Louise Carver: The Lengthy Number 6

Louise Carver is a formidable figure in the South African music scene. Her brand of towering ballads tinged with power-pop influences allowed her to carve out a niche in a scene dominated by rock bands. Times have changed and rock music is less prevalent in South Africa but her niche remains and she continues to push out brilliant albums with Hanging In The Void being her sixth studio album to date. We caught up with the pop sensation to discuss how she keeps managing to create new music, her thoughts on why musicians rush albums and why she rather chooses to take her time, and we delve a bit into her origin story.

 

Six albums are quite an impressive total for a South African artist. Many South African artists tend to fade into obscurity or quit after their third or fourth album for whatever reason. What has persistently driven you to reach the point of releasing your sixth studio album?

I had a lot to say on this album. I had been through a lot emotionally and I was also very clear on the musical direction that I wanted to take. I believe that this album will mean something to people who love my music and that it will connect to their ‘humaness.’ There is no point making an album without a driving passion for creating something magical – the journey is too hard without that unwavering spirit.

 What I really like about this new album of yours is that the creation of the album took a year and a half and you can really hear that in how each song is brilliantly crafted. What caused you to ultimately approach this album as a labour of love and take your time on it?

Thanks very much – that’s lovely that you can hear that. I have always taken a long time with my albums but working with Mark Beling was such a good experience. We both left our ego’s at the door with the only objective being – to make the most beautiful album we could. Sometimes you can over produce a song – the producer and you both know it, but you don’t want to waste time in the studio and revisit things. On this album, we took our time to let the song tell us how it wanted to be produced. If we spent a day adding in an elaborate electric guitar solo, we were not pressured into loving it. We would call a spade a spade and just chuck it if it detracted from the song.

 There is a trend among South African musicians, and actually, the global industry, to rush albums and try to deliver multiple albums in rapid succession. Why do you think this is the case?

I suppose they want to keep the momentum going that their PR machine created, which makes sense but I would wait for as long as it takes to hear my favourite artist’s album. I really believe in timeless music and truly loving every song on the album. I grew up listening to Tracy Chapman, Crowded House, Johnny Clegg and Fleetwood Mac and I know every bass line or guitar hook on each of their beautiful songs.

 You worked with Mark Berling, of Mr Mean Mustard fame, on this album. What was working with him like, and what was the creative process that surrounded this particular album?

Working with Mark was like working with your best school friend – we have the same sense of humour so we spent a lot of the time making each other laugh. He also helped me get through a terrible breakup whilst we were making this album and his constant support and patience shows in this album. He would just let me cry it out and then pour it all into my vocal takes. He has become a great friend and I hope we will work together many times in the future

Let’s turn to your history. I often feel like people gloss over the origins of some of South Africa’s biggest musicians. How did you initially get into music and what kick-started you to start creating music as a profession and turn it into your career?

I played in a band at 15 years old and was quickly signed as a solo artist pretty much immediately. I had been writing songs on the piano since eleven so the label hired some great session musicians and we started working on my album and I sang in some dodgy bars to get my confidence and technique up. I released my debut single at seventeen [‘It Don’t matter] which went to number one and I have been hard at work ever since. I never chose this life, I am this way of life. I have had a very secure knowing of what my life path was from about two years old – to sing and write and help people feel is why I do what I do. It truly is my soul purpose.

 After spending so many years in this industry, what are your thoughts on the South African music industry?

Because I have never been in a band, and I pretty much keep to myself, I have never really known how to answer this question. I do what I do and hope to connect to people. There was a great time around 2008-2010 where a bunch of us (Arno Carstens, Watershed, Prime Circle, Loyiso, Karen Zoid, Lira etc) hung out as we were doing 46664, Positive Rocks and a few other big shows – it was a fun, decadent time but life moves into different chapters, which keeps it interesting…but that was a very good time!

 Also, what is the one thing you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a musician?

I had some great advice when I was starting out, like get a tertiary education, have a few projects on the go so you are not always waiting for one thing to take off, there will be loads of highs and extreme lows, there is no security so you have to make security for yourself…things like that. I suppose I would like someone to have told me that you will need to be a warrior on this chosen path that even though you are signed to a label, you have to constantly be pushing yourself and that you don’t have to always be nice!

 Looking back on your journey through the South African music scene and your rise to success – what is one of the most stand-out moments to you?

Singing at 46664, supporting Michael Buble at Kirstenbosch gardens for 3 sold out nights, performing in St Petersburg, Belgium, Uk and so many other places but getting a no.1 Billboard hit with “Sunrise” this year was pretty mind blowing.

 I understand that you are launching a new annual Summer Concert in Hermanus next year where you shall be joined by members of Watershed – what brought about this collaboration and what can we expect from this particular show?

This will be our second show at Stanford Hills Estate (Stanford, Hermanus) 3 January 2017. The first one was such a sold-out success that I have been asked to do this event annually. I have an events company called Evergreen Events, which puts on this show, as well as shows at Casalinga in Joburg. Watershed and I have known each other for years (I actually sang with Craig on their 3rd album, Mosaic).Two years ago a corporate show put us together and asked us to do a mash up with our hit songs. They hired a fantastic musical director, Clifford Cooper who worked with us for a month to create this show. It was such a success that I thought, why not make this into an ongoing show which fans can enjoy. All shows have sold out and I ask people to bring their old picnic blankets which they can donate after the show. As an ambassador for the SPCA, my team and I drop them off at the local SPCA, which makes a huge difference to their comfort.  Tickets are R160 (adults) and R85 children and can be purchased online at www.louisecarver.com.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *