Name: Louisa Pillot
Occupation: DJ, producer
Current Release: Louisahhh's "Chaos / A Hard No" remix package will be out on November 20th on HE.SHE.THEY. It includes IMOGEN, Minimal Violence and Wax Wings.
Recommendations: The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House by Audre Lorde. This little book of essays by queer black feminist Audre Lorde is the best thing I’ve read in years, maybe my whole life. The essays ‘Uses of the Erotic’ and ‘Uses of Anger’ are particularly mindblowing.
Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality by Frederick S. Perls, Ralph Hefferline, Paul Goodman. I’ve been a patient in ‘Gestalt psychotherapy’, for like seven years and it’s been totally fantastic and life-changing, couldn’t recommend it more. This year I’ve been trying to learn more about how to become a Gestalt therapist and turns out the ideas contained in the theories supporting this particular model of (not only treating patients but also) viewing the world are very beautiful, and have kind of helped a lot of things click into place for me personally on an emotional and spiritual level. Maybe for you too. Check out this seminal text!
If you enjoyed this interview with Louisahhh!!!, visit her accounts on facebook, soundcloud or instagram for more insights, sounds and updates.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I’ve been writing and playing music since I was a kid; production has been a much longer road and I will humbly say that I’m still learning a lot in that department. Early on, I was a guitar nerd, very focused on learning how to play like old blues guys, BB King, Freddie King, learning how to replicate Miles Davis trumpet solos on guitar, playing in jazz band in high school (consistently trying to get Iggy Pop songs into the jazz band’s repertoire, consistently denied).
From an early age I also idolized front-women. Shirley Manson was like my true north. She embodied boldness and sexuality and rebellion and angst in a way that I couldn’t articulate at the time, but felt so deeply. From the gateway drug of Garbage, I saw and recognized my heroes in Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxie Sioux, Debbie Harry, Karen O. I really secretly wanted to be among them, but it felt like a dream too dear to my heart to articulate. What if I tried, failed, made a fool out of myself? I mean, I was not cool at all growing up. It was enough at the time to be told that I wasn’t alone in my darkness, that other people felt like I did. It allowed me to survive myself.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I mean, as I mentioned, so much of learning anything, especially a ‘tangible’ skill like singing or playing guitar, is just learning how to play other people’s stuff, learning how to sing other peoples’ songs. It is still a great pleasure to figure something out, to sing along, you know?
I guess because my career or my skill-set as a DJ came first, it was an easy way to participate in musical-borrowing. One’s sound is created through a collage and re-contextualization of music made largely by other people. I take comfort in this fact, and learning how to trust my musical instincts as a DJ first and foremost, to have faith that I sound like me no matter what genre I play allowed me to transfer this ideology to original material and collaboration.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
Oh my god, I am not a good producer. I used to carry a lot of shame about this, but over time have been asking for help, have been improving, have been making my way through ‘mistake-ism’. It has developed into a sound of its own, a kind of shitty aesthetic that winds up being punk (I hope). Also, the asking for help and receiving it, often in the form of collaboration, gives its own sensibility that I think in many ways makes the final product more interesting, more powerful than it would’ve been if I did it alone. This also allows me to focus on my strengths and develop my voice and writing style in a different direction than most electronic artists, I think.
When I was first encouraged to actually write and sing I was super resistant because I didn’t want to sound like a lame chick who talked in a sexy voice over dance music - that was too far from my rock n’ roll roots or punk ethos. Originally, everything that I was making was kind of … spiritual truths, almost prayers, disguised as club hits. The challenge is maintaining integrity and getting away with it. Now I guess I am just disguising it less, now it’s openly about god and death and sex.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
As I mentioned, I am very much into collaboration as a tool, so a lot of the time I’m either simply recording vocals in a room in my house (originally, this was literally under a blanket in my closet on the internal laptop mic), or working with someone else in their space. At the moment I try and stay thrifty with an apogee duet, shure beta 58A (and occasionally various pedals), a horrible Marshall solid state amp I am borrowing indefinitely from my boyfriend, and the light of my life, a ‘66 (candy apple red, matching headstock) fender Jaguar. I have a Maschine and a Elektron Analog Rythm, both of which are cool tools that I should use more.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Other humans, especially the humans I am lucky enough to work with (Vice Cooler and Maelstrom primarily) are much more adept at technology. My work lies mostly in humanity as it’s the lyricism and the vocals that I am spending the most time and energy on perfecting and developing, what I am actually good at. Technology is mostly a way of capturing that thing so other people can hear it. It is very important to me that the technology preserves the humanity.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
My main technology-as-compositional tool would probably be basic logic plug-ins, including my favorite, ‘Logic Drummer’ which gives an early ‘00s dance-rock feel to everything, that I am super into. Also, ‘pedalboard’ (Grit on everything!). This is mostly evident on my remixes - as I said, mistake-ism serves me well.
On the other hand, if you spoke to Mael or Vice, my main creative partners, I think that they have a really different relationship with their tools that I am so impressed and inspired by, but this is where their interest lies. I am mostly trying to write something that kicks the listener in the guts.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I feel like each collaboration is different, and that it took a while for me to become a good collaborator, to have enough self-esteem to show up and be vulnerable, to give honest feedback, to make mistakes and not feel like I was always the worst in the room, or that if I wasn’t pressing the buttons I wasn’t contributing.
In the two main collaborations that I am presently involved in, the output is super different but it sounds like itself, if that make sense - the co-created thing takes on a life of its own and I feel really grateful to get to have that kind of exchange with such awesome individuals whom I really love and respect.