DATE OF INTERVIEW: 4th May 2020
LOUISE PATRICIA CRANE
Louise Patricia Crane, perhaps best known for her work with The Eden House, is all set to take an autonomous step into solo album territory, with the imminent release of a debut full-length platter of her own music, ‘Deep Blue’. With the perennially ominous cloud of Covid-19 currently hanging over humanity, propelling the entire world into a state of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, it seems her record is arriving at precisely the right time. For it’s a poetically beautiful work that’s not only transcendent in terms of its genre-defying conception, but also through songs’ profoundly affecting sense of seduction and allure; an absorbingly sublime haven that’s resplendent with sonic charms aplenty, providing a serene passage into a place of mutual reverie. It’s the escapism everyone surely needs and craves right now.
With a whole host of musical talent helping to bring her enchanting and darkly romantic vision to life, with the involvement of luminaries and legends from a diverse range of genres, it remains the inherently seductive aesthetic of Louise’s potently feminine artistry at the heart of ‘Deep Blue’. Metal Discovery had an in-depth and thoroughly enjoyable chat with the lady herself, ahead of the album’s release, to find out more about this wondrous and magical work, from its genesis, to its flowering creativity, to guest musicians, to videos, to very bitey ferrets, to our mutual adoration of a certain masterpiece from the tail-end of the Czech New Wave… and plenty more…
METAL DISCOVERY: It’s nice to have amazing albums like yours to listen to in these lockdown times, like ‘Deep Blue’…
LOUISE: Mark, you wrote the most amazing review, thank you so much.
(Louise Patricia Crane on the seductive escapism of her debut solo album, 'Deep Blue')
"...I want to seduce the listener into this place of reverie, escapism, and I use my voice as the thing that underpins all of the music and hopefully achieves that."
Louise Patricia Crane
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2020 Ester Segarra - www.estersegarra.com
MD: Oh, it was easy to write… some albums inspire you to write, so your album inspired me to write what I did. So, yeah, an absolutely incredible album, so are you nervous and excited ahead of its release, in terms of how people will receive it?
LOUISE: Yeah, I am, actually. I mean, I think I’m 50/50 nervous and excited. My nerves come from… I’m putting myself out there for the first time and I’m actually letting people hear my music. While there are elements of it that people, who maybe know me from The Eden House, might find a little bit comfortable, it’s really not an Eden House record, at all. It’s definitely my artistic vision and drive behind it, which is amazing to actually get it out there and I feel so happy with the work that’s done; I feel so happy with how it sounds and the package and everything. But I do feel nervous because no one’s heard my music, really. I mean, they’ve heard three songs now, but there’s still another five to go. I’m excited, though, to hear what people say.
MD: I think, like you say, if you’ve maintained a hundred per cent artistic integrity throughout the whole thing, and you’re a hundred per cent happy with the final album, you can’t do anything else other than be as true to yourself as you’ve been.
MD: That’s the most important thing for any artist, isn’t it, really.
LOUISE: I think it’s this thing where you release something into the world and the frustration comes from people… which is completely understandable… but people possibly not understanding the reference points and completely missing all those things and getting nothing from it. That’s the fear. I mean, for example, reading your review, and I’m not just saying this because I’m talking to you, but when I read your review, I thought that this is the ultimate person who I want to hear this album. This person completely understands my reference points; the aesthetic; what I’m trying to achieve; what I want the listener to experience. I mean, you just nailed it all! If people receive it even ten per cent of how you hear it, then I will be over the moon.
MD: Certain albums, I think they’re easy to write about, because… it’s about how you connect with music emotionally, for me, so albums that you connect with more profoundly, it becomes very easy to express how you feel about them. I wrote in my review that it provides “sanity-replenishing escapism, soul-nourishing stimuli and, ultimately, cathartic-inducing therapy”. Did it prove to be all or any of those things for you, when you worked on the songs and recorded the album?
LOUISE: Yeah, I have your review in front of me and everything you said in that closing line, it is absolutely what I was striving for and what I wanted to achieve. I think if there was one core idea that unifies the different sounds and the variation in sounds throughout the record, is that there’s a singular vision and a singular goal, and that is to transport the listener to somewhere away from day-to-day life and the mundanity of the world we live in. And, of course, now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, I feel like we probably need that even more. I don’t know if everyone’s like me but I need escapism; I need to have it and it’s this thing that drives me and inspires me so much. Fantasy, escapism, reverie… and I wanted to create an album that someone could put on and escape for forty minutes, and get away and feel something a little bit bewitching and seducing and magical and, you know, just something that takes you out of day-to-day.
For me, writing the album, I think it saved my life. I kind of hit rock bottom and I was in a really bad place, and not feeling very good with everything a couple of years ago. And, in a way, the song ‘Ophelia’ is an analogy of that. You know, this character in Shakespearean literature is, of course, from ‘Hamlet’ and takes herself down to the lake, to the river, and what happens, happens. For me, that was sort of exorcising the demons of a certain time in my life, which was really difficult… which I can look back on from a stronger place and file that away, but, in a way, I feel that my way of writing is to use language, imagery and everything to step out of the uncomfortable, harsh reality of day-to-day, and escape into my fantasy world where I can talk about these things.
That’s why I love Angela Carter’s writing, because she was able to address similar things that were very intense, with her short stories in ‘The Bloody Chamber’ and stuff. I noticed you picked up on my influences - that was amazing you picked up on my influences in that sense, with ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’ and, of course, Angela Carter.
MD: Yeah, two massive things I absolutely adore, so as soon as I read those in the press release, I was like, wow, this is definitely going to be my kind of thing. I thought it might be, anyway, but even more so!
MD: So it sounds like it was quite a cathartic journey all the way through for you, then.
MD: I gather the idea and trigger for you to start working on your own album came from an artistic chemistry you had with Stephen Carey, when recording vocals for The Eden House three years ago?
LOUISE: Yeah, sure.
MD: But was it always on the cards to work on your own record at some point, after years of singing for other bands, and you were just waiting for the right time to do that?
LOUISE: I mean, it was a private fantasy of mine. I have to say, Stephen Carey awoke a sense of strength and confidence in me as an individual artist. Whenever we worked together on those two songs - ‘Misery’ was done… you’ll be shocked… I think it was 2013 I did the demo for that.
MD: Oh wow.
LOUISE: Yeah, and I auditioned by sending through my version of the two Julianne Regan tunes, so it was ‘All My Love’ and ‘Trashed Treasure’. And I sent the demo, I wrote ‘Misery’ and sent it back to Stephen and he was, thank goodness, very pleased! But, yeah, whenever we came to work together we just totally hit it off, and we had a great chemistry in terms of where we met in the middle on music. I mean, obviously, I have very broad tastes in music and I have a lot of influences that I draw upon for my thing, but the places where Stephen Carey and I met in the middle, we really struck a chord in that sense.
And it wasn’t until I’d written ‘The Ardent Tide’ and worked with Stephen and done ‘Misery’, and it was around that time I wrote the song ‘Deep Blue’. I sent it to him and I was quite nervous because I have an enormous amount of respect for him as a producer and, to hear his enthusiasm about that song, he went and wrote this piano piece. I told him what I was thinking for the song - what I wanted was somewhere between ‘Hey Jupiter’ by Tori Amos and ‘Something I Can Never Have’ by Nine Inch Nails - and he just came back with this piano piece underneath the phone recorded demo I’d sent him. And that was it; that was like, okay, we’re gonna write for my album now. So, it kind of snowballed!
MD: How was your working relationship with Stephen because I gather it was collaborative all the way, but it says in the blurb you were always made to feel a hundred per cent in control of the process?
LOUISE: He was such a gentleman whenever we worked together. When it was established, okay, we are going to do this album, and Stephen was behind it because he liked the ideas, the aesthetics and everything I was going for, musically… even though, at the time, he knew that we didn’t fully meet in the middle. This is where I felt really respected and like I was in full control of the process; it wasn’t like he was trying to do The Eden House again, but with me as the singer.
He’s a very good producer because he wanted me to be the driving force and, if there was something he maybe didn’t fully know, say a band or an influence or a style that he wasn’t really familiar with, he would go and listen to it. He’s so adaptable and an amazing musician, so he was able to come back and say, “Okay, yeah, I get the vibe you’re going for. I’ve not grown up listening to this, but I understand what you’re going for and we will achieve this.” So he had a really good attitude in regard to that sort of thing. And I think the second song that I wrote was ‘Isolde’, so this super intense kind of ode to my love of ‘Treasure’ era Cocteau Twins.
But, yeah, it was pretty harmonious, to be honest. Of course, there’s been a couple of bones of contention along the way, but you couldn’t really even say much because it’s only been miscommunication stuff; lost in translation. You know, when we sat down and talked to each other, there was never an issue. Stephen is someone I work really well with and people talk about this mystical connection you have with someone, and I’m very fortunate that two of the people that I worked with on this album, I have that kind of connection with. So, Stephen, of course, is one of them.
MD: It’s amazing to find the perfect person to work with, and Stephen doing all of his homework, as well, I guess that’s rare for a producer to take everything on board and not try to change stuff to their own ideals of how they think something should sound.
LOUISE: Definitely. I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to do and, initially, because Stephen has this really incredible sound that he’s carved out - you know, him and Tony Pettitt with The Eden House, and it does have a core sound - I think, when it came to my record, in no way was he criticising, but the only thing at the time he was saying was, “You’ve so many influences, how are you gonna gel this together?” It’s not something he said after a certain point, it was early on in our writing stages. But I just reassured him by saying, “Well, it’s my vision; it’s my core; I’m the writer of the songs. So, when we finish this record, there will be an overall feeling.”
And if you take something like Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’, every song on that record is totally different. There’s so much going on with that record, how do you even pigeonhole that with a genre? It’s impossible. That’s kind of what I wanted to do because I didn’t want to adhere to any one genre. I’m really influenced by progressive rock, and I love stuff like dreampop and shoegaze and things like that, so it was inevitable that all of those things were going to feed in.
MD: I think that’s an amazing achievement in itself, to have so much diversity on the album, as you’ve described, but for it to feel like it all binds together… through the emotions, I guess.
LOUISE: Thank you, I’m glad you see it that way.
MD: It does feel like its own self-contained journey within its own space. It doesn’t feel all over the place as, potentially, it could’ve been, I guess. Diversity’s good in life, anyway! It’s boring to have monotony!
LOUISE: Yeah, I agree!
MD: There are one or two bits on there, and I’m not talking much really, just the odd passage of music where it has a sort of Eden House vibe to it… which I think I put in my review. Maybe a particular guitar sound, chord progression or even a particular rhythm. By having Simon Rippin on drums, and with Stephen as well, is that how that crept in there? Or did your work with The Eden House filter back into your own art?
LOUISE: The experience of being in The Eden House and, I have to say, working with Stephen in particular, has been such a positive influence on me, and such a positive element to my development as a singer and songwriter, it was only right there were tickles of The Eden House vibe in there. The thing is, I’m a massive fan of The Eden House. Take everything else away - take away the fact that I toured with the band and I sang with the band and we recorded together - if none of that happened, I’d still be sitting here as a big fan of that band. And I feel they’re still a massively underrated band. I feel Stephen Carey is a massively underrated musician and producer.
It’s not that I wanted to totally get away from that; I didn’t want to do a record with Stephen and have it sound like The Eden House, by any means, but, for sure, there’s certain aesthetics that have seeped through into my work with those guys that does carry that kind of vibe. And I think, most obviously, would be ‘Ophelia’. Apart from the kind of Kate Bush instrumental break in the middle, an atmospheric part, it does have some of the hallmarks of an Eden House song.
MD: Definitely. So kind of part of the natural infiltration of influences in your music, then, rather than any kind of deliberate, “Let’s make this Eden Housey to please people” kind of thing…
LOUISE: Oh goodness, no. I mean, without wanting to sound too obnoxious, I think I definitely had a certain defiance of wanting to serve what people expect. Because it’s my first solo album and I’m a massive music obsessive - I’m obsessed with music, and particularly guitar and guitarists. I love 70s prog rock; I love 70s blues rock. There’s just so much going on but, because I was able to do what I wanted to do, I knew there was no expectation on me. And, working with Stephen and having those kind of big, sweeping romantic sounds that are there in some of the more epic Eden House tunes - yeah, that’s something I’m glad has fed into one or two elements of my record, but I think there’s so much else going on on the album.
MD: Definitely. Part of the overall diversity, I guess!
MD: The way you use your voice on the album is very beautifully delivered, I think, as it feels part of the emotional tapestry of the instrumentations, rather than dominating them. It’s very pensive and gentle, more often than not….and incredibly captivating, along with the music. Was that a conscious decision to hold back on always giving it a bit more welly in your delivery?
LOUISE: Actually, yeah, it was. I think it’s part of my maturity. I think, perhaps, if I’m being completely honest, in previous bands where I didn’t really have much influence writing involvement… over the music, might I add… but, whenever I’m writing a song, over a piece of music that’s just been handed to me… before, there was maybe an immature desire to really hold court on that song and try to really give it welly, and try to really go for it. Perhaps, in every case, that was not right for the song. You know, there are a few instances where, perhaps, I wouldn’t write in that way and definitely wouldn’t approach that song in that way if this was handed to me now.
So, when it came to doing my own record, I really took a gentler approach. I think, overall, this kind of rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout the record but, ultimately, I want to seduce the listener into this place of reverie, escapism, and I use my voice as the thing that underpins all of the music and hopefully achieves that. Certainly, in your review, you got it, so that was good! [Laughs]
MD: Yeah, and I think that’s really refreshing, as well. Particularly when you get singers with their debut solo albums, they just want to use it as a showcase for everything they can do, and a lot of them will be singing on eleven most of the time. That just really burns out after a while in the listening experience. It can be technically brilliant and whatever, but it can become too histrionic. But it’s a very refined vocal performance you’ve done on the album, which is very refreshing, I think, as well.
LOUISE: Thank you.