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Exclusive Laura Mvula interview: 'If I said I'd made it my mum would give me a swift back hand'

06 FEBRUARY 2013

Although she has been practicing her art since the early years of her childhood, Laura Mvula's past few months as a recording artist have resulted in a whirlwind that has startled everyone in their wake.

In a turn of jazzy motifs and soulful vocal layering, the Birmingham conservatoire-educated songstress has charmed music critics with her illustrious compositions and emphatic soulful tone, earning her a Brit nomination, a supporting slot on Jessie Ware's tour and a highly deserved fourth slot in the BBC's sound of 2013 poll. When asked about her success, however, the alluringly humble 26-year-old keeps her feet firmly on the ground.

"I haven't thought that I've made it yet because I have a mum like mine," explains Laura.

 

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"The moment that thought would come out of my mouth I'd get a swift back hand- verbal or physical."

It seems that the She singer has a lot to thank her parent for. Thrilled that she can impress her mother- "one of the main encouragers on my journey"- the hotly-tipped Brummie started her story with music as a reluctant pupil at her family piano.

"I can't remember a time when there wasn't a piano in my house. I got bored of piano when I was younger because I found it too hard. I wasn't very good at practicing- it required discipline and patience that I didn't have," admitted the songstress.

Now, however, the RCA protégée starts most of her songs at the foot of those black and white keys.

"I always start with emotion. That's where I start all of my improvisations, on the piano. I always start with the mood or the feel of where I am in that moment."

 



And by the looks of the video for her latest single, Green Garden, the mood is a bright one. Dancing and clapping to the track’s upbeat riff as the sun filters through the trees, Laura makes a perfect morning playlist track about "smiling from within".

"Green Garden is about beauty and joy and lush green and dance and excitement and smiling from within. But for me, a wake up playlist completely depends on what mood I'm in. If I need to get into action pretty quick it will be between Beyonce and Miles Davis. I'm a massive Beyonce fan and all of her anthems will do it for me. And Miles Davis, because I grew up hearing his music because my Dad played it a lot, so that will always be special to me."

As the name of Beyonce gets bandied about the conversation, it has to be asked- how does the songstress feel about being compared to the likes of Adele and Nina Simone? Will she willfully accept her name in their company?

"I don't see myself as a part of it because I've always held those artists in such high esteem,” says the singer.

 



Shying away from the well-deserved comparisons, the Laura adds: "I see myself as someone who enjoys writing music but I wouldn't put myself in the same sentence as I've read in newspapers. I kind of see those artists as the real thing. I'm just a bit lucky I feel to get to do what I want to do and write music which is the thing I'm most passionate about."

In keeping with her modest tone, the artist's main ambition for the year is right in keeping with her classical roots, in which her fans will not be able to help but crack a smile.

"I would to love to be able to say I've performed with an orchestra. I have no idea how likely that is or if it will happen this year… or in the near future. That's my ultimate dream. I grew up playing in youth orchestras so they were my most treasured memories, so to be in front of an orchestra playing my own material would be incredible."

Green Garden, Laura’s latest single, is available to purchase on her website, www.lauramvula.com, now. Her album, Sing To The Moon, is available to pre-order on iTunes and will be released on March 4. She will be embarking on her first headline tour this year.

Interview and report: Jasmine Andersson

Watch the video for single Green Garden:  



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