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In a black one-piece Lou James croons at the camera, twists and turns and seductively looks back to onlookers as she sings of vanity. It may be commonplace for such sultry behaviour to occur in video clips (‘Foolish’), but in reality the pressures to perform are quite different from what we see on screen.
“You do have the pressures of having to look a certain way but at the same time I do love dressing up. I’ve always found glam does have a bit of an influence on me and I love the whole theatrics of it,” Lou says.
“I think when you’re able to express yourself how you want to visually express yourself then it’s fine, but I think when you’re having to do it and it’s not a reflection of your personality that’s when it’s uncomfortable.
“Sometimes you have to be really open minded with it as well. Which is quite funny because sometimes you’ll be like, ‘What do I look like?’ and then see the photo and be like, ‘Oh okay I get it’. After everything; the context of the photo, the makeup, the hairstyle, the clothes, all the elements come together and it looks amazing. But if you take them separately from each other it looks really odd.”
While there may have been times Lou has felt the pressure of society’s gaze, her moments of expression have outweighed each and every one of them – some times were a bit more regrettable than others.
“If you’re comfortable you can just express yourself more freely. There were definitely times when we first started where I used to go really crazy with liquid eyeliner. I’d make all these crazy shaped designs and we looked like these crazy glam goths. At the time we thought it was really cool but now I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so bad,” she says laughing.
With a strong background in theatre, fellow singer Phoebe Baker included, the two have made the conscious decision to let their inner most creations come to fruition. As a result on stage the singers can be spotted wearing blue with pink, sequins, frills in any place and the same experimentation can be said of their makeup.
“When we both first started making music we decided that we really wanted this to be a visual show,” she says.
“You can easily download music or buy a vinyl or a CD and you can listen to it anywhere, but we really wanted to make the show an experience and that’s where you get to release your alter egos and have 45 minutes to an hour just to let loose.”
What’s refreshing is that with their talent individually as singers and the eye-catching stage costumes their often wearing, there’s no competition between the two for the spotlight.
“It surprised me one day because someone said, ‘You guys must really compete for the attention?’ I just found that so bizarre, because not to mention that Pheebs is my best friend, but I wouldn’t be in a band if I was competing; I’d want to be the sole female vocalist if that was the case,” she says.
If anything, the time the two have spent together has given them an unimaginable connection. You’d almost think they were the same person if it weren’t for the fact they couldn’t be more different.
“We look so different and we perform so difference but it’s really one voice conveying the song in different ways,” she says.
“We know each other so well and we lived with each other for a year and we’ve toured with each other so we’re always very in tune with what we’re trying to communicate.”
And as they’re different people they often experience varying emotions. As Lou tells me, performing can be a tricky thing to face when you’re not feeling your best.
“It all depends on how I’m feeling. That’s the thing when you’re performing on stage, it can be really overwhelming. You can be having a really shit day or you can be angry or sad or you could be really ecstatic but you still have to perform,” Lou says.
“Someone watching the show might not ever think about that but the performer always has to be in the best mood and having an amazing time, so I think the way I perform definitely depends on the way I’m feeling.
“Sometimes I mightn’t feel like I’m putting in as much as Phoebe or vice versa but because there’s two of us it balances, works really well and that’s how we compliment each other. At times I’m having a crappy day and I feel like it’s all on me. Then I turn around and see that there’s five other people around me and I’m like, ‘Oh no we’re all here doing it together’.”
But as the stage lights come on and Phoebe and Lou step onto the stage with the rest of the band, there’s never a moment when they don’t perform. Perhaps it’s because two heads are better than one, but more likely it’s because Alpine is an incredibly talented band and one of Australia’s best.
When & Where: Barwon Club, Geelong – June 25, Karova Lounge, Ballarat – June 26 & Forum Theatre, Melbourne – June 27.
Written by Amanda Sherring