We’ve been everywhere this festival season and finally had the chance to catch up with the beautiful English folk and soul singer Lianne La Havas. Performing her wildly popular debut album Is Your Love Big Enough?, which was awarded the iTunes album of the year in 2012, this girl is going places. As the supporting act for Bon Iver’s 2011 North American tour, La Havas quickly caught the eye of many top-tier musicians like Prince, who covered her single “Lost & Found” live, and Stevie Wonder, who found himself backstage at one of her shows.
La Havas is taking her career in stride. In a recent interview with The Guardian she spoke on the idea of being a woman in the music industry who is at times subjected to feeling the pressure of dressing overly sexually. “I’ve always gone my own way. I don’t think it’s bad to show a bit of skin, but you have to do it in a way that’s suitable for your body, and non-gratuitous. It’s like a role model thing. So I feel it’s important to be real, but also not to be a douchebag. You don’t have to slag people off for the sake of it, and you don’t have to get your tits out.“
La Havas has six more shows in Japan and Europe before she heads back into the studio to start recording.
Playboy.com: So before playing Osheaga today you got to play a smaller venue last night. Do you notice much of a difference between larger and smaller venues? Is there one you favor?
La Havas: I have a soft spot for the small shows. When people come to see you on their own accord I feel as if I have more to say. When it’s a smaller show you can bond with them all individually almost. But my set here at the festival was really fun; I was only on for 45 minutes so we made the most of it. I have about an hour and a quarter at this point, so you have to be professional in this setting because they need to get you off really quickly! [laughs]
Playboy.com: It seems as if you come from a very musical background.
La Havas: My dad is very musical, as is his family. I grew up with my uncle playing guitar, my grandmother playing the piano and my dad playing the accordion and the harmonica. He plays everything, including the saxophone most recently. So he was the one who got me into the idea of playing an instrument. Singing came after, actually; I started on piano but now only have a pretty basic knowledge of it. When I discovered guitar I was much more at ease. Shortly after piano the singing came. I just kind of tried it one day, I didn’t really know much about it.
Playboy.com: So I have to geek out for a second: interviewing someone who has been on the phone with Prince and got to hang out… Do you still think about how crazy it all is or is it more of a natural thing now?
La Havas: No, I definitely do think about it, it is crazy. I think if there was going to be anything that I could think or dream of it would be “be friends with Prince,” [laughs] and it actually happened and I’m so thrilled that we know each other.
Playboy.com: You’ve met a lot of people through your music. What are the best words of advice you’ve been given?
La Havas: Stop apologizing onstage. I used to make a lot of mistakes when I was starting out and would apologize every time. And the moment I stopped doing that and started thinking that [the crowd] were all here and all very supportive then I just felt a lot better. So I would urge everyone to never apologize for what you are doing onstage because it’s all part of it, and it’s all good.
Playboy.com: Are you just focusing on touring at the moment or do you find time to write?
La Havas: Well, focusing on the shows at the moment and then getting ready to do writing only when I finish the festival season. After that I will be going into the studio, hiding away, writing my new album. Sometimes I write in the studio and sometimes at home. Or I’ll start stuff at home and then finish in the studio more often.
Playboy.com: Lyrically, where does your music come from?
La Havas: Just life in general; I think about what’s going on in my head in the moment, all of the things that I can’t really say in mere language, in normal words. Those are the things I end up writing about.
Playboy.com: I heard you’re a big vintage clothing enthusiast. How important do you think style is in the music industry?
La Havas: It depends on the individual. I happen to really love clothes, I feel like it’s the duty of creative people to express themselves with their clothes and I love doing it. I love feeling a certain way by the way I dress or putting out an aura with what I’m wearing that day. It’s important for me to have different outfits onstage and feel glamorous.
Playboy.com: What’s your favorite…
Worst pickup line: Some guy once said to me, “I’ve seen you before.” And I said, “No you haven’t.” To which he replied, “Yes I have, in my dreams.” [laughs] How bad is that? It didn’t work. If he’s cute enough, then yes, but not in this case.
Embarrassing moment: At Nice jazz festival 2013 on stage I said, “Hello, Nice Jazz Festival 2012!” And before that was when I fell over onstage because of my shoes in Glasgow. I was trying to dance and I just fell over. Touch wood, that was the only time I will do that.
First memory of Playboy: Probably the bunny symbol; the iconic bunny symbol is amazing. Seeing girls in a corset with bunny ears, I love it.