Photography: Ella Herme

Five things that inspired Louisahhh’s album “The Practice Of Freedom”

For those of you who don’t know, Louisa Pilot, aka Louisahhh, is heralded as one techno’s most exciting artists to date, renowned for her involvement in chart topping projects with the likes of Danny Daze and Brodinski. Possessing a unique style demonstrated by her natural ability as a singer and explosive DJ sets, Louisahhh is also dubbed as a multi-faceted producer, with her latest album The Practice Of Freedom dropping on the esteemed American-based collective HE.SHE.THEY just over six months ago.

Born from experiences of loss and love, whilst told through a journey of brutally beautiful electronics, electro and techno, the album is intertwined with industrial, rock and alternative sounds, making for an empowering full-length project. An activist who stands for and embodies female power and sex-positivity, Louisahhh’s music fights for and provides a voice for others, with her recently acclaimed album covering themes ranging all the way from eroticism and empowerment, to addiction and apocalypse.

In light of The Practice Of Freedom (Deluxe Edition) dropping last month, showcasing remixes from the likes of Vitalic, Rebekah, Imogen and Minimal Violence, we caught up with Louisahhh who tells us about her key influences for the album including BDSM, the death of her late horse and lockdown, which provided timely inspiration for this sonically beautiful album.

BDSM

Louisahhh: Around age 30, when I started writing this record, I suddenly woke up to my own sexuality in a way that I hadn’t been able to do so previously. It felt wildly empowering to come into contact with this part of myself intentionally, and I got a lot of energy and inspiration from this early ‘sub frenzy’. Between the album’s completion and release, the USA also started to get even closer to overturning Roe Vs Wade, or the constitutional right to female bodily autonomy. This political shift made the idea of a record about feminine sexual liberation, coloration and delight seem ever more vital. I am grateful for the fierce, erotic energy that runs through this album and to the part of myself that inspires it.

DEAD HORSE

Louisahhh: I grew up riding and showing horses, and a big reason I was able to get sober when I was 20 was this part of my life – the part that was connected to and supported by my friend and competition partner for many years, Jesse James. Jesse died after 16 years together, and while I knew on some level that it was coming (he was 26 and happily retired), the grief of feeling disconnected from him was overwhelming. The experience of that love and loss gave me access to things I hadn’t felt before. I think a lot of the heaviness or even spirituality of the record comes from the sense of being unplugged from my own heart when he died. Grief writes a good song. 

FUCKING LIVE BAND

Louisahhh: So much of the intention of this record, whether conscious or not, was to pivot from a pretty straightforward techno DJ career into a live act with a band and a real ‘rock show’ feel. Vice Cooler, who produced the record, comes from a crazy live music background (XBXRX, Chicks On Speed, Raincoats), and we made the album with this in mind: lots of live drums and song structures (as opposed to loopy 4/4 techno with a vocal hook). I am so proud of what the live show has become (with the help of a small army of generous geniuses), and it really feels like I’m doing what I was made for, like a whole reason for being. 

BELL HOOKS

Louisahhh: It feels like an important tribute to the author, educator, and academic Bell Hooks to write about her profound influence the day after her passing. The title of the record, ‘The Practice of Freedom’ (borrowed from her book ‘Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom), is a nod to not only her powerful work around intersectional feminism but, more specifically, her sense of being a loving disruptor, of racing the inevitable periods of struggle and chaos, the willingness to withstand friction or discomfort as an act of love in the long march towards liberation. For me, her notion of practicing freedom as an educator, in vulnerability, in dismantling hierarchies of power, is so persuasive, inspiring and powerfully loving. I am proud and deeply grateful to name Bell Hooks as an important influence on this record. 

GLOBAL PANDEMIC

Louisahhh: As I mentioned, the record started to come into being (and was finished) long before the start of Covid-era. However, it finally came out in March of 2021, and I am begrudgingly grateful for the way in which a global catastrophe primed an audience in a way that otherwise would’ve been impossible. It felt like this challenging album was actually appropriate for the uncertain, traumatic, frustrating moment that we continue to live through and that they act that every time we play a show, it’s potentially the last show that has already given me a new sense of purpose and presence in performance; to do nothing but go up on stage and love it, taste it, feel it, share it because who knows when it can be taken away? I realize that it is an incredible privilege to have a sense of gratitude for something that has taken so much life and livelihood over the last couple of years, but for me, seeking this silver lining has been imperative to maintaining a semblance of sanity. I hope that even as everything (hopefully) stabilizes moving forward, that I can hold onto this attitude, this presence (a mantra of ‘just this, just this’) and that fans of electronic music will remain so open to being pummeled with aggressive noise as a path to healing our collective pain of loss and isolation. I love you. 

Lousiahhh’s ‘The Practice Of Freedom’ is out now, along with the deluxe version here.

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