Meet LOUIZA, the avant-garde artist taking on the world with her sublime works of art.
New School for Jazz graduate Rebecca Mimiaga utilises an eclectic blend of influences ranging from Kurt Cobain to Donny Hathaway, creating the soul-stirring, moving art pop we have before us. The captivating vocals and chord progressions of LOUIZA ensue a hailstorm of raw emotion and neolistic energies hammering down from clouds of poetic intervention. After hearing ‘Forget Regret’, we sensed there was a special aura to Rebecca so we caught up with her to have a chat…
LOUIZA is an intriguing name, where did that come from?
LOUIZA is my first and middle name combined (Rebecca and Louise)
‘Forget Regret’ and ‘Drive-Through Lover’ are quite avant-garde and both have interesting yet beautiful vocal melodies. To what extent did studying at the New School for Jazz inspire these? Or did the inspiration come from elsewhere?
Hard to say. I listen to a lot of music and notice several influences working at once when I’m writing. Jazz school and the music scenes I followed in New York City certainly introduced me to new sounds. Studying music put me in the habit of paying attention to what I was hearing, analysing and attempting to reproduce aspects I liked. My process sometimes starts just that way: sitting with a song I like, analysing the satisfying parts, seeing if I can sing it or play it on piano verbatim and then trying to create my own version without thinking too hard about it.
There is a big difference between what inspires an artist and what influences one. What or who influences you the most?
That is a great question. What I listen to changes often but I notice I’m always coming back to the blues. Spirituals, West African, Delta, Gospel, even the blues scale played or sung in the right way is a transcendent experience for me. It feels like euphoric pain. The most obvious examples of artists that do it for me are Howlin’ Wolf, Mehalia Jackson, Donny Hathaway, Nirvana, the way BB King plays Lucille. I get the same feeling listening to vocalists singing Arabic music or Northern Classical Indian music. My singing is heavily influenced by Kurt Cobain, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. I really felt their singing, nothing seemed put on or disingenuous, just deeply moving. I wanted to move people the way I was moved more than anything.
What or who inspires you the most?
Musically I’m inspired by artists that make bizarre music popular. Examples of major artists that did/do it are Beck, Tom Waits, David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, St. Vincent, Latin Playboys, Tune-yards, Joni Mitchell, Bjork. I hate knowing where a song is going to go and to me there is no such thing as background music. When I listen to something for the first time, I’m hoping to be surprised. It could be a strange chord progression, samples, found-sounds an odd pairing of instruments as long as its explorative. The only thing I like to be fairly square is song form, like the strangeness can present itself as long as I get to hear it twice. A lot of Bay Area indie bands/artists are doing this. I’ve found fantastic songwriters making art that’s different and compelling out here.
You’ve been listening to a lot of West African Music for your upcoming album; can you give us more of an insight in terms of artistic direction?
Yes and the Velvet Underground, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mariem Hassan, Kurt Vile.. The input changes but the filter doesn’t. Seems like whatever I’m pulling into my songs is being negotiated with a soft spot for art pop, blues, distortion and grunge. I will say I’m going for dancier tunes these days..
What was your creative process like whilst writing ‘Party Trick’?
Those songs sort of came from all over. The threadline was me trying to experiment with elements I like to hear: strong bassy riffs, raga-like melodies, angular chord progressions, harmony, found-sounds. I spent a lot of time at the piano imagining what would replace the piano. And, a lot happened in the studio.
Is it solely you who pens the songs or does anyone else in LOUIZA have any input?
Just me when I write the songs. The recording process for Party Trick was very collaborative though. I found musicians and a producer/engineer that I really liked and let the musicians create their own parts and the producer/engineer experiment with tempo, song feel and instrumentation. My mind-state was yes until no. I wanted us create something together and the music is much better for it.
How important is experimentation to you and your work?
Crucial – so fun.
You have achieved a totally unique sound, something a lot of artists fail to do. How did you develop yours and what advice can you give budding musicians trying to achieve this?
When you finish a song, record it (iphone garage band whatever..). Wait a day, listen back to it and imagine hearing you’re this song on the radio. Is it unfolding the way you want it to? Does it move you? Second, team up. Could be with instrumentalists and/or an engineer, whatever. Involve people you love and trust artistically and let your songs go somewhere else.
Do you have anything exciting lined up for the future, such as tours, gigs etc.?
I’m heading to NYC to play a show at Pianos showroom Nov 12th at 8pm. More shows pending. Definitely recording with the same team in February.
What are your top five albums of all time?
Oh man impossible. For me the most formative albums growing up were “Nevermind” – Nirvana, “Dookie” – Green Day, “The Buena Vista Social Club”, “Songs in the Key of Life” – Stevie Wonder and “Midnight Vultures” – Beck.
‘Party Trick’ by LOUIZA is available now: