Olivia Louvel



Cat Werk Imprint recently released “Beauty Sleep”, her fifth studio album, which, according to the label’s introduction, “conveys through 11 tracks – including ‘In My Shed’,  a remake of the Recoil’s track ‘Stone’ from the album ‘Hydrology’, Alan Wilder’s second Recoil release (1988 – Mute Records) and ‘Live with me’, a sonic translation of a sonnet by Shakespeare -, cinematic spirits, shamanic visions, rituals with the spirit of Yma Sumac (the 1950’s soprano of exotica music) appearing as a lost woman in the forest of hallucination”. Let’s introduce Olivia Louvel through her own words.

Chain D.L.K.: Bonjour Olivia. How are you?

Olivia Louvel:  Not bad! Thank you for having me on Chain DLK!


Chain D.L.K.: Could you introduce yourself using your own words?

Olivia Louvel: I’m an electronic music producer, crafting electronic songs with my laptop and voice.


Chain D.L.K.: Is it true your career started at carnivals? Any inspiring freak in those places?

Olivia Louvel: I did start in the “circus”, a kind of modern circus performance with a flying trapeze company with whom I was performing/singing. It was an open-air show at night and I had to climb up there too. Yes, there were some strong personalities, with well-defined looks and eccentricity. It was all very exciting and a bit crazy. Don’t we all have some freak inside us?


Chain D.L.K.: I can imagine that your love for animals and nature was somehow related to your very first steps in music.

Olivia Louvel: I was stranded in the countryside, even though I’m an “urban gorilla”. I did have a rabbit, which I was holding in a clip for ‘Lulu In Suspension’. I also did one clip with my cat. We are ourselves animals and we are probably happier living amongst the fields and nature than we are when we stick too long to the pavement of cities.


interview picture 1
courtesy of David Ackroyd

Chain D.L.K.: You took part in Alan Wilder’s Recoil tour. Any artistic exchange with Alan on that occasion?

Olivia Louvel: Nope. We’re mates and hang out by the sea when the English weather allows us. Though I did rework his track ‘ Stone’, initially released by Mute Records in the 80s. I used a rather big sample of it for my track ‘In My Shed’. Alan was cool about it and liked the direction, so I released it on the ‘Beauty Sleep’ album.


Chain D.L.K.: Some years ago you made ‘Lulu In Suspension’, a cinematic opus inspired by Louise Brooks. Do you feel like you were Lulu?

Olivia Louvel: Somehow I did project myself into the film, the era. Also, I read Louise Brooks’s autobiographical book, which was very inspiring. I could have certain traits of Lulu or Louise. This album is about her and me. I play within the narrative and switch identity.


Chain D.L.K.: Before talking about your new album, could you tell us something about your previous one, ‘Music for Haiku’? Is there any haiku that keeps on inspiring or describing your artistic path?

Olivia Louvel: ‘ō, Music for Haiku’ is based on the Haiku poem, by poet Bashō, from the 17th century. It was a completely different approach; more minimalistic. I used the haiku itself with the vowels as sound material and I played with it in a kind of naive way.

I really got into the Wabi Sabi aesthetic after I read this wonderful book by Leonard Koren (Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers) Wabi Sabi is difficult to explain in one phrase, but let’s say it is about the acceptance of time, impermanence, imperfection, but also about intimacy, austerity, no preoccupation with status. Which is pretty much what an artist has to go through to create…
kumo ori-ori
hito o yasumeru
tsukimi kana

from time to time the clouds let people have some rest as they view the moon


Chain D.L.K.: You decided to wear wings for “Beauty Sleep” and turn yourself into a sort of bird-woman. This “mutation”, as well as some other clues (a track named “Bats”, for instance), made me think about the movie “Birdman”, that received a lot of awards. Have you seen it? Can you compare your character to Inarritu’s one? 🙂

Olivia Louvel: No, I haven’t seen that film yet, but I will try to. It all started with the furry gloves I found in Brighton in a fancy dress shop. I was looking for something that would bring an element of duality animal/human to the artwork.


Chain D.L.K.: Many reviewers compared your style to Bjork’s. Do you think such a comparison is appropriate or not?

Olivia Louvel: Bjork had a strong impact on me. I recall the day I saw a documentary about her in the studio on Arte. I was mesmerized and clearly thought: “how about I do something like that one day?”

It ‘s important to have strong female role models in music, as it is in any domain. I would have never thought I would become a music producer. Frankly, there was a time in my life when I did not even know how to create an email address! What struck me about that documentary wasn’t just the fact that she was singing, but also the fact that she was producing, realizing her vision. It was all very empowering.
The comparison is appropriate in the sense that I sing and compose with a laptop, but on the other hand, any electronic artist who uses her voice tends to be compared to her too rapidly sometimes.
I think I have my own vocabulary. (I hope, at least)


Chain D.L.K.: Could you explain a bit the main theme of “Beauty Sleep”, using your own words?

Olivia Louvel:  Shamanic visions, rituals, a lost woman in the forest, a bird-woman.


interview picture 2Chain D.L.K.: Many artists “squeezed” animalism in their work. Is any one of them you feel close to, in a way?

Olivia Louvel: To be honest, I am stuck here. Nothing comes to mind. frozen. All I see are gremlins fighting in the room.

Chain D.L.K.: Your inspiration was fostered by a shed in West Sussex where “Beauty Sleep” was born. How have you perceived that shed from an emotional point of view, before, during and after the birth of “Beauty Sleep”?

Olivia Louvel: That shed is my working place when I build on some tracks. I am, at least with my mind, in my shed. Now, there was also a physical shed where I used to live at the time, in the countryside. I need that shed to be inside my head. It is also a shelter, a precious place protected from all the non-sense of the world.


Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to make a follow-up to “Beauty Sleep”, where Beauty awakens? By the way, regarding follow-ups, ‘Beauty Sleep’ is not only an oeuvre for eardrums, is it?

Olivia Louvel: As a matter of fact, three weeks ago I released a 2-track EP which is the sequel to ‘Beauty Sleep’. It includes my cover of ‘Night and Day’, the Cole Porter song which did not make the album in the end, and a remix I made of ‘Bats’ (extinction mix).

Yes, my work is also for the eyes as I produced some experimental films which you can view on my website. I call them ‘experiments’. There are 7 short films in total.


Chain D.L.K.: It’s quite strange that your album received not so much feedback, even if Graham Duff mentioned it as being one of the best epic album. What was your reaction to such positive feedback? Do you think that some reviewers had no words, as you inspired a mute pathos? 🙂

Olivia Louvel:  I was delighted with Graham Duff selecting my album. His BBC series ‘Ideal’ is pure genius! I love it! I hope to embody Mrs. Cartoon Head.

It was great to have Ed Benndorf from Dense, handling the PR. He did a great job and I got much more reviews than I expected. But yes, it’s tricky and at times frustrating when some magazine ignores your work. There is so much going on; thousands of CDs land on desks every week and very few make the cut to the review section. When and if they are heard. This is the boring aspect of the job, for an artist. The part I prefer is obviously being in “my shed” and doing my stuff.


Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed it on live stage?

Olivia Louvel:  Yes, I did. Recent set in Italy for Cronika and in Brighton for Spirit of Gravity was 50% Doll Divider 50% Beauty Sleep.


Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress? Are you going back to that inspiring shed in West Sussex?

Olivia Louvel:  The shed is with me.  An ongoing project is sonic tapestry with Mary Queen Of Scots. I still live in West Sussex, but by the sea now.


Visit Olivia Louvel online at: www.olivialouvel.com


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