Writing Songs with Louise McLean / by Esaf Commitee

ESAF's Andrea Tweedie caught up with Louise McLean from Nicola and Lou to talk inspiration, performance and writing.

Tell me what are you bringing to ESAF 2016?

It's me and my friend Nicola, we are both singer/songwriters. We've both been writing and singing and performing for quite a while now individually and then we have been writing together as well. We were kind of looking for an opportunity to almost workshop it a little bit and then we saw the ESAF and it just seemed like such an amazing kind of supportive environment. We thought yeah let's go for it and see what we can come up with. There is going to be music and spoken word.

How did you start with all of this?

For me, I only started playing guitar about two years ago. Ago and I have been writing like secretly and singing for a few years, so yeah. when I met Nicola she had been performing for years and she totally inspired me and supported me to start doing that.

So what do you want the audience to take away from your piece?

I think for me the thing that I kind of focus on when I'm writing is very much about exploring relationships as well as my perspective as a woman and you know, how people attract each other. I try write on a very personal level so what I would. Like for people to take away from it is kind of think about the things we both talk about talk about in our music and how think about how they would maybe want to express themselves. I don't know for me it's all about kind of inspiring other people because I was quite nervous to perform before and that I have done it it's just so cool. So yeah, for me it would be that.

ESAF is very much a collaboration between creatives that are all students or recent graduates so what advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue something like song writing or performing?

I think it was about meeting other creative people that's definitely how you shine because you kind of think you are doing all these things on your own and that no one else does them. When you see and artist or performer playing you think they are amazing and that they are just natural art doing it and you don't realise how much work goes into it. I think the advice I would give is to try and surround yourself with people who are creative but also give yourself permission to write a load of rubbish as well. When you first start you are going to have to get through a lot of stuff. For me it's allow yourself to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and even your hero makes mistakes as well. Don't put yourself under so much pressure and if you have a really supportive crowd around you then you're going to have fun.

Where do you see your work going next after ESAF?

I am working on an EP at the moment, well I've got the songs ready and I will start recording that hopefully I was thinking for after. I might try and get some space in January so for me, I am working on that. That's the kind of solo project but me and Nicola have been writing a little bit more together and things are sounding a bit more fuller. We are thinking about bands and we've started applying for other festivals, so yeah. We just want to focus more on more writing more performing hopefully like getting more instruments.

So what bands or artists inspire you and your work?

I was just talking about this the other day and I am in a total Amy Winehouse phase again. I love her so much. She's like very inspirational to me because her lyrics are so honest and raw she is also amazingly talented and a good jazz musician and she's a guitarist as well. She inspires me, it's the honesty of her lyrics. Basically I like female artists I love even Taylor Swift because I like pop they all inspire me as well but mainly Amy Winehouse. I always come back to her. I saw her perform at Liquid Rooms before her first album came out. One of my friends said have you heard this girl she is totally amazing and I was like yeah I've heard of her. It wasn't even sold out or anything; that was years ago.

Was she more Jazz back then?

Yeah she was. Honestly you could hear pin drop her voice and stage presence was amazing.

How do you cope with nerves?

Nicola gave me amazing bit advice, all you have to do is keep throwing yourself out there. The more times you do that the better it gets. Think about the nerves as you are going roller you want to your passion it's fun don't think about nerves negative use them and your so buzzing excited and it definitely helps.

What part of the process is your favourite?

I am starting to like the performance side, I love singing I feel like at peace when I sing but I love writing before I live coming up with an idea and it will arrive and how will I make it to how I want to say how's the best way. Writing as well, writing with Nicola its a new thing to me that's really cool as well she write in a different way for me when we come together how... writing is probably my favourite part because it's fun to see other people's reaction come up after oh that's exactly how I felt. I like to make that connection and you don't get that from sitting in your room and writing in your diary.