Making music during lockdown - singer Louis takes inspiration from his home county

Life’s challenges have inspired generations of singer-songwriters to put pen to paper and 24-year-old Louis Coupe is no exception.

His musical career had been soaring to new heights when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

And he had been all set to build on a successful 2019 which saw him end the year with performances at the Royal Albert Hall along with support slots with the likes of Jake Bugg and Dave Keuning from The Killers.

But, sadly, like so many other artists, his ambitions suffered a huge setback when Britain entered lockdown in March and all live tours ground to a halt.

Returning home to Shropshire, he remained determined to continue following his dreams by dedicating himself to developing his song-writing.

Louis set himself a mammoth challenge of writing and recording 13 new songs at home and releasing them over the course of 13 weeks.

“It was a really spontaneous idea. I woke up on a Thursday morning and decided to write a track that day and release it that Sunday. I produced a little visual for it on the Friday night,” says Louis, who hails from Priorslee, Telford.

His love of music can be traced back to a life-changing moment when he saw Sir Elton John perform live for the first time.

“Like a lot of kids I was mostly into sport – football and cycling – when I was young.

“To this day I’m not too sure what prompted it, but when I was 12 my parents surprised me with tickets to see Elton John.

“They told me it was a fireworks display and I had no idea until the second he walked on stage. Something happened there and then, like a switch. The next day I searched on YouTube how to play Your Song by Elton on piano and since then I’ve wanted to do nothing else but play music.

“I love music from all genres but my biggest influences lie in the defining artists of the 60s and 70s. The showmanship of Elton, the melodies of McCartney, the innovative and eclectic-ness of Bowie.

“These artists have such lasting legacies for a reason – they wrote the handbook on pop song-writing and artistry. I also like a lot of contemporary artists such as Father John Misty, Andy Shauf and Bon Iver – their writing is very authentic yet experimental,” explains Louis.

As well as inspiration from his musical heroes, the piano continues to play a huge role in crafting his own songs.

“I write a lot of different music, but the place I feel most at home is on the piano. My style of writing is a very classic approach, with a lot of influences from the 1960s and 70s. I like to think my lyrics are honest and frank, and the DIY nature of producing my music I’ve adopted recently reflects the authentic and imperfect feel I like to retain in my music.

“I have no set writing process as such. I make note of interesting words and phrases on my phone that sometimes inspire the start of a song.

“The actual composition usually starts with the music. I try and flesh out a structure of the song on either piano or guitar, which will largely dictate the vibe of the song and feel of the lyrics.

“I guess like a lot of writers, inspiration can come from anywhere.

“Recently I’ve written about moving home to Shropshire, new relationships, old relationships, growing up. I also like experimenting with different sounds like voice notes from friends, and bringing these in to my recordings to expand the soundscape,” says Louis.

Over the past year his home county has provided plenty of food for thought for his lyrics and his 13-songs project.

“In the summer I spent a lot of time out in the Shropshire countryside, a big contrast to where I lived last year in London.

“My favourite moment last summer was climbing the Clyffe in Nesscliffe at sunrise. I have a song called ‘English Weather’ on the 13-song project that is largely inspired by this experience in the summer,” explains Louis.

After months of honing his writing and performing skills, he is hoping to make a return to the live tour circuit when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

“My favourite show ever was at the Royal Albert Hall last November for the Proms. That place is my favourite live venue in the world. Other highlights include an amphitheatre in Glasgow supporting Jake Bugg, and Telford Arena in 2015 supporting Boyzone in my first ever band.

“I’ve played nearly 1,000 gigs now – touring both the UK and Europe, as well as shows across the USA too,” says Louis.

He believes the lockdowns have had a severe impact on the wider music industry, leaving many artists fearing for their future.

“For me and many of my friends, music is our full-time job. I’ve been a professional live musician for eight years now, playing over 100 shows a year, so to have that stripped away is very worrying.

“Like many musicians, I’ve tried to direct my time into different areas, focusing on developing my writing and recording, but that doesn’t change the fact that the career I have built up and invested in over the past few years simply doesn’t exist right now.

“Like with many other creative and freelance occupations, there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being a musician even at the best of times. I know a lot of my fellow musicians are concerned for the future of the industry right now.

“I really hope we can see the other side of these lockdowns soon, and we can kick-start the live scene again.

“This is the longest I’ve ever gone without playing a show, so I’d love to have a busy summer this year playing anywhere possible. First and foremost, it would be great to be making music with my friends and colleagues again.

“I think I sometimes struggle to articulate myself with words. With songwriting and performing however, I can.

“I find it much easier to be true to my authentic self and express my perspective. It helps me process everything that goes on in life,” says Louis.

To hear Louis’ tracks visit www.facebook.com/louiscoupe or www.louiscoupe.com

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