Oct 1999-Jan 2000, Bruxelles, Belgium
Interviewer: Stéphane Froidcoeur
Alexandria reveals a pronounced esoteric and ambient side, but the fascination for other styles like classical music is omnipresent. Louisa John-Krol perfectly fits into the ambient line (of) Hyperium… More than this, she’s one of the best references in this style together with Stella Maris/Das Zeichen, Vespertina, The Moors etc. We contacted Louisa in person and got the chance to discover a very fascinating, kind and talented musician.
Your Alexandria album contains several styles, but which were your main musical influences to compose this album?
Alexandria’s title-track grew from 15th century piece, ‘Baixa dansa Barcelona’ on Enric Gispert’s album Le Moyen Age Catalan. For string passages, I went to Gorecki; for mandolin, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Battle of Evermore’ & Heart’s ‘Sylvan Song’. I was listening to early Genesis/Peter Gabriel, Alain Markusfeld, Arvo Part, Gasparyan, Respighi, Trisan, Sequentia, Purcell, Marais, Sainte-Colombe, Schulze, Wings of Desire, and Rosenfole by Jan Gabarek/ Agnes Buen Garnas.
Can you tell us the way you proceeded to compose this album?
I co-wrote this material with my husband, Mark (Mirek) at home on mandolin, guitar and a primitive keyboard. Once sketched on tape and paper, songs were built up layer-by-layer in the studio.
According to the lyrics, you seem to be very interested in poetry and literature?
Cavafy’s words: ‘go firmly to the window and listen…’ are an invitation to dignity. Milton’s Lycidas might have been prophetic: “Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil…” Writers like Kafka, Holderlin or Calvino open windows for the soul… I cherish the bond of music & word that weaves through lieder or bardic traditions… As a teacher with underprivileged youth, I see literature as a Paper Door (re. Shiga Naoya.) My husband, child of Polish factory workers, spent nights in freeway tunnels, a torch shining on pages of Dostoyevsky.
I think you’ve a very charismatic way of singing, which reminds me of Bjork (in a more angelic way)?
She reminds me a little of Nanaco. Both use unusual phrasing, with a playful production style.
How did you come to be signed to Hyperium?
A friend, Sean Bowley, suggested I contact Oliver Roesch… Past experience gives me a sense that the only expectations we can have are of ourselves. Hope is sweeter, but no less dangerous.
No conclusions!… I listen widely: Vox, Estampie, The Starseeds, Seefeel, Shai no Shai, Tekbilek, Stellamara, Stella Maris… Deller Consort’s Shakespeare Songs or ‘L’ Ombra Della Luce’ by Franco Battiato. It is stimulating to go outside our home-genres. As Andre Gide said, we cannot discover new lands unless we consent to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.