Spot Festival

Lùisa – Utterly spellbinding

Giving a strong performance at this weekend’s SPOT festival, we believe German singer-songwriter Lùisa has a bright future ahead.

By Ellie Sellwood, Jutland Station

‘Maybe I belong somewhere else.’

The refrain of lùisa’s new song ‘Belong’ rings true and hangs in the air above the small Radar audience. In this moment she has captured us all. The lines are swept along by a strong current of beats and she uses her loop pedal to sing along with an echoey recording of her own voice which creates a cocoon of sound. In this intimate setting her silky lines of poetry stream out and fill the room. She comes to the end of the song with the lines ‘I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay’, ‘are you okay?’ and hangs on to the last note, taking a small pause before the room awakens and bursts into applause.

German singer-song-writer Lùisa signed to independent label, Nettwerk (EU only) in February this year. She was at SPOT festival ahead of the release of her second album Never Own which will be released on May 22nd. With an arsenal of different instruments, acoustic guitar, keyboard, electric drum kit and her voice, Lùisa uses a loop-pedal to record beats and vocals live on stage. Her smoky, deep voice has a smooth, rich feel and is at once both strong and vulnerable with sustained quavering notes. Her music is an intriguing mix of classic folk vocals and guitar riffs alongside electronica which when heard together has a spellbinding quality.

Cloaked in simple white light 22-year-old Lùisa looks like a girl you have met before. She is dressed simply in short denim shorts, black tights, black platform boots and a white high-necked blouse with her long hair escaping her ponytail. It is a refreshing change after seeing many of the more theatrical, visually striking artists at SPOT, to see a well versed artist completely comfortable in her own skin, confident in her music and performance.

Lùisa’s music is like witnessing the bloom of a flower. Photo by Shulun Huang

Lùisa’s music is like witnessing the bloom of a flower. Photo by Shulun Huang

She was endearing and funny too, engaging the audience in English between songs and laughing and joking when she lost her drumstick on stage, “as you can see I’m so organised on stage” she laughed. She also made an effort to introduce her songs. ‘Visions’, she said, was about having vivid dreams that dominate the daytime more than the night and you do not have the energy to do anything but at the same time you want to change everything. Every song contains poetic lyrics that tell a different story.

Lùisa began her song ‘More’, from her latest EP Introspection, much like some of her others, with a simple drum beat which she slowly built upon with the introduction of guitar chords, the clicks of drumsticks and vocals. The beauty of using the loop-pedal is that the song evolves live on stage from a simple beat into a fully flourished, full bodied song, with Lùisa’s music it is like witnessing the bloom of a flower. As well as being swept along with the music, the skill with which she adds more tones and layers that loop over and over is truly spellbinding.

The effect of recording her own voice too, gives her music added depth and enchantment. Poignant lyrics like “even if I try I know I won’t succeed in finding my way back in” and “I don’t know why I long for more” reverberate around the room. Her set was so good that it gave me chills.

Lùisa’s latest releases represent a shift in tone and content from her previous album One Youth Ago released in 2012 which contains more ‘loop-pop’, happy-go-lucky songsl. Nettwerk describe the new album as a combination of her “folk roots with electronic mysticism, strong melodies with headstrong pop” which “dances between quiet introspection and stormy outbursts.” The artistic progress of this 22-year-old can also be found in her lucid lyrics, which are sung in English, French and Italian.

I for one cannot wait to hear it. But in the meantime you can listen to Lùisa’s music on Spotify and watch her newly released music video for ‘Belong’. It’s a beautiful film to accompany a stunning song that speaks about the struggle of fitting in and finding your place in the world. The video saw Lùisa reunite with a childhood friend Daniel Görich who trained as a gymnast in Toulouse and toured with a circus. Lùisa writes on her Facebook page, ‘As last Christmas we met again (after 4 years), we talked about what we had learned and we decided we would love to combine the arts: acrobatics & music. A month later I met the inevitable third part for this visual fusion: the great Tilo Kux , a young director from the Düsseldorf-based ‘grown’ collective: we wrote the concept together, and he produced the clip with his wonderful team’.

Watch this space, Lùisa has a bright, bright future ahead of her.

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Ellie Sellwood is from the UK, currently based in Hamburg. She is a former editor and now a visiting journalist for Jutland Station. You can follow her on Twitter @EllieSellwood and see her portfolio here.

Shulun is a Chinese journalist studying an Erasmus Mundus Master’s that allows her to experience life at universities in both Aarhus and London. She is a contributor for Jutland Station.