Louise Setara's first interview was granted to Musical Discoveries: Where are you located right now?
Louise Setara: I'm in the States, in NYC, at EMI.
Is this your first trip to the US?
Yes, I've been over here for two months. No, it's my longest trip in the US but I have been over here quite a few times since I've been signed to Manhattan Records.
How do you like the US?
It's lovely, really nice. It takes a while to get used to the City at first because everything is really fast. Apart from that, it's really, really lovely. I love the buildings over here and the movies are really, really good. I'm finding my way around pretty well.
How long are you planning on staying in the US, since you've already been here two months?
I go home this Sunday, and then I stay home for a month, come back here for a day, and then I'm in Los Angeles for a week. I'm travelling around quite alot. I'll be touring.
Where were you born?
I was born in a place outside of London called Reading. And I lived there until I was about eight, and then I moved to Farnborough which is about an hour outside of London. The air show is going on at the moment and it's scaring my dogs to death. They keep hiding and I'm not there to cuddle them, so I feel really sorry for them. My boyfriend lives in Chichester.
Is this a serious relationship?
Is he in the music business as well?
He's a construction worker.
You come from an interesting background; a mixture of Irish, British, Brazilian and Gypsy. How has this influenced your music?
At lot of Gypsys, old and young, listen to older music. Some of my friends, who range between the age of 16 and 30, they all listen to really old stuff like Far and Young, Marty Robbins, Dolly Parton, and I also grew up listening to a lot of old stuff as well, like singers from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Then, I also listened to a lot of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Anyone with a big voice with good songs and good lyrics I was always into.
Are the members of your family very musical?
My mum can sing. I have three sisters and a brother. And, two of my sisters are twins and they can sing quite good, and my brother can sing too. I have an older sister who is a hairdresser and she can't sing a note.
Have you had any formal music training?
When I was ten I did about six months of vocal training. A couple of years ago when I was fifteen, I did some vocal training with a classical music coach, which was really, really good. She taught me alot about my voice. But apart from that, it's just been gigs. I just formed a love for music from the age of three that's taught me most of everything I know about singing.
Do you play any instruments?
I don't. I wish I would have learnt when I was younger.
What kind of music do you find yourself listening to all the time?
I listen to a variation of everything really. I listen to Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Etta James. I like The Temptations and Sam Cook. I like Coreen Bailey Ray, I listen to everyone really. I listen to a mix of everybody.
Have these artists influenced the direction of your album?
I'm a lover of soul, soulful voices and soulful singers, soulfoul music. My album has a lot of soul in there.
Do you have any interests outside of music?
I like swimming. I swim alot and I just took up boxing. I'm learning how to box. I swim alot and I run alot, like jogging, and I was going to the gym alot, but I wanted to find something that was like a workout but just a little bit more fun than a treadmill. Treadmills and the bike can get a little bit boring, so I took up boxing. I've been doing it for two months now, and everytime I go it doesn't feel like working out. It just feels like you're having fun. I don't spar with partners--that would be too much for me. I'd probably get killed! I like to keep myself in good physical condition. I like to be healthy.
So tell us about what the recording process is like and what it's like for you in the studio.
It's really good. I don't like singing and recording in sections. I like to sing a song from top to bottom, and do it as many times as the producer wants me to. And, then he gets what he needs from that. I love singing live, I love gigs. So when I'm in the studio, I like to treat it like a gig. I like to imagine that I'm in a show, and I like to sing a song from top to bottom about five or more times, depending upon how long it takes to get the tape that they need.
You do covers and original tunes on your album. How did you decide what tracks were going on the album?
Well, I recorded quite a few songs--probably about 40 of them. When we started searching, and sometimes I'd be in places and just hear a song, and I'd be like, yeah, I like that, can I do it. What we recorded and when you listen back, the best kind pops into your ears, and that's got to go on. Every song on my album is one that I love and a song that I can relate to in a way. So, that's good and you can make them feel like they're your own even though you haven't written them.
Out of these 40 songs, were there some that you were disappointed didn't get to the album?
No, I think everything that is on the album I'm really glad is on the album. It goes together really, really nicely. Whatever didn't make it onto this album, I can always use for something else or do live. I will make use of them.
How did you make the final choices of what did go on the album?
We sat down and the songs that made it on the album are the songs that sounded good together. All of them are the ones that I like. You can have 50,000 songs, but really when you sing them is when you can feel them. And you feel what's right and what you want on your album. And that's what I did. And if there are two songs that are close, you sing them, and you know which one feels better and that's what goes on the album.
Was there a certain type of message that you were trying to convey through this album?
From what's on the album, I just wanted it to sound as soulful as it could. I wanted people to listen to my album and feel uplifted after they hear it. That's the feeling I want people to have. It's worked so far. When I perform live and people come to my gigs, afterwards I get people come over to me and tell me this song has really uplifted me and it feels great, I love your voice and I love the song. I think an uplifted feeling is what I wanted and I think that's what it's got. I did a song, "Wrong Again"--I co-wrote it back in England, and I played it the other day. A guy came over to afterwards and said he loved that song and wanted to play it for his daughter cause she just finished with her boyfriend and he knew it would make her feel so much better when she hears the song. That meant the world to me.
Do you have a favorite song that you've written?
I get asked that question, but it's really hard, because they're all my songs, they're all my babies and I can't choose which one I love better.
Do you have a favorite song by another artist that you listen to again and again?
My favorite songs change once every two months. My favorite song last month was a song by Ray Charles called "You Don't Know Me." My favorite song this month is by The Temptations called "Ain't to Proud to Beg." That's my favorite song this month.
What direction do you see your music taking?
I love soul music and soulful voices and that's the area I think I'd always want to stay in. I'm young and I don't know where my life is going to take me at the moment, but as I get older I'd like to stay in the same kind of area as I'm in now, but try to make the songs better in each album. But, obviously I'd like to get better at that and do more writing on my next album to come.
How many songs have you written?
I've written two on this album. I've been in a few writing sessions over the past couple of years with some writers, and there's a few hanging around here, there and everywhere. I'll probably use those songs in the future, but I want to get better at it. I want to keep writing.
What inspires you?
My writing sessions are like therapy sessions. I sit and I talk about whatever what I'm going through at that time, and the writers get a feel for what I'm going through. And we sit down and turn words I'm saying into song lyrics.
How do you think your work has evolved?
I think it is something that builds up through your whole life. From the age of three, I was listening to Patsy Cline. It is the first song I every sung and my mum taped it and it was Patsy Cline's "I Love You Honey." And then I listened to people like Ray Charles and The Temptations and they're all very soulful. As I got older, I wanted to use how they influenced me. I wanted to create a sound and a type of music that was soulful. Every one of my songs are songs that I can relate to even though I haven't written them myself.
Is there anyone in particular that you'd like to perform with?
There's quite a few people actually. I'd like to sing with Alycia Keyes because being a young girl who loves soul and wants to influence the world like she has. She's a young singer/songwriter of soul and I'm influenced alot by her. I also want to sing with Stevie Wonder and Nora Jones.
Is there a dream venue you'd like to perform at?
I'd like to perform at The Grand Ole Opry. I've always wanted to.
What's your favorite type of venue?
I've been performing a lot in The Living Room in NYC and it's got a chilled out, warm vibe in there. I love to go into a venue and singing when it's got that vibe. The audience is really close to you and you can almost touch them. I love audiences like that.
Are the venues at home like that?
There's a venue in London that I always performed in called Ronnie Scott's. I did quite a lot of gigs in there and that's got the same vibe as The Living Room. The Living Room was the first gig I did over here and it was like going from home to home.
How do you prepare before you go onstage?
I like to talk as much as I can before I go onstage. Before I go onstage, I don't get nervous, I always get nervous when I come off stage. I drink loads of water and do vocal exercises to warm my voice up, and I like to be around people. My getting in the zone is to just keep on talking. If I become all quiet and be on my own before I go onstage, I think I'd just get nervous.
How long do you perform for?
I did a gig in Boston and that was half an hour. I also did a gig in Washington Square Park and that was 45 minutes.
How did the audience receive you?
In between each song, people were coming over to me and giving me cuddles and saying they really liked what they were hearing and it was really really sad because two ladies in the audience were crying. It really touched me alot that my music did that to them.
How has the internet influenced your career so far?
I've got my own website and I'm on MySpace too. At one of my gigs, a guy came over to me and said I heard you on the internet and I really like what I heard and I came all the way from Denmark to see you today. That was amazing! I was really impressed by that.
What are your musical hopes and dreams over the next year?
All I can hope and dream for is to be the best that I can be at this stage in my performances and in the studio and interviews as well. This is new for me and this is the first interview I've ever done. So, I just want to be the best that I can be.