Lauren Housley talks through the writing process of 'Girl From The North'!
Lauren Housley's 'Girl From The North' is an album that really speaks her truth. Still grounded in the world of roots, Housley manages to tell her story of growing up in Rotherham, the adventures she's been on and ultimately coming back home. The majority of these songs Housley co-wrote with Husband Thomas Dibb. Lauren and Thomas started recording and producing the bulk of ‘Girl From The North’ at the end of 2019 in the studio they built underneath a food hall in her hometown of Rotherham, South Yorkshire when a proposed move to London was halted by the news that they were expecting their first child. Fast-forward to March 2020. Lauren had just attended Folk Alliance International in New Orleans when the global pandemic struck. Shelving the release of her new album, Lauren focussed on family life and preparing for the birth of Noah. The couple were forced to move their studio set-up into the one bed apartment in Sheffield they now called home, leaving little space for anything else let alone a new baby. Thomas mixed the full album there during the first months of lockdown.
When did you first know you wanted to be a musician?
The opening line of ‘Stay Awake To Dream’ is ‘We used to sing in the carpark, my sister, my friend’ that’s a memory that’s really clear in my mind. If my Mum nipped into the shop, my sister and I would sing in the car. She’s a great singer and she used to teach me all the harmonies and I used to wonder if anyone could hear us and what they would think but that’s when I fell in love with singing. I remember getting cassettes and rewinding them, analysing the lyrics, and writing them down because of course we didn’t have the internet. My Mum had this album of power ballads and every single track I thought was cool. I met my husband at 16 and he’s an amazing guitarist so he gave me the tools to get my voice across as a singer-songwriter, he also gave me a lot of confidence - he’s my biggest fan!
Is there going to be a duet with your sister then in the future?
She’s a bit of a karaoke Queen whereas I hate it, but she might do a bit of backing vocals for me maybe! I had to laugh the other day when Whitney Houston’s ‘Greatest Love Of All’ came on the radio as we used to duet on that all the time. There’s a video of us from when I was really young singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ on holiday and I knew the first verse, I thought there was only one verse but she knew like three so for the last two verses I’m stood with the most vacant look on my face as she’s reading and singing these lyrics.
Where do these songs come from, do you always write from personal experience? Do the lyrics come first or the melody or is it different every time?
I’d say it’s different every time. All the songs on this album are written from personal experience but I did go through a stage of writing story type songs but this album is very personal. I sent myself back in time and thought about my memories growing up and where its led me now. It’s crazy to think about the decisions I made when I was younger and how they have really made a huge impact on where I am now so thats where a lot of these songs come from. I play guitar now and I didn’t for the first two albums so the writing process has changed slightly as I’ve been using the guitar to write more, I’d find a chord progression I liked and then just see what it inspired. Some of these songs have come from a stream of consciousness as well. There’s songs like ‘This Ain’t The Life’ which is a fun single I’ve just released. We had the lyrics for the verses and the melody for a long time but we couldn’t seem to find the chorus lyrics, what we had didn’t seem to sing right. We got there in the end though. I wrote a lot of these collaboratively with my husband as well. ‘Bless His Soul’ came to me in a dream and I woke Tom up at 3.30 in the morning and said we have to write this.
You recently became a mum, how do you find time for music firstly? And how has that influenced your writing?
I’m lucky that we live near his grandparents! He loves music, it’s given me such a different approach to music and sound, he’s got great hearing, he can hear a lot more than me. He’s started to dance now as well. I’ve always known music is important and obviously I know how it impacts me but now I’m seeing how it impacts him and it’s magical to see. It really is the universal language!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Well this isn’t a song I’m going to release, as it’s written for a man. It’s called ‘A Man Of My Word’ and I’m a female and I’ve never been to prison but I put myself in a country outlaw state of mind. I was thinking about ‘Mama Tried’ so I was imagining a man hunt where I was getting accused of something I hadn’t done and I suppose it isn’t a strange topic for a lot of people but it was for me as that’s not something I’ve ever experienced. It turned out to be quite a good song though.
What's next for you?
Well the album comes out April 23rd and there's a live stream on April 27th, so come and have a listen to some of the new songs!
Find out more on Lauren's website HERE!