CALVA LOUISE (from l-r): Alizon Taho (bass/backing vocals), Jess Allanic (vocals/guitar), Ben Parker (drums/backing vocals)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Hailing from Venezuela, France and New Zealand, but founded and based in London, Calva Louise are a three-piece currently making waves on the British underground music scene with a fast-tempo fusion of moody riffs and fuzzy grunge pop.
Their second single, ‘Getting Closer’, released towards the end of last year, got rave reviews, and led to them being tipped to make a real breakthrough in 2018 by much of the music press.
In Hanley recently, supporting Spring King on their UK headline tour, the rapidly-rising trio told me more about themselves, how they work, their journey so far, and what they’re planning for the near future.
How did the band get together?
JESS ALLANIC (vocals/guitar): Alizon and I met in France when we were 16. Some time after that, we moved to London, where we met Ben through gigs and open mic sessions.
From where did the name Calva Louise originate?
JESS: Calva means “bald” in Spanish. I grew up in Venezuela, and there, I studied a play by Eugene Ionesco (avant-garde French-Romanian playwright) called ‘The Bald Soprano’, which I read in Spanish first.
It’s an absurd play set in the 1950’s, so the band name comes from absurd situations, which I think we all find ourselves in at some point in our lives, and it’s a little nod to that.
What would you say was your songwriting approach?
JESS: So, I come up with an idea, which I then try to translate into lyrics, and then the music will come along after that. We then do a little demo, a little recording, then we jam it out in rehearsal. That’s basically how our songs come about.
BEN PARKER (drums/backing vocals): It kind of changes from track to track, like sometimes, Jess will come in with most of the song already finished, and other times, it’s just a riff or a lyric, which we’ll then flesh out in rehearsal.
Every track is like its own little beast that needs to be treated differently, so they all take varying amounts of time to complete.
What inspires the band lyrically?
JESS: Mostly my experiences growing up in South America, and then moving to Europe. It will come from different countries, Ben grew up in New Zealand and Alizon grew up in France, and it’s kind of like, even though Ben was born in Britain, we all came to London from elsewhere, so the three of us have different perceptions of the city.
It’s very difficult to translate our feelings as young adults in a way that not just English, but also European, and in my case, South American, people can relate.
It’s all about trying to get over this anxiety that a lot of young adults such as ourselves have, trying to understand who they truly are, trying to find an identity.
Even though we’ve all grown up in different countries, we feel that we are an English band, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who we are and where we come from, it actually matters where we belong in terms of music.
Last November, you released your second single, ‘Getting Closer’. How was the recording process for that?
ALIZON TAHO (bass/backing vocals): Yeah, it was great. We recorded the track in London with a producer named Margo Broom, who was a huge help for us. We spent a long time in the studio with her putting the song together, choosing the best sounds and effects for it.
JESS: And the best arrangements, as well.
ALIZON: Yeah. How long did we take to record the single?
JESS: It took us a few hours to record it, because when you’re in a nice environment with somebody as talented as Margo is, everything just seems to flow better.
During the recording, we came up with ideas to make the track better, we kept the main structure, but we experimented with arrangements, putting a bit of keyboard there, enhancing the vocals a little.
ALIZON: Yeah, we did so many tracks of vocals, I think it was 16 in total, and Margo put them all together. She really helped us become more creative with our process, and that was great.
How well do you think the reaction was to the track?
ALIZON: Very well, easily the best reaction we’ve ever had. We had so much good feedback, from our friends, through to people we’ve never met, all of them saying how amazing it was.
BEN: We played a show in Glasgow recently, and when we started playing ‘Getting Closer’, everyone started cheering, and these were people who hadn’t seen us live before, so that was really cool.
JESS: It feels like, you know, it wasn’t the biggest reaction in the world, but the fact that people had taken time to listen to our music and lyrics, and made a connection with it, that’s touched us.
You’re playing in Hanley tonight, supporting Spring King on their current UK headline tour. How is the experience, for you all, of playing live and touring?
JESS: It’s really, really great. Every show we’ve done up to now has been better than our previous one. It’s rather like training on the job, because everything is so professional.
Sometimes, we don’t even have time for a proper sound check, but it doesn’t really matter, because I think it’s better, and more important, to work under pressure. It brings the three of us closer as a band, making us more patient, less anxious, and more able to have fun.
Spring King are so good to hang around with, and when they’re playing their set, I’m always stood at the front watching them, so it’s like double energy. (laughs)
BEN: Yeah, it’s really good. On tour, you make lots of new friends and learn a lot more stuff, so yeah, overall, it’s a great experience.
The band have been tipped for big things this year by much of the music press. What have you got planned?
ALIZON: Well, after finishing this tour with Spring King, we’ll going on a little headline tour next month, playing a few venues in England and Scotland, places such as Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow again, so we’ve got that coming up, which will be really nice. Also, we plan to put out a few more tracks soon.
JESS: Yeah, we want to try to release some more stuff. At the moment, we’ve got about eight tracks written, with two of them recorded and ready to go, and we’re also planning to film a music video soon.
We manage to do all this, despite no budget and very little money, thanks to some wonderful friends of ours helping us out. That’s how ‘Getting Closer’ was made.
ALIZON: For us, everything is completely DIY. Everything you see or hear is proper low-budget.
JESS: But with some nice people giving us help. We just want to keep working hard.
BEN: It’s just artists helping other artists.
Will the tracks you’ve just mentioned be released as part of an EP or album at all?
BEN: Well, we’re going to be doing some more recording, and we’ll see what comes out of that, you know.
JESS: Yeah, we wanna have stuff ready, that’s kind of like the most important thing, and then, it might not be great, but we want to do the best that we possibly can.
‘GETTING CLOSER’, THE SECOND SINGLE FROM CALVA LOUISE, IS AVAILABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD OR PURCHASE FROM SPOTIFY, iTunes, SOUNDCLOUD & THE BAND’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE www.calvalouise.com
CALVA LOUISE WILL ALSO BE EMBARKING ON A UK HEADLINE TOUR NEXT MONTH, INCLUDING A SET AT THE BROADCAST IN GLASGOW ON MARCH 23. FURTHER DETAILS CAN BE FOUND BELOW:
MORE INFO ON CALVA LOUISE CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: