So I drew this charcoal portrait of Lianne La Havas about 2 and a half years ago, and she is still one of my very favorite contemporary musician/singers. And I am sure that more fan art will be coming soon, maybe featuring some other artists that I love. (Has anyone looked at the Grammy nominations for Best Urban Contemporary Album this year?!! It’s sickening, in the best way!)
Food From Scratch and Selfie Sketches with Singer @liannelahavas
To see more of Lianne’s sketches and photos of food, friends and family, check out @liannelahavas on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.
Lianne La Havas (@liannelahavas) sloshed through nippy south London growing up, so perhaps it’s no surprise she’s attracted to sunny locales where oranges ripen year-round and a summer rain leaves you refreshed instead of chilled and soggy. Even the title of her upcoming album, Blood, evokes warmth.
“I like to think you can imagine yourself being in a very warm place when you’re listening to it,” the 25-year-old singer says, drawing out her words as if she’s stretching on a sunbaked rock herself (though, she does still live in a English capital). “I like that kind of feeling of things in general.”
So far, it seems she’s been successful in suffusing Blood with that balminess — even if that’s quite a drastic shift from her star-making 2012 debut, Is Your Love Big Enough? Where the latter was sparse, folk-leaning and laced with delicate melodies and Lianne’s own gentle plucking of her guitar, the singles from Blood are lush and in full bloom. It’s obvious that she’s gleaned inspiration from nature (“I’ll stop if I see some nice leaves,” she says). Whether it’s the hothouse beauty of the Paul Epworth-produced “Unstoppable” or the sassy swing of “What You Don’t Do,” she sounds relaxed, mature and bursting with confidence.
Speaking of shifts, that’s another one. As a child, she says, “I was quite shy, but longing not to be shy.” Her father’s family was Greek and her mother’s, Jamaican. They split when she was young and she spent a lot of time with her grandparents and great grandmother or playing with Barbies and Polly Pockets. When she became a teenager, she became “loud,” but at 18, she discovered the guitar and revisited the solitude of her childhood. “I wanted to be alone with it for months and weeks just trying to master this new technique I’d just learned,” she says.
She also had loved drawing as a child — “It was natural to me” — and one of her doodles became the cover of her first EP, 2011’s Lost and Found. “That was my attempt of copying a selfie!” she says, laughing. “I was trying to draw a self-portrait at the time. I find it so fascinating, and it’s just really hard to make something look exactly like it looks in real life. I wanted to make it look nice. But also I had an image in my head of the pose I wanted it to be as well, so I tried to take selfies and tried to copy them.”
The EP thrust her into the spotlight, and soon thereafter, Bon Iver scooped her up as the supporting act on his tour. By the following July, she had released Is Your Love Big Enough? and was a burgeoning star. With its bright, bold singularity — her colorful mixed heritage courses through it, from the album’s inspiration (her traveling to Jamaica with her mom) to the song entitled “Green and Gold” to the cover art, which features marble representing Greece and sprays of palm fronds and bird of paradise flowers to symbolize Jamaica — Blood stands to send her soaring even higher.
Despite her ever-increasing profile, however, she still prefers sharing the homey stuff, simple pleasures like nature or flowers or food.
“I’m always kind of creating, in short. I like making stuff from scratch. Traditional English roast chicken but with Greek and Jamaican flavor influences,” Lianne says. “It ends up this incredible, iconic flavor.” Just like her music.