Laura Mvula - De La Warr Pavilion

Laura Mvula has been shortlisted for the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize, for her critically acclaimed new album ‘Pink Noise’ out now via Atlantic Records. Laura will be performing this record and more at DLWP in 2022.

‘Pink Noise’ has seen critical acclaim across the board, NME’s ⅘ star review hails the record as being “steeped in liberation, not bitterness – it isn’t just a heartening comeback, but an absolutely sparkling pop album”, and The Sunday Times Culture name ‘Pink Noise as their ‘Album of the Week’ saying, “the classically trained Brum composer and songwriter sashays through a sequence of songs that affirm her position as one of this country’s most distinctive artists”. Loud & Quiet praised the album’s “sparkly synths, super-tight rhythm section and huge production” with MOJO’s 4 star review calling Laura “a gifted arranger with a distinctive cri de coeur and this is where she soars”.

More from Laura Mvula
Two things: don’t call Ivor Novello-winning singer-songwriter Laura Mvula’s unapologetic, 80s pop-referencing new album Pink Noise a comeback record.
“I’ve always been here” she smiles, “I just took some time to do what I needed to do.”
Secondly, this isn’t Laura Mvula 2.0. It’s not as simple as that. “Let’s go with Laura Mvula 4.5” she laughs. “Honestly, doing this record nearly killed me. Not literally, obviously, but in some sense.”
While it’s musical inspirations lean heavily into the vibrant pop Mvula loved growing up –Michael and Janet Jackson, Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chic, the list goes on –it’s an album borne out of both intense struggles and the positive realisations that come when you emerge reborn the other side. Lyrically it touches on ideas around break-ups – both personal and professional – but also a hard won appreciation for ‘being present and being in the moment’. It’s all there on the album’s delicious lead single, Church Girl, an 80s-era Whitney Houston-esque slice of effortlessly euphoric pop that turns the spotlight inwards while careening towards the dancefloor. “I was the original pop head in my family, I’m obsessed with pop” she says, acknowledging the shift from the more experimental, baroque soul of her first two albums, 2013’s Sing to the Moon and 2016’s The Dreaming Room, both of which were Mercury nominated. “For some reason when I made Sing to The Moon that sound became permanently attached to me in people’s heads. Like having the same hairstyle for the rest of your life, which for me is unthinkable. So this album was such a release.”
While her first two albums were successful, both critically and commercially, Mvula found herself at a crossroads at the start of 2017. Having parted ways with her old label, she even contemplated a new career altogether. “I probably did look at teaching jobs on a rainy afternoon but the truth of it was that there was initially a period of freedom” she says, “I could enjoy the fact that I had some kind of platform but I didn’t have to answer to anyone. I could, for the first time, ask the question, what do I want to do?”
In May of that year The Dreaming Room won the coveted album of the year award at the prestigious Ivor Novello awards, an accolade that gave Birmingham-born Mvula –a classically trained musician, let’s not forget –hope for her future in music. Suddenly she had time to look back on how she was perceived, and to look at the bigger picture. “Growing up my parents always said to me and my siblings that as young black people, we were going to have to work a hundred times harder just to get in the room, and that for me meant literally attempting to create a new genre of music,” she says. “So if I was going to do this thing I was going to have to invent something to go ‘hey, I’m here’. I was learning that I was perceived as this artist who was very ‘special’ and it was ‘pop but it’s not pop, it’s jazz but it’s not jazz, it’s classical but it’s not classical, it’s black but it’s not black’. I realised that a lot of this game was about justifying being in the room in the first place. Because I was doing something that couldn’t be neatly boxed. With this new album there is something hugely relieving about leaning heavily into a style of music –that 80s cosmic landscape –that has always been in my spirit.”
At the start of 2018 Mvula was asked to support the legendary David Byrne on his critically-lauded American Utopia in the UK. It was, she says, a game changer. “Not just being invited, which in itself was such a high honour, but because it meant that I had to think about creativity again.” It also meant using that boundless creativity in new ways. “I was so bored of people being like ‘sit at the piano and sing’ –I’m not a cabaret performer. It’s not my thing. So then I started to think about how I could make a big sound with just me and maybe one other person. Then we developed this idea of making everything electronic and not committing to any form with all the previous material. I’d torn it all apart and put it together again in a way that made sense to me at the time. No one else.” It was a revelation, and slowly a more uninhibited Mvula started to emerge. It was after the London show that Mvula had a meeting with her new label Atlantic Records, only she didn’t have any new music to play them, just an idea of where she wanted to head next. “I started seeing creative paths like Jacob Collier or even Janelle Monae. These are artists whose music I admire and they have managed to thrive doing what they love the way they want to do it.” Despiteeverything that had happened, her engrained confidence in her own abilities started to shine through. “The things we believe in our core, the stories we tell ourselves over and over, I know one of mine has always been ‘I will make magical music’. There’s nothing anyone can do, including myself, to tear down this very pure and authentic vow that I made to my creative self from ages ago.”The first song to slowly emerge was Pink Noise’s grand-standing album opener, Safe Passage. “It was a weekend and my mum was knocking on the door reminding me to eat,” she says of its intense creation. “I didn’t wash. It was such a beautiful time.” It was a breakthrough moment, all started initially in Mvula’s makeshift “box room” studio in her house.
he throbbing, slightly sinister-sounding Conditional, a searingly honest (“another blow to the ego, a victim of conditional love”) synth workout emerged at the same time. “After Safe Passage I didn’t want people to get confused and think ‘ah, she’s doing her nice music’,” she laughs. “I wanted to nip that in the bud quite quickly. I did the beat at home and I thought it was funny because it sounded like a beat for someone else.” She eventually took that demo and other gestating future classics into a studio with New Zealand producer Dan Hume, who gave her the space to work out what it could be. “With Dan, anything I throw into the air he’s able to catch it with me rather than be someone that goes ‘eh, not sure what that’s going to be’.” It’s a working relationship that’s paid dividends, be it on the elasticated funk of armour-plated pop goliath Remedy (“my favourite song on the album”), or the stadium-sized ballads Golden Ashes and Magical. “It’s like wanting so much to be seen and heard and validated through the tools I know best how to use which is melody, harmony and groove,” she says of the fact her ballads rarely fade into the background. “I need your attention.”
For the album’s title, Mvula knew she needed something that would sum up the vibrancy of the music, and also work with the slightly sci-fi angle of February’s spectacular Under a Pink Moon livestream in which she re-worked some of her older hits in a more synth-lead context (there was also an EP, 1/f). Pink noise is a scientific term –sort of the opposite of white noise -that Mvula stumbled across while having a “nerdy lockdown afternoon” and watching a tutorial online. “It was half an hour long and literally 30 seconds in I knew I wasn’t going to make it through it all,” she laughs. “Then the guy leading it says ‘this is where we have pink noise’ and I was like ‘that’s it!’ and stopped the video.” The more she researched, the more she started employing pink noise’s blend of more intense low-frequency tones and softer high-frequency tones on the album itself. Part of what these frequencies can help with is recalling lost memories, which feels apt when presented with the spectacular Pink Noise and its ability to recall the brilliance of 1980s pop while keeping it fresh. For its creator it’s also the album that reminded her of her value: “Growing up, I was always made to feel that I was someone special.” Pink Noise is further evidence of that.
More about Pink Noise

‘Pink Noise’ explores a side of Laura previously uncharted.  As triumphant as ever, the album is a battle cry and stark reminder of the sheer talent of the critically acclaimed artist.  This is Laura in a new found light – still reflecting her distinctive signature sound but showing the progression of an artist who has come into her own.    It’s an album borne out of both intense struggles and the positive realisations that come when you emerge reborn on the other side. Lyrically it touches on ideas around break-ups – both personal and professional – but also a hard won appreciation.

Laura says,

“This is the album I always wanted to make. Every corner is made warm with sunset tones of the 80s. I was born in 1986. I came out of the womb wearing shoulder pads. I absorbed the dynamism of the 80s aesthetic right from my first moments on this planet. Wrestling with identity seems to be one of the rites of passage of the established artist. Making ‘Pink Noise’ felt like the most violent of emotional wrestling matches. It took 3 years of waiting and waiting and fighting and dying and nothingness and then finally an explosion of sound. As if it was always here this record is my most honest and unapologetic flying of the freedom flag. In my adult years I had forgotten how important dance was to me as a vital tool of my creative expression. I brought it back, just for me, so I could find my delight in dance again. And now I can’t stop dancing. I can’t wait to play this album live.”

As one of the most exciting musical talents to come out of the UK, Laura has previously won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Album, has been nominated for the Mercury Prize three times, BBC Sound Poll, the BRITs Critics Choice Award, two BRIT Awards in 2014 (British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act) and won an incredible two MOBO’s in 2013 (Best Female and Best R&B/Soul).

Having caught the attention of her musical hero Prince while performing for the first of two times on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, Laura has gone on to travel the world, selling out shows and captivating crowds at every destination. Crowned “Queen of the Prom” and given a five star review from the Evening Standard for her Proms 2014 Late Night performance at the Royal Albert Hall, Laura’s critically acclaimed career has led her to work with real-life inspirations Nile Rodgers and touring with David Byrne.

Laura celebrated the release of her new album with a sold out headline show at London’s Village Underground September 2nd.

Booking information

Please note that Booking Fees apply on the following transactions:
Online: £1.50 per ticket + £1.50 postage or free collection at the Box Office.
Print at home tickets: These can be emailed to you on the account you have registered with DLWP free of charge (booking fees apply)
Telephone: £3.50 per transaction + £1.50 postage or free collection at the Box Office
There will be a cheaper booking fee for events under £10 (booking fee = £1.00) and under £5 (booking fee = 50p).
Free events booked online are not subject to a booking fee.
There is no booking fee for tickets purchased over the counter.

Please note that we are only able to post tickets within the UK. If you live overseas please select box office collection or print at home tickets. Tickets purchased for post will be sent 10 – 14 days before the show date.

All tickets include a Restoration Levy of £1 and will be subject to an additional £1.50 booking fee per ticket. Postage of tickets adds an additional £1.50 postage charge. Other options include having your tickets emailed to the email registered to your DLWP account to print from home or free collection at the Box Office.

The following are exempt from the Restoration Levy: Learning & Participation events, events associated with exhibitions, family shows that include a child ticket price, OUTLANDS events and Music’s Not Dead events in our Café Bar. Also exempt are those organisations that hire the Pavilion where they are offered a community rate, amateur shows or are in receipt of a concession from Rother District Council.

Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Eat before the show

Book online: Pre-show dining can be booked online as an add-on when purchasing tickets for selected events. You will be purchasing a ticket to guarantee your meal before the show.
Please note you must be a ticket holder to the show to book pre-show dining.

Already booked your tickets? If you’ve already booked tickets for a show and would like to add dining, please contact Box Office: boxoffice@dlwp.com

On the night: If you have pre-booked please come to the bar to order from the gig menu and sit at one of the reserved tables.

No re-entry

Please be aware that we operate no re-entry for gigs. This means that once you have entered the building, you cannot go out and re-enter. This policy is in line with other major music venues across the UK and put in place on police advice. No re-entry is clearly signposted as you come through security on the front door.
There is a fenced-off area on the terrace for people who go out to smoke or vape.

Staying locally

There are plenty of welcoming and good value B&Bs & boutique hotels in Bexhill. The De La Warr Pavilion regularly uses the following:

Travel information
  • By Rail
    Direct trains go from London Victoria, Brighton and Ashford to Bexhill.
    There are also trains from London Charing Cross, changing at St. Leonards Warrior Square and from London Bridge or Charing Cross going to Battle. Battle is only a short taxi journey away (15 mins approx).
    Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for up-to-date train travel information.
  • Taxis
    Town Taxis:  01424 211 511
    Parkhurst Taxis:  01424 733 456
  • By Car
    If driving from the London area:
    Take the M25, then A21 to Hastings. Turn off at John‘s Cross and follow the signs to Bexhill.
    OR
    Take the A22 to Eastbourne, go across the Bishop roundabout to the A271 and follow the signs to Bexhill and the seafront. The De La Warr Pavilion is on the Marina.
    From the Brighton area:
    Follow the A27 out of Brighton until you arrive in Bexhill On Sea.
  • Parking
    Please be aware the Rother District car park outside the De La Warr Pavilion operates paid parking until 8pm. After this time parking is free.
Accessibility

Within the limits of this Grade One listed building, the De La Warr Pavilion strives to be fully accessible with a range of facilities to support your visit.

Assistance Dogs are permitted into the building.

Please contact the Box Office on boxoffice@dlwp.com to arrange a visit.

Facilities for disabled visitors

  • Ramped access at the front of the building
  • A low counter at the Box Office and  Information Desk
  • Disabled toilets on two floors
  • A lift to all floors
  • Accessible galleries on both floors
  • An accessible Café
  • Spaces for wheelchairs in the auditorium for seated events
  • Ramped access in the auditorium for events during the day
  • Ramped access into the Studio
  • Two travel wheelchairs are available for use at the De La Warr Pavilion. To reserve, please call our box office and information desk on (01424) 229111 or ask a member of staff on arrival. The chairs are provided on a first come, first served basis and are intended for use inside the Pavilion. Please contact us for more information.

Facilities for blind or visually-impaired

  • Large print season brochures

Facilities for the hard-of-hearing

  • An T-Switch induction loop in some areas of the auditorium (please indicate when booking as this facility is not available on the balcony)
  • British Sign Language interpretation tours of the building and exhibitions are available on request.