PHOTOGRAPHY GRAY LEE BRAME - WORDS & FASHION SOPHIE EMMETT – STUDIO SHED LONDON
Emerging from North London Andre, who goes by the stage name of Laville, is the jazz-soul singer with a voice that captivates an audience in one beat.
In between lockdowns F Word got the opportunity to discuss all that Laville has learnt since debuting his gripping album The Wanderer last year. We also spoke candidly about the realities of being an independent artist during a pandemic and the effects it has had on the music industry, along with the trials and tribulations of staying positive and productive in these uncertain times.
Opening image Laville wears hat & t-shirt MR.NICE
Sophie Emmett: Hi Andre, how are you today?
Laville: I’m good, optimistic. Looking forward to the week ahead. I’ve just finished a 3-day writing camp with ‘The song expo’ which is based in Norway, honestly, eye-opening.
S.E: 2020 has been an odd year if you had one song to describe it, what would it be?
L: Talking to the walls by Chloe Bodur, Ash Walker remix. It explains how I was feeling for the first 3 weeks and tiny moments after, also it just bangs!
S.E: Lockdown and Covid-19 have had quite a serious impact on the music industry, how has it affected you directly?
L: Well, I think most importantly it has closed so many venues that host live music events. I’ve had to postpone quite a few gigs and I’ve definitely not been able to record as much as I wanted to. But I had time to live and grow and concentrate on me from within. I also lost a few jobs that I had which was not ok, but you've got to try as much as you can in this climate.
S.E: What was your best and least favourite part about the first lockdown and now with the second one impending what are your plans?
L: The best part was focusing on my health and fitness, I was always way too flaky with my health and now I can feel the shift. Also my worst part was not being able to see people, I’m a social Leo who depends on his pride for support. The hardest thing I went through during lockdown was losing ‘Metropolis’ from Foreign Beggars. I will always miss his brotherhood. For this lockdown I’m really pushing myself to write the next project in its totality, I need to use this time effectively. I’m also mapping out a few other ventures aside from music, it’s time to be a boss.
Laville wears sunglasses KALEOS; Chain FRAME CHAIN; two piece SCOTCH & SODA; Socks STYLIST OWN; Shoes CLARKS X BATHING APE
S.E: Have you found Lockdown a time of inspiration, were you able to work on new songs?
L: I did have some real moments of inspiration and wrote some new material I’m really proud of. I went through a massive transition at the beginning of this, parting ways with my first label Acid Jazz was something that took some time to adjust to and once I had I wrote a load of songs. I feel like they are very 2020. I’m excited!
S.E: Fortunately, in between these lockdowns you’ve since been able to perform at small gigs such as The Ned, what do you love most about performing?
L: Improvising parts of tunes and doing riffs I thought of in the shower makes performing exciting. No matter what any performer says its vital to feel like your audience are interested and want to hear more, so I love seeing the audience enjoying themselves as much as I do.
S.E: With that in mind, what is your favourite song to perform?
L: I think ‘Easy’ is my favourite original song to perform. Because it was written at a very important time in my life. I was in a shit place, I was partying 6 out of 7 days a week and wasn’t singing. Until I met Charlie Perry at a house party and he heard me hum a couple of riffs and from that moment I was forced to face my potential future. Easy was really written with my past in mind and what I went through growing up in Edmonton. I’m thankfully not in the same situations I was then, so it’s emotional to perform ‘Easy’ because I get mad nostalgia.
S.E: Last year you released your debut album The Wanderer what was that like?
L: Like an out of body experience. I hid my passion for so long that when we put it out I was feeling pretty numb to the fact that I had actually achieved something I’d always wanted to do. Working with my producers was a blessing at every point. I really didn’t think I’d ever have an album out, especially one that I was soo proud of.
S.E: Do you have a least favourite track and are there any songs that didn’t make the cut?
L: There was not one song that never made the cut. I’d say my least favourite song to perform is giants… and that’s only because it’s bloody hard to perform. It’s like the kid in the family that causes bare trouble but never loses the love of his family.
S.E: What have you learnt over the course of your first release to now that you didn’t expect to?
L: To be more of you, give more. Sounds cliché but follow your heart and your head. Be critical but not demoralising. Know when you’re fighting a losing battle, and mostly don’t stop. You can achieve more than you think!
S.E: Your album explores themes of childhood, past relationships, addictions, joy and trauma, which area do you find is the hardest to write about?
L: I think past relationships and addictions as they are all wrapped up into one fuckery package. That period for me was a character-building exercise that I can’t change and I have to be grateful I made it out feeling the way I did. I wasn’t going to write about everything I did initially, but I came to the realisation that anything left out is an emotional blockage. I had to write songs to release energy.
S.E: Can you describe your writing process?
L: It varies as sometimes I want to be alone and be an introvert in a well- lit room with endless water supplies. Other times I’m very much open for collaboration. I find inspiration in the funniest places, but I love writing on the underground. I think that’s where I’ve written quite a few songs I’ve released.
S.E: You do a great rendition of Black & Gold by Sam Sparro, what other song(s) do you wish you had written?
L: OH MY GOD, SO MANY. Love T.K.O, - Teddy Pendergrass Optimistic - sounds of blackness, Just Friends - Musiq Soulchild, Be Mine - Robyn, Outstanding - The Gap Band, Sticky - Ravyn Lenae, NERD -Run to the sun, Erykah Badu - Next Lifetime, Jill Scott - A long walk. Teedra Moses - Take me …Honestly the list goes on!
S.E: If you could collaborate with anyone on your next album, who would it be?
L: I’m personally calling out to the cosmos to get in contact with Little Simz & Green Tea Peng and tell them that we need to make several classics in the very near future.
S.E: Is a second album in the works or can we at least be excited for a single drop soon?
L: Yes and yes. Early 2021 I will have a single out at least because the bigger project needs to be out summer 2021. I’m excited to let people hear this project.
S.E: Now that live music and festivals are on hold if you could see anyone live tomorrow who would it be?
L: I would love to see Little Simz, her set at Glastonbury last year was a real moment for me. Ya know what it was her grace, her genuine appreciation of us and the tunes man. Just incredible, and if you look closely at the BBC coverage there is me in leopard print and a full face of glitter in awe.
S.E: You love Crocs, if you could do a collab, what would yours look like?
L: They would probably be an art deco masterpiece, something in between Erte & Jean Dunand and Jean Goulden. So lacquered effects with intricate design with regal tones and textures. As for pins, it would be golden flapper girls, art deco lions, art deco mirrors. Erte style. As the best stylist I’ve ever worked with, you know how much I love them.
S.E: Where would you love to headline?
S.E: And finally, what's your favourite F Word?
L: I swear a lot, so besides the obvious I’d say Freedom, I don’t know if anyone really is but it’s a nice word to dream of. People can have small freedoms like financial, sexual and work freedom. But somewhere in your life, there will be a part that isn’t wrapped up in freedom. It’s something to dream of.
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