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Lou Hickey Interview

Siobhanne Beattie


As the better-looking half of Codeine Velvet Club, alongside former Fratelli, John Lawler, Lou Hickey was catapulted into mainstream success with an impressive debut album and tour. The disbandment of the band in Summer 2010 meant solo careers for both Lawler and Hickey.

Having two EPs released prior to the success of Codeine Velvet Club, ‘New Shoes’ in 2006, and ‘Do It Yourself’ in 2008, Hickey was certainly no stranger to flying solo, but it was no secret that the mainstream had somewhat eluded her.

Now, in 2011, Hickey has re-adjusted to single life, once again, and is enjoying touring with her band, ‘The Love-Bites’ and preparing for the release of her debut album later this year. Anyone who pegged her as Jon Lawler’s pretty sidekick had better think again…

“I’m currently in talks with a record label. They’re an independent label, but one I have tremendous respect for”, speaking from a Glasgow cafe, Lou Hickey is in fine form, making no attempt to hide her pride at getting her debut album out to the masses. “I think saying I’ll have the album out by Summer is ambitious. I’m looking to have a single out by then, and the album will hopefully follow”.

Partly funded by the Scottish Arts Council, Hickey’s debut album is greatly anticipated by fans and critics alike. “I feel like I’m always saying the same thing with regard to the album! But, money has been an issue. I’ve had to pay for most of it myself, and that hasn’t been easy. It will be brilliant to finally get it out there and to give the fans something at long last”.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to catch one of Hickey’s live sets, then you’ll understand what all the fuss for a debut is about.

Having landed a prominent spot on BBC Introducing….Stage at last year’s T In The Park, headlined Glasgow’s legendary King Tut’s in December, and supported Martha & The Vandellas, Hickey’s has notched up quite an impressive gig resume.

“T In The Park was fantastic! I didn’t expect that many people to be there. When we kicked off the set, there was about 50-60 folk, and by the time we were finishing there must’ve been over 100 people watching us, which was brilliant!”

T’s BBC Introducing… Stage proved a hit with gig-goers at last year’s festival. “Festival’s are a great opportunity to discover new music. And, BBC Introducing… Stage is a way for bands like myself to introduce themselves, almost, to fans. This is a good way to say, ‘This is me. This is what I’m about’, and give people a wee taster of your music”.

And Hickey has recently taken her ‘bitchy cabaret, jazz-pop’ to a wider audience, playing sold-out gigs in London last Winter, “London was disastrously beautiful!,” Hickey giggles over a cappuccino, “I drove myself and the band down there, and it was at the time we were having all that terrible snow! It was a bit of a nightmare. And, when we got there, London had a spattering of snow, compared with Glasgow, and half the city had closed down! Including the underground!”

Despite the hiccups, Hickey and The Love-Bites brought their sassy, sultry sound to those down South, “London was a lot of fun. I was quite nervous, as we hadn’t really played there before and expectations were pretty high, but it turned out great. I had a lot of fun!”

Conquering festival-goers, a capital city, and a sold-out, very sweaty King Tut’s must’ve made a support slot to Martha & The Vandellas a piece of cake, right?

“I don’t get starstruck, but when we supported Martha & The Vandellas, I was speechless! I was starstruck; I couldn’t even speak to her! This is music I grew up with and, ‘Heatwave’, to me, is just an amazing song, I love it! The gig was a lot of fun, people were dancing and singing, it was brilliant – how a gig should be!”

Growing up idolising Buddy Holly, Fiona Apple, and Nina Simone, it comes as no surprise that Lou Hickey took the path that she did – bringing sultry, sassy jazz-pop into the 21st Century – no easy fete! “I was once described as ‘a poor man’s Peggy Lee’ and I’m fine with that. That’s a compliment in my book.”

With a lot of love for femme fatales of her childhood and beyond, is there any room or reverence left for the today’s feisty females with Lou Hickey?

“I love Jessie J – I think she’s brilliant! I’m not keen on ‘Do It Like A Dude’, I think that was her way of getting the commercial hit, but the other material she’s got, it’s amazing! She’s fresh and different, and I love the soul she brings to it, she reminds me of Aretha a little”.

Flying solo simply isn’t enough for Miss Hickey, it seems.

Not only does she grace some of Glasgow’s finest and most-respected live venues, you’ll also find her spinning a record, now and then, as a guest DJ. “The Dj-ing is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. Although, I prefer doing my ‘Rock N Roll’ guest spots. That’s the music I know and love, so I prefer to play that. You always get the odd Rihanna request, otherwise,” Hickey laughs, struggling to resist a roll of her eyes. “I would love to just play vinyl all the time. But, it can be hard to trace down certain vinyl tracks – some are really old!”

And, those of you partial to a little dressing up will know (and undoubtedly love) Hickey from her coveted singing slots at Glasgow’s Club Noir Theme Nights. “I love Club Noir. They helped me realise that there was a place for the type of music I play. I owe them a lot”, Hickey can’t, and doesn’t try, to hide her affection for Glasgow’s famous Burlesque Club.

It appears that Lou Hickey is more than ‘that lassie who was in a band with the guy from The Fratellis’, so much more, in fact. A sultry, sassy singer/songwriter, a sought-after DJ and a burlesque beauty.

Her road may have been, at times, a rocky one, but, Lou Hickey has the potential and talent to go on to bigger and better things, and become one of Scotland’s brightest stars.