Tuesday, 29 January 2013

LOUISE JORDAN: the interview

I was recently looking through the music listings for my area and I came across Louise Jordan young singer who is playing Bridgwater Arts Centre on the 9.2.13. I was intrigued by her selection of music, the interesting way in which she has blended music and literature, and her own finely wrought songs. I checked out emusic, where I have had a subscription since Turing was a lad and downloaded a couple of her albums.

I was impressed. She had covered one of my favourite traditional songs William Taylor, a tale of a jilted bride left at the altar, sea battles and retribution. They don’t write them like that anymore. But I digress.

I here’s Louise:

How did your experience of working in education inform your perspective of writing and playing music?
Working with a classroom full of children is great for developing communication skills and learning audience awareness –thirty plus children aged 11-16yrs can be a fairly unforgiving audience when you don’t quite pitch it right! Understanding what makes people tick is crucial to making my song writing relevant and as a teacher /mentor /youth worker I have taken a great interest in how we question and challenge what’s in front of us: children are mostly too honest to hide their true feelings.

What influences you?
Everything. Every life experience –not just mine but other people’s.

How do you choose the traditional songs you sing. Do you have a criteria?
I really enjoy story songs and songs which pose questions. William Taylor, which is on my first album ‘Tempvs’ is a fantastic example of both. And then there are songs which endure because they describe a common human experience, like the Salley Gardens which I have been performing for years. A strength of the oral tradition on which folk music relies –songs being passed from person to person – is that songs become crafted and improved over time so that they reflect human nature.

In your own compositions, which comes first the words or the music?
Most often I start with a musical idea which I cannot express in words –a mood, a feeling or an atmosphere which I want to capture. The words help to make this idea clearer.

You have your own record label, how important is artistic control for you?
Very! Both the recording and the arranging processes are crucial to the development of each composition and I have deliberately set about writing and arranging my own work. It also really helps set the pace of recording as I am self-reliant -so if I want to work through the night I can.

Looking back what would you have done differently?
I try not to have regrets. Having said that on, a professional basis, more honesty would have helped me access song writing ideas earlier on in life. But then there’s a reason it took me some time to get to where I am now.

The title of your latest CD is Florilegium, which I am led to believe means a collection of short literary pieces, poems and ballads, how did you arrive at that as a title?
The word originally means a gathering of flowers. On the album, each piece has its own beauty and they come together as a bouquet or tapestry. The songs on the album are very individual and yet they fit together as they describe a variety of experiences in life.

Who is your favourite poet?
I don’t have a favourite poet, just favourite pieces. I have enjoyed setting literature –in particular poetry –to music and have done this from a young age. I used to go to a wonderful theatre group for 13-21 yr olds in my home town of Salisbury and this really encouraged creativity. We frequently worked with literature and used music in a less conventional way. I can trace my musical arrangements of Christina Rossetti’s ‘Promises Like Pie-crust’ (on my second album Florilegium) and Thomas Hardy’s ‘Without Ceremony’ to these early experiences.

If you were a colour what colour would you be and why?
White is a culmination of all the colours and I am an accumulation of my many life experiences.

Thanks Louise. She is definitely worth catching live if you get the chance.


  1. What a talent. I like the choice of white? I guess not too many come up with that. Very full sympa interview.

  2. Thanks Oscar, worth checking out her tour page, she may be on near you.