After winning a Grammy for the dance hit Clarity in 2013, 26-year-old Louise Allen’s debut album Glorious peaked at No. 5 in the UK and scored a string of chart hits across the globe.
Not just a vocalist, Allen co-writes her material and is now ready to release her second album All I Need, followed by a 12-date tour of the UK throughout February and March. No better time then for a fun chat with Louisa about the artists and albums that have helped make her the artist she is today.
Click through the gallery to discover Louisa’s selections and find out why she chose them...
Cyndi Lauper – She's So Unusual
“I remember in 1984 when this album came out; my mum gave it to me when I was very young, maybe about five. I have quite interesting tastes because of my mum and sister.
“Cyndi Lauper felt a bit bonkers at the time, very youthful and eccentric, and I was drawn to that because she seemed very free. Her music videos were fun and she had that eccentric way of dressing, which didn’t seem normal at the time – that whole 80s thing. She also had this powerful, rasping voice with an incredible range.
“I think she was really rule-breaking, even though it’s been a while since I listened to anything from her she’s still someone I’m inspired by.”
The Spice Girls – Spice
“When I got a bit older, about nine, I got into the Spice Girls and connected with these women to almost feeling safe. I guess everyone from that generation cannot really deny that they were into them at the time.
“I remember being given a Spice Girls CD from my sister and that was such a big part of my youth, the whole Girl Power thing that blew up – even though they seemed very normal and relatable. It was just such a fandom, but they also had a really healthy, inspiring message.
“I was a fan right from the start, because it was such great pop music, so I got the Posh Spice haircut and all of that [laughs].”
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
“I remember being completely infatuated by Kate Bush, and Hounds of Love still remains one of my favourite albums. You forget how young she was when she was writing those songs and yet they still seem current – I feel like the songs could still be massive pop songs now, they’re just timeless.
“What I loved about the music she made was that you were always kept on your toes, and there were a lot of different sides to her. I remember listening to Hounds of Love and it almost making me feel uncomfortable; I was intrigued to find out what it was all about. Some songs started off really beautifully and emotional, and you’d think you knew where they were going, like this one is going to turn into a ballad, and suddenly this massive demon starts singing! It felt so out of this world, like it didn’t come from this earth.
“I took my mum to the live shows in 2014, which was surreal. I don’t normally get starstruck, but I felt like I was in the presence of greatness.”
Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
“I took inspiration from different artists in different ways – even at a young age. Lyrically, I found Eminem really interesting and I got quite obsessed with writing all his lyrics down in my diary. His album The Slim Shady LP had tracks like My Name Is, and he was introducing himself as this very bold and outspoken white rapper.
“I think that if you’re a songwriter or creative, you need an outlet for things that you feel very strongly about. People have a lot of pent up emotions and demons that they want to get out, maybe that’s why I’m a lot more drawn to Eminem’s early music when he was bit more daring.”
Patti Smith – Horses
“I don’t know how you would compare Eminem to other artists I like, but I was also interested in Patti Smith. It sounds like the most ridiculous comparison because they’re at completely different ends of the spectrum, but what I liked about them was how honest they were. It was almost poetic in a way.
“Patti Smith also had a lot of angst and was very straight to the point, and I think that quite influenced me. She was coming from a place that was trying to convey a message, but being very truthful about it and very bold.
“I was obsessed with her 1975 album Horses, especially the track Birdland with that incredible piano line running through it. She sang about stars falling from the sky and melting like butter.”
Bjork – Debut
“I remember watching the movie Leon, which had an incredible soundtrack. I liked a lot of the music on it, but especially Venus as a Boy, which, sonically, was so strange. It was almost as if Bjork sang in her own range or key, which was oddly addictive. I delved into who she was and remember thinking she was like an alien creating new musical paths.
“Debut was the album I fell in love with; I feel it’s similar to Kate Bush in that there is pop music in there but also dark music. Debut had harps, electronic dance music and also stripped back ballads. I liked her last album, which was the break up album wasn’t it? I think she’s still just as powerful now and constantly evolving, but I haven’t got to see her live yet - it’s still a dream of mine!
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
“I can’t say I knew loads about Fleetwood Mac growing up, but I remember when I was about 15 my friend showed me this video of Stevie Nicks doing this performance, I think it was of the track Sara, and she just starts crying.
“I remember feeling as though I almost shouldn’t be watching it. It was beautiful but sad, and that made me turn to Fleetwood Mac’s back catalogue and I really got into the album Rumours and the story behind all of it.
“The band were all dating each other and the relationships were getting entwined, so they were all singing about each other – it was mad! There was actually a film made about Rumours, which was really interesting.
Nina Simone – Here Comes the Sun
“When I was young, I got into lots of jazz music, and although I hadn’t started singing, it was then that I started thinking that it was something I wanted to learn to do.
“When I was about 11, I remember listening to Nina Simone, and when I started writing it was very jazz-based. Although it’s very different to how I sing now, I think I taught myself through listening to jazz artists. You can convey a lot of personality through jazz music, so I think I used that as a template and was learning through a very particular technique.
“I loved learning how to do all the scatting and I was intrigued by how it made me feel so free and emotional. With Nina Simone, I think it was Here Comes The Sun, I just remember hearing that album because my grandma used to play it.”
Etta James – The Second Time Around
“People say you don’t copy musicians growing up, but it’s like, yes you do! Everyone learns to sing from hearing someone else sing; you’ve got to be inspired by someone.
“I remember listening to Etta James and thinking this is something else, this is beautiful. Especially albums like Fool That I Am from The Second Time Around and, later on, I’d Rather Go Blind.”
Joni Mitchell – Blue
“For me, lyrically, artists like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan made me want to start working on how I could write lyrics and songs. I think Joni is one of the best songwriters in the world.
“The song I most wish I’d written is called A Case of You from the album Blue. I remember thinking how can someone put words together like that, make them beautiful and make you understand exactly what she’s saying. That’s when I started thinking about metaphors and how to describe things in my own way. Dylan was more political, he stood up for a lot of things he believed in, but both of them made me think about things.
“On my latest album, I definitely think I’ve been very honest and open, which is difficult because it feels like you’re spilling your guts and that makes you very vulnerable, but unless I’m the only one that hears the music I have to make that choice. I wouldn’t be able to do it any other way.
The new Foxes album ‘All I Need’ is released 5th February on Sign of the Times Records. For more information, check out Foxes’ website.