Friday 11 July 2014

Interview with Burlesque Songstress Lianna Haynes

Photo provided by Lianna Haynes 
You may recognise this beauty from previous posts as Lianna is the gorgeous singer who performed at ‘The Tease Bar’ show from Appleton Productions for me for my second show in Basingstoke.  I have been lucky enough to be able to interview Lianna to learn more about her and her career.

Lianna is a unique singer who specialises in performing music from the 1950’s and 60’s through to current chart hits as well as burlesque style songs. She performs at venues all over the UK as well as burlesque and cabaret nights and as a lead singer for the acclaimed burlesque troupe ‘Once Upon A Tease’. Lianna has a love for all things vintage especially the 1950’s era and she has been lucky enough to become a finalist in the Best Musical Performer catergory of the National Vintage Awards which take place this month. Just last month Lianna took her vintage style on set to shoot a 1950’s style advert with David Beckham due to be shown in China this year! Lianna trained at the BRIT school of performing arts studying musical theatre and gained a distinction in all areas. She made her professional stage debut in a touring 50's and 60's style musical 'Battle of the Giants' which premiered at the Shaw theatre in London. She has also been lucky enough to perform at St Paul's cathedral and alongside the pop star Gabrielle at the Royal Albert Hall. Lianna’s dramatic hour-glass figure which she dresses in beautiful custom-made corsets and dresses have led to her having modelled for pin-up photographers such as and Pyramid clicks and has also taken all the way to the Playboy Mansion in LA twice on a sponsored ticket both times!

Photo provided by Lianna Haynes - Once Upon a Tease

How did you decide you wanted to become a singer?

From the age of about 6 I knew I wanted to be a singer and after a few years I began performing in school whenever I could and I also started a stage school on Saturdays as well as vocal lessons in the week when my family could afford it. Eventually after I left school I went to the BRIT school of performing arts to study musical theatre and although I gained distinctions in all areas I really lost my confidence and by the time I had hit 18 and had finished the college I was too scared to actually make a go of singing as my career so it wasn’t until my early twenties that I actually decided to make a go of it!

Is performing as a singer your full time job?

Yes I’m lucky enough to say that it is and I feel so blessed to have a job that I absolutely adore! Although I do also teach vocal lessons because over the past few years I have become a bit of a voice geek so I wanted to try and help out some others with what I have learnt.

Do you have a favourite song or genre to sing?

I love singing classic burlesque numbers as they are the most fun to perform. I also love pop and rock and roll songs from the 1950’s and 60’s especially Brenda Lee and Connie Francis songs; anything that is a little cheeky as it gives me chance to use my musical theatre background and put a little bit more character into the performance.  

Photo provided by Lianna Haynes -
Photo taken at my show for Appleton Productions
Photo by Laura Donohoe Photography
It was an absolute pleasure having you as part of one of my shows for Appleton Productions. Working with you first hand I know you’re ever the professional, stunning in person and a great singer. How much of your time is spent travelling out of town to shows?

Thank you very much! I loved being a part of your show, it was so brilliantly run, I felt so well looked after and I had so much fun!

Quite a bit of my time is spent travelling but I love performing out of my own county and meeting new people. Even the burlesque troupe I sing for ‘Once Upon a Tease’ are based about 2 and a half hours away from me down in Bournemouth but I am so pleased to have met them and be singing for them! They are a dream to work with, I love the fairy tale concept behind the troupe and the routines are so well choreographed by Sam the director.

What are the staple items you never leave home for a show without?

I ALWAYS take at least 4 litres of filtered water to keep my voice hydrated and a red or bright pink lipstick! Oh and some ‘sensible’ heels! I usually like very high heels but I can only sing in a maximum of a 3.5/4” heel!

Photo provided by Lianna Haynes
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration vocally and performance-wise would be Beyonce. Her vocal range, tone, stamina and performance are incredible. With every new album she releases you can hear another layer to her voice, another note she can reach and that inspires me to keep pushing my voice and to keep trying new songs and to try to expand my range. Her most recent videos with a nod to ‘Crazy Horse’ cabaret made me love her even more! I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago and she was just lovely! 

I also feel very inspired singing Connie Francis’ songs as she faced so many personal struggles that I can’t even begin to comprehend yet she still continued with her career and I really admire her for that.

What do you like to do with your time off from being a showgirl?

I love to travel! My favourite places are Las Vegas, Florida and the Maldives! I’m a huge Disney fan so I have been to Disneyworld on Halloween quite a few times and it’s great as I get to dress as a princess for a few nights! Vegas is always such a fun place to be because of it’s fantastic burlesque shows, great atmosphere and I love being able to wear whatever I want! I also just got back from Venice and Lake Garda last week and they were beautiful places!

What type of gigs do you enjoy performing at the most and why?

I love singing at any affair as I feel so privileged to be able to sing as a career so it is genuinely always a pleasure. I do enjoy singing at burlesque shows and cabarets a little bit more though! They are just a little bit more fun and I’ve always loved the more seductive type of performance! When I sing with ‘Once Upon a Tease’ for hen parties that’s always great as I feel like it captures all the excitement and the empowerment of burlesque for women. One of my proudest moments was when a hen and all her friends told us that they felt so empowered after watching us perform that they wanted to perform a routine together at the Hen’s wedding!

What would you say makes a well run show?
Photo provided by Lianna Haynes

As a performer it would be a welcoming atmosphere as I get super nervous before performances so it always helps to know that the organisers and directors are welcoming (thank you so much for making me feel welcome at your show, it was lovely!) But when I’m an audience member at a burlesque show I feel that a diverse running order which highlights the dynamics of the show or builds to a great climax is really important. Even when I’m performing in a bar or restaurant for 2 hours I take a very long time figuring out the running order of my set lists so that they run in the most interesting dynamic way.

You are on stage and being photographed a lot of the time. Looking after yourself must play a big part in your life. What are you favourite beauty products and why?

I love Clarins beauty products. I use their body moisturiser which is quick drying and perfect for when I’m in a rush! I love their exfoliators too but I’m quite sparing with the products as they are quite expensive!

Do you have a set beauty routine?

I’m a bit lazy when it comes to a beauty routine hence the quick drying moisturiser but I do try to moisturise every day and I wear individual false lashes every day as my real lashes are useless!  

What is your diet like?

I used to be very heavy in secondary school so I do have to be careful with my diet. I try to portion control my carbs and add a lot of fresh vegetables to my meals. I am a very fussy eater and a vegetarian so I’m often told how ‘boring’ my diet is!! If I go out to eat I’ll avoid creamy sauces/soups and things like that but chocolate is my weakness!!

What is your exercise routine like?

I don’t have a set routine for fitness as such. I like Zumba and dance classes as they’re much more fun than going to gym alone. Although when I have big events coming up (i.e when I was invited to the Playboy Mansion and I knew there would be hundreds of beautiful half – naked models!) I tend to attend bootcamps at my local park as I find the group atmosphere helps to spur me on.

Photo provided by Lianna Haynes
What are your must have pieces of make-up?

I love my Bobby Brown concealer stick as it’s the perfect shade and covers my bags after a late show the night before! I think for a 50’s look red lipstick and black eyeliner are essential and a good lip brush and lip liner are great for a perfect lip shape. I love my Shu Uemura lip brush, it’s the only one I’ve found that is the right shape. I chop and change when it comes to liquid eye liners but at the moment I’m using an Estee Lauder zero smudge liner. I have way too many lipsticks but my favourites are Nars – funny face and Kat Von D – foiled love.

What is your favourite perfume?

My favourite perfume is Viktor and Rolf ‘Flowerbomb’. It’s a sweet, girly and fresh scent and it comes in a little pink grenade bottle. I do love the classic Chanel no.5 perfume too.

Do you style your hair yourself?

If I’m doing a pin-up style shoot and there is a hair stylist there I will usually get somebody to do it for me so I can try a different look but for shows etc or if there isn’t a hair stylist on a shoot then I will style my hair myself. Sometimes I will just curl it and use a cute hair piece and sometimes I will put some victory rolls in and keep my hair straight and sometimes I will do both! It’s only been the past year that I’ve bought curling pins and learnt to pin the curls after tonging them to keep the heat in and make the curls last longer and it’s made such a difference. I’ve found that it keeps a vintage look longer rather than the curls turning into waves.

Where are your favourite places to shop both online and in store?

I have an hourglass figure with a 10 inch difference between my bust and waist and my waist and hips and while I love being an hour glass, finding clothes can be a nightmare! I get most costumes, corsets and some dresses custom made or altered so that they fit my figure and show my shape in the most flattering way. Bettie Page Clothing in the USA is great for hour glasses though and other than that it’s the odd find at a vintage store or vintage replica store/site but I always make sure I look for the styles that suit my figure.

What is your approach to fashion? 
Photo provided by Lianna Haynes

My approach to fashion is to dress for the shape you have as I think that’s the only way to look and feel great. I would love to wear a 1920’s shift dress but it would do nothing for me! I think that’s why I first fell in love with the 1950’s era as when I lost a lot of weight at 17 and realised I had an hour glass figure I didn’t know how to wear the latest fashion but when I came across the fashion of the 1950’s and early 60’s I loved it and learnt how to wear those styles and incorporate a modern twist if and when I wanted.

How do you go about making/creating your costumes?

I will usually find a material with a particular colour or pattern that I like and then figure out which of the staple styles that I know work for my figure best suit the material that I have picked. I will then take the material and idea to my dress maker or the amazing lady that makes my corsets and costumes (Miss Katie) and describe the exact style I’d like and they do an amazing job of making them reality! I wish I could sew or make corsets myself but I’m rubbish at sewing!

What else is coming up for you?

I just have been nominated in the National Vintage Awards for best musical performer and I’m so honoured and excited for the opportunity and the further opportunities it could also bring. It would be amazing to get to the finals and I am genuinely so so grateful for every vote I have received so far. Long term I would love to perform in Las Vegas and I am currently making moves towards this end but right now I am so pleased to be performing up and down the country doing something that I never dreamed was possible!

What advice would you give to a girl reading this interested in getting into this industry?

I would say to work really hard at all aspects of the job especially your voice, rehearse as much as possible and don’t compare yourself to anyone! Also just go for it! You don’t want to look back and regret not following your dreams!

Photo provided by Lianna Haynes
I would like to thank Lianna for her time with this interview. I’ve seen this lady perform live and I would recommend her to anyone, both audience and promoter alike as she’s every inch fabulous!

Stay tuned for more famous interviews!



No comments:

Post a Comment