Alice Phoebe Lou’s new album Orbit was released worldwide at the end of April, but artist Lou continues to play on the streets, free of charge, while selling the album on a face to face basis.
Described as “Berlin’s most famous street busker”, South African singer songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou released her debut album Orbit in April, delivering her trademark jaded lyrics in her pitch perfect soprano voice.
Lou, who spends her time between her homes in South Africa and Germany, began her career with a guitar and an amplifier as a busker on the pavements of Berlin. She has avoided signing with a record label in order to retain her creative freedom. Despite being her first step into the commercial music world, Orbit is as unconventional as its writer’s rise to fame.
The album’s anti-establishment theme is supported by an unusual distribution model which Lou claims is an attempt to see how far she can take her musical independence. In a YouTube video about the album release, Lou said, “The only way anyone’s going to get it [a physical copy] is by buying it from me on the street, or ordering it [directly] online”.
The 9-track album is laced with a quirky jazz influence which lighten the songs’ soulful themes. The vocals and rhythmic guitar picking are subtly supported by a broad variety of instruments played by a range of South African and European artists.
The title song, “Orbit”, is testament to Lou’s musical ability with layers of instruments built upon a slow alternative jazz beat. Beneath the soothing vocals however, lies a caustic distaste for the status quo, “do you want to be, just a machine in this crazy society?” sings Lou.
Lou first publicly expressed her views on the music industry in 2014 when she performed at a Tedx conference in Berlin. She said that pop stars have a powerful voice, but she felt that they “use this power for something superficial”.
“People are really wanting something tangible, and that’s what I’m going to give them,” said Lou, who is embarking on a tour of Europe and will be selling Orbit vinyls directly to the public from her usual stage, the streets.