Introducing Interview: Alice Phoebe Lou

Having recently released her deeply poignant single ‘Skin Crawl’, South African artist Alice Phoebe Lou is about to embark on an extensive North American and European tour. 

We caught up with Alice Phoebe Lou to find out more about her plans, and the inspirations behind her sweeping, crystalline sound…

Hi Alice Phoebe Lou, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about what you do and how you initially got started creating music?
Thanks for having me! I got into music pretty late in life; I’d always been into performing, but it was more about dancing & theatre. When I started travelling around Europe fresh out of high school, I was doing street performance as my ‘job’ and at first it was dancing & throwing balls of fire around. Eventually I started singing cover songs & writing my own. So initially, music making was something I did to get some change & continue my lifestyle in Berlin. The city became my fresh start, where I realised that music would be my direction.

Your poignant new single ‘Skin Crawl’ is said to be inspired by your negative experiences at the hands of men, can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind it?
The meaning behind the song comes from a culmination of events & circumstances all too familiar for women, over my entire lifetime really. It starts with the innocence that was taken from me bit by bit as a teenager, as my body was sexualised and all the negative and traumatic experiences at the hands of men. And then coming into womanhood where so much sexually aggressive and violent behaviour is taken for granted and seen as a ‘part of the territory’ of going out or being social. After my drink was spiked in New York and I experienced one of my lowest lows in this regard, I kept going out alone, rejecting the idea that I needed to be afraid or change what I enjoy doing because of the behaviour of a few. But as many women know, there are so few ‘safe’ spaces where one can dance & not be touched, harassed, made to feel uncomfortable. So this song tries to bring attention to that in the hopes that we can strive towards more of these safe spaces.

And your upcoming album Paper Castles is out next month. Are you able to tell us about the writing process that went into creating it, and are there any ongoing themes running throughout?
Very excited to release Paper Castles! It’s been the most beautiful process. The writing of it was done between tours and travels, and the songs have been written all over the world. There’s definitely an overall theme of coming into womanhood, coming into myself and owning my body and my sexuality and getting to the other side of traumas and personal hardships. The recording process was a full on dream, with the best musicians and friends I could possibly ask for, and the most smooth and stress free process imaginable. Didn’t know it was possible! Noah Georgeson was an incredible producer and friend to have guiding us and I’m so happy and humbled by the result.

We’re big fans of your dreamy, captivating sound, but who or what would you cite as your main influences?
Mostly my friends really. I’ve got an incredible community of musicians & creatives spanning the globe, but especially in Berlin and my home town Cape Town. We do a lot together, throwing parties and dreaming big about the future of what we could achieve together, trying hard to create an environment of support rather than competition. They really inspire me and cheer me on, and I feel extremely fortunate.

You’re about to embark on a big North America and European tour in support of the album, but are there any shows you’ve played in the past that stand out as a particular highlight?
Definitely playing in Ramallah & Bayt Sahur in Palestine. To be able to bring international music to a place that is so cut off from the world, to people that so appreciate that you’ve come there and that you’ve brought them music & catharsis; it was a very special experience. I’ll be going back there soon.

You’re originally from South Africa, how did you find the music scene over there?
It’s bubbling right now. It’s hard to survive as an artist in South Africa, because there’s not enough money, not enough support. But there are incredible people doing amazing things – throwing wonderful festivals, doing everything they can to get the scene off the ground and I’m in awe and inspired to watch it happen.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
I definitely think it’s difficult for new artists, as there are so many new musicians trying to get their work out there, and often such a limiting and rigid industry that favours commercial potential over value. But I think if one is innovative; works fucking hard and tries to mould their own little corner of the music industry, learning as much as they can, finding the way to release that works for them, anything is possible.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists that you’d recommend we check out?
Amy Ayanda, Thor Rixon, Hyroine, Young Yosef, Hush Moss, RAS, Loving, Good Morning, LA Salami.

Finally, what else does 2019 have in store for Alice Phoebe Lou?
Organising a festival for 2020. Been my big dream for a while.

Huge thanks to Alice for answering our questions! 

Paper Castles, the upcoming album from Alice Phoebe Lou, is out 8th March. Catch her live in the UK in April:

15th April – Thekla, Bristol
16th April – Deaf Institute, Manchester
17th April – Earth, London
18th April – Bodega, Nottingham

Photo Credit: Elliott McKee

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