Photo provided courtesy of Holocene Management
London-based multimedia artist Coupdekat has established herself as one of the freshest artists in the UK's alt-pop scene. Her tracks are infectiously dancable from the outset, all of them charged with her signature youthful spirit.
Beyond her discography, she is also one of the founders of ‘Loud LDN’, an all-female and -non-binary music collective based in London. By bringing these voices to the forefront, she has inspired young artists to bring about the change they feel is lacking in local music scenes. The initiative has also been a testament to the vital sense of community which grassroots art movements can encourage.
During her chat with us at the Strand, she gives us her thoughts on her creative process, equality in the music scene, and her upcoming performance at FEMMESTIVAL, an all-new, all-female music festival coming to London on the 1st of October.
Hi Coupdekat! Your music has a very recognisable sound. Who are some artists that have inspired you?
There are so many! I guess my original roots of inspiration would be Mazzie Star, Beabadoobee, The Smiths, Blur, The Cure, Happy Mondays and Stone Roses.
But recently I've been into what I'd call “computer rock” music. At the moment, there's this hybrid between indie rock music, and dance and D&B, which is especially [prominent] in New York. I’d never heard that sound before and now I'm seeing it a lot, and I thought: "oh my god, it's so cool, I want to do my own version"! So I love James Ivy, The Hellp, and those kinds of bands that are creating this new sound. James Ivy definitely inspired a lot of the last EP, especially [the track] 'Stunt Girl'. And I think my new stuff is going in that direction.
Compared to your first EP, your latest EP For Entertainment Purposes Only has a very different tone. What kind of feeling did you want to achieve with it?
Due to the lockdown situation which I created it in, my first EP was very much social media-oriented, and dealt with subjects around online love and online self-image. I feel like it sounds very cyber as well. It was very much bedroom pop, made on my laptop without much live instrumentation. This EP marked the start of my interest in making music on my computer, instead of starting on my guitar like I generally did until then; so I moved to the extreme where I wanted to do pretty much everything on my laptop.
Now, coming out of lockdown, I feel like I've kind of learned a lot more about mixing laptop and live elements. And I feel like [that post-lockdown world] has been kind of the subject matter [of my second EP] — for example, [I came] out of the interior environment of my bedroom to move to London, and experienced a lot of things, and met new people. Also, I turned 18 during lockdown, so I feel like I missed a few years of adulthood; I think [the EP] is all about catching up on that. For example, all of the tracks are so fast, because of the way time had felt so slow for the last two years during the pandemic. So everything is at double speed to compensate for that stillness.
Speaking of your experience of moving to London, you’re one of the founders of ‘Loud LDN’: an all-female and -non-binary music collective based in London. What did you feel was missing from the London music scene that inspired you to cultivate your own? London gives the impression of being fertile ground for culture to grow, so I’m curious to hear what disillusioned you as someone very involved with London youth culture scenes.
I always felt like London was a bit cold; like there were the coolest people in growing communities but I didn't know where I fit in. I think if you don't really know yourself and where you belong, you can't find that group straight away and you end up feeling very lonely. For the first few months in London, I didn't really have any friends who I thought really "got" me, in terms of doing and experiencing the same things in our lives. Not being able to share advice, especially when doing music as a female solo artist, can be really difficult to to deal with. You just feel like there are so many emotions that you're feeling, but you can't get them out to anyone, because people who aren't in the music industry don't get it. I really wanted that support network, but didn't really know anyone, and I couldn't find a group which I would particularly fit into.
So, I thought I might as well create my own! Me and Maisie [Loud LDN's other founder] first met on TikTok and met up in London, and she was feeling the same as me. She had decided to do music full time at the same time as I did, and we both felt that [there wasn't] a community [for it].
It started super small. I didn't expect much from it: I just thought we'd make a little group where we could meet up and talk about our feelings, but I didn't realise how many other people needed it as well! Now we have nearly 150 members, and we recently received around 200 applications. The creative industries can make you feel so lonely, but if you feel like the scene is lacking, it's so important to create a group of like-minded people. There's always going to be people feeling the same way as you, and you're never going to be the only one.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that you wish people would start their own Loud LDN in their cities. What do you think is the most important factor when making a scene?
I think that taking the online group chat and bringing it into a real life space has been the most important. For the first few months, we were purely an Instagram group chat, but doing our first party five months later, where all these people who had shared heart-to-heart experiences online could meet in person, was unbelievable. It was so heartwarming and so emotional for me. I think some communities lack that real-life aspect because of the nature of the world now: it's very easy to hide behind your phone and stick to your online community. But, especially in [the] music [industry], bringing that into a real-life space is just wonderful. It was life-changing for myself and I think for a lot of other people as well; we've grown into a huge friendship group now. Making that community and bringing it to real life into your city can do so much. Just overnight, London became a home to me.
Your work has always been very multimedia, can you tell me a bit more about what inspires your visual aesthetic?
I've always wanted to create a whole package with my work. I see music as the main piece of the project, but I think the visuals and the music videos can really create the world [around it]. A music video can turn a three minute song into a whole story. For my latest EP, I worked with an artist called Kelly Ficarra, who I've loved for so many years, and she made this character who came up in all the different artworks, allowing the EP to have more continuity. I like to do things in eras, so we worked together and put a lot of effort into creating this girl who would be the face of this era. The character was all made on a computer, whereas the backgrounds were [photos of] real-life London landscapes that I took with my phone, which reflected how the concept of my EP was about combining these two worlds together. So [the visuals] really [encouraged] that continuity and kept that story growing for a few months, and when the EP came out, it was kind of like the final chapter of that world.
Could you tell me a bit more about the process when filming your music videos?
I worked with a few good friends on creating the music videos. 'Superglue’ and 'Babyteef’ were both filmed on VHS because I wanted to keep that DIY look. When I wrote both of those songs, I had a colour scheme in my head that I thought would tell the story. Working with videographers to bring that all together was really rewarding, and I absolutely loved the process of creating these worlds around each song.
It was really exciting to make a strong image in my 'Stunt Girl' video, because for my previous EP, I was still working out my sound and who I was, but this latest EP has been the first step in finding that. I'm excited to have more fun with visuals and do a similar thing for my next project.
What has your music writing process been like, and how has it changed?
It depends from track to track, but for 'Superglue' and 'Stunt Girl' for example, I would mainly start with myself and my guitar. Then I recorded them into my computer and added some drums, and brought them to a producer.
[However,] I think my more recent stuff has all started on my computer, and I don't go to my guitar as much anymore. I think it depends on location and what l've got around me, but generally I'll start with a sample, like a drumbeat or a loop that I can write to, and record myself freestyling and singing whatever comes subconsciously. Then I'll go to my producer Dom and we'll structure it properly, flesh it out and turn it into a proper song. That's been my process for the latest 10 songs and it's working well, but I feel like I'll always change the way I make music to make sure I'm constantly challenging myself and not just sticking to one way of working.
In general, I like to write by myself because then I don't have any distractions, and I also don't have any exterior judgments. So I'm able to tell the story exactly how I want to tell it.
I get the impression that writing in a band and writing music as a solo artist are two completely different experiences. What do you think?
Yeah, definitely. Before starting Coupdekat, I was pretty much only in bands, so we'd sit in a room with like four people and make up a song all together. But the music that I've been most proud of, and that has felt most reflective of the real me, has always been [when I've written it] by myself and then [brought] it to someone. It just feels a lot more personal, and [I don't have to] compromise.
Could you talk a bit about your thoughts and experiences of gender inequality in the music industry?
Growing up, the representation of women in music was definitely lacking, or it was only a certain image. I think it's really important for women to not be put into a category, as the music industry tends to do.
It doesn't make any sense that the industry tries to fit an artist's gender into a certain type of music or genre. And the experience of being surrounded by super-condensed labelling made me wish for more diverse representation in my life, so I wanted to be around women and non-binary people. I felt like we could make some changes so that younger, up-and-coming artists don't have that same forced imagery on them that I had, so creating that space was really important.
I think it's helped a lot of artists in the group to collaborate and push for less male-dominated spaces. For example, until the Loud LDN writing camp, I'd never been in a creative space where there was more women than men in a room, so I think it's really important to push for a space where genders are equal: because they never are. That's crazy to me, and I don't see why it should be that way. It's so off-putting to see how most of the key-holders in the music industry are men, and it's especially daunting as a female solo artist.
I think Loud LDN has provided a space for us to advise each other and share experiences [around this]. There have been a lot of really disgusting and sad stories which some of our members have gone through, which they've shared. It’s good to know that these situations won't happen again because we’ve got this group to talk about it, but it’s sad that it's happened to them in the first place.
So, I just want female and non-binary artists to feel supported, represented and have like-minded people around them who can understand and sympathise with them. I think the industry is slowly getting better, but it's still nowhere near close. I hope that Loud LDN can be a brick in this whole process towards equality.
It’s undeniable that a lot has changed within the music industry, but there’s still a long way to go. How do you feel about performing at FEMMESTIVAL, an all-female festival, very soon?
Super excited! Some of the lineups for festivals this year were disgustingly unequal, and I think it’s refreshing and very empowering to have an all female lineup. A lot of the artists on the lineup are in Loud LDN, which is super cool. I think it’s a great idea, and it's been long-awaited. And I think it’s a great step forward in the future of the music industry.
Don't miss the chance to hear Coupdekat perform live in London next week, by grabbing your tickets for FEMMESTIVAL 2023 on 1 October. Everyone over 18 is welcome and encouraged to attend.
You can also find out more about Loud LDN here.