Louisa Stancioff Talks About Her “indie folk n roll sad girl songs” (2/18 at The Loft at City Winery)

Last month, Yep Roc Records announced the April 12th release of When We Were Looking, the debut LP from Maine-based indie folk singer/songwriter Louisa Stancioff, who is about to...

Last month, Yep Roc Records announced the April 12th release of When We Were Looking, the debut LP from Maine-based indie folk singer/songwriter Louisa Stancioff, who is about to kick off a short run of dates with equally impressive singer/songwriters Molly Parden and Eliza Edens, which will find the three at The Loft of our very own City Winery this coming Sunday, February 18th.  (The three have each already played noteworthy shows in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, with Molly Parden opening things up for Hovvdy in April of 2022 at The Foundry, Eliza Edens playing alongside our good buddy Al Olender last February at MilkBoy, and Louisa supporting The Dead Tongues last April at MilkBoy.)  Check out this recent chat I had with Louisa Stancioff, who tells me basically everything you need to know about her solo career.

Izzy Cihak: You’re getting ready to drop your debut LP, When We Were Looking.  What can be expected of the collection?  By today’s standards, you’re releasing your first full-length relatively quickly, considering how few official singles or anything you’ve released thus far.

Louisa Stancioff: Yes!  It really just hit me during the 2020 COVID lockdown that I had never released something under my own name that I felt really proud of.  My previous band, Dyado, ended around that time, and I began planning my solo debut soon after.  This collection of songs was all written 2020-2022 when the world and my own personal way of life felt deeply uncertain and confusing, but also untouchably magical and overwhelmingly beautiful.  It was the most time I had ever spent alone, and I think I actually learned how to be by myself during that time… be in myself and able to process what was happening around me.  So… expect sad, yet hopeful.  Dark yet ethereal.  Expect to hear a passionately nostalgic Louisa desperately singing her heart out.  Minimal instrumentals, heavy on the vocals and harmonies, along with some vibey synths.

Izzy: The album is dropping courtesy of Yep Roc, which is such a great label, and home to many of our favorite artists (Aoife O’Donovan, Born Ruffians, and Michaela Anne are all big for us!)  How is it working with them and being a part of that family?

Louisa: I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this opportunity to be releasing my first album with such an esteemed label.  I keep expecting to wake up and it’s all a dream – like suddenly I’ll be transported back two years to that high school history classroom I was subbing in when I sent that initial email to Yep Roc introducing myself and this album.  Yep Roc has been so thoughtful and kind and open to every idea I have presented them with.  I’ve been told so many “label horror stories,” and I feel so lucky that I only have good things to say about my label.  I have not yet met any of those artists you mentioned, but Aoife O’Donovan was the reason I found Yep Roc.  I listened to her back in high school and have always been a big fan.  Absolute dream to be sharing a label with her.  Not only that, I now have the same manager that she had when she signed with Yep Roc, too.  Shout out to Sue!

Izzy: I know you’re based out of Maine, which I know is also where you’re originally from.  I have to admit that I know almost nothing about Maine, aside from Stephen King and one time befriending some rural hipsters from there at a Jesus & Mary Chain concert after bonding over New Wave cinema…  What is the musical and artistic community or environment like there?  I know you basically found a musical family there recently.

Louisa: When I came back to Maine summer 2020, I wasn’t expecting to stick around for long.  I had a hard time finding anyone around here that played the type of music that I was feeling inspired to make.  I had just been in LA, playing my own songs with a full band, collaborating with other songwriters, and feeling generally creatively vibrant.  There have always been lots of musical artsy people around these parts, but the scene I knew here was mostly traditional folk music – fiddle and banjo and singin’ old time music – all of which I play and love, but was feeling quite disconnected from at the time.  I loved playing bar gigs with my country cover band, Cattail, and going to fiddle jams, but I really craved to have a band that would play my indie folk n roll sad girl songs with me.  I kept saying I was moving back to either Asheville or LA, and I truly thought I was finally going to leave in the fall of 2021, but I happened to meet these two brothers, Dave and Dan Kelly, at a barn punk show in Warren, and we started playing together.  These two had been playing in folk rock bands since they were kids, and it really showed when we jammed for the first time.  Not only were they good at playing my songs, they really wanted to play them.  These guys totally changed my life and made it so I had more of a reason to stick around MidCoast Maine.  I absolutely love this area and it turns out I didn’t actually want to leave at all…  The Kelly Brothers and I have toured extensively now, and they both play on the last track of my album.  People are supportive of what we are doing around here, and there seem to be more bands popping up all the time with a steady flow of amazing talent moving through the area.

Izzy: This is a really huge question but, considering that this solo career of yours is relatively new, is there anything that you think is potentially important for fans, or potential fans, to know about you, whether regarding your aim or just your process of making music?  Or can it all be found in the songs?

Louisa: Connecting with other people is my real reason for continuing to pursue music.  I love it when people reach out to tell me when a song or performance of mine moved them, or when I get to meet other bands and artists on the road that inspire me.  When I first started writing songs in high school, it was a way to process feelings and emotions, but when I experienced the high of sharing my songs for the first time and seeing people connect to them, well… there was no going back, I guess.  Navigating the music industry can be a true struggle, but somehow it always ends up being worth it when I get to experience those moments of magical connection made through sharing songs.

Izzy: I noticed that you have a TikTok.  I feel like people usually associate that with teen pop music, but I have covered a lot of more traditional singer/songwriters who also enjoy the platform, so I’m curious to hear how you like sharing music there and interacting with fans in that manner.

Louisa: I have no idea how that app works and if anyone has any tips, please let me know!!  I like making silly videos, but other than that, I don’t understand what the heck is going on or why it shows me so many makeup tutorials when I literally could care less about that.

Izzy: I know you play a pretty wide variety of venues, but the last time (I believe) you were here you were at MilkBoy, which is like a classic barroom, and you’re going to be at City Winery, which is sort of a classic listening room, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the listening room concert experience.  How do you like playing seated rooms?  What can be expected of the live experience?

Louisa: I prefer to play standing rooms where people move around and groove a little.  My ideal show is a small standing room club where the audience is super close, staring up at us, grooving and crying and laughing along, interacting with the songs and the banter.  More of this please!

Izzy: You’re playing these upcoming shows with Molly Parden and Eliza Edens, who are also both so cool!  I saw Molly Parden opening for Hovvdy like two years ago, and I saw Eliza Edens with Al Olender like exactly a year ago at MilkBoy.  What are your thoughts on each of them and their music?

Louisa: I feel so honored to be sharing a stage with these two songwriting beasts.  I met Molly on a tour I was opening for Darlingside.  She plays bass and sings with them.  I had heard of her before, so I was a bit star struck.  I look up to her immensely in the songwriting and singing department.  I met Eliza through mutual friends years ago, and became low key obsessed with her album Time Away From Time. She has a quality in her voice that could never be emulated, and she is a true wordsmith if ever there was one.  I’m psyched for this tour because they are also both extremely down to earth and quite silly, so I expect we should have a great time together.

Izzy: Finally, what are your biggest hopes and goals (which I realize aren’t exactly the same) for 2024, after the album drops in April?  I understand that there’s more touring in the works…

Louisa: Gosh, I want to go on some epic tours…  I hope this album is heard far and wide and leads to other artists wanting to collaborate.  I hope to be able to open up for bigger artists, and to keep growing my music career.  One of my favorite moments of last year was after I released my first single, “Red Neck Yaught Club,” and a young stranger messaged me on Instagram saying how she had stumbled across the song and had listened to it on repeat for days, and that the song had helped her move through a really difficult time in her life.  I hope that happens more.  I hope these songs reach anyone who needs to hear them to help them feel something they need to feel.  That’s what music is really about.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.