Music Promotions had the chance to speak with drummer, composer and musician Louis about the brilliant idea behind his new album, his new single ‘Buskers’, the album party launch, and so much more. Read the full interview below.
What’s the story behind your latest single, Buskers?
So, this was the first song I completed for the album. I was just in this creative mindset where I was throwing all these different samples at it, and it made sense; this single almost sets the tone for the rest of the album.
It’s got the most samples in it and it features many samples of buskers. I like the idea of things just being stupidly on the nose. So I was like, that’s what it’s going to be called. It’s meant to get that exciting feeling of when you’re in transit; everyone knows that feeling, well, at least a lot of musicians do, and a lot of people in the modern world will know that feeling. It’s that rush of excitement you get from being in a new place or seeing a new landscape, being in a foreign country and it sets the tone for the album.
Just touching on, obviously, the title is called Buskers. When you’ve been out and you’ve seen buskers performing, whether it be in London or a different city, and thought they’re really good, so you speak to them, maybe work with them?
I have never done that however because the album’s concept was to make a whole album from iPhone memos, one of the longest ideas I had back when it was a concept was to sample buskers, which seemed very cheeky and overly conceptual, still, it helped me a lot when it came to getting melodic elements for the album as opposed to sampling just like a car siren or a bird call but recording someone playing the guitar in the street has a bit more familiarity than you know, maybe the sound of like a creaky door or a rusty elevator, you know.
Can you talk us through the album and when it comes out?
The album is out on December 15th and the night before, December 14th, I’m going to be having a listening party at a listening bar in London called ‘Behind This Wall’, where we’re going to listen to the album in full but it’s going to be accompanied by a set of visuals from different animators. They will be able to watch the music video for Buskers on it as well. So, it’ll essentially be a series of animations accompanied by the music on a screen.
A little more about the album itself; as I said in the last question, I knew I had to write it the same year I got the samples because I wanted it to come from that emotional place I was in. So all the songs, I feel are very on the nose when it comes to what they’re about.
So, in song one, it’s Buskers.
Song two is Barrowlands Soundcheck
Song three is Church Bells.
Song eight is Seat 5F, you know, the seats on an airplane.
Song seven is called Jet Lag; I know I already said this but I like the idea of things being straightforward, like when a movie plot explains it all out in front of you, like, tablespoons it to you; this is precisely how I felt in this past year.
Tickets are on sale now.
Listening Bar: Behind This Wall. https://behindthiswall.com/bar-events
The sounds on the album were mainly iPhone recordings. What was the idea behind going this way with recording?
So funnily enough, the idea of sampling buskers was one of the original, original ideas that I had and it just stemmed a little bit further.
I thought, what if I just recorded lots of random sounds? The way I feel about it, its just sounds. It’s just the sounds in the world that I could go out and capture and record it to my iPhone. I did have a special mic to use, but you know, when you’re at a busy intersection in the city, that sound could drive off any second; having to take that microphone out of my pocket, plug it into my phone and then record it was way more time-consuming than just taking out my phone and recording it like that. So then I just thought to myself, okay, well, that’s going to be how I do it then. I’m only going to use my phone. And that idea of actually limiting myself to only iPhone memos may have brought out the most amount of creativity in me. Because I was like, okay, I can do whatever I want, as long as it’s this.
So, where did that idea come from? It’s been in my diary of notes for so long and I knew last year I was going to do it as I had been touring so much. So that was really me grasping the moment on, you know, tackling that idea.
How long did the album take to complete?
It was a solid year of getting all the samples and then writing all the music. It is nine songs in total. One of those songs you’ll only be able to hear on vinyl. But yeah, it was a solid year getting all those sounds.
All those sounds were recorded between February and November of 2022.
I was touring a lot at that time so having to take time out of that schedule to go ahead and write the music was equally as stressful. But I was committed; I was like, it just makes sense because I can record all the samples now and then maybe work on it next year but the emotion is gonna be different. I’m not going to be in this intense environment, which, you know, I look back now and I listen to the music and I reflect on those intense environments, which I love. It’s funny how musicians, like, touring musicians crave that tour environment but once you’re on tour, you crave to be home. It’s like being a chef, you know, they love cooking but with the intensity of the kitchen, you want to avoid cooking at home. So to answer your question about the entirety of 2022, I started around February and I told myself I just wanted to finish it this year so I could focus on sharing it the year after and that’s what I have done.
You picked up your first instrument at 6 years old; for anyone interested in music and playing an instrument or multiple ones, what advice would you give them?
The first thing I’ll say is my first instrument was the violin and then it was drums; I still play drums now, on a professional basis. For anyone deciding to pick up an instrument now – be confident. As a kid, you just act without thinking. Nowadays, as adults, whether it’s a result of our adult society-led lives where every action has a consequence, if you’re doing it for fun and you’re open to learning, there’s no barrier involved. You don’t have to worry about messing up. You don’t have to worry about looking good in front of other people. You don’t have to worry about being the best at it. If you approach it from a sense of just having fun then that is my first bit of advice. Please do not compare yourself to other people who have been doing it for so much longer. I’ve been trying to learn new instruments recently and the best thing I can do is ignore what’s online, ignore the skills of other people and I can just focus on getting better myself. So, don’t compare yourself and sit alone, block out the world and just try and have fun.
What is the hardest instrument you’ve learnt to play? Any favorites?
Yes, I do; I would say the drums. Yes, I compose and do all lines of production, but I am a drummer; it is my main line of work. I am a session drummer; I do it professionally so as generic as it seems, I do have to say that it is the one I am most passionate about.
You attended Berklee College of Music. What was that like and what did you take away from your time there?
I left early. I was down, I wasn’t enjoying it and it was too much money as well. However, those two years there, I look back on it exceptionally positively despite how anxious and how much I was struggling both mentally and academically. I wasn’t half the musician I was entering, I learnt so much. They do crack the whip on you; I got so much better at drums. I look back at it being pretty challenging, pretty strenuous. I was 18, living in a new city, I made some good friends; it taught me a lot. Berklee does try to fit you into a mold, sometimes. You show up and you have an idea to do something differently and they will stop you in your tracks and want you in the mold of what they want you to do. Some people show up and want to be in a band and others want to do sound design, and that is the amazing thing with Berklee: you can get into the classical world or contemporary. I didn’t know any music theory or anything about piano; I was naive. I wanted to play the drums but they stopped me in my tracks and taught me music theory and training. At the time, that was not what I wanted to do but I was 18 and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the composing I am doing now. I look back with a lot of promise.
Do you work with other musicians?
If I work with other artists, it is likely that I play the drums for them or do session work for them.
I did have a project in 2021 where I made a small album with my good friend ‘Jenny’ who is a fantastic viola player. That was great fun; it was synths and production.
Often, if I work with other artists nowadays, it’s drums, as that’s what people know me for but with this album, I hope to change all that; people hire me out to play the drums and I enjoy doing that. With this album, I want to show my composing ability.
What musicians would you love to work with?
Oh my god, the thing is, there are so many. I saw Colin Stetson; it was maybe the best show I have seen this year. Most people know him for the score of Hereditary. I was so blown away by what one man and his saxophone could do. Off the top of my head, if there were one artist I could work with, it would be Colin Stetson.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? And what advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians?
My advice is to be open-minded to other music genres. Most musicians are and most people are but there is always room for more; there is always room to observe different genres, from pop to classical and heavy metal. There is a whole world of music out there. Just do your best.
The best advice I have been given is to let people see you play and let people see what you are made of; the music industry can be very saturated and challenging. Just let people see who you are and share what you do.
Let people see what you can do. Someone at Berklee said that when I said I was dropping out – let people see what you can do on the drums, let them know what you can do artistically.
Be around good people and be around good musicians.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and next year?
I am focused on promoting my music. I have the release party in December and I have a new single in November; more news on that soon.
I am playing with another artist this month, called Atka; she is fantastic, she writes amazing music.
Next year, there is no touring yet, but some hopeful ones are coming up, so fingers crossed.
On the vinyl, there is an exclusive track. It won’t be on streaming; it will be on the vinyl only. That is the only way you can listen to it.
LISTEN TO BUSKERS
WATCH THE VIDEO