Lianne La Havas, a Greek-Jamaican darling from London whose debut, Is Your Love Big Enough?, is truly a stunner, has hit the road, headlining her first tour after supporting Bon Iver on a previous run through the U.S. Luckily for us, she pays a visit to a sold-out World Cafe Live on Sunday, where her hauntingly beautiful brand of soul-folk, which is simultaneously delicate and funky, will no doubt thrill local music lovers.
PW had a quick phone chat with the talented La Havas, who’s eagerly anticipating her return to the East Coast “hopefully connecting with audiences over on that side as well,” she told us. “There’s a lot of great music that comes out of there, and I’m just excited to see it, see a bit more of it.”
PW: Your record has a healthy amount of dichotomies: quiet and loud, soft and hard, sad and ebullient. Do you like playing with that contrast?
La Havas: Absolutely. I think it depends on the song and the context. As a musician, you want to explore all different types of ways of interpreting a feeling or a lyric or whatever.
You’ve had a few videos, and they seem to be important to you as a form of expression. Is this something you enjoy?
Yes. But I’ve decided now that I only want to work with my friends, and my favorite videos are the ones that I’ve done with my closest friends. You have to trust them, and you can’t do that if you’re not working with someone you’re close to. But I love it. Representing what you do visually, I love that part of it.
The anguish and frustration between the two characters in the video for “Gone” is palpable. It almost has undertones of domestic violence.
Not physical abuse. I’m very lucky that that never happened, but more of a psychological and mental torment. It was all a very co-dependent relationship, in which I was completely infatuated, and he didn’t feel the same, and he led me to believe that he felt the same. I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose; it was just kind of the way it happened. I just needed to express that that wasn’t okay once I finally realized what was going on–that I was going to be on my own and didn’t need that anymore.
Are you pleased with the reception to your new record? Brits may have been listening for a while, but we only got you last fall.
I’m very, very pleased—extremely pleased. I couldn’t have imagined the response. And now I get to travel and meet amazing audiences and all kinds of things. [People are listening] in countries you’ve never been to. It’s kind of amazing.
In your fantasy world, who would you share a show roster with?
Little Dragon, Everything Everything—my favorite band; both of them are my favorite bands, actually. Probably Lauryn Hill, and I think Laura Marling. [Marling] is incredibly talented, and I just love her.
We love our St. Vincent, and I’d put you in her company. In fact, I’d love to hear you two sing together or collaborate.
Oh, I love her. That’s incredibly nice of you to say. She’s such an amazing singer, amazing songwriter, amazing performer, and she’s so fit. She’s totally stylish. She’s got the glamorous thing going on—when you can just put on an amazing dress and just rock out.”
Sun., April 7. Sold out. With Jamie N Commons. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. philly.worldcafelive.com
PW's Music Issue 2014