Alice Phoebe Lou, a small blonde South African girl from Capetown, landed with her guitar in Berlin some time ago.
She’s a phenomenon: She is truly that rare thing, someone who has found and grown her audience in a completely organic way – by playing on the street and by talking to people.
Her name has been a buzz word for the last year; now Alice Phoebe Lou, her Capetown-recorded debut album out, is playing the biggest show of her life – Heimathafen Neukoelln on the 15th May. With dancers, trapeze artists and a cast of musician friends. We managed to have a chat Alice Phoebe Lou about where she comes from, why she does what she does, and where she’s going.
“I had a skill: Dancing with fire.”
indieberlin: You grew up in South Africa. How did you come to Berlin? And how did you become a musician?
Alice Phoebe Lou: When I finished high school, I decided to travel in Europe for a year. I didn’t have much money and I didn’t know many people, but I had a skill which was dancing with fire. So I would go to the squares of the cities I visited and play with fire chains and get enough money to carry on moving.
Wherever I travelled, people told me that I would love Berlin. So eventually, in August of 2012 I arrived and fell in love with the feeling of the city and the crazy amount of street performance that was happening everywhere I looked. I started to play my guitar at Hackeschermarkt, even though I could only play a few cover songs. But that’s how I started to find my love for making music; sitting on the floor in the station and playing for strangers.
indieberlin:You’re busking quite a bit in Berlin. Could you share one of the experiences you made busking with us?
On busking: “Someone once tried to piss on me”
Alice Phoebe Lou: I perform on the street about five nights a week and I have so many crazy experiences because you are exposing yourself and making yourself vulnerable to the people passing by. A good experience that I have often, is seeing the reaction that children have when they see me playing! A bad experience is when people try to take advantage of you; someone once tried to piss on me!
“I think that music is a very important form of therapy”
indieberlin: What is your emotional approach to music?
Alice Phoebe Lou: I try to write songs that have an emotional sensitivity that can relate to everyone’s human experience. It’s very important to me for people to listen to my lyrics and for them to evoke emotion in them. I think that music is a very important form of therapy and when you play on the street you can really bring that therapy to where it is needed the most.
indieberlin: What music do you listen to when youre touring?
Alice Phoebe Lou: I am someone who loves all kinds of music, and when I am touring I like to listen to musical genius’ that inspire me. People like Hiatus Kaiyote, Patrick Watson, Timber Timbre and James Blake.
indieberlin: What was the last concert you went to in Berlin?
I went to see Bombay Bicycle Club
indieberlin: What was your biggest stage fuck-up? (If you ever had one?)
Alice Phoebe Lou: Forgetting my song list and having to just play whatever came into my head.
“I will be playing the biggest concert of my life at the Heimathafen on the 15th of May”
indieberlin: Where can we see you next? What are your next projects?
Alice Phoebe Lou: I will be playing the biggest concert of my life at the Heimathafen on the 15th of May. It’s a very special show because I have dancers choreographing to different songs, lots of musicians collaborating on stage with me and even someone on the trapeze! It’s going to be a night to remember! I am also working on my debut album at the moment which will be released later on in the year.
Interview by Mia Morris for indieberlin.
Alice Phoebe Lou is playing in Heimathafen Neukoelln with TAMMY as support and a cast of thousands.
indieberlin will be giving away free tickets to the show in the next days. Watch this space!