Inspired by the likes of Nirvana, The Clash, Fleetwood Mac and Queen, Louise Distras has been making music for as long as she can remember. Falling in love with the guitar during her school years, Louise has gone on to make a name for herself across the UK, and is leading the charge in what she calls nu-punk. Her debut album Dreams From The Factory Floor was released in 2015 and the long-awaited follow-up is hopefully coming later this year. We caught up with Louise ahead of her performance at Frank Turner’s Lost Weekend festival to talk her single Outside Of You, her introduction to rock ‘n’ roll, and the future for one of alternative music’s best kept secret. But whatever you do, don’t call her a protest singer.
What’s the story behind how you got started making music?
“I can’t remember a time where I haven’t played music, I’ve been playing and making music since I was a kid and have just never felt inspired to do anything else!”
How did you get into playing guitar?
“Well I was a total mosher at school and I got bullied, so I used to bunk off and hide in the fields where I’d play my friends’ guitars, smoke cigarettes and listen to music. I learned the chords from a punk t-shirt I saw in a shop, then my friends showed me some power chords, so from there I figured I could play every Nirvana song and maybe start writing my own songs too. It was liberating because I could express myself in a way that I never knew was possible and in a way that nobody else could try and control or ridicule. All of a sudden there was more to life than being bullied and pissed off. I guess you could say punk rock saved my life!”
How did it feel to have your first album, Dreams From The Factory Floor, met with such enthusiasm?
“It’s been a weird tornado trip, but it feels great. I love that people are still discovering the album and connecting with it today. I’m really proud of it, but I’ll never repeat myself and make another Dreams From The Factory Floor.”
How does the new album differ?
“Well Dreams was stripped back to mostly just my voice, my story, and an acoustic guitar. I’ve grown so much since it came out and I feel that the new single Outside Of You is a reflection of that, but there’s still loads more to come. The second album is gonna take my songs to a new level with harder hitting lyrics, concepts, textures and sounds. I can’t wait to start recording it soon!”
What’s the story behind Outside Of You?
“My songs are just a reflection of the things I see, hear and feel, but for some reason the music industry gatekeepers have tried to call me a protest singer. It’s a label that I don’t understand because I’m just passing on my human experience. You have to wonder why someone saying what they think is considered a protest nowadays. So Outside Of You is about breaking out of the walls we put up around ourselves and the labels we give each other. It’s about fighting to be yourself in a world that wants you to be something you’re not.
What do you hope people will take away from your music?
“One thing I realised after making Dreams… is that you don’t get to decide how people react to your music because once you put it out into the world it doesn’t belong to you anymore. A thousand different people can listen to the same song and it can resonate in a thousand different ways, so I just hope that people will feel something when they listen to it, and take whatever they want from it whenever they need it.”
How is it to work with a full band now, rather than on your own?
“It’s been great to play some bigger shows and road test a few of the new songs with a band behind me. It’s just a totally different vibe and it’s really fun to have your gang with you when you’re used to spending so much time on your own. The response to the band shows and new songs has been amazing, so I’m looking forward to taking them out on the road with me when the new album drops.”
You’ve said you hope your music will form part of a ‘street revolution’. What does that mean?
“It’s the new underground movement of nu-punk rock happening right now in the UK!”
What’s next for Louise Distras?
“My next show is at Camden Roundhouse as part of Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings Festival, after that I’m going to be working on pre-production for the new album in the run up to Slam Dunk. From there it’s festivals and recording plus I’ll be announcing a run of solo shows that will happen sometime in August. A new single will be coming out towards the end of this year, then hopefully the new album!”
New single Outside Of You is out May 26 via Street Revolution Records, and is available to pre-order now.