Armed with her pin-up curls, husky tones and wistful melodies, Louise Hull is bringing a touch of classic 50s glamour to the world of the singer-songwriter.
Add to this a splash of Johnny Cash, a flicker of Americana and two harmonious backing singers – Bethan Gorman and Sara Templeman – and you’ve got Louise & the Pins; a show-stopping trio with an ear for a tune.
In amidst the steady throng of live performances, including a recent set at this year’s Glastonbury, the girls been have been busy preparing for their debut LP. Due for release in 2012, you can get a glimpse of what to expect in the startling beautiful AA single ‘Melancholy/Beauty Strange’. Out on September 5th through Chess Club, the record is bursting at the seams with tender acoustics and pays homage to the Torch Singers of the fifties.
“I really like ‘the voice’ itself and that’s why I’ve always admired the Torch Singers,” explains Louise. “I think that if you can just stand up and sing a song like Billie Holiday and Julie London, then that should be enough.”
The singer’s musical heritage has its roots in everything from Elvis and The Zombies, to T-Rex and The Beta Band; Louise approaches music with an open mind and an insatiable thirst. She can spend hours on end perusing London’s better known – and lesser known – record shops, in the hope of stumbling across that treasured one-off find. It is the look and feel of a good piece of vinyl that Louise values the most, tangible qualities which have almost become subordinate to the mp3 in today’s digital age.
“I grew up in Wakefield and began life in a four-piece a cappella group; that’s when I started writing songs,” says Louise. “I have always loved harmonies but I got good at them just through practising and understanding them – so I carried on writing and decided to pick up the guitar.
After devouring her parents’ record collection from an early age, it was her first boyfriend who helped to expand her musical horizons, taking her by the hand and introducing her to Neil Young. With a penchant for a good melody, she is indebted to her mum for more than just her musical tastes. A trained dancing professional, she has been a constant source of inspiration since the beginning.
“Having someone encourage you like that at an early age gives you confidence that you wouldn’t necessarily have,” she says. “And it works both ways because when they give you so much all you want to do is make them proud.”
Louise left her hometown aged 18 and headed up to Newcastle University, where she had a place studying French and Spanish. In a simple twist of fate, she found herself surrounded by musicians and was able to hone her songwriting skills and indulge her love of folk. But where her enthusiasm for music flourished, her passion for academia floundered and she left to pursue a musical career in London.
Setting up shop in a poky flat in Ladbroke Grove, she relentlessly toured the live circuit as a solo artist before enlisting the help of two backing singers, Bethan – who she met whilst performing as a backing singer herself for a mutual friend – and then burlesque dancer Sara, on Bethan’s recommendation.
Her love of music knows no bounds, but when she’s not writing, watching, listening to or playing music, Louise likes to spend her time swooning over old black-and-white films. “They definitely influence the visual aspect of my work,” she says. “And it’s a form of escapism for me too – I love going to the cinema and thinking about nothing. I go quite a lot on my own; I did a thesis in French film so I watch a lot of foreign films and people don’t tend to want to come with me!”
It’s quite fitting then that the trio spent a week holed up in a recording studio in rural France, laying down album tracks and drinking moonshine. “We recorded everything live and used lots of beautiful old amps and microphones,” says Louise. “I wanted to capture elements of old school recordings but also keep it feeling fresh and contemporary.”
Louise describes her sound as rockabilly with a strong torch singer element. “I want to bring people into my world,“ she opines. “I want to hurt their hearts and I want to create music that makes people feel something; real music.”