Lusaint: “Creativity Fuels what’s in My Head”
© Fiona Garden
From cover star to a star in her own right: Lusaint talks music, fashion, and finding herself as an artist.
It’s a grey and glum August afternoon in England when I settle to speak to Lusaint, who logs into the Zoom call from Manchester. The second her face pops up on the screen, the cold and rain are forgotten. The rising star, who has millions of streams on Spotify, brings warmth and sunshine into the conversation, the Britsh cold and rain immediately forgotten.
Since the release of her first cover song Chained to the Rhythm in 2017, Lusaint has gone from strength to strength, establishing herself as a singer-songwriter in her own right. It’s therefore no surprise that her latest single release has smashed the glass ceiling and made it on national TV and radio.
With her first-ever headline show just around the corner, Lusaint talks candidly about her journey as an artist, her love for the Manchester music scene, and why any form of creativity fuels her songwriting and music.
Congratulations on your latest single, Fool for You, which recently got played on Love Island. How did it feel to hear your own music on this quite epic reality show on national TV?
It felt amazing. I've had a couple of other tracks that were played on the show before, but they were covers. This is the first time I've ever had my own music played on Love Island. To have any kind of TV or media coverage when it's your own song, and even just to hear my music at the moment, is like a whole different feeling to having a cover out there. It's a very good but very strange feeling at the same time because I'm just becoming accustomed to having my own music released.
Fool for You is about a difficult time in the past. When things get tough, is music your sanctuary, or does the creativity come after you gain some distance from what floored you?
Fool For You came from, I’d say, two years of being in the wrong situation, wrong environment, feeling very low a lot of the time, and also being part of a project that didn't feel right in terms of my creation of music. One of the covers I had released back then (Don’t Let Go, En Vogue) was also played on Love Island and did really well. So, whenever I went into a writing session after that, people just assumed that this was the kind of music I would want to create myself. I used to believe it, too, because I still didn't know who I was as an artist. But deep down, I knew that something was missing, although I had no idea what.
I remember it was coming to the end of that project, I went back to my hotel room in London, and I was just really distraught. I didn't know what was wrong. I didn't know why I wasn't creating music that I actually enjoyed, and that's something that I hated the most. Music is my only true love, and so to have this feeling was awful. And then, within about 30 minutes of getting back to my hotel room, I just put these voice notes into my phone of everything I was feeling. That was the start of Fool For You.
As much as the song is very much about being in a bad environment, a bad relationship, and a toxic environment, I think a lot of that related to me and music at the time. At the time, I wasn’t working with anybody that necessarily was within that genre of music I wanted to be part of. But the producer I'm working with now has worked with a lot of jazz musicians as well and really understood what I wanted. That's kind of what I've been working on ever since, and it's been amazing.
© Fiona Garden
You made a name for yourself singing covers, making them your own and putting your own spin on them. Did that bother you at any point?
I've always written my own music, but I also put some covers online. Back then, I was working part-time in a clothing store for several years and doing a few gigs at weekends, and that was my life for a long time. When I put these covers out there, I never thought anything would happen. But within the first five months, one of my songs had gained over a million streams. That made me think: OK, I need to up my game and keep doing this. So, even though I was releasing covers, I made them my own. It just so happened that by releasing covers, I could find out who I wanted to be as an original artist. And I'm really grateful that it led me to where I am now.
Were you ever worried about the reception of the covers by the original artists?
I guess, yes. The one that I thought about the most was when I recorded the Wicked Game cover, which was very different from the original. Chris Isaac is somebody who I really look up to, and I wondered how he’d feel about me recording something like this and interpreting it in such a way. As a performer and artist who has always wanted to create her own music, making those covers my own was a way of showcasing my voice. So, I try not to let it affect me because I think I've really changed their song, and I hope that they don't mind.
You're a Mancunian artist, which puts you in good company with some other fantastic musicians. How do you find the Manchester music scene?
I think the Manchester music scene is great, and a whole group of musicians around Manchester are friends of mine as well. Everyone in my band is Mancunian, so when we have rehearsals together, I’m part of this amazing community. Manchester is amazing for music venues, and there are so many of them I’m still dreaming of performing in. I'm hoping when I will eventually go on tour, that will become a reality.
Unfortunately, I think there's nowhere near as much opportunity in Manchester as there is in London just in terms of music generally, although it’s a very well-known fact that Manchester is amazing for music. At the moment, all of my work, when it comes to writing and things like that, will always be in London. But it's kind of cool to be a Manchester artist and to do my own thing. I enjoy that.
How do you deal with an artist's hurdles, such as imposter syndrome, comparisons, and criticism?
The main one I struggle with is imposter syndrome, as well as figuring things out day by day. I also find social media a nightmare - you have to really think about how you want to portray yourself as an artist, how you want to put yourself out there, and how people will perceive you. It's something I think way too much about. I’m only two singles into this EP, and I guess I wasn't necessarily expecting them to do this well, and it’s all happened quite quickly. Also, I work with so many different people, all of whom have a story of who they’ve worked with and what they’ve been doing, and then I start comparing myself and my career to theirs.
So, the one thing I do more than anything is to keep my circle and team around me as small as possible because they are the people who feed me with as much good information as they can. Also, the relationship I have with my manager is amazing; he's been so supportive and very considerate of my feelings, which I think is important when it comes to the music industry.
© Fiona Garden
You're a passionate creative who gains inspiration from art and fashion. How, if so, do they influence you and your music, and how would you describe your personal and fashion style?
If I wasn't doing music, I’d probably be doing something along the lines of fashion, or anything creative, because creativity fuels what I have going on inside my head. If I’m going through something emotionally, I gravitate towards fashion, style, and travel, all of those things that let me relax in the moment. Fashion, in particular, is something that’s a great way of showing my identity before I open my mouth when I perform on stage or if I meet new people for the first time. I just always like to have a certain look and a good first impression.
Incorporating fashion into my music is a huge part of my career and something that I'll continue to do. I'm still finding my feet in terms of how I want to look as an artist. And you know, I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing stylists on different shoots who introduced me to different brands and looks. Having that opportunity is fantastic. For my personal style, I like to keep it very minimal, classic, and elegant, as well as mixing a lot of masculine and feminine styles.
The release of your new EP is imminent. How do you feel about this amazing milestone in your career, and what’s next for Lusaint?
It feels amazing to have this EP. And I still can’t get over the fact that my music is out there right now, playing on the radio. Something that I’ve personally created! Being out there as an artist with my own work feels really, really special. I don't think it will ever sink in. The EP will have five or six tracks, and it’s called Self-Sabotage. A lot of the songs talk about that vicious circle of being in a bad or toxic environment and learning along the way to pull yourself away from anything that's bad in your life. Knowing that, if you find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be part of, you can take yourself away from it. It's taken me a long time to figure that out!
My next live show is in September in London; that’ll be pretty much my first show with my band as well. So I'm really excited about that. I’m just really grateful that I've been given the opportunity to learn about myself as an artist, and I’m really happy that I've got to where I am.
© Fiona Garden
Listening to Lusaint’s impressive catalogue of songs, it seems absurd that there could be any self-doubt in this incredibly talented and creative musician. Through exceptional artistry and finesse that borders on magic, the Mancunian has made some of the most world-famous songs her own, rivalling in popularity with the originals. Releasing her own music just underlines and magnifies the outstanding gift Lusaint’s soulful and breathtaking voice has. It encaptures listeners and transports them somewhere else entirely, something that’s rare in this day and age. She’s definitely one to watch.
Follow Lusaint on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Buy tickets to her first headline show on Wednesday, 20th September in Notting Hill Arts Club, London.