Singer-Songwriter Lianne La Havas marked her most recent Asian trip with some interesting opportunities. The “Green & Gold” singer performed at the Singapore Grand Prix Off Track concert, sharing a billing with Seal, Ariana Grande, The Chainsmokers, and Calvin Harris to name just a few. She also made her debut appearance in Hong Kong, performing at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental for their ongoing MO Bar UNPLUGGED series. Earlier that afternoon, she sat down for an interview with Billboard Radio China to discuss her music, career, and some amazing collaborations.
Despite having been singing and playing music since she was 7 years old, Lianne only began publicly performing in her teen years, starting her career a decade ago performing backing vocals for Palmoa Faith on tour. After having been discovered on Myspace in 2008, it was several years before her first EP, Lost & Found, was released in October of 2011 with full length album, Is Your Love Big Enough, following in July of 2012.
Lianne’s fan base has grown significantly over the years since her initial debut, with a full house of hundreds of fans watching in Hong Kong. Describing the course of her musical development, La Havas makes the point that she struggles to find a way to describe her music in terms of a single genre, making a point of being as eclectic as possible when writing music. She describes her sound as ‘melodic electric guitar based music that has a focus on fingerpicking rhythms with a clean sound,’ adding ‘there’s a song for everyone.’
It may be that this ethos has led her to a number of collaborations with a variety of artists, from collaborating with Rudimental and alt-J to opening for Alicia Keys, Coldplay, and Bon Iver. Arguably her most significant collaboration was with Prince, as known for his musical innovation and voice as his eclectic stage presence and extravagant style. The pair worked together on several tracks that would appear on his 37th and 38th studio albums, Art Official Age and Hit n Run Phase One. The singer lights up talking about Prince, who was responsible for what she calls the most magical weekend of her life when the pair opened his iconic 2014 SNL performance with their duet Clouds.
Blood, the last full album from Lianne La Havas was released in 2015 to commercial and critical acclaim, marking a change towards a fuller sound away from the original acoustic sound on her first album. Talking about the development of the project, La Havas goes back to her Jamaican roots and exploring them with her mother. Explaining that much of the project found grounding in a trip to Jamaica, a first in many years for the South London raised singer, the album is an exploration of her roots and identity. Over the course of her time in Jamaica, La Havas got a chance to record in Kingston and meet Stephen McGregor, known as Di Genius, son of veteran reggae singer Freddie McGregor. According to La Havas, the experience brought her to the moment when she realized she could be relaxed in the studio and free to do what she wanted to musically.
That freedom shines through Blood and was certainly evident during her performance in Hong Kong.
You can hear the full interview at Billboard Radio China here.