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Interview: Lauren Housley talks New Album Girl From The North, being pregnant and having a baby in the pandemic, setting up her own studio and label and more!

Huge Fan.. I really love her music” Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2

An Americana-tinged singer-songwriter with a Bonnie Raitt-style twang, a winning way with a yearning lyric. Housley is her own woman..she’s as convincing as they come. Q

Yorkshire based singer/songwriter Lauren Housley releases her eagerly anticipated third album Girl From The North today on April 23rd.

Following her two independent albums Sweet Surrender in 2015 and The Beauty of This Life in 2017, Girl From The North is an album that Lauren hopes will bring a burst of light and joy to listeners in these dark times.

An album with strong Americana roots and wonderful storytelling, Lauren puts the energy from her life experiences into her music and her personality really shines in her words and vocals too.

Girl From The North is released by her own label LoveBird Recordings and has ten songs all written by Lauren herself and her husband Thomas Dibb.

The album was recorded in the studio they built underneath a food hall in Rotherham, her home town.

Before the first lockdown, Lauren and Tom were married and in July 2020 during lockdown they had their first child Noah.

We caught up with Lauren to discuss the new album Girl From The North (which we will review and discuss about in more depth in a separate article) how the album was recorded, setting up her own label, getting married and how it was being pregnant during a pandemic and the first lockdown and having a baby when lockdown and restrictions were still very much in place.

Lauren and I were pregnant at the same time. I found being pregnant at the beginning of the pandemic incredibly scary and was very keen to speak to Lauren about it to see if we had similar experiences and similar feelings.

Lauren was an absolute joy to speak to. I was gutted to end the conversation she was that much fun. A down to earth and lovely lady, Lauren is also incredibly interesting.

We began the chat with that awkward laughing we all seem to do when zoom starts and for me it was particularly funny as I was still getting used to Zoom as hadn’t been doing interviews all year due to having a baby.

Lauren laughed and said she is allergic to technology and her husband mocks her as the computer crashes when she uses it. Making me feel at ease right away, we began with the usual…

How are you? How has your week been? How has easter been?

Yeah it was lovely thank you!Time is moving so strangely at the minute. It is kind of going really fast but also really slowly. I forget what I have done and with having a baby you just forget don’t you? I remember it being nice and we had been to the park quite a lot and had picnics and stuff so it’s been nice.

You are about to release your third album Girl From The North – exciting to release but must also be mixed emotions as you can’t go out and promote it in person etc. Tell us a bit about the album please.

Yeah so the album was written mainly in the studio that I set up in my hometown. I moved home a couple of years ago. My plan was to move to London at that time but I ended up staying in Rotherham because the first day that I moved back I got offered a studio space.

I had been doing a little bit of writing and a couple of the songs on the album are from even before this time but I guess it started, the idea started brewing just before I moved back home. At that point, Girl From The North title was a seed already, an idea and it had been in the brain for a while. Then this opportunity to set up a studio came up and was really really random and felt like the right thing to do in that moment in time. So me and my husband built this studio and a couple of friends of ours came up from Manchester and helped us build the studio.

We had no time constraints and a studio to our disposal so we just used to go in every day and work on songs. It was a bit of a weird time in my life because other than the album at that point I kind of lost sight of goals, my life goals were a bit distant at that point. You know when you have this idea of where you want to be and have all those ideas growing up? They then change depending on what happens in your life and you end up following different paths and so on.

At that point all I knew was that I wanted to and needed to write and finish a new album and that was my main focus at that point for a long time. I was gigging alot in between the studio time but I used to go into the studio every day and I didn’t have much of a social life at that point. Hahaha.

So it was written in 2019?

Yes and the back end of 2018 and I got married in the summer of 2019 too which kind of played a nice role as it felt like the album was achievable at that point and there was so much to celebrate.

We got married in the venue above where the album was recorded so our studio was in the basement and this venue had been built above there. It was the perfect place to get married! We brought all our friends and family over – There were over 200 people there including loads of musicians whom I have worked with over the years and we had a big party and celebration.

We played loads of music and had a big Indian meal. An amazing curry! This restaurant in the centre of the town is the best Indian I have ever had in my whole life. We hired the whole place and they did this big meal for us and carved me and Tom into a melon haha. It made it so special! We used to go in there after recording and stuff so it just felt like the right place to have the wedding and the meal. All that energy from that point in my life got pushed into the album as well so it turned into this colourful album.

Congratulations firstly and how lucky to have got married just months before the pandemic and all the restrictions!

I know!I am so lucky! I can’t believe it because I have three close friends that have had to postpone and cancel weddings which is a nightmare! The one thing that you can’t cancel or postpone is having a baby haha! I was pregnant and thinking “There’s no stopping this”haha

Yeah you can’t say, go back in go back in

Haha no exactly! So it’s been a bit of a wild ride hasn’t it this last year?

It has! So you were pregnant when you were recording the album?

I found out I was pregnant the day we started recording.

How funny!

Literally! There are so many coincidental things like that that have happened. I kept falling asleep in the studio towards the end. There were a couple of sessions where Tom was programming something or tweaking something and he turned around and I was asleep and he was like “what is going on?” Low and behold I was pregnant.

We had the first recording session booked and the drummer came over with all his gear and normally I help with the gear but this time I was like “I don’t know if I should be carrying heavy things but I am not telling anyone that I am pregnant yet” so I had to find excuses not to carry it haha!

Well congratulations again! How was the pregnancy for you? In terms of sickness and in terms of “oh my goodness, we have this pandemic’” that at that point, we didn’t really know anything about.

I know, it was weird. I had a bit of morning sickness but that ended at about thirteen weeks and after that I felt great! I did feel emotional and I managed to feed that into the album which was nice. After we finished the album and I was starting to really prepare to have a baby and we got put in lockdown I just totally freaked out! I had friends who were pregnant at the same time and all those things we were hearing about not being able to take your partner in to the birth really started to panic me. Me and Tom also lost our jobs in that time so I had a big panic.

Tom kept totally calm, moved the studio into the flat and mixed the album. Then that is how the album got finished basically and that spurred us both on and we could focus on that as well as obviously the baby. But that was a good feeling to get that finished in the first couple of weeks of lockdown.


Did he get to be there for the birth in the end as it had all changed, the rules by then?

He did. But he wasn’t allowed to visit. I ended up having an emergency c section. I wasn’t in for long, I was in for the night he was born. He was born at 4 in the morning and I stayed in the following day which to be honest I just wanted to sleep so it was fine that he couldn’t be there. I could get used to having a baby that way too. He did get to be there for the birth but had to leave 90 minutes after having the c section which was weird. Very weird. I feel like having the time to chill afterwards and not having loads of visitors was a bit of a blessing. You think at the time it’s the worst thing ever but it was nice to have that time.

Has he got to meet everyone yet?

Luckily I have been able to see Grandparents. He has met Aunties and Uncles out on walks but he hasn’t met any of my friends yet.

That’s a shame and it’s hard isn’t it? My son hasn’t met his Aunty and Uncle or cousins in France yet and we are also missing going to baby groups.

A friend of mine had a baby six weeks after me, she is a member of a church near me and they have been able to run groups socially distanced so I have been lucky with that. We wear masks and are socially distanced but now the babies are all crawling and want to play, we can’t do that inside but at least we have had a nice little group outside and have had help and support.

That is good!

You have your own label, so tell us a little bit about that please? Lovebird recordings?

That was based around the studio. The studio was Love bird studios. Basically we found this picture in a charity shop (she laughs) it ended up being like a centre piece in the studio. It’s like two little lovebirds sitting on the edge of the water and it was something we used to look at a lot when we were writing the songs and recording the album. When we were trying to think of a name for the album we used to joke about the lovebirds so it ended up being lovebird studios. Then that’s where the album was made so that’s how lovebird recordings came about.

You wrote all the songs from this album with your husband I believe?

Yes!

Was that easy or hard? Could you be completely open?

Hahaha. You know what I am really lucky because he is a really great guy to work with and weirdly for the past fifteen years, as we have been together since we were sixteen, we have spent pretty much every day together. We have always worked together in different bands and stuff and have always collaborated together in terms of songwriting but since having Noah we have probably seen each other less than we have ever because he is off working and I am doing my thing and we juggle looking after Noah but we do work as a songwriting team really well because I think we have different strengths.

So no questions about if lyrics are about him then? Haha

(Laughs) What is hilarious though he doesn’t listen to lyrics, he is so into the music that the lyrics are kind of an extra thing for him. Sometimes he will say “so what’s that song about?” And I will be like “we have been playing it for the past five years what do you think it’s about?” Haha!

He knows when lyrics are good and when they are right but he doesn’t read that much into them haha

What are the pros and cons of being an independent artist because I can imagine being independent gives you a lot more freedom creatively?

Yes! That is definitely a pro. It’s a blessing and curse in some ways because in terms of creative freedom it’s amazing but in terms of signing things off and getting that side of things done it’s nice to have someone go “it needs finishing by this time” etc. And again just finishing it before lockdown was kind of really good timing because it meant we couldn’t keep tweaking it. You could tweak things forever and it’s hard signing things off sometimes and agreeing it is done.

I guess it’s cool to learn about different sides of the industry as well because you have to learn about it allas an independent artist. One of the cons is it is a lot of work other than the creative side and I am guessing that is the case even if you aren’t an independent artist but there’s a lot of juggling and of wearing different hats and stuff but I am getting better at doing that haha!

At the beginning of lockdown when I was pregnant right up until the week before I had Noah I was doing live stream sessions from my apartment called Tuesday Night Live – Live from The Kitchen. It was a way of staying connected with people online and obviously everything was shutting down and people couldn’t leave. It was a way of keeping us sane and keeping the weeks rolling by so every two weeks we would set that up.

My husband has also launched a business – Live streaming events. He and another friend of ours who is actually a music producer who I recorded my first and second album with, they have set up a company where they do live streams professionally and they do amazing stuff where they are back and forth to London doing loads of things. The live sessions we did was the first live streams we had done and I feel like as an independent artist you get a lot more freedom to do stuff like that in the early stages and kind of do what you want.

What is next for you? Hopefully we can have some festivals this year? Are you booked for any?

Yeah there are a couple. Baby Folk Festival is the one that has been announced at the moment. Sadly I would have been off all of last summer as was pregnant so I didn’t have any in the diary. A lot of them are already booked up for this year as they are having the same line up as last year so I don’t have many in the diary. I am going to be doing some live streaming and I will have a live stream from the studio the Tuesday after the album is out. That is going to be a live a show of the whole album plus a couple of other songs from my back catalogue with a small line up, so that is going to be fun! Hopefully, fingers crossed, I am going to be touring at the end of the year.

I hope so, I really hope so.

We ended our chat with hopes to see each other on her tour or at a festival and perhaps a baby play date. Let’s hope live music will be in full swing again soon!

Girl From The North is Out Now and can be purchased here.

Check out physical copies and amazing merch and merch bundles here

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