hum many things… but I have this phrase which I think pretty much sums up what I do: I am a French-born British composer, producer and performer, crafting electronic songs with laptop and voice. I also experiment with visuals, in terms of artwork and video.
You had a classical training as a singer and then went on unusual and different paths, until you finally started to craft your own music.
In this sense, what is the appeal of electronic and experimental music for you?
I searched for myself for quite some time singing for other people. I was classically trained, then I studied at the National Conservatory of dramatic art in Paris but it’s not really where I blossomed. It’s after when I went through an introspection time. As for music production, I am self-taught. The ability to use a laptop for music was so liberating for me, I could within my little room create a whole musical universe, invent myself, re-invent. It gave me the possibility to produce a whole project, a story of my own, sonically and narrative. My first steps with Pro tools were fragile but I kept going. I also very much enjoy the process of immersing myself and searching sounds, tweaking stuff, I go inside myself… and then there is the other aspect, being able to perform live in front of people with my own material.
You did the visuals and videos for “Doll Divider” and now you made the artwork for “ō, music for haiku” including “The Magic Fish Dog”, which I think has a pretty neat concept. Musicians are releasing their works on new and old formats, interacting a lot with fans and even including pieces of art like yours. As a female musician, how do you see the independent market nowadays?
The good thing about working today is that you can pretty much function on your own, bedroom music, release objects digitally or physically, promote yourself. It is all possible now.
On the other hand, it does have its limitations. How do I see the market? I don’t know, I just try to make things possible, everything is pretty much on a shoestring budget but I’m not complaining, I love what I do.
Ideally we should not have to express through identitification with gender, gender issues can be boring at times, I am a musician but yes I am a “female” musician! It seems to me we have to try to think beyond what women are expected to look like, sound like, behave ( even in the independent music world). It’s not about fitting in with the format of music, appearance, body, age…it’s about being what you want to be, what matters is the art, not the gender.
We definitely need more women in general to take part, it can feel a bit too masculine at times but this is something we could say of other work environment.
I am not excited by all the indie, new folk scene happening now for instance, I find that musically too backward.
How did Alan Wilder end up taking that memorable set of photos of you for O Let Her? Not many fans know that side of his creative work!
yes maybe…But Alan has a musical approach which is very visual, very cinematic so it’s not that surprising.
I needed some photos to support the first version of “Doll Divider” which was initially released as digital via Optical Sound ‘s digital online shop Ototoi.
I asked Alan who had taken a very nice shot of me at a previous new year’s eve party and I knew he was very interested in photography. My friend Agnes Combes, who at the time was working for Guerlain, was visiting and arrived with tons of sublime Guerlain make up so we basically improvised with what we had, decor, make up. The shots which are I believe the most interesting are the ones which were produced in the second half of the day in Alan’s office, we used my slide projector to experiment with lighting and Alan’s particular metallic industrial shelving with the ancient phone offered an interesting background. The shadows on my face on one of them acts as a kind of mask, which works really well.
Fans are always looking to discover new music through their favorite artists. Could you recommend a favorite album or track of yours?
AGF aka Antye Greie, she is very cool, her website is http://www.poemproducer.com. I recently played a track from her album “Westernization completed” for my monthly radio contribution on Curved Radio 2SER in Sydney.
“O Let Her ” diaporama
artwork Doll Divider cover
Army of Dolls
Olivia Louvel is a French-born, British composer, producer and performer, crafting electronic songs with laptop and voice.
Over the last decade, she has released 4 albums and a collaborative album with Paul Kendall (under the moniker of The Digital Intervention).
She is working between the areas of experimental electronic music and popular music.
Her digital compositions use the voice as the spinal column; unique, minimal, weird and wonderful electronica yet human.
The starting point for Louvel’s 3rd album “Doll Divider” was derived from A4 paintings which she made using pages from fashion magazines and repainting on top of the photos of the models. Collectively these paintings are called “Processed Dolls”.
In 2010, Olivia supported Recoil (the musical project of former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder) for various concerts on the European “Selected” tour.
In 2011 she won the Qwartz Album at the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards for her third album “Doll Divider”.
Her music was broadcast on BBC Radio 6, BBC Radio 3, Radio Eins, Bayern 2 Radio, France Musique, Wfmu…
Her latest production “ō, music for haiku” has been released in December 2012. Based on haiku by poet Bashō (1644-1694), Louvel has composed a sparse soundtrack, voice and silence, which exist in a state far from our current pressing times. “ō, music for haiku” has been nominated for the Prix Ars Electronica 2013.
Olivia Louvel lives and works in West Sussex, UK.