25 Nov 2020
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Lou'ana - Interview with Lou'ana

29 Oct 2020 // An interview by Mike Alexander

In the video for her 2019 debut single Eye To Eye, Lou’ana played the role of a fortune teller. It’s doubtful though that even she could have foreseen the plaudits that would come her way on the back of another three singles that heralded her as a soul sister with a voice to stop you in your tracks. Mike Alexander from Muzic.net.nz caught up with Lou'ana on the eve of the release of her debut album Moonlight Madness.

You have paid your dues, so to speak, in a number of bands including Hipstamatics, The Andrew Faleatua Band and Two Many Chiefs. What did you gain most from these experiences?

We performed mostly covers in those bands! I guess they provided a platform to learn the rules, understand them and respect them to then break them and re-imagine them in my own way, further inspiring my own creativity.

What was the catalyst to venture out as a solo artist or was that always part of your overall aspiration?

Bands are all about collaborating, which I love! I wanted to explore my own creative horizons and I felt ready to delve into my art in a way I hadn’t before. Though this is a self-titled album and project, 'Lou’ana' is a 7-piece band. I am just the creator and visionary for it.

When did you discover others liked the sound of your voice and did that come as a surprise?

It’s my instrument for communication and for expressing myself, I need to express otherwise I will have a traffic jam in my head.

When did the thought of a career in music become a genuine passion?

I was told music is the hardest job to succeed in, so I thought, that’s the one for me. Lucky for me, I have a very supportive family who encouraged my passion for music since I was small.

Finish the following sentence. During my upbringing what I learned the most was ....

Trust the vision!

Are you naturally self-confident or is that something that’s developed with experience?

That’s something I’m working on every day.

How difficult is it to write about meaningful things to you and retain a sense of privacy at the same time?

Sometimes things just need to be said the way they need to be said.

Is there anyone in the New Zealand music industry that you would regard as a role model?

Oh yes! Dillon Riesterer, my partner. He’s an incredible musician, vocalist, performer, working musician, businessman – jack of all trades! Dillon’s knowledge extends right across the board. He inspires me every single day and I wouldn’t be the woman or musician I am today without him!

Your first four singles – Eye To Eye, Move Along, Summer In May and Feel This have showcased versatility in your vocal range and style? Who are the artists who have most influenced you?

Each song requires a different approach. I love to craft and play with my vocals to serve the vibe of the song. I have many artists who have influenced me, Amy Winehouse for her dynamics and phrasing! Aretha Franklin for the belting and funky phrasing. Janis Joplin for the growls and passion. Gladys Knight for the control, dynamics and phrasing and Stevie Nicks for the hypnotic midrange and confidence with using mystical inspired lyrics!

You were nominated for awards in three categories at the Pacific Music Awards. Is your cultural heritage as a second generation Samoan New Zealander important to you as an artist?

Of course, it’s who I am. I am very proud to have been acknowledged for my art at the PMAs and by my pacific community.

How did it feel, so early in your solo career, to have one of your songs – Feel This – selected for a Holiday Records unique 7 inch vinyl compilation of “hot New Zealand artists”?

I’m absolutely stoked! It’s very encouraging!

I gather your debut album Moonlight Madness, set for release on October 30, has been a three-year work in progress. Can you talk us through the song-writing process and how important producer Nathan Judd was to it?

The album was basically myself and Nate in the studio for two and a half years! I took in a few songs to begin with but I mostly wrote them within this time. I’d write lyrics, shuffle them around into a form, the lyrics would help write the melody which would lean into a genre style. I’d take that to Nate and we would workshop the song, the melody and build the instrumentation from there. We really worked on this album together. We share the same work ethic of putting in as many hours as it needs, never skipping on a detail and naturally wanting to explore how to make it different! Nate is really great at seeing the overall vision and bringing out the best in me and my style. We also share a love and passion for soul and funk music of the 60s and 70s, this really aligns our collaboration.

Interesting title. The full moon certainly brings out the “inner coyote” in me. Are you also someone who notices heightened emotions around the full moon?

Coyotes are known as the tricksters, how fun to unleash that energy on a full moon :) “When the moon is on the rise, soul is hypnotised, it moves me, soothes me, takes me on a ride – I’ve got the moonlight madness.” My lyrics say it all!

The overall feel of the album is one of meticulous attention to detail. That kind of process takes discipline as well as creativity? Is that an accurate description of the kind of person you are personally and creatively?

Yes, I think so! I am very dedicated to my craft. A blessing and a curse I’d say.

You are invited to headline anywhere in the world. Where would that be and why?

I’d say The Byron Bay Blues Festival! I’m sure with more travelling, I’ll come across some festivals for the dream board but Byron’s Blues Festival has been a long-time dream of mine!

It’s been said that music is the language of the soul. Would you agree?

Yeah, I’d agree with that. It’s all about feel! If the feel is there, it doesn’t matter what language the lyrics are or what the style is, you can feel the soul! That’s what I believe!

 

About Lou'ana

The free-spirited, eclectic sound of Auckland, based artist, vocalist and singer-songwriter Lou’ana (Whitney) is one of unparalleled magic. Having carved a place for herself within Auckland’s vibrant music community over the past 6 years as a proud, second generation Samoan New Zealander, Lou’ana’s voice carries the stature of an old soul; a cosmic cocktail of sweet and soulful, with an added gritty, blues edge that references the golden age of Etta James, Emmylou Harris to the rawness of Stevie Nicks and Amy Winehouse. Her heart and soul translates through sound, in that unexplainable alchemy that happens when music meets word.

Whitney has performed all around New Zealand as part of the inimitable funk troup Hipstamatics, playing a multitude of festivals across the country including some of their favourite haunts such as Hipstamatics’ “birth place”, Grand Central in Ponsonby. The spell-binding artist also performs as part of Two Many Chiefs, and has supported a number of New Zealand jazz acts including Andrew Faleatua at Samoana Jazz Festival and the 2015 Pacific Music Awards, as well as providing live vocals for kiwi electronic outfit Sola Rosa.
2019 will be the year Lou’ana releases her debut solo material to the world, as she takes to the road on a number of dates soon to be announced.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Lou'ana

Releases

Moonlight Madness
Year: 2020
Type: Album

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