This is the biggest interview Record Weekly has scored to date, so it’s safe to say there was excitement in the room ahead of speaking to Calva Louise on the phone. The alt rockers consistently put on one hell of a show, and I chatted to Jess, Alizon and Ben about the band’s past, present and future.
RECORD WEEKLY’S INTERVIEW WITH CALVA LOUISE
First of all, I’m really giddy about this! How are you doing?
All: We’re good thank you! We hope this lives up to expectations.
(It already did at that point…)
Without talking too much about the pandemic, how have you fared throughout the lockdowns generally? Have you kept busy and entertained?
Alizon: It’s actually not been too bad. You imagine it’s going to be the worst thing but, for us, it’s been okay. We’ve been lucky; it happened to be a good time for us to record our next album.
Jess: We realised it was a very negative thing [the pandemic] that was going on. But we appreciated [then and now] how lucky we are to be [living] together, so we were trying to stay positive. We thought, we can’t do anything else — let’s record an album! Let’s do this here, in the house, as we have the ability to build songs in our home studio and do it all in-house.
At first, we didn’t know what we were supposed to do — or how to work and keep going, like everybody — but we adapted the best way we could. You still can’t do gigs or any of the most enjoyable things about being in a band but, at the same time, one of those things is actually writing and recording music, so we focused on that. We’re so lucky that we’ve been together.
Ben: Yeah, I think we all feel pretty grateful that we’re fortunate enough to be able to see each other on a daily basis and record whenever we want. These are things that a lot of other bands can’t do.
Definitely, that makes total sense and it sounds like you’ve managed to make the best of things, despite the general challenges. What have been the most frustrating limitations that the lockdowns have imposed on you as a band, though?
Alizon: I mean, we lost our main source of income…
(While we didn’t get into this during the interview, the lack of financial support for the music industry and the artists within it has been dreadful. They’re going to need our support when gigs are back, so get looking at upcoming events and tickets when you can!)
Alizon: …But in terms of work, we’ve obviously still been practising, so it’s been fine. It’s just been without the interaction with other people [which has been limiting].
Let’s take things right back to the beginning — how did you form Calva Louise? Where did you meet?
Alizon: We’re all from different places. Jess grew up in Venezuela and, when she was 16, she moved to France and met me at school there. We were both very committed to music, but Jess had plans to go to the UK eventually, so I followed. When we arrived in London, after a few difficult months, trying to understand what’s going on and learn English, we played a show with Ben’s former band and that’s how we met! Ben then offered to come and play some demos…
Ben: They needed some drums laying down on a few of the demos, and I was like, “yep, I’ll do that!”
The music was sick, so I went to meet them and put some drum ideas down and it all spiralled from there!
In terms of what you play, is your usual genre your favourite collective style?
Jess: I think it’s kind of a blend of everything we enjoy. We don’t really view music as having genres, specifically, it’s more ‘what we like’. I don’t feel that I dislike any type of music generally.
Alizon: Yeah, there’s no ‘bad’ genre.
Jess: Sure, it’s just that you maybe don’t like one as much.
Alizon: Genre [in its traditional form] isn’t really a consideration.
Jess: Yeah, it’s like, is this music talking to you? Music is so subjective. Of course, it’s objective in the sense of it being well played, well recorded, stuff like that and the technicalities and skills. But because it’s mainly subjective, you can’t really say if music’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ [conventionally], so we think about it as something that touches you or not personally. The music we play is a combination of influences that have done that.
Which artists have been the most influential on your sound?
Jess: Wow, this is big. It comes in phases. Right now, we’re listening to a lot of bands like Ghost.
Ben: Ha, yes, I was literally listening to Ghost earlier today.
Jess: Yeah, for example, Alizon used to listen to Ghost when we were in school, but I didn’t, and now I’m listening to them. We often listen to bands and solo artists from Latin America or France and we kind of show each other things. This happens when Alizon’s listening to a French rapper and I might be listening to a Puerto Rican band. We just listen to a lot and it definitely influences the music — I often think, when I write, that something would be cool if it had a vibe like that artist.
It can be an unconscious thing, too — I don’t always realise I’ve been inspired at the time. Or it can inspire me later on. It’s all very abstract — there’s no conscious decision, as it’s usually about what’s touched you when you have a creative idea or flow. Sometimes I want to write something that’s specifically inspired me and I show Alizon and Ben, and they can be like, “I don’t see it”. It’s a weird thing, but there have been loads of influences.
It sounds like you feed off each other so well — you all have different things that you bring to the table. It must be nice having all these recommendations on tap!
Jess: Exactly! The three of us always enjoy what the others are listening to.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing both yourselves and Strange Bones twice now. What’s your connection with them?
Alizon: Haha yeah, so there’s actually a really big connection…
Jess: We live together!
That’s AMAZING! I seriously can’t think of a cooler setup.
Alizon: Yeah, we share everything now. Bobby [Bentham of Strange Bones] has produced all our latest singles, while I manage both bands. We really work together as one team.
Back in August last year, we signed to the same label, so we’ve been recording an album each and have been releasing our singles alternatively. We’re really in this together. We’re working on our next album and plan to release it in summer, and theirs should be around the same time. We share resources, expenses and Jess and Bobby even write together — like ‘Nine Lives’.
What a tune! There’s never a time that I don’t enjoy playing it — whether I’m working or working out. Big fan.
Jess: Ah thank you, we’re glad you like it.
That’s great that you’ve got such a massive connection with Strange Bones.
In terms of touring with other artists, not just Strange Bones, who’s right up there on the list?
Alizon: Our last tour was cut short due to the pandemic, but it was with [our friends] Highly Suspect. Actually, the label that we signed to is their singer’s new label. So yeah, it was halted but it had been our best touring experience ever, up until that point. We’d really like to go back on tour with them, as soon as we can.
Hopefully this summer is going to be as open to opportunities as they say it is… What have you got planned or are you being a bit cautious?
Alizon: So far, we’d like to release the album in summer. That’s a big one! We’re obviously hoping for the best and that gigs and everything else can happen. And that we can go out and meet people!
Jess: We have planned to tour with Strange Bones as well, around the time of both our album releases. By the way, he [Bobby] is upstairs now, mixing our tracks! So yeah, we want to go out and play shows but also have a great, well-deserved time out in the sun. We just want everyone to feel happy and energetic.
The ideal thing would be to go out and tour with Strange Bones and Highly Suspect and do like a road trip! We want to play these gigs to all these people, and we want everyone to have that symbiotic great time, essentially. Like one entity at a gig, with lots of happiness!
Yes, we’re long overdue that happiness, aren’t we!?
Jess: Haha yeah, everybody deserves it right now.
Obviously we’ve talked about the album release a bit, but can you tease any new music or would you prefer to keep it a surprise?
Jess: We’ll definitely have some more single releases — we’re thinking around May — before the album comes out. But we’re planning to do something a little bit different around the release. For our first album, we produced a comic book. So we want to expand on that and make some kind of medium-length film, which would be the continuation of the comic book. I’m working on the animation now as I’ve had the time, but we’re preparing a lot of other content to go alongside the music. Different types of media to be enjoyed. It’s very ambitious but I’m working on it! I’d like to think it’s a good idea.
It definitely is! I can’t wait to see this. I’m sure it’ll be really well received.
Alizon: Yeah, we can’t wait for the album release now — it’s all we’ve been doing!
Jess: It’s a lot. Well, it’s kind of a little bit but a lot of work has gone into it, if you see what I mean? We just want to keep creating. And hopefully, we can all enjoy summer together. Beers in the park — like, REAL PINTS!
Hahaha yes! I’m feeling more and more hopeful…
Jess: We need to stay hopeful and positive.
Ben: You have to — it’s the only way!
You won’t want to miss out what Calva Louise have in store for our ears, so make sure you’re following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Their amazing back catalogue of epic records is waiting for you to enjoy on Spotify, too. GET LISTENING!
Looking for merch? Head to their store here.