If you’re new to hearing LAVI$H’s music, prepare to fall in love. His smooth and buttery vocals glide over any beat he’s given, as he combines his African roots with the music he came up listening to: Hip-Hop, R&B, heavy metal, screamo, and pop. 

LAVI$H recalls the first time hearing music at 10 years old was to Billy Talent, a Canadian rock band. But it wasn’t until his sister introduced him to Drake’s “Headlines” when he discovered the Hip-Hop/R&B melodic style… instantly falling in love.

Which comes completely full circle, as LAVI$H eventually got discovered by Chubbs, who closely works alongside Drake and his OVO Sound label. Drake even shouted him out recently in a livestream with Stake, a moment LAVI$H continues to deem as surreal.

Speaking on what inspired his name, LAVI$H states, “It’s more so the voices that I’m able to sing in. I can sing in a deeper voice, in a high voice, in a falsetto voice. I can do all different sorts of things with my voice, and also my heart. I take pride in being a good person. It’s more so what’s inside that is lavish, rather than outside. It’s not the whole lavish lifestyle thing. It’s more so what’s inside of me, that makes me LAVI$H.”

Fast forward to today, LAVI$H signs a major label deal with Def Jam, excited as ever to unveil his debut EP titled You Made A Big Mistake.

Sheen caught up with LAVI$H via Zoom to discuss his sound, his roots in Zambia, his debut EP, opening for Jessie Reyez, studio essentials, and more!


For those who don’t know, who is LAVI$H? 

LAVI$H is a 25-year-old, Zambian born Canadian raised, Congolese ex-rapper.  Now, R&B and I don’t know what other category I’d put myself in. The genre? Singer.

How would you describe your sound?

I’d describe my sound now, rather than before, as timeless and refreshing. Sometimes even genreless, if that’s even a word. You can’t really pinpoint the genre of music that I make sometimes. Some songs on the EP, is this or is it that type of thing? And that’s what I love. I don’t like to be put in one thing.

Talk about being from Zambia, what was that like growing up?

I’m from Zambia, I’m half Congolese and half Zambian. I don’t remember too much, because I came to Canada when I was seven years old. Living there, I remember only glimpses of things. I remember going to the ice cream store at the mall with my mom when I was super, super young. Playing outside in bare feet, coming home super dirty when I was six. Getting my mom mad at me, my grandparents mad at me. I was a bad kid when I was younger, but I miss it so much. [laughs] I remember all the bad stuff, like hunting birds with my friends with a slingshot. It was a crazy upbringing out there.

How is it over there in Toronto? 

Surprisingly, it feels like fall outside. It’s raining, it’s gloomy, it’s cold. I was wearing a dress shirt earlier and I was dying. I wanted to go home so bad because I was freezing.

I interviewed Roy Woods and he was saying how cool Toronto was.

Yeah, it’s freezing right now. I don’t know why honestly, it’s summertime. It doesn’t make any sense.

Congrats on your debut EP, You Made A Big Mistake. How are you feeling?

I feel great. It’s been a while, this project took about two years to finish. Now that it’s finally out and I get to showcase the new me, it’s everything to me.

Favorite song and why?

My favorite song is all 7 songs on the EP. [laughs] We don’t put music out that we don’t love, and we don’t finish making the music that we don’t love. We have to love it in order for it to live on these platforms. But if I was to give you a song that I really can’t wait to perform live, definitely “Seventeen” and definitely “Piano Man.”

Why those?

Those because I’ve never done them live in front of anybody before. I’ve been doing “World In My Hands.” I’ve been doing “We Make Sense” and “Big Mistake,” but really nothing else. I can’t wait to see how the crowd and supporters react to it, and how they take it.

Who or what inspired “Big Mistake”? 

It’s a whole city that inspired that song. Coming from Winnipeg, Manitoba and living there for about 20 years, being a minority in a place where it’s predominantly white people, Europeans, I didn’t really get love. I didn’t really get things that I thought I deserve from people as far as being an artist. It was cold for me out there. I wanted to write a song that other people that feel the same way can relate, because there’s many people that feel the same way. it’s not like I don’t love the city, that’s a part of my life that happened to me and people have to hear it. People have to hear how I feel, how I felt, what happened vaguely. That’s really what inspired it, it’s back home. It’s what I went through, what I was put through., I’m even still going through right now related to that place.

Talk about opening for Jesse Reyez on tour. I absolutely adore her, she’s amazing.

Opening for Jessie was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a human being, as an artist. she didn’t have to have me on that stage, have to hit me up like “come on the last 3 legs of my tour.” But she did. That was my first time ever performing as a singer or performing these songs in front of anybody. That was very eye-opening. It taught me a lot and so did she.

It’s crazy because I went out there, Manchester was either the first or second show. I was looking at the crowd and they weren’t clapping. Everyone’s staring at me while I’m performing. They did clap while I came off the stage because her fanbase is super supportive, but she told me after. She’s like, “they don’t not like you, they don’t not want to support you. They’re really trying to take you in as an artist. They don’t know who you are, they never heard your music before. They didn’t even know you existed.” 

They’re standing there wondering, who is this guy? Why is he here with Jesse Reyez? Why does his music sound so good? It was a lot of lessons. A lot of blessings. I’m so glad she chose me to do those last few legs of her tour, because it was a special time.

How does she tap in with you?

It was through Chubbs. Chubbs had invited her over to play some music. I guess she loved it, and that’s when she invited me onto the tour.

3 things you need in the studio at all times?

Water, definitely need water. I need food. Sushi, I’m in love with sushi. It’s one of the greatest foods ever created. How could you go wrong? Sushi is amazing. Sushi is wonderful. And I need a clear mind. A lot of artists, a lot of writers, right after a situation happens, they’re going through something, they love to go into the studio and express that emotion and let it out. For me, I love to wait it out until I’m clear minded. 

Because if I go in there and I let it all out, that’s going to be one of the darkest songs I’ve ever made. Let me relax, I’m gonna come back here tomorrow. Let me come back here later. Because then I can come up with the dope wordplay, these sick ideas and melodies. Because when I’m in there and something’s in my head, I’m gonna go off. The song’s going to be super dark, and I don’t need that right now. [laughs]

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?

I would be skateboarding or playing football. I chose music over skateboarding, because I grew up skateboarding ever since I was 13. That’s when I started music as well. I still skateboard now. I have one here, I have one in LA. So I’d probably be skateboarding. [laughs]

Photo Credits: ASTRAL