 'Is Your Love Big Enough?'" she says. "I guess it was still just in his head because it was the last song, but he was singing that to me. It was just all kinds of craziness, I was crying a little bit. He was just happy to chat and he was a lovely person. I'll never forget it."
In her own words, Lianne describes the album as "a kind of modern take on soul music, so not as we know soul music, and everything from the heart." Despite the brilliance of the record itself, watching her perform live is an experience on it's own level, as we learned when she played three songs for us, knocking us dead on the strength of her voice over a quiet electric guitar. Check out her North American tour dates below, and get out to see her now while the tickets are still affordable, because they won't be for long.
North American Tour Dates
Sep 11 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom *headline show
Sep 13 Montreal, QC – Le Belmont Sur Le Boulevard *headline show
Oct 29 Brooklyn, NY - Barclay's Center
Oct 30 Boston, MA - Wang Center
Nov 01 Upper Darby PA - Tower Theatre
Nov 03 Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
Nov 04 Detroit, MI - Fox Theatre
Nov 07 Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
Nov 08 Nashville, TN - Andrew Jackson Hall
Nov 10 Houston, TX - Bayou Music Center
Nov 11 Grand Prairie, TX - Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Nov 13 Albuquerque, NM - Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Nov 14 Phoenix, AZ - Comerica Theatre
Nov 16 Indio, CA - Fantasy Springs Casino
Nov 18 Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern
+ all dates with John Legend except where noted