We chatted to Lou McLean about her new EP Locked Down In Leith

Released today across all streaming platforms, we thought it would be a good opportunity to chat to Lou about all things music

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from and where did music start for you?

I’m a singer-songwriter based in Edinburgh, Scotland.I’d always loved to sing as a kid, and my mum was a big music fan. I used to pull out all her old Elton John & Blondie records and pored over the artwork and lyrics. I’d always been an enthusiastic performer with my hairbrush mic, but I had stage fright so I never performed outside of my bedroom. It wasn’t until my mid 20s that I picked up a guitar and started learning to play and write songs. I attended Edinburgh Girl’s Rock School in 2015 and they gave me the encouragement that I needed to start performing. I recorded my first EP ‘September to December’ in 2016, then followed up with ‘Good Morning Easter Road’ in 2017. Music and songwriting are so important to me for expressing my emotions. Being creative and making music keeps me happy and reasonably sane, and nothing gives me more joy than belting it out.

If you had to sum yourself up in three words, what would you say?

curious, creative, daft.

You released today your new EP Locked Down In Leith. What does this mean to you?

The EP is a collection of 5 songs written over the past year. I spent lockdown in my little flat in Leith, which is a neighbourhood east of edinburgh. I live alone (with my parrot, Pepper) so for someone who loves company it was a challenge to be alone so much.  It’s a deeply personal record, from the content of the lyrics to the fact I recorded it in my flat. I made the artwork, designed the liner notes, so it was a fun project.  It’s definitely an expression of self so it means a lot to me. 

Any tracks that stand out as favourites?

‘The World is on Fire’ was lyrically so personal, and I worked at it for months until I was happy. When I recorded it initially I had a few layers to the song, but it didn’t feel right. I stripped it back and recorded it straight through on one mic in my bedroom in the middle of the night, and that’s the version on the EP. 

‘Glambam’ makes me so proud as I wanted to write a happy song, and it was so fun to write and perform. I think you can hear how much fun I’m having on the recording. Honestly I’m really proud of the EP as a whole.

Did you have any help with the writing and recording process? How was it, trying to collaborate during lockdown?

I have always written solo, so lockdown actually helped in the sense that I didn’t have much else to do other than write and practice. This was my first attempt at DIY recording and mixing so that was a definite learning curve, but I am much more confident with the process now. I also had the opportunity to work with Brian Shiba, a producer who works out of LA on ‘Goodbye’ and Glambam’, and he introduced some layers to the songs that I hadn’t thought of (the keys on ‘Goodbye’ in particular). Lockdown made it easier to collaborate in a way, as I wasn’t limited to who was local. It got me thinking globally.

How does this release compare to your previous EP, Good Morning Easter Road

GMER was a real celebration, the energy in those songs was so positive. It captured a big period of change in my life. I really felt excited about everything and that was infectious. It was mostly about my relationship with others, and I was sort of singing to other people.Locked down in Leith is a lot more sober. And it’s about the relationship I have with myself. I was also in therapy during the time I wrote some of the songs, so there’s a level of introspection there which I hope people can connect with. I wrote the songs to understand what the hell was going on with me!I also have a lot more experience and knowledge about what kind of music I want to make now, I spent a bit more time crafting what I wanted to say this time, where the last record was a bit of an explosion for me creatively! 

What is something you didn’t think you would encounter while trying to make music?

Well, I caught COVID during the recording process, so that was unexpected! Thankfully I wasn’t hospitalised but it was horrible for 2 weeks and that really gave me a sense of perspective, like… ‘I really want to make music and that’s what I’m going to do as soon as I can get out of this bed’. It’s so easy to take your health (physical and mental) for granted and procrastinate. But I definitely learned some hard lessons through writing and making this EP. So I think music has given me a more honest relationship with myself, I didn’t expect that 

Other than making music, how else have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

I’ve been going on lots of walks, dyeing my hair, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on repeat to increase my serotonin levels! I’m really missing going to local drag shows, so getting to see Lawrence Chaney & Ellie Diamond on TV is so good. I’m also teaching myself to play the piano. I guess that counts as making music, although I’m not sure my neighbours would agree just yet! 

Where can we find out more about you?

You can buy my music on bandcamp and help me raise funds for my next release 🙂 and if you can’t afford that then give me a follow on all my social media/spotify/apple music etc.

https://loumcleanmusic.bandcamp.com/releaseshttps://linktr.ee/loumcleanmusic 

Anything else you would like to tell us?

Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend.

And with that, we would like to thank Lou for taking the time to chat to us and wish her the best of luck with the new EP. We hope to be able to catch her on the road at some point, when it is safe to do so!

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