Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and JOVM mainstay Alice Phoebe Lou. And as you may recall, Lou grew up in a very creative home — her parents were documentary filmmakers, who took a young Lou to piano lessons. As a teen, Lou taught herself guitar; but when she turned 16, she went on a life-altering trip to Paris to visit her aunt. While in Paris, armed with an acoustic guitar, the young artist met some of that cit’s buskers and street performers — eventually learning poi dancing from some of them.
After completing her studies, Lou returned to Europe, first landing in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer. She then relocated to Berlin, where she quickly developed a reputation as a well-regarded busker and for a fierce, punk rock-like DIY approach to her musical career. With the release of 2014’s self-released debut EP, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began to receive national and international attention, which resulted in performances at a number of TED events in London and Berlin during the following year.
Lou’s sophomore effort, 2016’s Orbit was nominated for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards. And building upon a rapidly growing profile both nationally and internationally, she played at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda and shared bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, and Allen Stone before ending the year with three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium. (The Berlin Planetarium shows were so popular and in such high demand that she had to add two additional shows there to her tour schedule in 2017.)
Additionally, the live version of “She” amassed over 4 million views on YouTube and was featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Heady Lamar Story — all before the studio version of the single was even recorded or released. But for most of 2018, Lou worked on her Noah Georgeson-produced sophomore effort Paper Castles, which was released earlier this year. And as Lou explains, the album is “about nostalgia, about growing into a woman, about the pain and beauty of the past, about feeling small and insignificant but finding that to be powerful and beautiful, about acknowledging that childhood is over but bringing some of it with you.”
“Something Holy,” the album’s first single was a slow-burning 70s AM rock meets 70s soul-like track centered around shimmering guitar line, hushed drumming, a sinuous hook, a psychedelic tinged bridge and Lou’s aching vocals with the song’s narrator taking a deeply introspective and unvarnished look into her complicated relationships with sex, love, men and ultimately, with herself. The song reflects, as Lou explained in press notes, “the moment that I managed to get over the main hurdle of my past traumas with sex, with men and with my own deeper understanding of intimacy and what it means to be intimate.”
Paper Castles’ latest single is the gorgeous and expansive “Galaxies.” Beginning with a shimmering and spacey introduction and Lou’s plaintive wailing, before the song turns into a spacey 70s jazz funk number, centered by a sultry, reggae-like bass line and a mournful saxophone solo and then morphs back into a shimmering and spacey coda — and while the song seamlessly shifts back and forth in a fashion reminiscent of Heatwave’s “Boogie Nights,” the song is imbued with a cosmic sheen.
Majestic Casual invited the JOVM mainstay for a live session of “Galaxies” that was fittingly shot at Berlin’s Zeiss Planetarium. Game of Throes star Maisie Williams opens the live session with a spoken word piece musing on humanity’s place within the cosmos directly inspired by the song.