Louise Latham has just released her debut album Reclaimed, which sees her mix pop and folk elements into one great record.
I caught up with her to chat about the album, the recoding process and what lies ahead for her.
- You have just released your new album Reclaimed so for anyone who has not heard it yet what can we expect from the record?
It’s a cinematic album I would say. There are folk/pop arrangements and if you like Sarah McLachlan then you will probably like this album.
So it is a piano based album like Tori Amos but it is perhaps not as varied as Tori Amos and a little bit more folk orientated. It has been a labour of love and I have really enjoyed making it.
- As you said the album mixes pop with a bit of folk so how would you describe the sound of the album? And what influenced you to do down this path in terms of sound?
I think it is probably the albums that I have listened to throughout the years as I have listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and I wanted to capture a rich and warm sound that was similar to Joni Mitchell’s albums.
So I decided to create the album with Arno Guveau the producer and that was quite an intense collaboration because we devoted a two month period to the album. We worked for about a week on the string arrangements and I would say that string arrangements make up the body of the album.
The string players were from all around the world and so you have got quite a lot of influences there. But predominantly the sound comes from the albums that I have listened to so Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and albums like Tiger Lily that have these epic arrangements and then quiet intimacy I really like the balance of the two.
- The album has been out a couple of weeks now so have you found the response to the album so far?
So far it has been really good actually. Quite a lot of people have liked it that don’t necessarily listen to a lot of folk records which is a good sign because it has some quite uplifting and upbeat numbers as well.
The online reviews have been very good and we have had quite a bit of support from Welsh newspapers and radio - it is going to be the single of the week at BBC Radio Wales. So we are building it from Wales and that is where we are with it (laughs).
- You have mentioned Arno Guveau already so how did you end up working with him?
I was living in London at the time and I was performing at a music event and he was in the audience - he was living there at the time - and he approached me and said ‘why don’t we make a record together? I really like your sound’.
So I travelled to the south of Holland and we started working together and it built from there really.
- He has worked with the likes of Manfred Mann so how did you find working with him and what does his experience bring to this record?
Well he is a drummer predominately and a percussionist and he likes creating earthy songs and only really works acoustically - so I knew that the record would have that as its main core.
But then he does have quite a pop sensibility as well and so he brought that combination of the two and that is actually the combination that I was looking for. Also he is very devoted and a very enthusiastic producer he is a really committed person and I like working with people like that.
- You recorded the album in Holland so how was your experience out there?
Well I love the Dutch as they are kind and open so that is a start. Lindbergh is in the south of Holland and there are quite a lot of national parks so it is a really beautiful area. We were kind of cocooned away recording so I didn’t really get to travel that much (laughs).
- I was reading that you slept next to the analogue machine for the two month recording process so was it quite an intense project for you?
Yes very - I think I had one day off for the whole two month period and I slept most of that day. We were always talking about the arrangements and we would wake up in the morning and go straight to the studio and start recording.
So it was definitely a labour of love. Although we had booked the session musicians for a certain amount of time they gave us a bit of extra time and were popping in and doing addition arrangements and everything.
So it felt like there were a team of people/musicians behind the record who really loved making it.
- I speak to musicians all of the time and some of them find the recording process difficult and others don’t like so how do you find getting into the studio?
I love it; I really love it - as long as you have the right people making the record with you. I thrive with harmony and I need to feel that there is a good working relationship with people because I don’t like there to be arguments and thinks like that.
I like everyone to be on the same page and everyone is committed. So going in to make that record I felt very positive, it was hard work don’t get me wrong, but it was enjoyable.
I think creativity and making things with people is such a good working relationship as everybody lets go and feel free to contribute.
I am quite collaborative as I like listening to people’s ideas and responding to their creativity and bringing that into the record.
- Well you have slightly touched on my next question as you have mentioned the session musicians a couple of times and I was wondering how collaborative they were in throwing their ideas into how things should sound?
We started recording Young Boy, it has a slight Fleetwood Mac feel to it, Arno started playing on the drums and he created this fantastic and earthy beat and then the guitarist started with his lick and it just developed from there.
With a lot of the tracks we didn’t necessarily map them out fully before we began so it was just in the moment and someone would come up with a creative idea and everyone else would join in - so it was like a jam that turned into something that we would then finely tune. So yeah the session musicians contributed a lot.
- There is a personal feel to many of the lyrics throughout the album so what and who influences you when it comes to penning the songs?
A lot of my songs are about people who are close to me. I always go to the piano and write when I am moved by something and usually it involves either a situation with a friend or someone that I love romantically.
So I think that my inspiration comes from people that I am in intimate contact with and I think that that is why you get that very personal feel to the record.
Even a song like Gilded Bird which is about trying to get back to some kind of essence in what can be a very materialising world even that came from a conversation with a friend. So that is why it does feel so personal because it is.
- So what triggered the desire to follow a music career?
To be honest the moment that I realised that I wanted to be a singer and I wanted to write music was when I was about nine years old and I was sat watching Phantom of the Opera.
It had a profound effect on me and apparently I turned to my mum and said ‘I know what I want to be now. I want to be a singer’.
- What artists are you listening to at the moment?
I am into Citizen Cope, which fuses hip hop, folk, blues - he is an American writer. I am also a big fan of Goldfrapp, especially their album Seventh Tree.
I like albums at the moment that fuse different styles and that is what I am really enjoying at the moment.
- Folk is very much making a return so why do you think that this genre is coming around again?
I think people just want to reconnect with something a bit more earthy and roots based. I means things go in circles and cycles and when there is too much of one genre there is a backlash against it and you see another genre moving through - which I think is what is happening at the moment.
But then you have the likes of Adele, I am a big fan of Adele, her song writing is very strong and I think that there is a return to the sense of the song and the crafting of the song and the simplicity of the arrangements that you can put around it. I think there is a resurgence of the song-writing and folk sounding music.
- Finally what’s coming up for you and have you any live shows coming up?
My main show is 18th July and that is at the Café Jazz in Cardiff - we are doing a Welsh push - and I will be performing the entire album.
The venue has this baby grand piano which is lovely and I will be performing with my cellist and my sister on harmonies and guitar. On my website you can see all of my other gigs in London, Bristol and elsewhere.
Louise Latham’s new album Reclaimed is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw