Royal Talk with… Luisa Gerstein
As the gale force wind behind all-female vocal warriors DEEP THROAT and Bella Union-signed psych-rock outfit LANDSHAPES, not to mention the various ad hoc projects also under her creative belt, Luisa Gerstein has her foot in many a proverbial musical pie. With both troupes on the bill for this year’s Land of Kings, we sat down with the melody-maker to chat Dalston, bee-keeping, castle-tours and choirs.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE VENUE IN DALSTON?
It’s not quite Dalston but we (Landshapes) recently did a weekly residency at the Total Refreshment Centre for three weeks. It’s the best kind of venue because it really does feel like there’s community there, that you’ll see the same familiar faces night to night, and that the people involved are passionate about good music – you feel like you’re at a house party more than a venue, there’s got such a good vibe to it.
FAVOURITE PLACE TO HAND OUT IN DALSTON?
It’s nice to hang out in Cafe Oto, or the Curve Garden now it’s getting warmer, and Gillett Square doesn’t even really feel like London. Heloise, who sings in the choir and plays bass in Landshapes also has a bee garden by the carpark behind Bootstrap (Ashwin Street) – that’s a nice place to be, they run workshops for local kids throughout the summer.
MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE LOCAL SCENE THAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
I guess that it really is local. The best venues around here are generally not curated by outside promoters, but organised by people who are truly invested in the community and have an awareness of what that is. That’s especially important for an area like this one, where there has been such a dramatic shift over the past few years – too many venues have popped up in the area that cater to one kind of person, and there’s too much sameness. A place like Peoples on Holloway Road is a stronghold in the community and is a really great place to find late night dance music – sadly it may be facing closure. And then Cafe Oto is a good example of a venue that has a very consistent identity in the music they host, and that’s when you get people showing up to events simply because they trust them to deliver something good!
HOW DID DEEP THROAT GET STARTED?
It started with a desire to strip music back to something very simple, just voices and percussion. There were only four of us at the first rehearsal, and over the course of several months it grew from there. It’s all friends, and friends of friends. I’ve closed it in terms of new members for the time being – I want it to always be of a size that you can make out individual voices, and I want us to be doing small stages at pubs and the such like, with a small group you get a real personal investment from each member, they all bring something different.
ACT YOU’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT ON THE BILL?
We (Landshapes) are curating a stage! So everyone on that bill. Deep Throat and Landshapes will of course perform, and then we also have Auclair, Orlando and Trash Kit – I’m excited to see them all because I know they’re great! It will be the Dalston Yard Stage, where Street Feast is based.
FAVOURITE SONG YOU’VE EVER SUNG AS A GROUP?
I think one of the best songs we sing is The Wave by Wildbirds and Peacedrums. It’s powerful and chanty, with strong natural and spiritual imagery, but it also starts with a very delicate hocket with just a few singers, and a strong solo – we love to sing it.
IF YOU COULD GET A LIVING ARTIST TO JOIN THE GRUP FOR THE DAY, WHO WOULD IT BE?
I’ve got everyone I want! But actually maybe I’d be interested to see what Mica Levi would do with a choir.
FAVOURITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR SO FAR?
Lower Dens – Escape From Evil. They’re one of my favourite bands. Jana Hunter is an incredible and singular voice – we sing one of her songs, Sirens.
ANY OTHER PROJECTS/EVENTS IN THE OFFING FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR?
Deep Throat are working towards a summer tour of castles in the UK. We’re not exactly sure how we’re going to make it happen, but there’s all the enthusiasm in the world – we’ve already made the merch so we’re dedicated. We’re performing at Green Man, and Aldberough Festival.
YOUR IDEA OF AN IDEAL PRE-FESTIVAL BREAKFAST?
Thali Cafe breakfast.