For a long time music was Laville's biggest secret. As a kid growing up in North London his parents would throw wild house parties, with the sounds of soul, funk, and rare groove resonating from wall to wall. It seeped deep down inside, sparking a life-long love affair, but his voice, his songwriting, and those dreams were always something he kept hidden.
"I always sang, but never showed anyone," he admits. "I remember I was humming along to this tune at a house party once, and the guy was just like: I know you, why didn't you tell me you could sing? I was like: well, I didn't really think I could."
Laville needed to live his life first. He studied, he travelled, and he worked - everywhere from top London venues to Michelin starred restaurants. Finding focus in his late 20s, his insight, raw talent, and drive pushed him forward, igniting a trail that leads to his glorious debut album 'The Wanderer'.
"I had to live my life first before I could write my music," he insists. "I couldn't write it at the same time because I was too in the moment, I was living a faster life than I am now. There was really no time to take stock. But now I do take stock, and I've started cutting back all the things that weren't essential to my life. It was like a hard drive that was full. I needed to make space."
He began to fill this space with music. Channelling everyone from Donny Hathaway to Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai to JP Cooper, it's bold, daring, and completely natural, moving from soul to funk and disco like those house parties that first fired his imagination. Guesting on Big Narstie's superb album cut 'Help', a chance encounter with Acid Jazz founder Eddie Piller at Soho Radio's Central London studio allowed him to find his path.
Debut album 'The Wanderer' was steered by the expert hand of producer Tristan Longworth, built during the summer months with a crack team of musicians. Indeed, if 'The Wanderer' sounds fresh then that's because it was, with Laville often using first takes. "It's almost like the lights have come on," he says. "I wanted it to be as pure as possible, really. I've made it now. And I love it."
Fascinated by cinema and poetry, Laville's lyrics have this narrative thrust that digs a little deeper than most. Citing the work of auteurs like Tarantino and Scorcese as a major influence, it's intertwined with his own life, his own experiences. He comments: "The album is like a round up of a lot of things that have happened… from when I was really young to just now. Things I have felt forever."
New single 'This City' rides a Studio 54 groove, and it owes a debt to the way Nile Rodgers and Chic would filter social commentary into their glorious disco hits. "I didn't want it to just be a song about lights or dancing fast," he comments. "I wanted it to be a proper disco song where there was a deeper meaning to the song and you're not just dancing for the sake of it."
'Easy' is a reflection on his gritty North London roots, and how that gave him his appetite to seek out something more than the everyday, while soulful standout 'The Answer' is about toxic relationships, where it becomes like "a drug - you know you shouldn't but you do, and it feels good."
Indeed love - or passion, or commitment - is a recurring theme on the album, with Laville moving from the super-smooth 'Love Shine' to the curiously infectious 'Wavy Love', amongst others. "It's everything, isn't it?" he comments. "It's the strongest emotion that we can feel. Other emotions - like jealousy - are all rolled up in love anyway."
'The Wanderer' is driven by a certain spirit - it's almost as if after waiting so long Laville refuses to let this chance pass him by, bringing his intense sense of focus to the fore. "I've always needed to work, and work hard," he says. "Even just working in retail - I had to get to the top. It's the same with music."
A bold voice that adds something distinctly new to the tapestry of soul, Laville's talent is too strong to remain a secret forever - it's time for 'The Wanderer' to come home.
|02 Aug 19||Omeara||London|