Upon the release his newest track, the artist sits down with Rollacoaster to discuss the introspective nature of his work and what the future holds.

Louis Dunford
Louis Dunford

Louis Dunford’s ability to translate the voices of North London culture has reached far beyond the Morland Estate in Islington, where the musician first discovered his love of capturing stories of everyday life. The singer-songwriter has always used words to navigate the world around him, whether in the form of diary entries, poems, or songs.

His songs began as jotted memories of his reckless past, stories of juvenile delinquency which he would perform to his friends as they humoured their adolescent years. “I would write about our everyday lives, my friends, and the stories we would tell each other,” he explains. It wasn’t until the songs were released online that Dunford found that the tales of his North London estate resonated with a larger audience than just his friends.

At a time when the future is so uncertain, the memories of youth, freedom and joy which Dunford’s music evokes are a comforting reminder that these times are transient. But that’s not to say they lack depth – his first EP is moving and emotive, with personal and honest lyricism throughout.

The Morland EP serves as a chronicle of his life, and with his next single “My Generation” set to follow its success on November 4th, as well as his second EP in February 2022, Louis sat down with Rollacoaster to talk about his story.

How did you first discover your love of songwriting?
I wrote before I ever started writing songs, I used to write poems all the time. I was always quite a big reader, but it wasn’t until I started fucking about on piano for a couple of months that I started writing my own songs. The songs started as just me trying to make my mates laugh, I’d write about our lives and people we knew, just taking it as fun. It was sort of a hobby, a little pastime in my private life, but my mates were the ones who were like, “you should put these out”.

Your body of work is tied together by ideas of the past, youth culture, and nostalgia, which harmonises as a social commentary of North London. Why is it important to you to tell these stories?
The world that I write about, to me, is still very small. It’s the people that I’m with every day, my family and my friends, and I’ve not exhausted those stories or characters yet. So when people from completely different walks of life, different generations, and different parts of the world, get in touch with me and say “I can relate to what you’re saying”, it’s a real kick for me because I’m really just talking about a very small group of friends in North London. For me, it’s always been about the stories and telling the truth, and getting the story over to an audience as clearly and as truthfully as possible. That’s always been the goal from the beginning.

You seem to find a lot of your songs’ inspiration from your own personal experiences and memories. I’m really interested in your songwriting process – what triggers you to sit down and write a song?
For me it always starts with words. I still see myself as a writer that happens to be writing songs and singing them. I keep journals and diaries. Sometimes it can be a poem straightaway, particularly if I haven’t made peace with something yet that’s happened to me in the past, or if I’m talking about mental health. It can be quite cathartic to write what I’m feeling and thinking, I find it helps.

Louis Dunford black and white steps
Louis Dunford black and white steps

In your work you explore your own battles with mental health, and struggles throughout your life. Is it ever nerve-wracking singing about such personal experiences to an audience?
I put out a song on the first EP called “Hello Depression”, which is pretty much as honest as it gets. It’s almost to the point of being quite blunt about the struggles I’ve had with depression. I felt a bit vulnerable when I wrote it, but I get messages almost daily now about the song. I don’t think that it’s even necessarily the song, I don’t think I’m saying anything that’s exceptionally profound about mental health, but I’ve realised that if you put yourself out there to have the conversation, people are waiting to have those conversations. And if that’s the sacrifice I have to pay, putting out a tune that makes me feel a bit vulnerable every time I have to perform it, then that’s fair enough. Now more than ever, when we’re stuck inside and we’re dealing with what we’re dealing with, we need to have that space to discuss what’s that we’re feeling.

What can we expect from your next EP?
I’ve delved into my family’s past, and I’ve written more songs about what me and my friends go through on a daily basis. For the first time, I’ve written stuff about people from my area that I’ve not met, and I’ve never done that before, just write stories that I’ve heard. I’ve also written, I wouldn’t call them love songs, but songs about romantic relationships, that I’ve not written about before. I’ve never really been afraid about writing a love song, I’ve just never found an interesting way to do it. I’ve been fucking about with that quite a lot lately, because it’s not really my thing. Again, I’ve kind of turned it into a storytelling thing. It’s not so much, “I love you so much, I miss you”, it’s more, “we were a pair of idiots, what the fuck were we doing?” sort of thing.

What’s in store for the future?
The best stuff. I know everyone says that every time they release new music but I’ve gone from being a solo artist, and the first EP is pretty much just me with a piano or a guitar. But for the next EP, there’s tunes that we recorded with a full band, which is so exciting to me because all I’ve ever wanted to do is be in a band. So the idea is to hopefully get a live band together, and then we’ve got the biggest gigs I’ve ever done coming at the end of the year. And then next year is hopefully album time. I’ve been writing the best stuff I’ve ever written and recording the best stuff I’ve ever recorded, and I just can’t wait to get it all out, and play in front of as many people as I can. After this year. I will play in someone’s front room; I will play wherever!

Jasmine Jackson

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