Today, Rogue Planet interviews singer/songwriter, Louise Aubrie. She talks about her transition from the U.K to the U.S, how her musical career began, and where she’s heading next with her new album, Late 44.
Where are you originally from, Louise?
I’m from London, UK.
When did you musical interest begin, and what/who inspired you to pursue a musical career?
I’ve always sung and written music, but I took the first step to recording professionally at the Mill Hill Music Complex in North London. The owner there, Roger Tichborne, was extremely kind to me and gave me my first opportunity to work with his engineers and to start being creative with my own material. I did not have a band with me at the time, but I laid down a few tracks there before I upped sticks and moved to New York City. I also met Boz Boorer, Morrissey’s co-writer and musical director, via Roger, and Boz is a mentor, friend and inspiration to me – he was and is a big part in encouraging me to pursue music.
To create my own sound, I brought together the musical influences that were most important to me, starting with Elvis and Sinatra. I am not sure how obvious that is from listening to my records (!), but no one comes close (or will ever) to Frank’s style and phrasing in a song. He never once sounded unsure in his attack. And Elvis is, of course, the King. After that foundation, I was I was drawn to the 70s – Bowie, T-Rex, Blondie, The Ramones, The New York Dolls, and then coming up to The Smiths in the 80s, and Garbage and Suede in the 90s.
So it started with the Chairman of the Board and the King. I am obviously not alone in citing these men, but its amazing that they still inspire people, long after their deaths, in so many ways. My music is not Swing or Lounge or Gospel or Rockabilly, but all of that is in my heart, which is the place from where all my songs come.
When did you move to New York City? How was the transition, and what about New York drew you there?
I moved in 2008. It was interesting to say the least! I did not know anyone in the New York, let alone any musicians, but because everything is so concentrated, it is fairly easy to integrate into the music scene. I chose to live in the Lower East Side in Manhattan because of the proximity to all the music clubs. I was extremely lucky to meet some truly fantastic musicians, and after about a year of being in NYC, I started to get my first album, “Fingers Crossed…” together. It was a combination of some songs and memories from London, and some new material that was fueled by my new US life.
I love London so much as its my hometown, but I felt like I wanted to experience a new chapter in my life, and I had always been a big fan of New York. I remember coming through Kennedy airport with a bunch of guitars and not much else – there was definitely a disproportionate ratio between clothes and instruments! I didn’t really have a plan as such, suffice to say that I wanted to play music there of course, but I didn’t know how or when that would happen.
I think the draw to NY was that it’s an amazing, iconic city full of the memories of the music that drives me. Bands like Blondie, The Ramones, The New York Dolls. I fell in love with it immediately. And being in the city has had a huge influence, both the city and the people I have worked with, on my records. It can be tough living here, but it’s also very addictive. It’s so hard to leave, and even thought it can boot you and bruise you, it’s truly a wonderful city full of opportunities.
London and New York are similar these days in many ways. You walk around and see the same stores, restaurants, and the same spectrum of (in)sanity and creativity. But there is a difference in the energy. The energy is NYC is much more heightened than in London, mainly because of the twenty-four hour culture. I still don’t think London embraced this, which is not a bad thing. But NYC’s streets feel different at night which again can spark thoughts and ideas that might otherwise be constrained to dreams and/or nightmares. I have written a lot of material with the midnight street life providing a backbeat.
Do you see any specific differences in the reception of your music between the U.K and the U.S?
What’s fascinating to me is that the feedback I have from the US is that they can really hear the influence of the British bands in my sound such as The Smiths, The Pretenders, David Bowie, T Rex, The Cure, Kirsty MacColl etc etc!! and that the UK critics tell me they hear all the punk American bands I mentioned earlier!!
You recently released a new album, Late 44. Is there a running theme throughout this album?
I was feeling vivacious and buoyant going into the recording of this album. I now split my time between London and NY and Late 44 was borne out of that almost double identity that I feel I have. A lot of the songs were written in the small hours when I would communicate with people London as they were getting up and with people in NY who were winding down … as you can imagine, people’s moods are very different depending on whether they are waking or retiring! It’s an interesting time, having conversations with people who are getting up and at the same time, speaking to people who are spent! There’s not so much a central theme, as a collection of experiences from both sides of the pond with the people who mean the most to me.
How was the experience recording this album? Who did you work with?
Well it was extraordinary, primarily because I was lucky enough to record at Abbey Road Studios. As soon as you walk in the doors, you know you are somewhere very special; you really can sense all the historic music that has been created there. We were lucky enough to be in Studio 2, probably the most famous in the world, and it just inspires you to do your best work. The acoustics are unbeatable; I don’t think you would get a better drum sound in any other room, and we took advantage of the whole environment, including the legendary upright piano and echo chamber. I was lucky enough to be with people who had recorded there before, and the engineers and staff are the best in the business.
On this record I have Tom Edwards (Adam Ant) and Boz Boorer (Morrissey, The Polecats) on guitars, Joe Holweger (Adam Ant) on bass, and David Ruffy (The Ruts, Adam Ant, Dexy’s Midnight Runners) on drums. It is produced by James Knight (The Kooks, Leona Lewis, Ellie Goulding) and was mixed at James’ studio, Knight Time, which was originally commissioned by Steve Lillywhite. It was mastered by the legendary Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering, so I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people to have had the opportunity to work with such wonderful folks!
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist between your previous album, Time Honoured Alibi, and this new album?
All musicians are growing constantly – well, they should be!! I think just gaining more experience of writing, performing, and meeting and working with new people leads to growth. I wanted to go down a more punky/rocky road than previously, and I hope that comes through.
You’ve released a few music videos so far. Is there a certain director you collaborate with on these? What inspired you to choose specific songs to put these videos to?
Yes, the videos are predominantly centered around live shows … I like a lot of the “fan footage” scenarios and you’ll see that in the videos from the gigs. Going forwards I have a new team in London so you will see some new ideas and direction with future videos .
Are there any perceptions of the music industry that you once have that have changed as you have grown and evolved with your career?
Ha! Well, as you know it’s pretty hard to even answer the question “what is the music industry today?”. To be honest, I didn’t have too many preconceptions because I didn’t have a specific plan and didn’t know what the industry was like. Now I’ve been in it for many years, I realize that its extremely hard to sustain a career and just survive … gone are the days of people buying music, which is very sad, gone at the majority of record labels, and gone are the majority of record stores. That said, we do it because we love it and I feel fortunate to have been able to release three albums to date.
What do you think is the most important thing a musician should keep in mind as they start out in the business?
Gosh, that’s difficult. I am certainly no expert in this at all!! All I could say is that you really have to love music and be driven to do it … anything less than that then I fear it will be hard to continue. If its money or fame you are after, then you may as well give up now. If you are prepared to play and play and play and somehow get by because that’s all that you want to do, then you’ve got a shot.
What can we expect in the near future from Louise Aubrie?
Well I’ve got an amazing team with me in London. I am with RDJ Recordings, founded by Philip Rambow who started out many years ago with Mick Ronson, David Bowie, Tony Visconti et al and Philip is a wonderful, supportive man. I also have Yellow Brick Music Management looking after me, lead by the legendary Meredith Cork, who is a daily inspiration to me. So next up is promotion of the album, some more press and videos and of course playing as much as possible!
Official Website: www.louiseaubrie.com