Interview: The Download Tapes – Calva Louise “We are a very DIY band.”

Three young musicians from different parts of the globe found themselves meeting on the London gig scene and combined their talents and love for music to create Calva Louise. Very much a DIY band, they self released their first mixtape, they make their own equipment and singer and composer Jess is a dab hand at creating larger than life music videos to help immerse the listeners into the story behind their music. Aggy Gillon chats with Ben Parker (drums) and Alizon Taho (bass) after their set at Download which was their first time gracing the stage at Donington Park. We learn more about this multi-talented trio but we can’t help but feel we are only just scratching the surface.

What does it feel like playing Download Festival for the first time?

Alizon: It’s a big deal because that’s the festival we have been looking up to for so long. We are really grateful to be invited to play.

How did you find your set earlier?

Ben: The crowd was incredible and very receptive. Everyone was jumping around. We were on the Dogtooth stage which is like a covered tent, right? So the rain actually worked in our favour. It pulled in even more people *laughs*

Your latest single release was out in April, can you tell me about that?

Yes, it’s called ‘Under The Skin’. It’s our first single of our upcoming body of work with Mascot Records. We are going to release a second single on the 20th of June called ‘La Corriente’. That’s a song that is completely in Spanish.

You are all from different parts of the world, how did you all come together?

Alizon: Jess, the singer and composer grew up in Venezuela. I’m French.

Ben: I’m from New Zealand.

Alizon: Jess started playing music when she was in Venezuela as a kid, a teenager. She moved to France when she was sixteen because she wanted to be closer to Europe, and England because that’s where all the musical inspiration was coming from. Bands like Muse and loads of English Rock. 

Ben: When I was fourteen or fifteen I moved to London with my parents at the time. Grew up a little bit more there and met these guys on the gig scene.

It’s pretty incredible how you all managed to find each other. Can you tell us about the last album you released in 2023?

Ben: The release that came out last year was officially a mixtape. Everyone is calling it an album which we’re cool with. It was a mixtape for us because it was very self-made. We didn’t have any budget and just recorded it at home. We worked with a great friend as a producer and mixer engineer. We released it independently and that’s why we call it a mixtape as it’s like this is what we can do on our own kind of thing. Since then we have signed with Mascot Records. We are a very DIY band. We build our own equipment. Our singer Jess makes all the 3D videos.

Oh yeah, the videos are bloody incredible! What made you want to do something so out there?

Ben: There’s basically an underlying story behind the music. It’s been there before the band started. Jess has been working on it for many years now. There is always this will to tell the story behind the music. It’s kind of like experimenting and getting better at telling the story. That is why Jess started learning all this 3D and video software to be able to be able to do it ourselves essentially. All the videos are basically all of us three filming on a green screen and Jess taking the footage and making this incredible vision. Also on stage, we have like a sliding keyboard and that’s completely homemade. We make all of our pedals and cables.

That’s absolutely incredible, multi-talented! You guys started Calva Louise in 2016, is that right? What would you guys say were your influences?

Ben: Yeah that’s right. Like shared influences? I think when we met the key ones that stood out were Muse, System Of A Down and Queens Of The Stone Age. I think those were the three main bands that we connected over. Throughout the years we have been influenced a lot by bands like Ghost or Carpenter Brut. Even more modern things like 3Teeth as well, recently. We are a bit more into the metal scene.

What would you say so far that really stands out to you career wise?

Alizon: I mean, I think playing Download is incredible. That is definitely a bucket list item. It’s amazing to be here.

Ben: I feel like we are hitting landmarks all the time. We just came back from our first co-headline US tour. That was so special. A few years ago that felt so far away to be able to go and do our own tour in the US. We were dreaming of it and we just did it! It was incredible and people were just showing up for it.

Have you got any new releases in the pipeline that you can talk about at all?

Ben: Yeah, so our first single this year ‘Under The Skin’ and ‘La Corriente’ will be a part of a bigger body of work. I don’t think we can say exactly when but it will be a part of a bigger thing. There is loads more music to come.

Have you got any more UK shows lined up after this?

Ben: We are about to head out on a UK headline tour at the start of July. We are doing London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds.

Oh nice, where about’s in Nottingham?

Ben: The Bodega. We have played before and it was really nice. The crew were so lovely as well. We had a little note backstage like ‘welcome back Calva Louise’ and it was really sweet. We love it there.

What’s the dream for Calva Louise?

Alizon: Playing everywhere that we haven’t played before.

Ben: And to play everywhere we have already played again.

Coming back to Download?

Ben: Oh yeah! There are so many great scenes, festivals and venues out there in the world that we would like to experience. We want to be back in the US for sure.

What message would you like to give to your fans?

Alizon: Hello! *laughs*

Ben: Thanks for listening.

Alizon: And for your support.

Calva Louise – Facebook

Interview And Photos By Aggy Gillon