Laura Mvula’s music has been described as Billie Holiday meets The Beach Boys. The British singer puts her soul and jazz-influenced vocals on top of orchestral backgrounds and layered harmonies that can sound like an entire gospel choir.
amNewYork spoke with Mvula.
You started making your album “Sing to the Moon” on a laptop. How did you go from that to working with an orchestra?
I usually improvise on the piano, then layer in sounds on the computer. From there, I met [producer] Steve Brown. He asked if I would come to his studio and start recording using musicians... We used 22 musicians on the album. I might layer my voice up to 40 times.
Did you always have that big sound in your head?
Probably subconsciously. I’ve been working on this my entire musical life and gathering influences along the way. One of the main ones was playing in an orchestra. In university, I was writing for choirs. It feels natural that when I would do my own thing, it would have an epic quality because I’ve always been interested in big, lush arrangements.
You grew up in a musical family. What did you learn from them?
We got to play music together a lot. Playing [with my siblings] as a string trio was the first musical experience I had. … I had the wonderful experience of playing in the church band, choirs, string quartets, vocal groups.
What was it like to hear your song “Green Garden” soundtracking ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage?
It was the best thing ever. It was kind of a dream come true. My family was fanatical about tennis. Players like the Williams sisters and Andy Murray are heroes to us.
Laura Mvula is at Music Hall of Williamsburg Wednesday night at 8, 66 N. Sixth St., 718-486-5400, $20
She is at(Le) Poisson Rouge Thursday at 7:30,158 Bleecker St., 212-505-3474, $20