In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to Louise Jordan ( @ljordanmusic on Twitter). #CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the the talent working within them.
PW- Hey Louise! How’s it going?
Hi Shannon, well thanks! I am catching my breath after my spring tour and getting everything in place ready for the No Petticoats Here autumn 2018 tour…
PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who don’t know yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
I am a singer, songwriter and musician. I currently live in the New Forest and I perform in the UK and Europe.
PW- Alongside being a self-released artist with three albums and an EP, you have your solo performance “No Petticoats Here”, which explores the remarkable women from the First World War through music. What inspired the piece?
I visited the battlefields of the Somme in France (part of the ‘Western Front’) in November 2014 and my interest in the First World War has developed during the centenary commemorations of the conflict over the past four years. When I visited the Somme I came across a couple of women’s stories through photos and portraits in museums and churches. I had recently shared a song which I had previously written about a female smuggler from the New Forest on an earlier tour in Europe so I was already interested in sharing women’s history through song. As a former secondary school teacher I often feel frustrated that at the lack of diversity in the history that is taught. The album of ‘No Petticoats Here’ songs soon followed and I began touring the songs in September 2016. I then received funding from Arts Council England to develop the songs into a solo performance piece which incorporates elements of theatre, storytelling and is accompanied by a soundscape, images and voice-overs bring the women’s stories to life through their own words.
PW- I find your use of music as a storytelling device really captivating. When we met, you mentioned you were inspired by folk music. How has this influenced your work?
My previous four recordings are a mixture of my own original songs and traditional folk songs. I really enjoy sharing and preserving cultural history through song and I think that’s why I am drawn to folk music. No Petticoats Here shares inspirational stories that are lesser known and often overlooked in the history books. I hope the songs help to keep these stories alive in some way.
PW- As an established performer, do you have any advice for new performers looking to start creating and sharing their work?
I have been performing since anyone would listen – long before I became a full time musician seven years ago! My approach is to create work that really matters to me and this helps make sure that I believe in and care about every performance so that I give the best performance I am capable of on the day.
PW- In addition to your performance work, you offer a variety of music-based workshops, notably with Salisbury Arts Centre. What do these workshops entail, and who are they tailored to?
I work freelance as a workshop leader for a number of organisations including Salisbury Arts Centre where I am part of a team that leads an inclusive music making workshop with the local learning disabled community. Zone Arts is always a highlight of my month! I also offer songwriting workshops and recently put together a project called ‘Never Had They Ever’ funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, working with the music charity The Urban Vocal Group (The UVG) in Portsmouth. This involved sharing archive materials with 13 – 19 year olds and supporting them to write their own songs about local women who lived during the First World War. It was fascinating to watch young songwriters develop their approach to writing songs and I was in awe of the way they related to the heritage material and effortlessly made the stories relevant to their peers and communities!
PW- This blog focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you get super inspired out and about, or is it more of a focused effort, where you can shut off from the world and just think?
I find it hard as an independent and self-employed artist to be creative on a daily basis so I try to balance my week with a mixture of performing and engaging with audiences (which helps keep my creativity relevant and focussed) alongside creating new work and dealing with administrative necessities. I try to make time in the week for a couple of writing days. As a musician I think it’s important to be aware of maintaining work /life balance although in practise my art is a response to life and my life is bound closely with my art. Creating time to reflect on this, so that I am aware of the choices I make is crucial.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
I try to focus on the positive impacts of my work, whether that be reading through an email from an audience member or thinking back through a workshop and identifying what participants have gained. I have worked as a project manager, teacher and youth worker and I see evaluation as an inherent part of the creating process so I hope to learn from every experience.
PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to, what we can see etc, no judgement!
Thanks! No Petticoats Here is touring this autumn from September to November and tour dates can be found on my website www.louisejordan.co.uk . You can find out more about No Petticoats Here at www.nopetticoatshere.co.uk and listen to songs from the youth heritage songwriting project ‘Never Had They Ever’ at www.nopetticoatshere.co.uk/workshops-talks-commissions/never-had-they-ever.
I am at the early stages of writing a new performance piece that will tour in April 2019 so do check back on my website www.louisejordan.co.uk and stay in touch on facebook.com/louisejordansings and twitter (@ljordanmusic and @nopetticoats) if you’d like to find out more. I also have a mailing list which you can sign up to via my website for updates.