In the studio with: Louise Goffin
I recently had the privilege of traveling to Havana with a small group of totally rad women. Among them: singer-songwriter Louise Goffin, whose new album All These Hellos dropped just in time to add it to your holiday wish list // December playlist.
Louise was so much fun to get to know over the few days we spent together in Cuba. She's curious and thoughtful, funny as hell, and fiercely but considerately independent. All of those characteristics shine through on the tracks of All These Hellos.
(Sidenote: You'll find all sorts of beautifully lit, curated photos and videos of Louise on the web, but the image above is straight from my iPhone X in the back of a taxi on the way to the airport. That's her redeye-ready look. Louise sparkles like this all the time.)
All These Hellos
This album is Louise's ninth overall and fifth released through her own indie label Majority of One. It's replete with celebrity appearances, from Rufus Wainwright and Chris Difford (founding member of Squeeze) on vocals to Benmont Tench (founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on piano and mellotron, among many.
That's all well and good and no doubt significantly improves my personal score in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but it's not what you'll notice most about this album.
Louise Goffin's haunting, timeless tunes
What you'll notice most is that while these haunting tunes and lyrics clearly draw from decades of experience and influence, they sound modern and of-the-moment without being trendy. These songs transcend genre (Is it pop? Is it rock? Doesn't matter — it's beautiful) and coalesce around universal themes like love, optimism, and intimacy.
You'll love some of the songs immediately, and others will become your favorites over time.
Five questions for Louise Goffin
We caught up with Louise to learn about her musical and entrepreneurial influences, advice for songwriters, and upcoming projects.
All These Hellos is the fifth album you've released independently on your label Majority of One. Does that approach give you more freedom as a performer and songwriter?
Absolutely. I had so much I wanted to do and I’ve never been good at waiting for others to give me permission to shine.
I’d rather get the music out and let people find it than sit on the other side of a desk praying one person gets it. The world has changed so much with streaming. Now literally anybody can get their music out.
John Lennon said that he and Paul McCartney wanted to be "the Goffin-King of England." I can't imagine a more ringing endorsement of the work your mom (Carole King) and dad (Gerry Goffin) did as songwriters. I'm sure you've learned many lessons from your parents about making music, but is there one in particular that stands out?
Economy is a big one. Everything matters, so only put in what tells the story, sings well, and has authenticity. A strong melody and lyric transcends just about everything else. Even eras.
If you could give an aspiring songwriter one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you write songs you like to be around, they’ll take care of you. If you write songs you don’t like hanging out with, the good ones won’t know where to find you.
How did you and Paul Zollo get started with your podcast The Great Song Adventure? Are there any favorite or memorable interviews that you've done?
The podcast is so good! I was a fan of Paul’s book, “Songwriters on Songwriting” years earlier. I owned it and I just loved that it existed! I had a copy in my London flat when I was refining my own songwriting. When I was teaching a songwriting Masterclass a year ago at Village Recording Studios, I reached out and asked if he’d like to come in as a special guest and allow students to talk to him.
Paul’s a wonderful songwriter himself and part of the reason so many revered iconic songwriters opened up to him in such a relaxed way was because he understood songwriting, and had respect for the craft of their work. He knew the chords to their songs and keys they wrote in. They all must’ve just known “he’s cool, he’s one of us”.
I asked him to come and he did. At the end of the day when everyone had gone home and I was carrying the last few boxes to my car, one the volunteers who helped me said “you should do a podcast”.
It had never occurred to me to do a podcast. I thought about it and called Paul and asked if he would want to do one together. We met over breakfast and boom! We had a name, a logo, and Van Dyke Parks was our first interview together. We have so many that haven’t even come out yet. We interviewed Mike Stoller (of Leiber & Stoller) who was telling stories about being in the studio with Elvis Presley!
Paul recorded all his historic interviews on cassette for print, and I was beyond excited that he wanted to include these archives in our show. We do most interviews together, but there are archives that he did long ago and recently I had opportunities when I traveled to interview people where he couldn’t be there. But we always present the interviews together and bookend the show with us talking and interacting. It’s a lot of work putting the episodes together but I love it, and I feel it’s creating a great place for music lovers and songwriters to get the inside baseball on how these songwriters think when they’re writing and recording.
The other thing I love about it is that artists typically have no time to take in what other people are doing. With the podcast I have the opportunity to turn my attention to what other artists are doing and put the focus on them.
Besides this new album, what other exciting things do you have in the works for the near future?
Another few albums to release. Songwriting retreats. Writing. Filmmaking. And when I have the time, I have a few amazing gourmet vegan recipes up my sleeve.