Our Interview With Leona Lewis

Hands up who knew Leona Lewis had a house in LA? Hmmm, not many of you. Well, she does and when Spotify comes a calling (on the telephone, that is) she’s there intending to see her best friend and to have a bit of a holiday. “I’m chilling here for a minute!” she laughs. Meanwhile, the rest of us actually are chilling in the sense that we’re being chilled by arctic blasts. But then, we’re not pop stars and she is, right?

What was the last great record you heard?

Oh, wow, well, the Jessie Ware album is great, but the one that’s got me really recently would be the alt-J album. My boyfriend choreographs a lot of catwalk shows and he was listening to them a lot while he was planning each walk. Naturally, that meant I heard it a lot and it sounded so cool, really vibey. I’ve been listening to it ever since and I love it.

It sort of took you by surprise?

Yeah! I love the sounds, they’re so different. The lead singer sounds a bit like the guy from The Temper Trap and it sometimes sounds like he’s singing in a strange language. But, of course, he’s not.

Could an LL/alt-J team up be on the cards?

I would love to do that! It would be so different to what I normally do. That would be so much fun.

Let’s get romantic, is there a song that makes you feel weak at the knees?

Des’ree’s I’m Kissing You and Sia’s Breathe Me are my favourite love songs. I get a lot of inspiration from films and visuals and I’m Kissing You is so connected to Romeo & Juliet – the most romantic story ever. I first heard the Sia track on Grey’s Anatomy and that’s pretty dramatic and emotional too!

Have you ever serenaded someone?

No! I think guys are meant to serenade girls! I’m old fashioned – I want to be serenaded.

If you could choose anyone from history to serenade you who would it be?

Oh, it would be Shakespeare, of course.

Can he sing?

I don’t know! Imagine if he could sing as well, it would be a bit unfair, to be honest. It would be too much for one human being.

Is there such thing as a great break-up song?

Oh yes, Beyonce’s Irreplaceable. I love Beyonce because if you break up with someone and then listen to her music you’re almost immediately like, “Oh, I didn’t need that person anyway. I’m strong and I don’t need you!”

“Get out of my bloody house!”

Exactly!

Let’s be specific – what five records made Leona Lewis the artist she is?

That would be The O’Jay’s Love Train – my dad played it all the time. Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise. Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold, I listened to that all the time when I was growing up. More recently, Miike Snow’s song Animal is the track I always listen to before I go onstage – I don’t really know why. A total classic is Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car – my mum would play that all the time, literally all day, when she was cleaning the house at the weekend. I still love it.

What songs would you fight your way to the decks to play at your own birthday party?

Mark Ronson’s Bang Bang Bang, definitely Oliver Twist by D’banj. will.i.am is really good, I Gotta Feeling is a great record, though it’s a bit worn out by over-playing now. You’d have to have Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody in there too, that’s dancefloor devastation and everyone signing at the top of their voices all at the same time. Finally, my family is from Guyana, so there would have to be some proper soca, as that’s what we listen to at my aunt’s house. Let’s have some KMC in there.

Tell me this, what is the greatest record ever made?

Oh wow! Well for me it would have to be Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life. There are so many amazing moments, from the piano and guitar riffs, to just the way he plays the harmonica. The lyrics are amazing too – it’s a very soulful record. From that album, Pastime Paradise is an actual perfect song – it talks about so many issues: classism, sexism, racism, genetic modification, it’s an incredible song and I love it.

Finally – crucially! – what’s your favourite noise?

Well, I have a horse and I love it when he whinnies. When I’ve been away for a while he’ll whinny at me when I walk down to the stables and I love that. It’s like he’s calling out to me.