04 Mar 2021
by michelle.ng | Interview
Louisahhh’s musical journey is an incredible one, having overcome addiction and now uses her experiences to channel her energies into championing female power through art. A strong supporter of LGBTQIA+ in the music scene, Louisahhh also uses her music as a platform to drive her strong and fearless messages of positivity, self-integrity, and sexuality. In her words “more love in this world, please, punks”.
The Practice Of Freedom is Louisahhh’s most intimate yet exposing album yet as she explores the archetype of being a ‘feminist submissive based on the mantra “sin is not being true to yourself”. Produced together with American musician and music video director Vice Cooler, the experimental sounds that form from their shared love of American alternative rock is an intense journey of pulsating beats, grimecore, electronic riffs, and industrial sounds.
With The Practice of Freedom dropping on 12 March, we had a quick chat with Louisahhh about the album, its place in the current socio-political state of the music industry, and how she gives femme voices a platform to speak out.
Electric Soul: Hi Louisahhh, congrats on releasing your debut album launch! What have you been up to this year?
Louisahhh: I’ve been keeping busy with this album rollout and rehearsing for the live show with the band, which is basically the dream of my life. We’re not sure when we actually get to tour but the preparation itself has been very fulfilling. Similarly, writing a second album with Vice Cooler (it’s coming along very nicely) and doing lots of physical activity, reading, learning about Gestalt therapy, training animals, meditating... you know, all the stuff that’s possible when we can’t go places or see people.
ES: Tell us more about your album, The Practice Of Freedom – the journey to fruition, the inspirations behind it, and how do you feel now that it’s out!
L: This was a long journey to fruition; the record itself we started recording in 2018 and it came together really smoothly. After every track we finished I kept feeling anxious that it was the last song I had in me, that I wouldn’t be able to write anymore, and then inspiration would come, but I don’t think I knew going into it how different the creative stamina was working on an album compared to an EP.
Anyway, it’s been mixed and mastered and ready to go for some time, but there was a lot of disruption in the release process. Firstly, no labels really wanted to take a chance on releasing a body of work that’s this challenging, and I wasn’t really willing to soften the ideas in any way, so it took a long time for the record to find a home with He.She.They and BMG. I changed my whole management team, there was a global pandemic, record deals take a long time to negotiate. Finally, the time is coming that the record is going to be in the world and I am both thrilled that it exists and kind of terrified that no one will care, but I guess I am focusing on how grateful I am that the work is out and that ironically, the album itself taught me about The Practice of Freedom: sticking to your guns, making (hopefully) brave music that maybe no one will like, loving the process anyway.
ES: Which is your favourite track on the album and why?
L: That’s like choosing a favorite child! I think I am most proud of the writing on ‘A Hard No’, because it feels like it was channeled out of me, that I didn’t really make it, just let it flow through me. The best songs are like this. I am most proud of the singing and the message, the vulnerability of ‘Master’ because it’s a real love song, and the vocal is challenging. It must be said also that the favorite song(s) change on a weekly basis.
ES: Any interesting or funny stories from the making of the album?
L: On the day that we started making the record, Vice (who produced the album) had adopted a senior pit bull, Peepers. Peepers was quite insecure for the first few days of recording as she settled into her new environment, and insisted on sitting in between Vice and I as we worked. Unless one of us had our hand on Peepers, she would mumble, kind of a grumble-growl-moaning noise, asking for contact and reassurance. This awesome dog became a point of connection as Vice and I didn’t really know each other well at the beginning, but it was very apparent that we’re both enthusiastic animal lovers and she became kind of a highlight of the recording process whenever we got to spend time in-person together (we often work remotely as we’re based in Paris and Los Angeles, respectively). Peepers also needed to be relocated to the kitchen every time we had to record live drums because turns out drums are terrifying to dogs. Sadly, Peepers passed at the end of 2020, but it was such a gift to have her shepherd the record into existence. RIPeeps.
ES: You started your music career performing in clubs and bars. Is there anything you miss about live music?
L: I miss the feeling of connection and healing that it’s possible to get in such an environment; I didn’t know it before this weird period, but I think there is an important part of my identity that I can access only via performance, it only clicks on when I am interacting with a crowd and channeling, present in that moment. I love that part of me, I miss being in that zone, creatively and spiritually. As this record is really meant to be played live, I am so excited to get to tour live band that we’ve worked so hard on. I can’t wait for you to see it.
ES: Talking about live shows, the DJ industry is very male-centric and full of masculine energy. How has the scene changed as more female fronted acts like yourself entered the industry?
L: I think there is a crucial focus right now on making club and festival spaces safer for everybody, and it’s been challenging (and hopefully effective and important) work in examining what rape culture looks like in this industry, and how we can shift that into a more gender-equal, consent-based culture. It can be blatant (allegations of sexual assault or misconduct coming out against some of the biggest names in dance music), or subtle (dismantling how I think I need to look or act like a feminine ideal in order to be worthy of love or success). The good news is, it seems there are so many rad, openly queer/sex positive/feminist artists and parties and labels coming into the scene now, it’s a really exciting moment to watch this new wave of excited youth really take what the socio-political fabric of dance music further than it’s been in some time.
ES: Your own brand of musical feminism draws its roots from punk rock to let other voices on the dance floor be heard. What other messages need more visibility?
L: It is my belief that if, when discussing feminism, we’re not discussing intersectionality, that we are kind of missing the point. When I say ‘feminism’, I also want to include the other demographics that have suffered the oppression of a white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. As (amazing black, queer, feminist poet and author), Audre Lorde said, ‘“I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group.”
Modern electronic music and club culture still has a long way to go before there is equanimity in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation and economic status. It is important for us to remember, especially as the tide of boring (rich, mostly white, mostly straight, mostly male) ‘business techno’ threatens to overtake the industry, that the roots of what we are doing, the music that we’re playing, are political. It is my goal, duty and privilege to hopefully honor those roots and make work with a message.
ES: Besides your music, you also have a podcast, Sober Sex, which touches on sexuality and creativity. What’s the most interesting takeaway you’ve learnt (about yourself) through this process?
L: The beauty of being the host of a podcast like Sober Sex is that we (myself and co-host Rose Romaine), keep being informed by the conversation that we’re having, we never stop learning. I guess the takeaway is that it’s all a process, that we can opt in to continued evolution; sexually, creatively, intimately, emotionally.
ES: As a strong supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community, what role does music play in driving the message of female power and sex-positivity?
L: I guess it’s not music-specific, but more about platform. If I have a platform, be it as a musician, or a podcast host, (or for others, as an artist or author or dancer or whatever), then part of my obligation attached to that opportunity is to speak truth to power.
ES: You’re also very big on spirituality. What does spirituality mean to you, and does this play a part in your music and creative process?
L: Hah, for me it’s all spirituality, I guess. As an addict in recovery, I can really use anything as a weapon against myself, or as a tool for my growth. I guess my understanding of a ‘spiritual’ life is to try to live in a way that I’m using whatever I’m coming into contact with (money, success, work, exercise, food, sex, relationships, etc, etc) as spiritual tools instead of ego-weapons. In practice, the questions are: how can I be kind and loving towards all, how can I be honest and brave today, how can I stop thinking about myself, my fears and my problems and contribute to the stream of life, how can I be of service?
ES: What’s next for you on your musical journey?
L: More techno bangers about rape culture, probably, lol.
Louisahhh 'The Practice of Freedom' will be released on March the 12th on HE.SHE.THEY. here's the Pre-order link