Since Laura Mvula’s Mercury Prize-nominated debut record Sing to the Moon catapulted her to fame in 2013, she’s gone on to find friends in increasingly salubrious places.
Both Prince and Nile Rodgers have been vocal about her numerous talents, while collaborations with Tinie Tempah, Jamie Cullum and Emeli Sande have proven her musical versatility.
We caught up with her at a recent event celebrating 100 years of PRS for Music to learn how her new album is coming along and hear whether a collaboration with Nile or Prince is on the cards any time soon….
What do you think of the current state of British music?
I was just in New York and was hanging with some big legends in the industry, recording a documentary for a really important singer and activist. It meant I was connecting with a lot of people who were hanging around with this artist at the time. These are 80 year old men and women who are still engaged with what’s happening in music globally. They love what happens in the UK – what we do here is really important to them. It made me feel really proud and excited. We’re known for good things.
Why do you think the UK is such a musical hotbed?
It’s crazy! I know that culturally we practice a certain mode of expression that is authentically honest and to the point. We’re known for being ‘as is’ – and for me that’s one of the most important components of creating art. It’s about conveying exactly what’s going on in your brain and your heart and your soul. The Americans really dig that. They love our honesty.
Is there anyone you really want to work with?
I keep trying to meet up with Nile Rodgers. It’s going to happen! We keep missing each other but I think that song – whatever it is – is going to be the best thing I ever write! There are loads of guys on the scene at the moment I really love. Lianne La Havas I really enjoy. Michael Kiwanuka, Labrinth…I did a couple of things with Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sande – there’s loads! I’m open.
How far down the road are you with your new album?
I reckon there are going to be guitars – that’s as far as I’ve got. If you know my music, you’ll notice there are no guitars in there. I’ve been listening to Prince’s new album a lot and I find it so spunky and real and hot. There’s just something about the guitar that speaks really quickly. I happened to meet the guitarist of Nina Simone, he’s around and still gigging at 82 years old. He said he’d been listening to my stuff but he also said, ‘I wonder if this girl knows how to get down because a lot of her songs seem quite melancholy’. I kind of thought, funny you should say that. For me, I want to go in a different direction. I like to dance!
Prince loves you, doesn’t he?
Yes, it’s quite strange! He just goes crazy. His fans tell me they’ve heard him playing my album.
Have you tried to tap him up for a collaboration?
Actually I did, and he said no! I asked him to play a guitar solo on my last record, which was an orchestral album. He said he wasn’t sure if it would fit right. I think when collaborations happen, they’re meant to be. I’ll take his support for now thanks!