Say bonjour to French YouTube star-turned-bona fide rock contender Laura Cox

Laura Cox playing a guitar
(Image credit: Le Turk Photographies)

Last summer, Laura Cox opened for Kiss in torrential rain. Lightning flashed through the downpour, leaving the French festival site flooded. For a while it looked as though no one would play, until organisers U-turned, and Cox and her band found themselves hastily unloading their gear in the mud, hoping they weren’t heading into mortal danger. 

Happily their set went well. Afterwards they legged it to shelter, leaving the crowd pumped for their headliners. Or at least that was the plan. But Kiss remained in their truck. 

“The fans were completely crazy,” Cox recalls. “And then the organisers came on stage saying: ‘Sorry, you can go home now.’” 

Moments like this reflect the whirlwind of change that 32-year-old Parisienne Cox has been through. Her third album, Head Above Water, marks the peak of that change, swirling the classic rock, blues and countrified sounds that have long been part of her repertoire. It was written largely in Portugal, where Cox escaped to during lockdown, meeting new people and broadening her outlook in the process, all of which feeds into the lyrics.

“For example, I used to be just in a guy’s world going on tour, so I used to hear sexist jokes, but it was normal. Now, if some guys are making jokes that are not funny, I’m saying something.”

One of the first YouTube guitarists to build a serious following (her channel, started in 2006, was among the first of its kind), Cox spent her first eight guitar-playing years entirely in her bedroom, playing instrumental classic rock covers, and eventually singing her own songs. Compared to today’s social media landscape, where shredder channels seem to proliferate by the hour, it was a different world. 

“Everything was simpler back then,” she reflects. “I stayed with the same video-editing skills. And I think I was lucky, because I arrived at a time [when] I think it was the right combination; the right timing, a bit of luck, hard work, motivation.” 

Initially Cox studied architecture, but switched to a soundengineering course when the call of the guitar proved too strong. 

Periods of work in a rehearsal studio and a guitar shop followed, until she was able to pursue music professionally. In 2013 she played her first gig. By that point she had several million YouTube views, but zero live experience. The pressure was huge. 

“I thought: ‘This is my first gig ever. I cannot mess it up.’ It was not horrible, but it was not the best show of my life either. I think we were so stressed that we played the songs really, really fast!” 

Almost 10 years later she’s an official Gibson artist, gearing up for a solo tour and enjoying the respect of her peers – who, at this point, are as exciting to her as the veterans (GN’R, the Stones, AC/DC…) that got her started. 

“I’m really happy to be followed [online] by people I listen to,” she enthuses, “like Black Stone Cherry, Tyler Bryant, Rival Sons and bands like this.”

Head Above Water is out now via earMusic.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.