In this day and age when kids are obsessed with the instant and empty fame offered by the likes of the x-factor and Britain’s got (no!) talent, it is a relief to see an artist like Louise Distras emerge. Firstly, and most importantly, she has released a great album (see our review here https://thesoulofaclown.com/reviews/a-e/) but she also has an opinion and willingness to make her views known. We got the chance to talk to Louise about this and much more..
I SAW YOUR FACEBOOK STATUS REGARDING COMING ACROSS A GIRL THAT USED TO BULLY YOU IN YOUR HOMETOWN OF WAKEFIELD. WAS IT A TOUGH PLACE TO GROW UP?
Unfortunately any one of my stories is not uncommon but it’s not something that I allow to define me anymore, as it should never be allowed to define anyone. As I found out that day, sometimes all it takes is a scar from your past to rear it’s ugly head to make you realise how far you’ve actually come and for that I’m grateful.
WAS IT PART OF THE REASON YOU GOT INTO MUSIC?
I’ve always loved music and I’ve been singing and playing for as long as I can remember. My life experiences have shaped the driving force behind what I do and they’re the reason why I try my best to occupy my space in a positive way. Someone once told me that music can’t change the world, but I will defy that statement until my last breath, because music already has changed the world and will continue to do so forever. It certainly changed mine and yours, otherwise we wouldn’t be here talking to each other.
WHO ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pixies, Queen and John Lennon
IN A LOT OF REVIEWS, COMPARISONS ARE MADE TO FRANK TURNER. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? WHAT ABOUT BEING DESCRIBED AS ‘THE 21ST CENTURY JOE STRUMMER’? TALK ABOUT PRESSURE!
I’m aware of the fact that the music press continues to try and attach me to this bourgeois ‘folk revival’ trend, but I just want to be left alone to get on with doing my own thing. With no disrespect intended, I’ve got no interest in lazy journalism that compares me to other artists (no matter how awesome they are) and I possess zero desire to pander towards the fashion of the day. The term ‘revival’ speaks for itself really, and I am so looking forward to the day that there’s nothing left to imitate and the pendulum swings again. The sooner the nostalgia and fake rebellion wears off, the sooner we can have a real youth counter-culture that isn’t afraid to piss off the powers that be.
I HAVE SEEN LOTS OF ANTI X FACTOR COMMENTS ATTRIBUTED TO YOU; DO YOU REALLY HATE IT?
For me, X Factor has nothing to do with music and everything to do with celebrating bullying. It’s a powerful system of ridicule that filters down into everyday life as a casually acceptable response designed to destroy the self esteem of our youth and kick us into line with the status quo.
HAVING TWO YOUNG DAUGHTERS, I’M CONSCIOUS OF THE ABSENCE OF GOOD FEMALE ROLE MODELS FOR THEM. I MUST ADMIT, I HAVE EVEN ENCOURAGED THEIR CURRENT LOVE OF KATY PERRY AS AT LEAST SHE HAS SOME ‘CHARACTER’; DO YOU THINK THE LACK OF FEMALE ROLE MODELS IS A PROBLEM?
Rihanna, Miley, Katy, Beyonce or Britney; yes they are all part of the same money making machine that is the mainstream music industry. But who am I to say that any one of those artists is a bad role model for a young woman growing up? I’m no authority, but one thing I do know is that when I was growing up I felt like an alien, and I wasn’t exposed to any positive female or male role models (it’s important for guys to set a positive example too). It sure would’ve been nice for someone to say to me ‘Hey, you know what? You’re really cool just the way you are, and you will grow up to be whoever you want to be on your own terms without answering to anyone but yourself.’ Sometimes I wonder what difference positive reinforcement would’ve made to my life in the face of the bullying and knock downs by other kids (girls and boys) at school, and family members because to them I was ‘weird’, ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ and more interested in reading books than being interested in make-up and clothes. I also know that I wasn’t alone in experiencing this. The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with being into any of those things, what’s wrong is that sexism is so inherent in our society that misogyny is masked also by women who use the same weapons of ridicule, hatred and slut shaming to tear each other apart.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel as though acts of woman hatred by other women just impedes progress even more-so. All women and young girls regardless of colour, class, religion, sexuality, ability and body shape are REAL women and we don’t need to be given the power to each become our own independent revolutionary forces because we already possess that power.
For me, any woman or man in the public eye that nurtures that power through positive reinforcement and promotes diversity and sisterhood to our youth (instead of encouraging us to tear each other down) is a good role model in my book.
IN A PREVIOUS INTERVIEW YOU REFERRED TO LIKING BARRY GIBB (THE BEE GEES) AS A SONGWRITER. I REALLY ADMIRED THAT AS (IN MY OPINION), YOU CAN’T BEAT A WELL WRITTEN POP SONG. DO YOU AGREE?
Yes, especially if it includes fuzzy distorted guitars!
WHERE DOES YOUR INTEREST IN POLITICS COME FROM? WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I’m a musician not a politician, and all I’m doing is passing on a message from the next generation and doing my best to show that there is another world out there that we can create for ourselves away from X Factor and the hateful digital wasteland of social networking.
I promote working class unity because as long as we are fighting each other then we’re not standing together to hold the powers that be accountable for the inequality and injustices they create to distract us whilst they run society in their own interests.
YOUR DEBUT ALBUM ‘DREAMS FROM THE FACTORY FLOOR’, HAS GOT SOME REALLY BRILLIANT PRESS. HAS IT TAKEN YOU A BIT BY SURPRISE? YOU MUST BE, RIGHTFULLY, VERY PROUD OF IT?
The thing I’m forever grateful for and proud of the most, is the huge surge of positivity and support that was invested in the record by the global punk scene. Especially from the folks that have always stood shoulder to shoulder with me from my very first solo show three years ago.
It’s a cool thing for sure that the music press liked the record, but even if they had said it was shit, I wouldn’t have allowed their words to make me or anyone else feel any less proud of what we achieved. I’m very lucky.
DID YOU ACTUALLY WORK IN A FACTORY? IF SO, HAVE YOU BEEN BACK TO GLOAT YET?
Everyone has their own factory floor, with a vision, a hope and a dream for a better life and a better future for their kids. I wouldn’t consider that to be something to gloat at.
YOU ARE TOURING THE UK IN FEBRUARY, ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IT AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
Yes, very much so. I was lucky enough to be able to do alot of travelling last year and I spent most of 2013 touring mainland Europe and Canada, so I’m really excited to be back on home turf. I’m also really looking forward to playing shows with some amazing supports, especially Jesus & His Judgemental Father from Leeds and Grim Dylan from Derby. Who knows what’s going to happen? Expect the unexpected!
I WOULD BE REALLY INTERESTED TO KNOW WHAT TYPE OF CROWD YOU GET, I IMAGINE IT COULD BE QUITE MIXED?
For sure, there’s all kinds of amazing people who listen to alot of different kinds of music but I feel that we’ve all got the same story to tell.
WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN 2014?
2014 is set to be a great year for shows and festivals across the UK plus mainland Europe and I’m really looking forward to it. For quite some time I have been overwhelmed with demands to tour the USA, Japan, and Indonesia so it’s my goal to make it to at least one of those places this year. Fingers crossed!
I’ll be kicking off festival season at Rebellion Festival Amsterdam in March, followed by my return to Myfest in Berlin (Germany). I’m also really happy to announce that I’ll be making my debut at Bearded Theory Festival in Derby (UK), and there’s loads more tour and festival dates to be announced really soon.
There’s also plans for a new single release in the first half of the year, which includes a brand new music video that has already been filmed. There’s an awful lot more I could say, but life wouldn’t be fun without the element of surprise, right?
Louise has just started her tour so make sure you check out the dates and see her live. This could be a chance to see an artist who is prepared to use her music to make a real difference and that deserves your support.