Y’know when you hear of a musical act with a gimmick and then you go see them because everybody is talking about them but they suck and you’re super disappointed…What would it feel like if they’re really good?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Alice’s thing is that she’s a blonde guitarist who includes Phoebe in her name but I wasn’t feeling quirky enough to ask her if she was a fan of a certain 90s sitcom to confirm whether that’s what she was going for.
Clearly what she is going for is the life of a dedicated and hardworking artist and her music and rapidly developing fan base speak for themselves. Alice packed for Germany a couple of years ago and has become somewhat of a sensation. She’s back in South Africa for a couple of shows (which you can win tickets too here) after selling out shows all over Europe.
I put a couple of questions to her about her experience and her feelings about coming back for some gigs…you’ll notice she’s rather “definite” about her approach to life:
Richard Chemaly (RC): Settle it for us. Is the ability to speak Afrikaans really beneficial in Germany?
Alice Phoebe Lou (APL): Definitely, Afrikaans is a germanic language and although it is a lot different to German, it has a lot of similarities in sentence structure, etc so it’s definitely a good head start!
RC: On a serious note, Berlin Blues is so powerful and the lyrics somewhat answer the next question but insofar as they don’t, did you think that within a couple of years of making the move to Berlin, you’d be speaking at TedXBerlin, even singing your song about the city?
APL: I definitely couldn’t have predicted all of the opportunities and wonderful things that rolled into my life since moving to Berlin, but I definitely did feel a real pull towards the city and immediately felt like magic would be happening in one way or another. The most incredible thing about these opportunities and outputs is that most of them occurred as direct result of me hitting the streets with my music and doing what I enjoy doing most.
RC: You seem to want to resist fame and fortune in the interests of making lives of people better. How do you walk that balance when fame is sometimes required to get your message across?
APL: I wouldn’t say that resisting fame and fortune is my main intention, but rather that I am interested in establishing myself and my career without asking for the financial assistance and backing of the mainstream music industry and without turning what I do into and over commodified business that loses its soul. I also don’t consider my message to be a saving grace and I am no messiah (*winks*). I think many artists have a similar message and together we use art as a way to hold a mirror up to society and spread messages we think are important. The main thing for me is just that I enjoy establishing myself in an uncompromising and independent way. Whatever that leads to, is where I will go.
RC: You’ve obviously made this your life and it seems like a good one. To the kids who merely want to spend a couple of months busking around Europe as a gap, is there any advice you’d give them? Do it? Don’t do it?
APL: Definitely do it. I highly recommend busking to any musician, aspiring or established. It’s one of the toughest things you can do, and the first few times will probably be hard and humbling, but it teaches you so many valuable lessons about performance, audience, connection, etc. It’s a completely different way to share music and it will without a doubt improve your live performance techniques and abilities.
RC: Coming back to South Africa must be quite overwhelming; old friends to see, family to catch up with and performances inbetween. What do we have down here that Germany doesn’t that you absolutely have to do/have before you go back?
APL: It can definitely be overwhelming coming home as it always happens in December at a time where I have been traveling and working hard and I am always in need of a good break! But it can be hard to give myself time to relax when there are so many people I love and concerts I want to see and adventures I want to go on. Every year I always need a trip up the east coast, straight into nature, without much outside communication and with a lot of reading, writing & thinking. It recharges & resets me and I feel ready for another year.
Catch Alice in Cape Town or Johannesburg: