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Music Interview

Laura Mvula interview: 'I didn't set out to be famous'

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Laura Mvula

Laura Mvula


Despite having an interest in music since she can remember, Laura Mvula's rise to fame has taken only a matter of months.

After catching the public's attention by landing on most of this year's critics' tips lists, the Birmingham-born singer releases her debut album Sing to the Moon - a collection of poised yet playful soul - next month, trailed by current single 'Green Garden'.

Digital Spy phoned up the rising star to find out more about the LP and exactly how to pronounce her surname.

Hi Laura! You're sounding very relaxed this morning.
"I am you know! It's a rare feeling at the moment."

Let's talk about your new single 'Green Garden', which people seem to be enjoying.
"I'm really pleased and very surprised by the response actually. Most things have surprised me with this whole journey so far. To me, this is still a bit of a bedroom track - one that I'd just jam to in my flat. To have it out there in the world is very weird!"

What has surprised you most?
"The thing is I never really had any real vision... I didn't set out to do this a year ago. It was kind of a casual, niche project that I thought would be exactly that. I still think of it like that, which probably isn't a good thing. This album is something I've been obsessively passionate about for a long time. I didn't expect anyone else to be interested in it."

A year is relatively quick in terms of getting everyone to notice you.
"The music is very close to my heart and it's very much what you see is what you get. From the birth of a song idea to its finished, mastered condition... being a part of every process has been an incredible learning curve. I still can't believe I managed to make a whole record!"

Watch the 'Green Garden' video below:



You worked with producer Steve Brown (Elton John, George Michael) on the record. Was he good at showing you the ropes?
"He was brilliant. He was very much the adult voice of the project! He would have to say, 'This is a good place to wrap this song up'. He really helped bring this record to life - I went to him initially with two small song sketches and he turned it into a record. Without his particular skill set, I'm not sure I'd have set out to do this."

But you have a degree in music composition...
"I still really needed help though! I had a tutor who was my mentor throughout my degree and Steve was similar in that way - someone who I respected that would guide me along and put up with my moaning about how I have no direction. I came out of university a bit lost - what do you do with a music degree? - so I was lucky to meet Steve."

What would you have done if you hadn't met Steve?
"There literally was no other plan. I'm not like my siblings who are musical but can turn their hands to other professions! I'd always wanted to be involved in music - I'm a great believer in doing things that fulfil you."

A lot seems to have happened since you made most of this year's 'ones to watch' lists; has there been a big highlight so far?
"Honestly, finishing the album was such an amazing thing. I'm a great starter of projects but I never seem to quite pull them off or be pleased with what I've done, but this feels like the first time that I've done something and been genuinely happy with it. When we listened back to the album and the title track 'Sing to the Moon' came on I burst into tears. It was such a release and relief of finally saying something the way I want to say it."

Is the rest of the album similar to your output so far?
"I would say so, although I'd like to think there are a few surprises on there."

Is there a big dubstep number on it?
"[Laughs] Yes - and a big death metal track as a hidden bonus track at the end! Me and Steve experimented with loads of instruments. He was like the Dad and I would ask him to find me whatever I could think of."

Laura Mvula press shot 2013

Laura Mvula



Some amazing but ridiculous musical comparisons have been made against you, mostly soul icons. How does that feel?
"I just can't take them seriously! I understand that musical references are important, but with the utmost respect I don't take them very seriously. It's very nice though."

Is there anyone on the charts today you're listening to?
"I listen to a lot of choral stuff at home, but I'm also liking Labrinth, Emeli Sandé, Tom Odell and Wretch 32."

Would you ever consider delving into that side of music and working with those kinds of acts?
"Definitely. I'm still very young in the musical world and I'm still having my eyes opened to so many different sounds. My husband is a big rock fan which helps me explore that side of things, which I love. I'm just soaking it all up!"

So your next album could be a soul-death-metal-dubstep one?
"Hey, it could happen!"

Finally, have you had any strange pronunciations of your surname?
"Oh God yeah. Mvula is my married name, but for some reason my nan calls me McVula. I'm not sure if it's one of those jokey Caribbean things or whether she's just getting it wrong."

Can we get a clarification?
"It's Mmm-vula. I don't normally correct people though. It's funnier that way!"

Laura Mvula releases 'Green Garden' on February 24. The album, Sing to the Moon, follows on March 4.

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