Interview. “…we are always at the edge. But we never lose our minds.”
Thanks to artistic bright visions and hard work, Calva Louise are already roaring in the ’20s, no puppet strings required.
Over the last few years – and now armed with the startling debut album, ‘Rhinoceros’, their seeds are blooming.
2019 was an incredible year of landmark releases and shows, internationally. It was rounded off with a dazzling new EP – ‘Interlude For The Borderline Unsettled’ – and their own (triumphant) tour.
With acclaim and audience reaction spreading, they round off January 2020 on tour with Strange Bones before headlining London’s Roundhouse Rising in February.
At TheZineUK we feel that favourite threads of our tapestry deserve to rise. On one dimension, we’re living through a greatest hits, 21st century rock opera escaping it’s bleakly dystopian setting.
In “real” life, it takes one helluva lot of effort to get next level, as Monefa Walker found out from the consistently future twisting, Calva Louise, in a recent conversation (which also touched, relevantly, on films). Read on:
Somewhere amongst all the darkness, there are stars. One giant star is surrounded by many planets. On a piece of rock moving at 1000 miles per hour, is a wonder of earthly stars in the form of artists. On this tiny piece of rock known as Earth, our home, I took a trip down to the Shacklewell Arms at the beginning of December 2019.
It was the final night of Calva Louise’s mini tour, celebrating their new EP ‘Interlude for the Borderline Unsettled’. A sold-out show.
They kindly took time out of their busy schedule, to have a chat. It’s a follow up to when I first interviewed them two years ago, so I really wanted to know some of their happenings since then.
Me: Calva Louise, hello!
Calva Louise: “Hello!”
First thing I want to ask, are there any films that came out in 2019, that stuck in your mind?
CL: “Yeah! There was ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’, love that film. ‘Joker’, really really liked that one. Oh, and IT:Chapter 2 and Doctor Sleep! A couple of others…
MDoctor Sleep was really good! Did you get to see Midsommar?
CL: “No. I wanted to see it, but you know I read the script online. I think it was leaked online before the film came out, so curiosity got the better of me.”
It’s still worth watching though, when you have the time! Speaking of fantasy, from where we were two years ago, when I first interviewed you, do you feel like you’re in a fantasy now, or has it been a long time coming?
CL: “Hmm. Well we’re definitely closer…I think we are where we wanted to be two years ago. But the thing is, the effort is so, so much.”
…A lot of sweat, a lot of tears…
CL: “…Yeah. And when we sold out in Manchester, some were like, “Yep. Fine. Good”. And we were really happy, and some were shrugging shoulders, so we were like “Yep. Okay.”
MI think what can hurt the most, it isn’t how much time and effort you put into something. It’s about not having that reciprocation matched in any way. If your blood, sweat and tears is received with emotion and sweat you think, “Ahh okay.” But, when others don’t, it can be super frustrating!
CL: “Yeah exactly. We’ve been through a lot of issues that we’ve overcome. It makes us stronger as a band and not only that, I think generally, in the industry, there’s a certain way, things are done. How the machine works, and sometimes you’re thinking, “Yeah, but that’s not how it should be working”. It doesn’t ring true.”
I came up with an analogy the other day. The industry, machine, labels whatever, they’re not against the artist. They’re not maliciously trying to f*** the artists over. But, it is like a human stepping on an ant. You weren’t maliciously trying to hurt the ant, but you still did. We feel like, us ants (chuckle), we need to be aware so we’re not stepped on, you know?
We’re not hustlers, and sometimes we get told we should be asking more questions etc, and sometimes…”
…Sometimes you just can’t be bothered, do you know what I mean?
CL: “We just want to work hard, but sometimes yeah, we have issues like not having any money at all. But, we’re great at finding alternative ways. Like Alizon built a roof rack, for our van. Him and Ben did a band sign for our tour. And it looks professionally made, but they spent sleepless nights over the stove, bending plastic, soldering. Right till the very day of the tour beginning. Any of our merch, we pack it ourselves and send it out ourselves too.”
…every part of the process, you overlook…
CL: “…Exactly. It’s funny, someone commented on the artwork of our EP “Interlude for the Borderline Unsettled”, saying that whoever we paid to make this, they made a typo and need a refund or a partial refund, something like that. And I was like, “Ha! That’s a funny one. So, you’re saying, that I should be paid, for the artwork? Hmmm. Shall we tell that to our label at some point?”
MCould you then argue – though irritating and painful at times – the challenges you’ve had, have helped you grow into who you want to be, where you want to go?
CL: “Definitely! Definitely. I’d rather be where we are now, and fighting for it, than being a puppet and being manipulated into throwing your life away, because that’s what the machine does. It takes a band, squishes the life out of it, and goes to another one. That’s why bands go up and fold so quickly. They’re trapped into a system that sold them dreams, and it’s all lies. Just to make profit.
We’ve learned how to exist within the industry ourselves. We don’t depend on anyone. For example, all the emails to our managers, I know how it works working with PR, agents. Then later if you choose to work with someone, you already know how it works, so there’s less chance of being screwed over.”
Because you know exactly what to expect etc?
CL: “Exactly. Then you know, if something is wrong or not. We could even start our own label. Maybe one day.”
When you’re not banging your head on the table as much?
CL: *laughs* “Yeah. Once we have some more stability. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, before we start any new projects. But we appreciate what’s happened so far, we’ve still got a journey, a story to write. We just want to find ways, to be able to keep going. Even better when we sell out a gig!”
‘Interlude for the Borderline Unsettled’; (1) ‘Belicoso (Explicit)‘, (2) ‘Sleeper’, (3) ‘Adelante’ (4) ‘Belicoso’ (Explicit – Strange Bones Remix)
Would you say, these are some of the running themes, to help you come up with your EP title “Interlude for the Borderline Unsettled”?
CL: “Yes, because we are always at the edge. But we never lose our minds.”
MDo you find that’s where the magic happens though, out of your comfort zone, just on that edge?
CL: “Absolutely. Before, when stuff went wrong, I would go into a panic mode. Now when things go wrong, I go, “Yeah, well how can we solve it?”. You don’t create the space to panic even more, so you can control yourself better and more able to make decisions.”
…More methodical, less emotional?
CL: “Exactly, as that’s a waste of time and stressed or not, nothing is going to change unless action is taken.”
Me: Which is the one track off the EP, that you want everyone to listen to, in order to understand your journey?
CL: ‘Belicoso’. Or ‘Adelante’. ‘Sleeper’ is more about the whole journey itself.
I feel like ‘Sleeper’ is the interlude within the interlude if that makes sense?
CL: “No, that does make sense. It is. It’s more of a track, about your dream, your whole journey, the goal of your journey. ‘Belicoso’ is more about being on the edge and going, “Wait a minute, this doesn’t seem right”. ‘Adelante’ is about realising, “It doesn’t matter, we have to go forward”. Literally. The past is behind us, so we don’t have time to waste. So, even if there are lots of challenges and issues that happen, you just have to move forward. There’s no other way.”
That’s a good philosophy to have though. Even when we stop, the Earth is still moving.
CL: “Yeah! Your life is the way it is. You can only, try to keep going. That’s the only thing that works. Although in ‘Belicoso’, it’s about when you lose it. When you need that catharsis, that release.”
Anger is a great motivator, a lot of people just don’t get taught how to channel it properly.
CL: “It’s also that realisation you’re allowed to be like, “What the fuck?!”, but you can’t stay there. This is how it is, how the world is. You need to shift where you are angry, but also having the awareness of the situation.”
Me: That makes a lot of sense, choosing how to change the discomfort. Obviously, you can’t share all of your plans, but what are some of the plans for 2020?
CL: “We’re recording a second EP. Well, we could only record three songs for now, as we ran out of money. But, there’s definitely more music coming. Not everyone believed the mini tour, would be successful. There was uncertainty about whether we should book the shows. But, two sold out shows is pretty good. Next year, we’ll see!”
Alright, cool. Well I’ll leave it there, but thanks a lot for taking some time out to have a chat with me!
CL: “You’re welcome!”
There are mirrors in the venue. They steamed up after five minutes, and stayed like that. It got very hot, very messy with tons of fun and jokes from the band themselves. It got very hot, very messy with tons of fun and jokes from the band themselves.
The atmosphere was buzzing throughout, thanks, hugs and drinks were exchanged.
Calva Louise have just got started, with their feet firmly on the gas pedal. Their music has evolved, a 2.0 upgrade if you will. Experimenting with different techniques and sounds, whilst solidifying what makes them Calva Louise. Innocence to full awareness.
If you’re wondering, how on Earth (pun intended) the music in 2020 can surpass the music in 2019, Jess, Alizon and Ben are leading the path. We see it. We smell it, and we want it in our heads!
Multi-talent Monefa is Caffy’s assistant PR Princess at ArtBeat and a piano playing star. A regular contributor to The Zine UK both online and at our socials.