For over 20 years, UK-based singer-songwriter Louis Warner has been composing, performing and producing music. Drawing together elements of metal, post-rock, electronica and indie-rock, Warner shares a unique and eclectic sound with the masses. We speak with this talented musician about his album Little African Drama, future plans and discovering new music.
OSR: Why did you decide to start making music?
Warner: In my case, the decision to make music was not a choice. I’ve always been drawn and obsessed with music since I can remember, and so when I learnt my first few chords and could pull a song together and express my own sounds and emotions, it was a natural evolution.
OSR: Did you face any challenges when recording Little African Drama?
Warner: Yes very much so. I’m an average writer, singer, guitarist, pianist, bassist, recording engineer, producer, mastering engineer and marketer. In making this album, I needed to be all of the above and more. It’s a huge stretch of skills and resources. Of course, In addition to this, I had the usual artistic doubts with regards to the stylistic direction of the music, the production, the lyrics and god knows what else. So yes, many challenges across the board – but who doesn’t love a challenge!
OSR: What inspired you to make Little African Drama?
Warner: In 2020 I read Lemn Sissay’s autobiography My Name is Why. He’s of Ethiopian heritage and grew up in a white and religious foster family until they sent him into the care system totally turning their backs on him, partly because they thought there was something ‘witchcraft-y’ going on. Imagine that, your family that you love surprising you at age 12 by sending you away, alone, never to be contacted by them again. I was so moved that I decided to write a song about it which is ‘Army of One’ on the album. You write about what you know or have experienced, and many of the lyrical ideas on the rest of the album are influenced by my recollections of growing up and then leaving South Africa – and if I’m honest, it’s all a little bit overly dramatic, so I thought it might be funny to call it Little African Drama.
OSR: Do you believe your South African heritage influences your music, not only on Little African Drama but generally?
Warner: Perhaps, but not much. I’ve lived in England for over half my life and the majority of the music I’ve engaged with throughout my life has been of UK, European or American origin. I’m influenced by the thoughts or feelings I remember at certain times, normally punctuated by the music I was listening to at the time and many of the thoughts and feelings on this album date back to my time in Africa.
OSR: What do you hope people take from your music?
Warner: I hope they listen to the lyrics and draw on their own memories to conjure up emotions that move them in a positive way.
OSR: What do you feel is the best way to discover new music nowadays?
Warner: Recommendations from friends, blogs, lists, the media. The streaming services are brilliant but there’s a lot to wade through, so you need to create your own filters for what works for you – but trusted friends are normally the best recommendations for me.
OSR: In addition to being a solo artist, you are the co-founder of High Above The Storm. What are the benefits and challenges of being a solo musician?
Warner: Being in a band means being part of a decision-making process that has no data or facts to help with, for example, you say to your bandmate, “I think this part sounds too thin”, and they say, “but that sounds good to me”… who’s right?! That part of decision making is difficult and slow but can get great results. And in a band, the work is divvied up so less load on one person. As a soloist, you have all the freedom in the world, but no additional decision-making help which can be lonely and create unwelcome doubt. Both approaches have pros and cons. Both are hard but rewarding work.
OSR: Do you have any future plans as an artist?
Warner: To make more music, to play live more, and to keep learning, growing and getting better at what I do.
OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?
Warner: Please enjoy the album and if you do, let me know!