Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Louise Pollock: Real Aspirations

Louise Pollock
Louise Pollock Louise Pollock Louise Pollock Louise Pollock

After nurturing a voice that is both powerful and moving over years of working the live circuit, the funk fueled and charismatic Louise Pollock has more than paid her musical dews.

Singer and songwriter with inspirations drawn from the Young Disciples to Soul II Soul and Brand New Heavies, the west London resident has an aromatic talent all unique. Simply put the girl’s got talent and B&S caught her before a packed summer tour schedule to find out why.

You are no newcomer to the industry music. How long have you been singing for?

I have been singing professionally since about the age of 16, I was still at school. I actually won a competition with a local radio station. It was a ‘when will you be famous’ kind of competition, before all the x-factor. I won the chance to work with some incredible songwriters and we produced a couple of demos.

Then I did the odd the professional singing gigs, weddings, Bar Mitzvah that kind of thing. And then I moved to London at the age of 20, and started out on the pop scene and I got a very good response.

Then I started writing my own tracks and a mutual friend hooked me up with Winston Rollins who I work with now in Real. We met up and spoke about what projects we wanted to work on and we’ve been on the same wavelength ever since. That was about 5 years ago.

Tell us a little about the your working relationship with Winston?

We always work quite honestly with one another. We aren’t afraid to say what doesn’t work and we are brutally honest if we aren’t feeling the vibe. But also saying that we will champion tracks that we feel are worth something.

You co-write songs together right?

Yes we do. Winston is a fantastic musician and had far more musicality then I did. He‘s fully trained and been in the business for many years. I probably come from a more commercial outlook. And I think we work together very well because he obviously knows what musicians like, and what they like to play and I know what the customers want to hear. It works very well.

Does he help you at all with your solo stuff, because compared to Real your solo stuff is a bit more RnB. Would you agree?

Yes I do, but the tracks you are probably referring to I recorded before I met Winston. I think my writing has moved on from there. It will always have a soulful flavour, because that is what I’m about, but from my own personal writing I don’t tend to write songs that have brass on because that’s Winston and he’s fantastic at that and I wouldn’t want to write any other tracks with brass on without him.

It must be hard to juggle the two commitments, between writing your own stuff and working within Real. Do you sometimes want to hold material back for yourself.

Not really because the way Winston and I write is completely different to how I work with other writers. So when I write with Winston I kind of know exactly what sound we are going for whereas when I write my own stuff it’s a bit clear that I’m not tied to a specific sound.

Taking it back a bit, you had relatively success in Dance/ Pop scene. In reflection of the success you where achieving why did you decide to switch to a different genre of music?

Age has a lot to do with it I think. At that time I was going out clubbing and living that lifestyle myself. I mean I’ve always listened to soul and funk music but at that young age I didn’t feel it was right for me to do that. I didn’t feel confidant enough in my abilities until I got older.

So you’ve matured in your musical taste would you say?

Yeah I think so, I take it a lot more seriously nowadays to what I did five / ten years ago. And being in the music industry for this length of time it makes you more certain of what you want to do. I’ve been around the block a few times. (Laughs)

Where you aware of the acid Jazz movement in the nineties?

That was a huge influence of mine. I remember hearing Caron Wheeler sing from Soul II Soul. Her voice was absolutely fantastic and made me think yeah that’s what I want to do, and again listening to the likes of N'Dea Davenport, Brand New Heavies. But growing up in quite a small northern town there wasn’t really an outlet there, so it wasn’t a realistic opportunity for me at that time.

So you moved down to London on your own to explore that passion, right?

Yeah I moved to London, this is the place to be. And certainly Ealing has a huge wealth of talent in it now. I also know a couple of the guys from the heavies were based in the area, Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) as well. This is where they actually rehearsed and wrote a lot of their own tunes.

You’ve played a lot of live sets with a few other bands. Do you enjoy playing live?

Oh yeah. That’s the whole main reason for doing this really. If it wasn’t for the live work I don’t know what I’d do to be honest. It feeds your soul and feels amazing to get feedback from a audience that wanna keep soul and funk music alive.

It’s really special. You think Sunday night it’s raining or snowing like it was in February or March and you think well know ones gonna come tonight in this weather. But people just come, enjoy it and really get into it. It’s just really special. I love music full spot, weather it be soul or funk. I’d like to always continue doing both.

Do you see a nineties funk revival going on at the moment?

Yeah, well I started the monthly Funk nights at Ronni Scott’ s a year ago. And that’s been absolutely fantastic. We’ve had a packed house at every gig and we have more gigs coming up. Funk Affair is basically where we play a lot of old funk and rare groove from the seventies, eighties and nineties and the response has been phenomenal. There is obviously a huge market for people that want to hear that kinda of music.

Why do you think that is?

I think people are sick of hearing the same old indie bands or the safe pop music. I think people really do enjoy seeing live music performed by great musicians and all the musicians that perform in Funk Affair are fantastic in their own right.

Whole idea behind Funk Affair is bringing different styles and musicians together. It’s great because we all feed of each other and gives everybody their chance to shine. The audience are so positive. It’s such a joy to do.

How does it feel to play in a place with so much history?

Oh yeah it’s fantastic. When you first walk into Ronnie’s you are in awe of the place because it’s phenomenal steep history. It’s quite humbling in a way to play at a venue where legends have played before me and continue to play.

All the staff there, from the waiters to sound engineers are phenomenal and they always look forward to seeing you as a performer perform regularly. They actually enjoy the show themselves. It’s just great, a really good night.

Between your solo release in 2006 and now the residency at Ronnie Scott’s. What have you been up to?

Well, so much. Obviously I’ve been writing and recording my own material and the Real album as well. We’ve performed a number gigs throughout the country and we have been invited to a number of jazz Festivals. I’m currently finishing the Real’s new album and I’m actually working on my own original tracks too, but its still early days for the solo.

So what can you tell us about your new solo material?

It will have a flavour of funk to it because that is what I do, but certainly not the same amount as Real. I wanted to keep it very different and separate because Real is a very important thing to me and I wouldn’t want to conflict with that.

And as well look to your busy future, where can we catch you next?

We are doing Ronnie Scott’s monthly on a regular basis. Myself I’ll be performing at Smollensky’s and 100 Club. They are two very different gigs. Smollensky’s will be a more soulful setup while because 100 Club is quite earthy we are keeping things real funky with old-skool tunes.

Catch Louise Pollock on the first Sunday of every month as part of 'The Funk Affair' @Ronnie Scotts

Also Monday, 3rd August with The superb & funky Elliott Henshaw Band + special guest Simon Willescroft, tenor & alto sax @Soho Pizza Express Jazz Club 10 Dean St London W1D 3RW

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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