Louise Distras


Yorkshire’s Louise Distras finally makes her long-awaited return in 2023 with her second album Beauty After Bruises, out 28 April via Ministry Of Love Records Department.

Though often referred to as a punk artist, or a protest singer, Louise says she’s much more than that. "I've just always tried to write good songs that come straight from the heart, and songs that I want to hear,” she explains. “I was brought up on groups like the Bee Gees, Queen, ABBA and ELO. The thing I love the most about pop music is that there's no stage big enough for it. So it doesn't matter where I sing these songs, or even who hears me, as long as the people are welcome. From the start that's always been my philosophy."

Having made a name for herself with her Dreams From The Factory Floor debut, Louise’s mix of spiky energy, addictive melody and unvarnished lyrics quickly won her praise. Kerrang! magazine named her one of the Stars Of 2017, saying she has “the kind of voice that could strip paint off a car.” 

Her brilliant live shows, meanwhile, included touring with The Interrupters, Dropkick Murphys and The Subways, as well as punk heroes The Buzzcocks, The Damned and Mick Jones (The Clash). She was also invited to perform at Glastonbury by no less a figure than Billy Bragg. Describing her onstage, Louder Than War declared: “Louise Distras is like that first vicious punch to the nose; you may feel it, it may hurt, it may be aggressive. But it’s the first time you’ve experienced anything like it, and secretly, you rather enjoyed the thrill.”

To make the follow-up, Louise headed to Oakland, California, to record with Ross Peterson (Bruce Springsteen, Elle King, John Mayer) at 25th Street Studios. As soon as she arrived, she knew she was supposed to be there. “Oakland is the home of the Hells Angels, and the Black Panther Party, and the civil rights movement,” she says. “The studio is located on Telegraph Avenue, which is a place of great significance because the events of the ‘60s and’ 70s made this particular street a symbol of American counterculture. It's also a place where a lot of young people run away to, and as a teenage runaway myself, by the whims of the great magnet I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be when I stepped off the plane. Hunter S. Thompson said it's the kinda place where you can strike sparks anywhere, so Oakland was the perfect place for me to make my record.”

With the pandemic putting heavy delays on finishing the album, it was finally completed with Stephen Street (The Cranberries, Blur, The Smiths) at Damon Albarn’s Studio 13 in West London. The result is a jagged, guitar-heavy pop record that both shines and bruises, taking in shades of Against Me!, Bob Dylan and classic ‘80s British indie to create a deeply personal and highly brilliant musical journal entirely of Louise’s own.

Describing the deceptively major-key content as “razor blades wrapped in candy floss”, into these songs Louise has put a huge spectrum of life, humanity, frustrations and big questions. There is, she says, a lot to unpack. “I'd say the major differences between the first album and this one, emotionally, is that I felt at that time in my life like I was looking outwards, and saying, ‘here's what's wrong with me, here's what's wrong with the world. And it's the world's fault. It's the world that's doing it to me,’” she says. “But with Beauty After Bruises, I'm looking inwards. I'm saying, ‘Well, the way I see the world is actually because of the way that I see myself. I pulled the wool over my eyes for a long time, because I was still carrying bricks from my past. And if I carried them any longer, I would have been building the same house. So I had to get out of my own way.”

Explaining the title of the album, Louise says, “Sometimes you need to hide in the darkness for a bit, but the light never leaves you for good. Lockdown changed me, I'm a different woman now. One of the things I learned is that I'm only human, I don't fit into this tiny little box. I'm very sensitive, and with sensitivity comes vulnerability. I'm complicated and, quite frankly, weird. “I don't want to make music that's a space for the best, glossy version of myself. So this record is messy just like me and it's about honouring the parts of myself that I've looked away from. Beauty After Bruises is about the ugly truth.”

When it comes to the lyrics, meanwhile, Louise doesn’t hold anything back. Take Truth In Your Lies, “about a creepy pseudo-cult leader who makes teenage runaways believe that their salvation lies in giving him money and sex. It's about breaking free from the rollercoaster of mind games and abuse.” Then there’s Girl In The Mirror, about the expectation heaped on women to be strong and tough all the time as a way of asserting themselves. “As a woman, I've noticed there's one thing that never gets talked about, which is the expectation to be tough and discovering that it's actually very damaging,” she explains. "As women we keep a lot of secrets and these secrets are the chains that bind us together.”

Throughout, guest musicians help bring Louise’s vision to life, including keys from Mick Talbot (The Style Council / Dexy’s Midnight Runners), and Bruce Springsteen / Miley Cyrus / Puscifer drummer Gunnar Olsen on Drums. On one of the album’s highlights, Black Skies, Crass’ Steve Ignorant shows up to help fulfil Louise’s vision for the track of being “a nihilistic night terror masquerading as a street opera that sounds like The Clash’s Guns of Brixton meets Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings”.

Though Covid has delayed things for Louise Distras, it’s also given her the chance to take stock and start over. Having had time to reflect on life, resurrection, survival of the soul and seek new meaning in life, with Beauty After Bruises she has poured it all into music, to re-emerge as a powerful and promising force of high-volume guitar-pop with a punk heart.

Quelle: Louise DistrasDiscografie

Album: "Dreams from the factory floor"