Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Lauren Housely: Soul instincts

Lauren Housely
Lauren Housely Lauren Housely Lauren Housely Lauren Housely BUY NOW

âIâve always performed and I loved to dance and I was really into acting and theatre when I was younger, but I couldnât quite find a path into the music.â Yorkshire born soul songstress Lauren Housley explains her musical beginnings.

Later, she moved to the musical melting pot of Manchester and went on to release her debut E.P. âOne Step Closerâ in 2012. After launching her own record label, Big Bad Recordings, with the help of her collaborator Tom Dibb, she has just dropped her debut studio album âSweet Surrender.â

âI lived in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. I went to Thomas Rotherham College; I met a guy there who was a guitar player, a musician, we became really good friends. We were both into Queen and Freddy Mercury and other random stuffâ¦we bonded over that.â But it wasnât until she was encouraged to sing at a jam night that Housley began to find her voice. âI sang Etta Jamesâ âAt Last.â I was really nervous but it was good because I lost myself in the song and then I got some really good feedback. It went from there, we started gigging around Newcastle and writing together and here we are eight years on.â

Laurenâs music, an eclectic mix of retro soul grooves, towering raspy vocals with a touch of earthy Americana thrown in for good measure, needed a vehicle for its release⦠so Housleyâs indie label, Big Bad Recordings, was born. âTo be honest, I set it up myself. Itâs me, Tom and the producer who produced the album. This is the first project of many for us and we just decided that we wanted to take matters into our own hands. We have all got strengths in different areas, so we thought if we came together weâd be able to approach it from the angle of a label.â

While she is happy with the independent approach, Lauren admits sheâd be foolish to dismiss interest from a major record label. âAt this moment, Iâm quite happy with what Iâm doing. If that right label approached me Iâd look into it, but itâs not something Iâm seeking at the minute because the albumâs already there. Iâm learning a lot about the industry at the moment as well. Iâm getting into the business side of it, which Iâd been avoiding for a while. Itâs nice to find out about that side of this world so Iâm enjoying it. If something really good came up Iâd be silly to turn it down, but for now Iâm taking it into my own hands and doing it!â If we do the best job we can do and produce some really good music and get it out to people, thatâs a success. If something else comes later, then hopefully it will just enhance that.â

With a list of influences that includes Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway and even Massive Attack, the resulting album is a collection of carefully crafted songs which have been a long time in the making. âI had already had a lot of the songs there and they didnât quite fit with the last E.P., with the âsoul thing.â I was listening to a lot of Ryan Adams, Bonnie Raitt, I listened to her album the âSlipstreamâ and it sort of rubbed off on me but the songs were already there, they must have been in me from a while ago. It just allowed me to bring them to life and to record them the way they should be recorded. Can you still hear the soul in there?â

In my opinion, thereâs no mistaking âthe soul in thereâ and thereâs no doubt that Housleyâs time in Manchester has influenced her sound. âWhen I was doing the E.P. I set up a night called Soul Sessions and that sort of brought quite a lot of soul artists out of the woodwork. We became a bit of a collective. Everyone was doing their own thing and there wasnât that much of a soul scene at the time, then we started this night and people came out because they were looking for an opportunity like this. Iâd been playing a lot of louder gigs, but I wanted to change the set up of the band and I wanted to play a bit more chilled out stuff.â

âItâs inspired by walking around the streets at night and freaking yourself out! Itâs got a bit of a Thriller inspiration,â as Lauren describes her new single âGhost Town Blues.â Me and Tom were having a bit of a slump to be honest, trying to do some song writing and it didnât quite happen. Then Tom sat at the piano and played the opening chord and sang the first line and we took it from there. The opening line is âso black is the nightâ and I just thought of all this imagery. Itâs about freaking out and then realising that thereâs nothing to be scared off. We wrote it really quickly, it was really random.â

These days Lauren is clearly more comfortable with the prospect of writing and performing, but this wasnât always the case. She goes on to explain how working with her band and collaborator, Tom Dibb, finally gave her the courage to sing outside her bedroom. â(Tomâs) got this confidence about music and heâs literally unstoppable, heâs got no fear, heâs up for trying things and heâs never scared of making a mistake. Hearing from someone like that that he thought I had talent and wanted to work with me was quite an honour. It was an opportunity. I didnât want to miss and try not to let those little voices hold you back.â

To compliment her love of old school soul, when it comes to personal style, Lauren has a passion for all things vintage. âIt just sort of happened as a bit of a trend for me, really. Iâm into antiques and things that have got a bit of a story, I suppose Iâm a bit of an artist in that way, I like to feel connected to things. With clothing, I donât think I have conscience style but Iâm very drawn to vintage clothing. You dress for your body too and I tend to suit that style a bit better.â

Lauren laughs as she ends by recalling her early childhood obsession with aerobics. âItâs so random! I wanted it there because itâs true and itâs random. I got into it when I was about ten years old. My cousin was in an aerobics squad and loved it and my mum took me alongâ¦it was a mixture between dance and gymnastics. You had to take classes before even auditioning. Iâve always had a thirst for performing and putting myself under pressure. I got in, and they were this amazing aerobics squad that were travelling around the world, winning competitions. They were renowned for winning all the competitions. The coach was incredible and really driven. She was called Diane Benny and we were âDiane Bennyâs Diamondsâ! (laughs) If âBritainâs Got Talentâ had have been around, then we would have auditioned! I was obsessed with it. (An aerobic inspired video) is already on the cards! It was such a big part of my life.â

The album âSweet Surrenderâ is out on âBig Bad Recordingsâ


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To read more from this interview with our one to watch, including the artist talking in-depth about her writing process and how personal it tends to be. Plus we get a sneaky glimpse into Housely's other musical likes and influencesâ¦Pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere⦠if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.


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Words Karen Lawler

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