LOUIS BERRY: “I NEVER LISTENED TO ROCK ’N’ ROLL”

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For his first few releases, it seemed like Louis Berry was all about 50’s skiffle influenced rock ’n’ roll, so it came as a bit of a surprise when his latest track, Stumbling, emerged. While his growl remains, here it’s backed by minimal synth effects and big electronic beats. But it works! Ahead of his debut album release and sold out tour dates, we stole a few minutes from his time in the studio to talk about the new sound.

You’ve been releasing music for a few years now with a raw, rock ‘n’ roll sound, but now you’re back with this big new, electronic track, Stumbling. How did that happen?

I’ve always been interested in that type of music, y’know? That’s the kind of music that I was brought up with – I never listened to rock ’n’ roll. I got into it by chance cause I went to Ireland and tried to replicate the traditional Irish sound, and I couldn’t quite get it right, but it ended up sounding like that rock ’n’ roll sort of sound. But I was always interested in R&B and bringing into that world. There was a few tracks that I’d done over in Nashville that sort of leant itself to that sort of style, but I hadn’t got it there in Nashville – I found it too Nashville! So we sent Koz (Dua Lipa, Kendrick Lamar) the stems over, and he come back and the sound on them tracks was brilliant. Then he said to me: listen – I’ve been working on an idea for a song, would you like to write some of it? So he sent that over, Stumbling, and it went from there really. I really liked the vibe, he liked what I sent back, so yeah it went from there.

Even though it’s a departure, the more I listen to it the more I can still hear elements of the earlier stuff in there…

I’ve never wanted to be an artist that makes an album that just all sounds the same. It’s an important thing for me to have diversity in there and showcase myself as an artist, saying I can do all this kind of stuff.

What’s Stumbling about?

It’s about struggling, really. It’s about picking yourself up when it’s not working out, whether that’s a relationship or mental health. It was important to make a song that represented all those things rather than just directly talking about a girl or directly talking about struggling with mental health, which is an important issue to me. And I hate saying that really, cause a lot of people have been jumping on the bandwagon lately, do you know what I mean? I’m not about that – it’s something that’s really happened to me with family members and friends and myself. So I wanted to write this song that touches on all those things.

How far in the process are you with the new album? Who have you been working on the new album with, is it their influence that’s introduced this new sound?

We’re almost finished, really. It’s never completely finished because I’m writing every single day – I’m actually in the studio writing now. Not necessarily for the album but you never know if there’s a tune you write and it just jumps out. At this late stage it could still be incorporated into what we’re doing and maybe we’ll change our minds on what comes through as a single.

And who have you been working with on it?

I went over to Nashville and recorded there with a producer called Jacquire King (James Bay, Kings of Leon), I also recorded a lot of stuff in London with Steve Fitzmaurice (Depeche Mode, Sam Smith) and obviously Koz in Canada who’s done Stumbling and some new songs I’ll be releasing soon called The Wind Changes and All My Love.

So you’re hoping to get a few more tracks out before the album’s released then?

I think so, yeah.

There seems to be more acts influenced by Nashville or recording there at the minute…

It’s weird that – I’ve noticed a bit of a resurgence of that kind of thing lately. Obviously it’s stayed around, but there’s a lot more artists leaning towards that direction now.

Just as you’re moving away from it! Are you already thinking about how new and old tracks will work together on the tour? 

To be honest I’ve been working on it, rehearsing and things like that. We have to take a slightly different approach to this because of the different sound. We have had to consider how it fits with older stuff, but at the same time the new sound’s great… When I say the new sound, it’s just an evolution of the sound really. When I go out and stand in front of the crowds it’s the rock ’n’ roll things that get people dancing, but I like to be versatile and slow the crowd down and say “now we’re talking about things from the heart here”, and then at the same time pick it back up again. I’m not concerned that there’ll be a clash of sounds – I’m confident that it’s going to work well.

Are you planning to release any stripped back versions of the bigger songs?

That’s a conversation I had with the record label about a week ago, with some of the songs that have been produced by Koz in Canada. They’re great, they’re more contemporary – if that’s the word to use – but at the same time I still do love the Nashville version – there’s a lot more heart and soul in them. I’d be interested to put it out, even if it’s just on Spotify or something, at least it’s out there for people to see the origins of the song, and how it came to form.

Are you going to release the album on vinyl?

Potentially. I’m not a big vinyl fan – I’m not against it, I’m not for it. I think it’s great that people can actually make the music play as opposed to just pressing a button, but it’s not something I’m massively into.

You’re also opening for Liam Gallagher on a couple of his dates – were Oasis an inspiration? 

No, not at all to be honest with you. I think the only inspirational thing I would take from the Gallaghers is that they’re just normal lads – they come from a council estate and they’ve done well for themselves. Musically I’ve always admired them – the songs are great – but I’ve never sat down and listened to a full Oasis album. I just got talking to Liam, y’know he’s a really nice lad, I said if you’ve got any shows coming up give us a shout. And then I got a shout! If it’s as big as everyone’s saying it’ll be the biggest shows I’ve ever done so I’m looking forward to it.

And what are your thoughts on Noel’s material?

In all honesty I haven’t heard that much of it, I’ll have to check it out.

And you’ve got some festivals coming up.

Yeah, I’m doing Neighbourhood weekend – I think Noel’s on the same day as me so I’ll have to check some of his stuff out. I’m doing Live at Leeds and going over to Europe for some. We’ve still got some coming in now.

Are you a festival fan yourself?

As a punter? No – I played the first festival I ever went to, it was an incredible experience but I’ve never been to one as a fan, no.

Well you’ve got to do it once – do Glastonbury!

I’d like to do it but to be honest, I think my days of fucking arseing about in tents are over, y’know.

How about Liverpool Sound City?

I’m not playing it this year but I’m doing a gig there – it’s sold out already. It’s a bit of a smaller venue but I wanted to do a more intimate kind of gig, that kind of vibe.

And Liverpool is such a supportive community, do you feel that?

Most definitely. I don’t just say it because I’m from the city – I suppose other cities have a similar kind of thing going on – it genuinely is a place where, if you’re out there representing Liverpool in the correct way, they’ll definitely get behind you. They’ll travel all over the world to see you.

Cover photo: Mike Chalmers

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