Saturday, 6 August 2011

We're Only Here For The Banter - Lou Hickey

Lou Hickey is a singer-songwriter from Neilston, just outside Glasgow. Her refreshing brand of pop is steeped in vintage feel good vibes, and she has a new E.P., 'Minutes, Hours, Days' which came out 4th July. She has two self released EP already under her belt, a wealth of experience supporting artists such as Martha Reeves and Suzanne Vega. And of course Lou was one half of the Codiene Velvet Club along with Fratelli's frontman Jon Fratelli. With a debut album looming large on the horizon, Lou was kind enough to chat to Scottish Fiction.

Hello. How are you?

Very well thank you.

Tell us a little bit about your influences?

When I was at uni, I was a jazz vocalist, and even at home we always had on things like Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and that kind of stuff. And through my brothers and sisters I have a huge love of The Cure and Joy Division. I kinda just listen to a mix of everything, and even though I love of older music I still have to listen to what's out there today, 'cause that's your market. And I'm lucky just now that people are looking to the past for music, but it's always good to keep an eye on what's happening just now.

A big melting pot of influences then! It's August, and that means Edinburgh Festival. You've got a lot going on, do you want to tell us a wee bit about it?

Well I've got my own residency as part of the official fringe, which I didn't realise it was actually part of the 'official' fringe, I thought it was just a low key gig! But it's a gorgeous venue in Edinburgh called the Ghillie Dhu, it's like an old converted church and the top room is a ballroom, and we've got that every Sunday night. It's kind of a Jools Holland vibe, where me and the band will be playing, but I'll also be compering, I'll be introducing a variety of different acts, and we're really lucky to have some great bands such as Sonny Marvello, Pearl And The Puppets, and Jonathan Carr. We've got a real mix and we want to show the tourists that as much as there are great indie bands come out of Scotland, there's so many other things going on that maybe don't get noticed as much.

What Scottish artist(s) would you recommend?

There's a songwriter I've been working with called Jonathan Carr, he's kinda like a Scottish John Legend. He plays the piano and he's got that kinda jazz, Michael Buble thing but he's really quite r'n'b and pop at the same time. I like what he's doing and I hope he gets the right producers and gets the chance to take that a wee bit further. And I'm also a huge fan of Sonny Marvello, we share the same drummer and they're a band from Glasgow who I've gone to see for years. They are an amazing live act.

Obviously you're building up to the album, how's things going in that regard?

It's finished, it's absolutely finished. I recorded most of it up at a studio in the West End called Gloworm, which belongs to a friend. I actually studied music at Strathclyde University, but most people don't believe I'm actually qualified as a sound engineer through my degree, but I'm lazy with it now, I like other people to do it for me. So my friend from uni has this studio, we recorded everything there, but it was over the space of three years, him and I just mixed and produced the album ourselves, and then we've mastered it.

Do you think there will be a sense of completion once it's released?

At the time I think it was amazing just to get to the final stage and get it completed. And now it's mastered it sounds even bigger, so I celebrated that day by ordering a new pair of Vivian Westwood high heels! But now it's the boring side, it's the business side and the organisation. But it's also the case that you don't want to just put something out there, I'd like to build up to it and put a wee bit of advertising behind it.

Your EP 'Minutes, Hours, Days' came out early July, tell us a little about that?

Yeah it was a case of letting my fans know I'm still here, but also to show how my sound has changed. This is a lot more pop than my older stuff. When I first started out I was a lot more blues and it was very melancholy, for the most part I played piano and had someone playing cello. Now with the addition of the band, it's let me recreated the '50's rock and roll pop that I wanted to. I just wanted to make a record that people would dance to.

How does your latest work compare with your earlier releases 'New Shoes' and 'Do It Yourself'?

I've actually taken my first EP offline, because I can't bear listening to it now! It's strange some people still come to gigs and have got it. It's good, but I was like 19, 20 when I wrote some of those songs, and I never really thought people would be listening to them. But your tastes they change and the grow, and I've kinda just decided to make the music I want, which is pop music.

You were one half of Codine Velvet Club, along with Jon Fratelli, how was that experience for you?

It was amazing opportunity, and I think that going into the music industry then you need to realise that every achievement is a bonus, and celebrate the small things, because it can be taken away so easily. But I got to do some amazing things, I got to tour America, play South By South West, got to tour the UK. It was also nice to make an album and not be the person in charge and just sit back and watch and that was an amazing learning experience. Obviously Jon had the pressure, but I had the chance to just be relaxed and take in everything that was going on. And it's good when you've got someone else to work with you can run ideas by.

And how does it feel to be back solo again compared with working with someone like that?

It's more stressful in a way, but I'm thankful for it because there were decision made with Codeine Velvet Club that I wasn't a part of which is frustrating whenI'd always been completely in control.

Thanks very much for taking the time to talk to us, all the best!

You can check out more about Lou Hickey and her music on her website. Check out her video for 'Minutes, Hours, Days' below, and also listen to the full interview as well as a live version of her song 'You!' below.

Scottish Fiction - 1st August 2011 by wilsonnj

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