Interview with Louise Havell: Shooting with Lives



Louise Havell is a consummate singer-songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist musician and draws melody and arrangement inspiration from singer-songwriter legends such as Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, as well as more beat-driven eighties artists such as Giorgio Moroder and Wham. Her music is also hugely inspired and fuelled by her rich life experiences and travels to date: all around the globe and back again, living largely in tune with nature and learning from all the cultures she has encountered along the way. She now releases her debut E.P., “Shooting With Lives”, – available now across all download and streaming platforms. 

After a childhood of learning to play guitar, saxophone and drums, Louise’s formative musical influences were incredibly varied: as well as Tori, Kate, and Joni, she also loved the vibrant sounds of Salsa and Samba. She also loved all the greats from across all time and all genres: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, Carol King, James Taylor, Nick Drake, Stevie Wonder and all the credible pop music of the eighties too. These eclectic sounds inspired an enduring love of production and how to arrange music which has served her very well as an artist in her own right. 

A native Londoner, Louise’s desire to experience other countries and cultures saw her adopt the life of a global traveller. One who finds a true connection and inspiration in Nature, whether it be sleeping under the stars in California, swimming with dolphins, immersing herself in country living – or in the challenges of mountain-dwelling (in both the Himalayas and the Lake District!)  She has traversed the Earth, met many people and lived several lives, so, unsurprisingly, she has distilled these many wonderful experiences into her music.

Back living on a narrowboat in London and experiencing a brand-new adventure – becoming a mother- Louise set about writing her debut EP, “Shooting With Lives”. True to life, it is infused with the glorious sounds of nature, with geese and boat engines and river life infusing their charms into the recordings. Taking her love of the eighties pop production and the era generally, the E.P. is a mix of different production aspects with a lot of references and nods to the decade in terms of being beat-driven but also with a strong sense of melody and arrangement.

The EP opens with the previous single, the emotional and wistfully sad “Everything’s Gone”, the opening of which is evocative of soul-filled Gospel and Blues which exudes loss and regret. The song was inspired by a homeless man Louise witnessed on the streets of London and what he may have lost in life. The focus track “You Take Me Home” is about meeting someone who feels so familiar that they feel like ‘home’. Sonically the track is a homage to the eighties with a lo-fi take on Thompson Twin-inspired guitars. Louise says, “This is daydream material for me, influenced by my experiences living in Southern California – surfing beach life, hazy light, perpetual warmth and dream state.”

Another nod to the traditional eighties sound is Solina Ferriane”, which is punctuated with in-your-face, unapologetically ‘angry’ synths and drums sounds which underscore the divisive subject of this track: Brexit. Louise adds, “I remember feeling a sense of foreboding in the air, of devastation and loss. I felt shock and fear about the division within our country”. “Falling into Blue”, with its sparse reductionist arrangements, also chimes about shock and fear in its lament on climate change.

“For Me” is an intriguing exploration of production using everyday domestic objects to create percussive beats mixed with electronic drums. The title track, Shooting with Lives”, saw Louise experiment with musical production again by using her unique method of multi-layering her own voice to make one ‘note’. Thematically, the song is a soul-searching question of the war in the Middle East and its devastating consequences, both for the people there and for ensuing violence and attacks elsewhere in the world. Louise asks how innocent children can grow to hurt others in that situation – a theme which also translates to all of humankind engaging in unfathomable conflict across the ages.

With the “Shooting For Lives” E.P., the well-travelled, talented and versatile Louise Havell not only explores the very form of music production itself, she also fearlessly explores our innate human fears, frailties and conflicts with true insight and sensitivity.

Get “Shooting With Lives” EP: 

Get “You Take Me Home” single



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Interview with Louise Havell

Can you talk through your EP “Shooting with Lives”?

It’s a collection of songs that I wrote and recorded on my narrow boat. Some of the songs are very inward-looking. Some of them are looking out at what’s going on in the wider world. 

I’m a big fan of production. I love exploring different techniques and sounds. I also love retro aesthetics (who doesn’t). So much of my production on this record is a homage to pop music of the 80s.

How would you describe your music?

I’d say it’s pop-singer songwriter, that is sometimes electronic, sometimes folk, depending on my mood…

What inspires you, and who are your music influences?

A bit of space to reflect on is what inspires me, as without space, there’s no room for feelings to emerge. I get space spending time in nature, or a cycle ride, travelling, adventures, anything which allows a shift of perspective.

Music influences are folk-based, like Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell. Rhythm-based would need to include Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Electronic-based would be Georgio Moroder and Washed Out. – Well, that’s just a few of many, of course.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t run from your dreams. You’ll only break your heart. 

What’s your favourite thing to do in London?

Swimming at the Ladies Pond at Hampstead Heath, no doubt.

You are a global traveller? What’s your top tip for exploring the world?

Go by yourself.

What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to more gigs! I’m looking forward to sitting in the quieter phase of the year to record the songs I have written for the next record. So much to look forward to.