Alice in town to weave her musical magic

Local singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou

The singer-songwriter grew up between Hout Bay and Kommetjie and attributes this to having instilled a sense of calm in her, along with an appreciation for nature.

Currently resident in Berlin, she is in the process of producing her first album.

Looking back to her (earlier) youth in Kommetjie, she said: “I loved the day to day free-
dom, the small town atmosphere and the ability
to dash to the beach whenever I was feeling
down.”

Alice says her time overseas has deepened her appreciation of the upbringing she had. “I went to Constantia Waldorf for a large part of my schooling career and only now can I really see the incredible benefits of having gone to this school. Most importantly, it taught me that I am multi-faceted and that I should train and hone my skills on all levels; from intellectual to physical to creative. Schooling systems can be so stuck in their ways, stuck in their colonial past and unable to evolve and realise that different students sometimes need different kinds of attention and ways of being marked.”

She says her parents’ records were the first taste of music, and that as she grew older, she loved listening to Portishead, Morcheeba, PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Leonard Cohen and John Lennon.

In fact, the slight blonde says that if she had to choose to be a singer of the opposite gender, she would undoubtedly choose to be Leonard Cohen.

Travel at 16 was her first awakening to the world.

“I feel as though I opened some Pandora’s box as soon as I started travelling, because from the moment I was meandering from city to city without many plans and wide eyes, I knew that this would be a never-ending pursuit for me; to constantly seek new experiences and environments. I brought home from my first travels, a new-found career path in music – and a desire to travel with my instrument and see where it takes me,” she said.

Alice names the electric guitar as her favourite instrument. “It is so diverse and you are able to create so many sounds from it. I am still learning how to play, but it excites me every time I pick it up.”

For Alice, the most important thing is to keep playing on the streets: the way she did the first time she travelled. “That is where I learn the most about music and people and it is where I can reconnect with the importance of making music accessible to everyone,” she says.

Alice says she is very inspired by people like Amanda Palmer, who is uncompromising in her independence and approach to music as well as using music as a tool to spread ideas and hold a mirror up to society.

Locally, she calls Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela inspirations, for the role that their music played in bringing people together in times of injustice.

“In general, I am inspired by people who create their own systems and structures for their careers rather than prescribing to the ones that are already there,” she says.

Alice says that hearing her parents say that they trusted her and having had their support from day one, has been a real gift. “Their encouragement, rather than being overly concerned that I wouldn’t ‘make it’ is what made it possible for me to not have too much pressure and disappointment from them, which definitely could have influenced the direction that I took,” she says.

She says she loves the diversity that comes with being a musician.

“I want to play live, record, collaborate, create concerts, assist other artists, travel, write, do the finances, do the business, be the master of what I do. And most of all, I really just want to have a good time! I want to enjoy myself and for the people around me to enjoy themselves.”

She’s well on her way in many fields already.

She supported Rodriguez for seven concerts around South Africa, which she describes as being a huge surprise and honour.

“As much as I enjoyed the shows and the experience as a whole, it definitely showed me that big stadium shows are not my thing; and that I can flourish and be myself the most when I am playing more intimate shows.”

The process of cutting her own CD, ORBIT started in South Africa at Popsicle studios and then was taken to Berlin to a friend’s studio.

“It was an incredible and difficult and challenging experience but it taught me so much about myself, about working with people and about music in general. The album came out in April last year. Now I feel much more capable and prepared for the next album, which I will start recording in April last year.”

Alice will be appearing today Thursday February 2 and tomorrow Friday February 3 at Cape Town Central Methodist Church, at 7pm. Tickets are R150. Bookings through Quicket.