Iva Lamkum is officially the fifth best diva in the world, but she certainly doesn't see herself that way.
The Kiwi soul singer recently featured on American website MTV Iggy's list of the Top 13 Real Divas, who described her vocal resemblance to Amy Winehouse as "uncanny".
And while the soulful Lamkum wishes she could hear the similarity, the comments have helped grow her confidence in her own sound.
"[Amy's] amazing, so it means a lot. I wish I could sound like her, I wish I could sound like Lauryn Hill; I wish I could sound like Alicia Keys. It's weird how people can say that, but it is a compliment and it makes you think 'okay, you are good enough to be in the industry'- with Iva Lamkum sounds."
And what about that term diva?
"I get that all the time, 'Iva the Diva'. I don't see myself as a diva; I guess I'm just Iva, just another female artist. I don't ask for red roses in my green room, the only thing I ask my manager and publicist for is food.
"But it's a big achievement and it's nice to be acknowledged on the other side of the world. And it's great that people out there are interested in Kiwi music."
Lamkum is far from a difficult prima donna, but she's right, people are interested in her unique sound. Music fans will recognise her distinctive voice from her work with Sola Rosa, and her self-titled EP earned her nominations for the Silver Scroll Awards, New Zealand Music Awards and Pacific Music Awards.
But for the past three years, Lamkum's been working hard on her debut album, Black Eagle, living what she calls a double life.
"There were so many other things involved - you've got your personal life and it's hard to have that kind of investment in a project that you love very much and also need to pay the rent."
Lamkum describes the album, out in July, as "alternative-future-soul-rock", calling on all sorts of influences, from her beloved Lauryn Hill to Michael Jackson, Prince and Radiohead.
"Being a musician you have to expand your interests, because you never know what you'll find out there. It's definitely been an eye opener to help me craft this and to show who Iva Lamkum is."
Surprisingly though, given her success, Lamkum never dreamed of being a musician. While she regularly wrote poetry and kept journals growing up, the performance side of things came much later.
"I love writing - it was my first love. And I've ended up picking up guitar and learning it, then drums and singing was the last instrument. It's kind of weird how it all worked out. But I love it, and it's awesome when people appreciate your craft and what you do."
Iva Lamkum's Black Eagle is out in July.
Her latest single Bankrupt Visa is out now.
- © Fairfax NZ News