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Alice Phoebe Lou

“There’s something so beautiful about letting the people in your life grow. Whether they’re your
friends, your family or musicians you look up to, letting them change and leave some things
behind is so powerful,” says Alice Phoebe Lou.
The musician is well aware that it’s oh-so-human to long for the comfort of nostalgia. In recent
months, she's been wrestling with who she was when she first started releasing music back in
2016 and who she’s become since. “I’m about to turn 30 but people still associate me with that
young, sweet girl,” she explains. “As you get older, you sing about more mature themes but
some people actively push against that because it’s not what I symbolise to them.” On new
album ‘Shelter’, Alice has no interest in people pleasing. “It’s a record about how growth and
change are so important.”
Alice Phoebe Lou started playing music as a busker after moving from South Africa to Berlin in
2012 and falling in love with a lifestyle that could be so self-determined. At first, it was just a way
to earn enough money to pay rent but it quickly evolved into something more. Busking, she
explains, “is hard and fucking humiliating. People will shout at you, men will harass you,
competition for a spot to perform can be vicious...I had countless situations where people were
just the worst. But then you have those shining moments where you genuinely move somebody.
I knew that if I worked on my music, it could be something beautiful.”
Debut album ‘Orbit’ came in 2016 and saw Alice “piece together the possibility” of music turning
into a proper career while 2019’s ‘Paper Castles’ cemented her as a talented, exciting musician.
With a busker’s mentality about needing to win people over immediately, Alice only gave herself
“permission to write without the fear of judgment” on 2021’s ‘Glow’. That record and surprise
follow-up ‘Child’s Play’ allowed Alice to go “super deep and vulnerable. I think people really
connected with me speaking about personal, painful, tragic things that sometimes feel too
embarrassing to say out loud,” she explains. “Those two albums felt like a reckoning.”
By contrast, ‘Shelter’ is a celebration. “It’s much more self-assured and direct,” says Alice.
“That’s an exciting energy to bring to the table.”
Broadly speaking, Alice Phoebe Lou’s fifth album sees her going through a second coming of
age. After living in Berlin for the past ten years, she unexpectedly found herself without a place
to call home last May. At the same time, Alice had just started writing what would become
‘Shelter’, with the first few songs confronting her past and trying to make peace with the traumas
instead of simply eviscerating them. “It was very isolating, lonely and weird,” she explains but
ultimately ‘Shelter’ is about “coming to that place within yourself and intentionally deciding that
wherever you are, that is home and that is enough.”
‘Open My Door’ is a conversation between Alice’s younger self and who she is now while ‘Lose
My Head’ is about wanting to be intimate with other people, but also needing to be yourself. “It’s
about loving and wanting as well as the push and pull of passion,” she explains. Rather than a
deep dive into those contradictions though, one of the most powerful moments of the song sees
Alice just screaming. “It feels like a purge,” she says.

Like most songs on ‘Shelter’, ‘Lose My Head’ started with Alice sitting with her guitar, feeling the
music and singing whatever came out. “Some of the things you say are completely weird but
when you get into a flow, that stream of consciousness can be really enlightening,” she
continues. As a result, ‘Lose My Head’ feels like a spiritual, emotional release.
And she wants to leave space for others to feel that catharsis. “I continually strive to show
people the beauty of being vulnerable and feeling all their feelings,” she offers.
Despite the weird time Alice was going through, ‘Shelter’ never feels too heavy, with the record
championing healing yourself, confronting all the things you’ve been through and making peace
with them. “It’s about nurturing your inner child and dealing with the painful human experiences
that come from just existing. It’s about forgiving the world and forgiving yourself to create safety
and a home within yourself,” she says. “I had to do that in order to not feel like everything was
just fucking collapsing around me and you know what? It's been a really beautiful thing.”
Alice Phoebe Lou admits she’s still confused about the next step though. “Sometimes it feels
like I’m falling but other times I’m really inspired by the black hole abyss of what comes next.
Really, anything could happen,” she grins, finding that open-endedness incredibly inspiring.
“It's an exciting time to be a female artist in the world right now,” she adds. “I feel really
optimistic about the fact that those archaic ideas about relevance based on age are becoming
less of a real factor. There's just so much more chaos in the mix, where you and your audience
are in control.” It’s one of the reasons she’s remained an independent artist, despite years of big
record labels offering to make her dreams come true. She loves turning them down. “I just don't
need the noise and I don't need people telling me what to do or how to do it.”
She’s always been determined but there’s a newfound confidence to Alice Phoebe Lou. She’s
entirely self-taught and for years, as she progressed from street corners to dingy clubs to
festival stages and beyond, she felt that lack of musical training meant she was in a lower
league to other musicians. “Music was definitely not what I thought I was going to do with my
life. I just didn't think I was good enough” and because she started playing music quite late, she
felt like she was constantly playing catch-up. Going into ‘Shelter’ though, Alice realised that her
intuitive approach to music is a superpower. “I’m able to be sincere, vulnerable and really trust
myself. Hopefully that gives other people permission to do the same. There's no shame in being
full of feelings.”
Alice Phoebe Lou may be entering a new phase of her life and her career, but her ambitions
haven’t changed much. “The world is constantly telling you to think bigger, to take the
opportunities that you've got and find ways to multiply them, but all that feels quite gluttonous,”
she explains, wanting to channel any success into building a studio to help speed up her own
creative process and maybe release music by other artists. “I feel like I’ve arrived somewhere,”
she adds. “I hope young people can be inspired by the fact you can do things unconventionally,
if you want.”

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