It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about impressing anyone or being anyone else. It’s just about expressing who I am and connecting with other people
If you’re someone who is interested in diving deeper into the music industry, it’s an important thing to be acquainted with genres that are a little left-of-field to what’s commercially available. LOUV is a musician who was recommended to me by the ever-supportive and genre explorative artist Aphir, as another prog-pop act I should be exposed to. It was so lovely to have this conversation with LOUV, and talk in depth about the concepts and inspirations behind her dynamic new track ‘Power’, as well as gain a greater understanding of what it is that draws musicians into this eclectic, electo-spiritual world of alternative music.
The genre that you’re a part of is so different to what is in the mainstream, what made you want to do this kind of music?
Well, I’m not trained as a musician and I only started out maybe four years ago. I come from a visual design background, so I didn’t necessarily approach music from a musical perspective, but more as an artist exploring another medium. I had a crack at using Ableton, and I made everything with a voice processor and looping, just as a means of catharsis. I just wanted to sing and I wanted to make music, but I didn’t know how. I guess my sound developed from there because I was always an experimental artist with making visual art, and it was always about process.
When I was making visual art, it was about experimentation and manipulation, and I think those crossed over into my music. I think it was also out of necessity because of my lack of skill that led me to just be experimental and just fuck around! Once I started gaining more skills and learning more about production and singing, I still kept my experimental approach, but it had more shape to it. I didn’t go in thinking “I want to make experimental music”, it’s just what was coming out of me. I like experimental music, but I’ve always listened to a lot of different genres, pop music, R&B, hip-hop, dance music, experimental electronic music. I never intentionally made this kind of music, but once I found myself here, I felt really happy to be in this world and branching out and meeting new people
That’s great, and I think especially for this experimental music world, it feels like there’s a real strong community around it because it is so different. It seems like such a celebration of noise in a way that’s not necessarily got this backbone of commercialism and ‘making the next hit’. It just feels so free. It feels like,especially with your newest release, that your melodies are quite improvisational, it’s like I can imagine you sitting with the noises, and just doing what comes naturally. The whole genre feels really unrestricted.
Yeah, and that’s exactly how I wrote it! I just started fucking around, I had these two metronomes that were colliding and making these weird noises, and then I just started singing the first verse, it was just what came out of my mouth, and that’s whats in the final recording! Then I built everything from there, so it is this improvisation that’s then built on and built on and built on.
I feel like that must be such a freeing way to write music, just trusting what comes naturally to you. You were saying before how you just wanted to make music and your voice is where you started. I think the voice is a really underrated instrument, and it can be used for so much more than just melodies and lyrics
Yeah, I totally agree. I think it’s my most comfortable vehicle as well. I think it bypasses the mind, and for me, it’s quite easy to get into more of a flow state when I’m singing because it just comes out. It’s so embodied, and it makes you feel very present.
It has this modernist romantic stream of consciousness kind of style of music, which is somehow so futuristic at the same time! There are such interesting ways of manipulating sound and finding the beauty in almost mundane samples or whatever it might be. I think that that’s what makes it feel like such an artistic expression. It’s almost like you’re listening to a painting. I can imagine you doing a live performance at an art gallery or something like that
Oh my gosh, I would love that!
Tell me a little bit about how you got started in music and why you wanted to make music.
So I’ve always wanted to make music from what I can remember from childhood. I mainly wanted to sing, but I had it in my mind for some reason that it just wasn’t for me, that I was never going to sing. I always danced and I started making clothes when I was really little, and eventually I went into making visual art and design. Around five years ago, this feeling came back to me that I just really needed to sing, and I really wanted to make music. At the time, I was dating a music producer, and he would have people over to the house to record. One night I was meditating while they were recording in a separate room, and I remember just crying and being like, oh my god, that’s what I want to do. Like, why aren’t I doing that? And from that moment, I just carried on that feeling. When I moved to Melbourne, I moved into a house with two other music producers and it was the perfect environment, and they helped me with learning Ableton, and I started taking singing lessons. It took me a while from that moment of knowing that I really wanted to make music to actually starting to make music because I was just so afraid. I think I was a bit shut down in my expression, and there’s something so confronting and intimate and vulnerable about the voice. I think my environment really helped me, being surrounded by other musicians that kept encouraging me, I found that creative community that supported me.
How beautiful! Yeah, the voice is a really vulnerable aspect to share with people, and this new song, ‘Power’, has got some really great bold moments. Your first track, ‘In The Form Of A Prayer’, is such a beautiful vocally airy song, but it’s quite instrumental, so it was really nice to hear this lyrical performance from you.
Did you know that you wanted to sing words and lyrics from the start, or was that something that was kind of new for you?
I knew that that would be something I wanted to do because I love writing and I love words and I love talking! I was never directly thinking, what do I want to write? I was just making what I had to make for the emotional release. When I wrote ‘In The Form Of A Prayer’, that was just what I needed to do that day. It’s a very meditative song and it’s exactly what I needed to hear at the time. I’m also a dancer, so even though I started in this more ambient world, I was really longing for rhythm and beats. I started introducing those elements and I naturally started singing lyrics, and they felt like those were the words that I needed to express. Lyrics are such a beautiful way of expressing and healing yourself
Oh, absolutely. It’s such a precious gift that musicians have to be able to really speak their truths into a song. When it comes to an instrumental song like your first release, it being quite a meditative song for you, does it continue to be meditative once you’ve released into the world, or do you find it harder to connect with a song once it’s released?
I think it can be harder sometimes, like that song was so pure, and I had no intention of making anything in particular. I definitely just enjoyed listening to it, and then I released it on a whim, and I have found that I haven’t been listening to it now as much as I was before.
There’s something pretty holy about that private SoundCloud link
Exactly! But even though I don’t think that sound necessarily represents where I see myself going, it’s still so special to me. I can definitely see myself going more in the direction of dance music, like experimental pop music with a dance element to it.
Yeah, and I feel like your project has this mixed media feel to it. The visuals for your most recent release are really, really striking, and they seem to be so entwined with the sonic experience of listening to music. It doesn’t just exist as a song, it exists as a visual moment too. You were saying how you’re a visual artist as well. Does it come naturally for you to merge those two worlds?
Yeah, I think it’s become easier. I think I understood the song better when I started dancing it, and when I started performing it. When I started trying to develop the film clip around the song, it started to make more sense to me. I could see it as a whole world and it allowed me to get deep into the story of the song.
Music videos and the visual element of a release can really make something have so much more depth and gives a listener so much more to draw from.
What are you hoping people walk away with they listen to ‘Power’?
I hope people feel something they feel. Like, whatever they need to experience is allowed and okay, I hope they feel inspired to let themselves be powerful and be whoever they want to be, and know that that that power is within them
I think that’s such a beautiful message to bring forth for people, especially for women in the industry and women who participate in experimental music. The industrial vibe of this kind of music isn’t always linked to femininity and womanhood, I think that it’s really cool when there is this powerful sense of femininity and it can coexist with the strength and grit of the soundscape. Was that like part of your intention, or do you think it’s just a by-product of who you are?
I think strength and vulnerability go hand in hand, and being strong and fierce and in your power is at the core of the song. What gives me my strength is my ability to be vulnerable, and I think part of my power and strength also comes from my femininity. So much about the vulnerability in my music is about blending these things, being both strong, as well as being feminine and being harsh and fierce and fiery, as well as being soft and romantic and beautiful and intimate.
They’re not mutually exclusive, and music and art is a great platform to play with the idea that they can come hand in hand. You can see and hear the juxtapositions and similarities in these things, something like the lightness of your voice mixed with these distorted and dark sounds, is such an obvious example of how those two worlds merge together to make something cohesive and representative of both sides of the tone. With such an interesting world to be apart of, do you feel like you have to work through many feelings of self-doubt and insecurity when it comes to music?
Definitely, even just going to sit down and write songs, if I’m not fully feeling inspired, there’s always going to be this sense of self-doubt there for me. Sometimes you just can’t write, or you’re too critical, but you’ve just got to keep going. If I get into a creative flow and I’m lost in the music making, then I find I’m very present and I don’t give a shit about that self-doubt. I’m not thinking about it, and it’s when I come away from it and start refining things, that’s when the self-doubt creeps in. When I’m in it, and I’m in this real creative energy, the self-doubt is so unimportant because it’s like I’m very nourished in that moment. The process of releasing is different, there needs to be all this intention and planning, and there’s so many facets to the plan of the release, so there have been moments of self-doubt for me in thinking about how many people are streaming, how many people are engaging, all those sorts of things. But surprisingly, I haven’t really had that much self-doubt with the whole release process of ‘Power’, maybe because I’ve come to a point of just feeling a bit more surrendered and like my values and priorities and intentions are right. I’m not so much thinking about what other people think, and I’m not worried about how they’re going to receive me, it’s more about my path doing what’s right for me. I don’t need to be super famous, I’m not trying to impress anyone or get a certain result, so it doesn’t feel like there needs to be as much criticism or self-doubt because that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about impressing anyone or being anyone else. It’s just about expressing who I am and connecting with other people
I think that really is the attitude you need to have at the core of being creative, and it’s not always possible when we have to pay bills and justify what we’re doing to the government or even just to ourselves. It’s really easy to get swept up in all the unnecessary extra stress of just existing as a musician, it’s really hard to not care about streams and not care about commercialism and success. I think the best music comes from a place of not worrying about those things, which is such a catch-22
I know, and the moment that people say they blow up is when they stop worrying! I would like to have a big audience and I think a big part of why being an artist feels like a good avenue for me is because I’m really good at connecting with people and I love connecting with people. Music is one of the most universal languages of connection. On the one hand, I would love to be played a lot and have a big audience, but it is not the primary motivation- it’s like a luxury on top of connecting with people.
That’s a good place to be, you have to not let the process of finding your audience take over you and control you and what you’re trying to create.
Yeah, and it’s hard!
What are you influenced by in your music?
I would say my biggest influence is my intuition and the creative energy that flows through me, that’s the thing that starts the song, and that’s the thing that keeps the song going, it motivates everything. I’d say that’s the biggest influential force in my artistry. I’m also really influenced by artists that are doing work that feels very healing, cathartic and honest and vulnerable, pushing the boundaries of art making, and doing what is natural and authentic to them
When an artist is willing to share themselves with strangers, it’s so powerful. A songwriter that doesn’t cloud their message is a powerful communicator.
Are there specific artists that you have in mind that have inspired you?
Yeah, FKA Twigs- I have a poster of her right there! I wake up and see her every day! Eartheater is another one I love, Bjork as well, Lauryn Hill- she’s a real early influence from childhood, and her unreleased live album focuses on her healing process and her spirituality, and I would just listen over and over to that. She was being so real, and just breaking my heart open, and at the core of it was this healing- that’s something that I get from her and all of those artists. I also think their ability to be authentic, but always push the boundaries is so inspiring. With someone Like Eartheater and her ability to embrace her sexuality in her visuals and music videos has been something really encouraging for me. A really important aspect to my artistry is the notion of skin, the body, sensuality, sometimes sexuality, but as a woman, especially in performance and music, I think sometimes incorporating your sexuality is not always respected as an art form, it’s like it’s seen as exploitative, so to take your power back from that and saying, no, this is my real, true, authentic expression and my choice to do, is really empowering.
Yeah, and sometimes when women want to express their sexuality in their art, there are still these boundaries, like sexuality can only be expressed in a way that’s appealing for men
Yes! It’s so funny, and it’s definitely something I’ve thought about a lot recently and been quite frustrated by.
There’s still not a lot of mainstream examples of women taking back their sexuality for themselves, so to do that in your art making and to share that with people is really powerful, I mean, the song is literally called ‘Power’!
If you’re listening to music, what is the thing that is speaking to you the loudest?
Usually the voice or the bass and rhythm. I think the voice is the thing that touches me the deepest and opens me up the most, and it doesn’t always have to be with words either.
You were saying before how you can see your sound evolving into something a bit more dancey- something that might reflect your background as a dancer, what does that look like in your mind? What is a place you would love to get to with your music?
I love having moments of silence and pause, and I think I will continue to make music that has those elements, but I’m also interested to see where I can go rhythmically, and have a more sustained rhythm throughout. I’d love to explore more with melody and the synth parts being more rhythmic. Maybe a little bit more into the pop world, but retaining the experimentation in the production. I’ll just see what happens, I like to have an idea of where the music is going, but I also don’t want to force it somewhere it isn’t naturally going
I think it can be easy to feel this pressure to do a certain thing in music, and be in danger of changing who you are to fit a mold, an end up not identifying with the music anymore, so I think that element of experimentation, if you know that is at the core of what you want to do, then I suppose we could expect to always find that essence in your music.
I think so, but I was thinking about how I do still want to be accessible, not necessarily by being commercial, but keeping the music quite digestible, and I don’t exactly know what that means practically, but it’s perhaps an openness or a vulnerability that invites people in and makes people feel connected to the music.
For sure, sometimes it’s hard when you’re making music just for yourself, it can be hard to know what it is that people enjoy and want to see more of from you. I think it’s always a balance of doing what you want to do and doing something that is going to be accessible for an audience who is new to your sound. You worked a bit with Aphir on her album, do you feel that collaboration is something that you want to do more of as well in the future?
Yeah, I would love to. I mean, with every song that I’ve ever made, I’ve brought someone in at some point even if that’s just to talk about and brainstorm things with. I always feel like there’s like an element of collaboration in my music. Whenever I was feeling stuck, I would have friends to talk to and take on suggestions, so I’m always collaborating in that sense, but I would love to do a bit more on other people’s projects as well. I loved doing that with Aphir, it’s just such a fun process to work with your friends. It’s a bit intimidating because I feel like I’m so used to just making things alone in my little safe space, kind of cocooning by myself! Collaboration over the internet has been a fun thing to get into though recently over this last year.
As horrible as this pandemic thing has been, it definitely opened up the world of collaboration in such a new way.
Oh yeah for sure. I feel like I’m surrounded by a lot of people that I want to keep working with. Right now I’ve got a lot of people in my creative community that feel really important and fundamental to me, and I’m really grateful for that
How the world is right now, these communities are so valuable and precious, maybe even more so than it ever has been. You realise how much you actually need to connect with people.
You realise how much you miss that real life community, and how much it was feeding you, nourishing and sustaining your spirit, and how lovely and beautiful it is to feel that connection
Do you have any advice for other emerging artists and people getting into music?
I say, just be yourself and don’t try and be anyone else. Do it because you love it even if it’s fucking hard sometimes! Do it because that’s your reason for being in this world, for getting up in the morning. You don’t need to fit yourself to any market or anyone else. You can just be yourself and people will respond to the true version of you