Musical Muse: It Brit Lianne La Havas Is Blowing Up!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on June 4.]
It's a pretty good sign that a crooner's got golden vocals if Stevie Wonder's showing up at the Bootleg Theater to groove to her tunes. And that's precisely what just happened to soulful songstress Lianne La Havas, who performed in front of Wonder — and a bevy of Lala Land fans — last week before she hopped the pond back to her native Britain, where she's already causing quite the brouhaha. And he's not the only luminary who's taken notice of the stirring sounds La Havas has going on — Christian Louboutin gives the fashion-forward gal first dibs on punchy pairs (just wait 'til you peep 'em!) and Bon Iver snatched her up last year as an opening act.
So, when La Havas offered to model her singular style for our lens, it was, well, music to our ears! Her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, drops August 7, so we suggest getting to know this melodic hottie if you want to stay ahead of the curve. Consider this your introduction.
1 of 14
What did you do during the two years between signing with Warner Brothers and recording your music for the public for the first time?
"I made the album and defined my sound, which is something that I felt was right for that point in my life. It's left me curious and excited about what the next album will sound like."

How do you get inspired when you're writing?
"I think about everything that's going on in my life, then I go to a quiet place. It's just me on my own, so I play the guitar and let my thoughts run wild."

RIMZIM bronze top.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
2 of 14
What was it like having Stevie Wonder at your show? What did he say to you?
"It was truly surreal. After the show, he sang the title track of my album to me and we chatted about music. He also told me not to smoke!"

Vintage dress.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
3 of 14
Describe your style in three words.
"Fun, fierce, and flattering."

Is there a difference between what you wear on and off stage?
"Absolutely. I like to be more glamorous onstage, but offstage I'm more casual — smart yet comfortable. I wear heels or Dr. Martens."

Rossmore Heart Ring.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
4 of 14
On Facebook, you list "ganja" as one of your influences. Can you elaborate?
"Depends what you mean by elaborate? [Exhales]. Ha!"

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
5 of 14
What's one song you never get sick of?
"I'm always in the mood to listen to 'Desafinado' by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz."

You wrote your first song at 11, what was it about? 
"It was a made-up love song for no one in particular. It was called 'Little Things' and could've been about anyone."

Stylist's own booties.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
6 of 14
Let's talk about your hair — what are your go-to products?
"I love Mizani Moisturfusion Silk Cream and Moroccan Oil."

Where'd you get the idea to do the asymmetrical style?
"It was actually an accident! I was doing a photo shoot and the photographers needed to see my eyes more. So, I gathered my hair up into a bun and it naturally fell to the side. Et voilà!"

What's the secret to your signature cat eyeliner?
"Years of practice!"

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
7 of 14
Could you ever see yourself living in L.A.? What's your fave spot in town?
"I love L.A.! I actually dream of living here one day. The city means so much to me because it's where I wrote and recorded most of my album. My favorite spot in town is Komasa, a sushi joint in Little Tokyo. And my favorite bar is Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake."

Where's your favorite place in the world to perform? 
"The Bootleg Theater has to be up there. It was my first-ever headline show in L.A. Everything seemed to come together that night. It was very special."

Evmorfia jacket.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
8 of 14
Can you list your 5 favorite albums of all time?
"I can always listen to Mama's Gun by Erykah Badu, Radiohead's In Rainbows, Who Is Jill Scott? by Jill Scott, of course Revolver by The Beatles, and Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings Of Leon."

If you could perform with one other artist, who would it be and why?
"Erykah Badu. She is a huge inspiration to me and I love her voice and style. It would be an honor."

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
9 of 14
What's in your makeup bag while you're on tour?
"I can't travel without my MAC makeup, hair pins, safety pins, and jewelry."

What are your other packing essentials while on tour? Do you have any green-room necessities that you need before performing?
"I always need cocoa butter, a pair of Dr. Martens, a selection of high heels, military surplus underwear, and my JAMBOX — a wireless music player."

Evmorfia jacket.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
10 of 14
Do you ever get the jitters? How do you cure them?
"Yes, with whiskey!"

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
11 of 14
Who are your greatest influences, both musically and style wise?
"Musically, Lauryn Hill is a big influence on my work. But when it comes to style, I'd have to say a fusion of Prince and Annie Hall."

You're kind of the master of making a boyish button-down look girly. What are some ways you transform the menswear staple?
"I change it up by adding jewelry, wearing feminine makeup, and heels."

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
12 of 14
Are there any blogs or magazines or movies that have moved you lately?
"Movie wise I loved Meryl Streep in Iron Lady."

What would you be doing if you weren't a musician? 
"I'd probably be an art teacher."

Christian Louboutin boots.

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
13 of 14
You used to study art. What artists would you die to hang on your wall someday? 
"Anything by Picasso or Salvador Dali…even the Mona Lisa!"

Do you still draw or paint? What are your favorite subjects and mediums?
"I do still draw — typically with pencil, Biro ballpoint pen, or Fiber Tip Fineliner pen (black 0.4 mm tip). Those are my favorites."

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal
14 of 14
Do you have any advice for ladies who want to make a career in music?
"Stay true to yourself and make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Don't compromise your integrity!"

Photographed by Mike Rosenthal