Calva Louise - Interview
If you’ve missed rocking on the indie dancefloor during lockdown, then Calva Louise are here to pat your hand and let you know with a smile, ‘It’s not long now’.
This is a band on the way. Their debut album Rhinoceros, released in 2019, arrives at breakneck speed, all punk attitude and Caesars guitars, pogo-ing about between 60s girlband melodies and lead singer Jess Allanic’s 21st Century full-throated demands. And it barely lets up for 10 excellent songs of latin-tinged electro-indie, launched with love from outer space.
Not long after Rhinocerus, their first EP, 'Interlude for The Borderline Unsettled' saw them move seamlessly Muse-esque grandiose, songs soaring into the cosmos with a confidence startling in a new band.
Crashing into 2020 armed with Albert Hammond Jr (The Strokes) as a champion of the band, and plaudits from BBC Radio 1, Clash, The Line of Best Fit and Radio X, they’ve once again set the Earth in their crosshairs and fired at us their new EP ‘POP(urri)’, setting loose …Borderland and letting it run rampant in the shop. "Rhinoceros represented for us an opportunity to move forward. We were recording some songs when we got offered to do the album and we took it, we didn’t overthink it as we knew this was the only way for us to move on. Then our EP …Borderline Unsettled was for us the evolution that made us understand more who we are as a band!"
Of the new EP, Camino is a thumping electronic beast, dark and urgent, with an electric indie squall and driving heart. At its core, though, is a simple ode to the eternally dissatisfied: tearing everything up and starting again: 'Let's figure out a plan, Going back to square one’. In the end, after any pretence is stripped away, all any of us have left is what’s locked away inside us: ‘Looking behind, What is left of me, Of this mind.'
Lead single Pop(urri) is closer to the indie spirit of Rhinoceros. If one song could be a flourishing summary of their ace debut album, it’s this. Arriving with a stylish video of neon lines freaking across the night sky above a Tron landscape, the Spanish and English electronica underpins an indie skittishness. It beams its message ‘Alienation to the ones that break the peace!’ direct to Earth over the intergalactic superhighway. "This second EP is the continuation of the path we took with our first EP, it came out of us at a moment when we felt that we couldn’t care less about the status quo. We have been told that we need to stick to what we are supposed to be, to stifle the evolution we wanted to take. "
"So, after many months feeling a little bit like outcasts, we realised that we should be able to do what we want, and so we decided that we should have fun and ride our own wave! There is inevitable change and we like to follow wherever our hearts take us!"
If there is a constant to Calva Louise, it’s their magpie thievery of genre and influence, reflecting the band’s roots in Venezuela, France and New Zealand. "There are a lot of Latino influences in our music, like Calle 13, Molotov, Cafe Tacuba and Canserbero". Lyrics sang in Spanish and English infiltrate their songs, something rarely heard in the monolingual Anglo indie world. "That’s what POP(purri) is all about, the acceptance of our identity and that it is alright to feel different, we don’t need to belong somewhere to be somebody". A cosmopolitanism in short supply on these shores, where, according to the UK government, to belong everywhere is to belong nowhere.
Calva Louise is the eventual destination of three long-time musicians: "We all started playing instruments pretty young. I started when I was 10 playing with my dad’, says Jess. ‘Alizon started around the same age playing cello and same for Ben playing drums. There were many different bands that inspired us from the start: Ben was really into skatepark-rock, Alizon into Pink Floyd and I was into the 70s rock my parents listen to."
"We formed in London in August 2016. Alizon and I went to school together and decided to move to London where we played a bit together and met Ben at a gig. Then we asked him if he wanted to record some demos with us and then the band started!"
And the unusual name of the band? "There is this play called ‘The Bald Soprano’ by Romanian-French playwright Eugene Ionesco (Calva means 'bald' in Spanish). I studied him at school and saw the play in Spanish. It was the most absurd thing, but also very funny and it kind of reflected what was happening to the band at the time. Since life can be absurd and funny at the same time, we felt the name almost acted like a metaphor for what we were going through as a band."
After four years of honing their sound through relentless touring and with two extraordinary EPs and an album brewing a heady compound in their Molotov cocktail, Calva Louise are ready to explode onto the national indie scene.
Pop(urri) EP OUT 31ST JULY
LISTEN TO THE FIRST TWO TRACKS ON OUR SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
You can see them on tour this year, COVID-withstanding. Get on it!
w/ Highly Suspect
27 August – Birmingham O2 Institute
28 August – Manchester Academy 2
31 August – London Electric Ballroom
2 November – Manchester Deaf Institute
11 November – Bordeaux L’Astrodome (France).