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Louise Aubrie - Interview

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 4 / 2 / 2019

Louise Aubrie - Interview


Malcolm Carter speaks to London singer-songwriter Louise Aubrie about her new solo album 'When I Don’t Love You I’ll Let You Know’ and the surprising influence of Cary Grant on it.

A few years have passed since we last put a few questions to Louise Aubrie, the London singer-songwriter who also calls New York home. For those yet to hear this unique artist’s music, don’t let the singer-songwriter tag fool you; the music Louise makes is a far cry from that usually associated with that description. Just listen to any of the songs spread across her four albums and discover one of the most expressive and powerful vocalists of her generation. Louise Aubrie knows how to rock. She’s not the first musician to take the sounds of the classic girl groups of the sixties while moulding that sound into something fresh and exciting, but there is little doubt that Louise does it with a little more passion than others. Then there’s the way she fills her songs with so many catchy hooks; every song is different, yet immediately accessible. It’s like meeting up with an old friend again after years of absence. The energy created by Louise jumps out and grabs the listener, we mentioned all those years ago that Louise was in a class of her own; she still is, as her new album, ‘When I Don’t Love You I’ll Let You Know’, confirms. Her latest album finds Louise at her most adventurous yet musically. The nods to the golden era are still there, as is the energy that recalls the punk years. You’re never too far away from a memorable hook that you carry with you not just for the rest of the day but more likely the rest of your life. But for ‘When I Don’t Love You I’ll Let You Know’, Louise has taken inspiration from what seems an unlikely source; the films and life of Cary Grant. Although the energy on her previous albums is still there, this latest album has a cinematic vibe running through every song. It shows yet another side to her music and writing that wasn’t so evident on her previous outings. A change of producer and studio (this time Andy Woodard mixed and produced the set at Studio 55 in London) has no doubt contributed to make her latest album Louise’s most experimental and strongest set of songs to date. With all the brilliant vocalists we have at the moment still no one is doing what Louise Aubrie does. Given the opportunity to ask Louise a few questions surrounding ‘When I Don’t Love You I’ll Let You Know’ we jumped at the chance, here is what she had to say: PB: You mentioned last time that Frank Sinatra was an influence and inspiration on your music and Morrissey. For ‘When I Don’t Love You I’ll Let You Know’ you drew inspiration from Cary Grant and his films. Can you fill us in on why he inspired you and this latest batch of songs? LA: Yes, Cary Grant – perhaps not the most obvious muse for an indie rock record, but someone I admire greatly! Could you imagine being lucky enough to have been around Sinatra and Cary and those guys back in the day? What stories they must have had! I'm a huge fan of Cary’s movies and perhaps a bigger fan of what he did with his life off screen. He’s very well known for being a master of invention, or rather reinvention. He came from very humble beginnings in Bristol and ended up being a huge transatlantic movie star. I think every artist has a dream of who they want to be and Cary Grant famously said: “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until I finally became that person.” I found this deeply inspiring. Talking more specifically about his influence on the songs, well a couple of years ago I came across a bunch of his movies and the more I watched, the more I wanted to watch. I found the stories so engaging and so simple. I don't mean that in a negative way – I mean without CGI, without special effects, just pure depictions of life, love and truth. And before I knew it, I found myself starting to write about various characters in the films, and then those stories actually morphed into aspects of my own life. Some of the movies I reference are the Hitchcock thrillers ‘Notorious’, ‘North By Northwest’ and ‘Suspicion’, all of which have themes of identity, suspicion, trust and misunderstanding. I started to think: ‘how many times do we hear today that people aren't quite who they say they are or who they appear to be?’, or they spin someone a line to get an advantage, especially in this digital age of social media, where often all we know is an image on a screen that often may not mirror reality. So these stories may be from the mid 20th century, but I’m not sure anything has changed in the human condition… it’s very telling. PB: There’s a definite cinematic vibe running through the sound on many of the songs, a slight departure from your previous albums. Was that something you were aiming for given the main source of inspiration? LA: I don’t know if I was aiming for it initially, but it’s interesting – as the songs developed, I definitely imagined them being played over end credits! And actually, I would put them to video clips of the relevant movies to see how they fit, and that really helped with the direction too. It was certainly a different approach for me this time. Having this jumping off point was really interesting – for the first time I wasn’t writing directly about my own experiences, and I felt I had this external reference point which I could go to for inspiration. PB: It’s good to see Boz Boorer listed again in the credits, but the only other musicians credited on our copy of the album are Andy Woodard and yourself. Were there any other musicians involved? LA: Yes I’m lucky enough that Boz found time to add keys and guitars onto the tracks for me, in between his extensive touring with Morrissey and The Polecats. His contributions are always fantastic and instantly give the songs another dimension. He is a dear friend and mentor. You’re right that aside from Boz, it was just Andy and myself in the studio. PB: You’re the only vocalist listed as well; you handled all the background vocals yourself? There’s some amazing background vocals scattered throughout the album. Your lead vocals are, as always, powerful and stunning but on this album those background vocals seem to grab the attention more than ever before. LA: Thank you so much, that is very kind. Andy and I did discuss and experiment with some other BVs, but it just sounded right to have my voice on there to give it the continuity it needed. To me, the record is almost like a movie in itself. As I’ve grown as a songwriter, I’ve actually enjoyed working on the arrangements more myself and this definitely included more BVs – I felt that they really lifted the tracks. PB: You changed studio and producer yet again this time; what were your reasons for choosing Andy Woodard this time? LA: Well, the last record was done at Abbey Road with James Knight at the helm. Obviously that was a wonderful experience and in a way, it was hard to know where to go from there – maybe the most famous studio in the world! So I decided to change trajectory and almost do a 180 and make this record a lot smaller and more intimate; not in the sound of the songs, which I think are really full, but in the recording process. I definitely wanted to be more hands-on with respect to the arrangements and the recording process itself, and to be as involved as I could be, so I did keep the team deliberately small. The only other person involved aside from Andy and Boz was Walter Coelho who mastered the record for us. I met Andy a few years ago through Tom Edwards, who was my Musical Director, as well as someone I loved dearly. As I’m sure you know, Tom very sadly passed away at the beginning of 2017 while on tour with Adam Ant. Before his passing, Tom, Andy and I had already started discussing this new record, so after that, it just sort of made sense for Andy and I to continue. Although the majority of the songs on the record are inspired by the movies, a couple are about Tom – it was impossible for me not to include him, and his spirit was around us the whole time. Andy is a hugely talented musician. He is best known for being Adam Ant’s touring drummer, but he is a multi-instrumentalist and you’ll often find him playing guitar or bass at gigs around London and Europe, as well as singing and playing the drums. He is also an exceptional producer, and it just seemed right for him to mix and produce the record. The whole process was hugely enjoyable, if at times also rather sad as we were grieving someone we loved, and I am sure Andy and I will work together again (if he will have me!!). PB: Even though you’ve used the services of different producers and studios in the past, and while this latest album has taken a slightly different path, it’s still instantly Louise Aubrie; that energy shines through each track still. Do you feel that you’ve developed your own unique sound and style? LA: Thank you so much. It’s funny – people often try to pigeonhole one into genres or styles and I always really struggle when they say ‘who do you sound like’ because I don’t really think I sound like anyone! Sometimes I wonder ‘should I worry that I don’t fit in?!’ but ultimately this is my sound and it is me – and I’ve got to embrace it! PB: There’s been about two or three years between albums and they’ve never outstayed their welcome; we’ve never been treated to more than ten tracks a time! Are you a prolific writer who holds songs back waiting for the right album or do you find the writing process difficult at times? LA: People approach writing in so many different ways – some people write every day; others just when they want to create a project. I’m in the latter category (I think Elton John said this is what he does too, so I am in good company!). I don’t write year-round. I tend to make a record, promote it, hopefully play live or tour and then start thinking about the next one. Once I’ve decided I am in ‘writing mode’, then I generally find things come together pretty well – writing and playing live are my two favourite things about creating music. PB: Would you agree that you’ve moved the boundaries of your music on this latest collection? While still keeping to your sound, these songs appear to be deeper in some ways. LA: I hope so, yes. It’s always good to keep exploring different avenues and writing with new energy. As I mentioned, I had a slightly different approach and I did feel a deeper connection. I think this is down to a couple of things. Firstly, that I was much more involved in the arrangements than I ever have been before – writing not only the melodies, but keyboard parts, bass parts etc so I felt more connected to the songs. Secondly, that I was emotionally affected by the people I was writing about – one as a fan of someone with a great charisma and screen presence, and one as someone close who I lost. This record is very special to me for those reasons. PB: One of the most exciting aspects of your songs are the hooks; each of your songs features more catchy hooks than many of your contemporaries can come with over a whole album. Which comes first for you when writing, the lyrics or music? LA: Thank you so much. For me, the inception of a song usually starts with one particular line, which may or may not end up being the title, and the hook that goes with that line. So I quite often build the song around a 10 second one-liner! That usually sparks off what direction the lyric will go, which sets the tone for the music and it ends up coming together fairly quickly. With this record, I had some great quotes to draw from so those lines set the scene really well for example ‘It Was No One’s Fault But Mine I Must Confess’ was inspired by a line Deborah Kerr spoke to Cary Grant in ‘An Affair To Remember’ which is certainly a great love story! PB: While still retaining that punky-pop vibe this album also shows a darker side to your music, I’m thinking of ‘Cloak And Dagger’ in particular. I think that track brilliantly brings together all the elements of what you might have been trying to achieve from your inspirations for this album. What song from the album means most to you and the reasons why? LA: Thank you – I know Andy is a big fan of ‘Cloak and Dagger’ – that marimba at the start sets an almost sinister tone! It’s inspired by the movie ‘Indiscreet’, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. This is a twist on that classic trope, where a gentleman says he's single when in fact he's married, but here, the says he's married when in fact he's single. And the reason he's saying that is because he doesn't really want to get involved in a serious relationship so he thinks if I tell these women he’s married, they'll understand that it can't go anywhere! Again, such an interesting thing for our times - how many people have been taken in by someone pretending to be someone else? How well do we know anyone? And talking of those two beautiful people, I think the song that means the most to me is ‘In Your Heart’. This song was very much inspired by the 1946 Alfred Hitchcock thriller ‘Notorious’, which they both starred in. The storyline is that the two of them are having an affair which is inappropriate. The movie is set in the world of espionage – he's working for the government; they've recruited her as a spy, and they fall in love. She says to him at one point 'this is a funny kind of love affair. I'm madly in love with you but you don't love me’ and he replies with 'When I don't love you I'll let you know'. I just found that such a great line! He only says it because he doesn’t want to admit to her, or rather to himself, that he has fallen for her (although by the end of the movie, he admits he’s loved her from the start). I think Cary Grant's performance in it is amazing. He is so still and so understated and yet so effective. He’s very well known for his comedic roles but this performance really shows he's not just a movie star, it shows what a great actor he is. So ‘In Your Heart’ follows their story and it really is the centerpiece for me. Plus we get Claude Rains in the movie as well who is another guy who reinvented himself, again from very humble beginnings in London and ended up a great movie star. It's hugely inspiring. PB: ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ is another song that is something of a shift in sound from what we’ve heard from you before, again it captures that cinematic feel, is that something you might explore further on future albums? LA: Ah yes – this is the outlier in the album with respect to my devotion to Cary Grant, because it’s actually inspired by the 1945 Gainsborough melodrama ‘The Wicked Lady’ starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Rennie and James Mason. It’s one of my favourite films – I absolutely adore it! Margaret Lockwood was just the most beautiful woman and truly lit up the screen. Ah, if only her and Cary Grant had made a movie!!! I do think this one is the most cinematic because it is telling a story in a melodramatic way to mirror the movie; the sweeping strings and heavy guitars really add to it. It’s essentially a woman singing from her deathbed, and I just love the way it turned out, which again is mainly down to Andy’s production skills. PB: Any plans to tour the new album? LA: I certainly hope so! I’ve over in New York at the moment, but when I am back in the UK in the New Year, I’ll be getting some shows together! PB: Lastly, are you going to make us wait another two to three years before we hear more new music from you! LA: I hope not actually! One thing Andy and I have been discussing is to make a stripped down, more acoustic record, and hopefully we’ll be able to do that in 2019 – stay tuned!! PB: Thank you.

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Louise Aubrie - Interview

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Louise Aubrie - Interview

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Interview (2013)
Louise Aubrie - Interview
London-born singer-songwriter Louise Aubrie talks to Malcolm Carter about her decision to move to New York, working with Morrissey guitarist and producer Boz Boorer and her just released second album, 'Time Honoured Alibi’

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When I Don't Love You I'll Let You Know (2019)
First-rate fourth album from London and New York-based singer-songwriter Louise Aubrie which is her most diverse and enjoyable set yet
Late 44 (2015)
Time Honoured Alibi (2013)

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