We chat to Louise Carver about her two-decade career over a cup of coffee

2017-12-13 15:10

Cape Town – It’s been 21 years since the release of her very first single and 19 years since the release of her debut album, and by the looks of things Louise Carver isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

It’s a sunny day when I meet Louise for coffee in Green Point. We chat about the last 20 years of making music, her childhood and what's she's up to next.

This is what Louise revealed during our chat:

On growing up:

I didn’t grow up in a musical family. My dad can play the piano and the piano accordion and the clarinet, but nobody has ever had it as a career, and it wasn’t something that we did. But there was definitely a piano that was everything to me and from two years old I was on that piano playing. For me it was just the most natural thing in the world.

I was sick a lot, I had chronic asthma and I was in bed until about 12 years old for a large part of my life. So I was very much drawn to reading, especially Roald Dahl, and piano. Whilst everyone else was playing and just being normal kids, I couldn’t, I couldn’t breathe. I was on cortisone the whole time, up until about twelve. And then from high school it would only be about four times a year in hospital. Every time the season changed. That was great for me, I got the chance to make some friends and have a bit of normality. But I think that’s why I was very close to the piano. It was something that I did for hours without having to be physical. Strange that I’m singer you know. I’ve got a great lung capacity, but asthma is asthma, so there are times that you literally can’t breathe, but I’m through that. 

On playing the piano:

I tried the violin and failed at it. The piano isn’t an instrument to me, it’s a tool for expression, I see like guitars and drums as instruments. Piano, like there’s never a separateness, it is part of you so I understand it. I don’t understand other musical instruments, sadly, I wish I did. But I’ve never seen the piano as something outside of me.

I had professional training until about grade 4 and then she kicked me out. I remember the conversation very very well. She phoned my mother and said, 'look there’s another little girl who is really serious about her piano that would really like to take the lesson, so can we let Louise end this’' And I think I was about 10, and then by 11 I was writing full on compositions. 

On signing a record deal at 15 years old:

My whole life changed from 15. I was not happy, I wasn’t a particularly happy child. I didn’t ever feel I fitted in to Cape Town lifestyle in terms of I didn’t really want to be on the beach the whole day, I wanted to be working. I love working with bands and music. At 11 I started writing my own compositions and at 15 I got a band together with one of my best guy friends and he introduced me to a guy whose father had a record label in Camps Bay. So we rehearsed without thinking anyone was listening, but the father’s girlfriend heard me sing and I wasn’t using a mic or anything just singing some of my own original material, and called him downstairs and said, ‘come and have a listen to this girl’. And he pretty much signed me on the spot.

On having two identities:

I love dance, I go over to the States and do big dance music in Europe. I just got back from the States, I got a new one coming out there. Sunrise was No 1 last year on the Billboard Charts, so they love what I do over there, the dance music, but I just can’t get my singer-songwriter stuff to go over there. I have two identities, I’m singing in clubs at 02:00 in the morning to heaving teenagers but then I come back and I put on a beautiful dress and play on a grand piano, but I don’t mind, as long as it’s getting out there. That’s all a songwriter and musicians really want, just get it out there, get people singing. 

On working with rappers:

People that stand out is Zulu Boy, when I did Warrior. Just the speed with which some of the rapper's work. With JR we did You Think You Got It Easy, which was a big single for me. He literally walked in and did like one perfect take, and then just one more for just in case. He’s fantastic, really great. Wherever I work, particularly with African rap artists, I find they are so good and so quick, that it’s amazed me. 

On highlights of the last 20 years:

There’s many, but I’ll tell you meeting Nelson Mandela and working for 46664. I met him twice. I don’t really give a damn about celebrities or meeting people overseas, I don’t care. But him, I wanted to meet him since I was a tiny child, I wanted to meet him and Tracy Chapman. And maybe Stevie Nicks. And Tina Turner. Okay but that’s it! 

The other highlight would be supporting Michael Buble. And then the highlights are travelling, where I get to go to St Petersburg, I’ve been to parts in Europe which normally people don’t get to go to. I’ve done Red Light District clubs, I’ve been in the oldest theatres to perform, Boston I go every year and New York. I’ve travelled a lot with my music and I hope that I get to do it more, but that’s a massive highlight. 

On giving advice to her younger self:

Don’t date anybody in the industry. That was a big mistake. Leave them alone, they’re pretty to look at, nice from far but far from nice. I’d say leave relationships until you can really do them, because those half-half ones where you’re travelling so much don’t work. Just enjoy, don’t get so stressed,  I’d just say, don’t worry so much, in my case it turned out alright. 

On being an open book:

I don’t believe in secrets, because I think for a while when you become well-known you’re frightened that people would find something out and publish it. So I made this policy to myself that I’d just say everything. I’m starting a podcast with Cliff Central from next year called Disorders I Have Dated. I bring on a therapist I used last year to give it weight, because I’m not a therapist. But I talk about some very intimate things, and it’s not for some monetary or fame goal, it’s really because these epiphanies need to start happening more and more often to people in abusive relationships. So there’s no secrets even on that front. It’s no secret that I’ve been in an abusive relationship. I wrote about it for Glamour. So I don’t have any secrets, really. 

On what she's busy with and what's next:

I own a record label called Evergreen Music and from that I started Evergreen events, which is an events company which is for adult contemporary music. I’m very specific on what I want, it’s usually with wine estates, or big open spaces, family friendly. So Evergreen events is holding the show on 3 January. I’ve done it now two years in a row, and it’s a 1000 people on the lawn at Stanford Hills wine estate, it’s really pretty. I booked Watershed for two years, and now I want to change it up a bit so I’ve booked Ard Matthews. It will be the first time we will be doing a proper full show together for fans 

Then also I have Louise Carver Collection jewellery. I’ve been doing it for 9 years. And I opened my first shop in Parkhurst this year in May, which is a lovely lovely little street, it’s in Joburg in 6th street. I’ve been designing for 9 years and this year in New York I was staying to do some shows in an apartment in Chelsea. And opposite my AirBnB spot was Chelsea market, and I went into Chelsea market, and that’s where they do all the handcrafting, leather, craft beer, craft gin. And there was three jewellers that I fell in love with and that I are making their own stuff that I’m importing. 

Louise Carver and Ard Matthews Sunset Concert details:

Date: 3 January 2018
Venue: Stanford Hills Estate, Weltevreden Farm, Stanford, Hermanus.
Time: Gates open 14:30 / show starts 17:30 to 19:30
Tickets: R165 (adults) and R95 (Children under 12)
Click here to buy your tickets.

Contact for more information: info@evergreen-events.co.za and no: 011 268 1498.

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