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Scout Beck

Louise Distras
Interview

Scout Beck, Editor

She's carrying the label of being responsible for the rebirth of UK punk but this doesn't faze this performer from Wakefield.

Now based in London, Louise Distras is causing some disturbance with her outspoken performances on stage and off. But she handles criticism and praise with equal indifference. No labels are going to bother her.

That said, the comparisons to Billy Bragg are taken well by Distras who holds open admiration for his music and activism, and it's not too far off the mark. Her background and political leanings have created a tough backbone for her music, and you only need to look at her twitter feed to see that she means it. Odd that that should seem unusual - a singer who actually lives what they preach.

And it's created quite a buzz. She's young, female and tough - people were bound to talk for god's sake. But her direct vocal style, ragged punk and leather and badges have endeared her to many, and there's talk of her being that rare thing - a crossover artist, taking her individual sound to the mainstream.

Not a bad result for a young female in an essentially male domain. She's had to work hard to conquer it and is rightly angered still by the prejudice she's experience and the expectation that she could use her sex to sell.

Of course she flicks two fingers at that, and now a regular at the likes of Blackpool's Rebellion Festival, it's looking like Distras is here to stay, and on her terms. It would appear that in a world dominated by male manufacturing, a loud angry female voice is just what we wanted to hear.

Is she really the UK's answer to Joan Jett? We caught up with Louise.

Hi Louise, how and where are you at the moment?

"Hallo, I am doing very well, thank you for asking. Right now I am back home in the UK, following a great weekend performing at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. It was boss!"

How has your summer been so far? What have been the highlights?

"Releasing my debut record 'Dreams from the Factory Floor' via Pirates Press Records, then spending the past three months on the road across the USA, Europe and UK have both been huge highlights for sure. Playing on the Rebellion main stage to 2000 people who sang all the words to my songs was a dream come true."

'Dreams From The Factory Floor' was positively received, what were you aiming to achieve with that album?

"To sing great songs that help people feel positive."



Is there a track on the album you are most proud of?

"Those songs are my kids and I love them all the same."

You've been hailed as responsible for the 'rebirth of British punk', what do you think you bring that was lacking from the scene?

"What is this, a job interview?!! I am who I am, I just do what I do and I don't see what other people see. But one thing I do know for sure is that the underground punk scene in the UK is alive and kicking if you're over 40 and from the viewpoint of a young woman in her twenties the whole thing is beginning to stagnate because it's the same dinosaurs headlining the same festivals, wearing the same clothes and singing the same songs.

"It's boring and it's easy to see that in five to ten years from now that these bands won't exist anymore. So who is going to carry the torch? Who is going to pass on the message? Who is going to create the soundtrack for the new generation?"

How do you feel that you are considered to be so outspoken?

"Why is it that being outspoken is considered such a radical offensive act in the first place?"

Do you think it's important that artists are political?

"I think it's important that artists stay true to themselves, coz otherwise what's the point? Nowadays, that seems to be a political act in itself."

Do you find that being a young female artist in a punk scene impacts in any way on how you are received?

"The punk scene is no different and still as male dominated as any other part of society.
However one thing that the first wave of women in punk taught me, is that we women will not lay down and wait patiently for the seeds of change to be handed to us, but that we will stand up and awaken the power that we already possess in each other to change the world ourselves, without fearing what other people think. I don't care what other people think."

What do you feel it is important to speak out about currently?

"Love. Love changes everything."

You've mentioned that growing up was quite an insular time, what can you tell us about your background?

"That it does not define who I am."

How have those experiences influenced your music?

"Because there are too many exterior influences telling us how to look, think, feel, what to do, how to do it, what to say and how to say it purely for the profit of other people at the cost of our humanity. Because we are born original, born free and die a copy."

At what point did you realise you would be a musician?

"Becoming a musician was never a realisation, a decision, or a choice, it always just was and is, and has been the same from as early as I can remember."

You've cited Kurt Cobain as a key inspiration, what was it about him and Nirvana that meant so much to you?

"Because the first time I heard Nirvana's music was the first time in my life that I did not feel alone, and I know it was the same for so many other people."



Who else influenced you? Who did you aspire to be like?

"This is the thing, I never aspired to be like anyone when I was growing up. I just wanted to have the space to be myself and express myself without fear of prejudice. I think that space is a really important thing for young people to have, because it allows us to figure out the world around us and how we fit into it."

Now, who do you admire?

"I really like Lydia Lunch at the moment, check out her piece 'Why We Murder' on YouTube to see why."

What plans do you have for the future, short and long term?

"More writing, more recording and more touring is always on the agenda."

Finally, what would be an ultimate highlight for you?

"Answering your questions for Chimeo, of course. Thank you so much for interviewing me, it's been a blast!"

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Louise has just announced more tour dates for this autumn - details here