Lo and the Beholds
“I’ve got a tattoo of the Beatles and of the Smiths- but no Kate Bush one just yet” Lo (of Lo and the Beholds ) laughs softly, conveying both an adorable sense of humility and a ‘so-what’ attitude that seems to typify the young musician. We’re talking musical influences, namely, the biggest influences on the young singer growing up.
Though not from an academically musical background, Lo was encouraged to use music as an outlet for her passions from an early age; “my Dad’s a massive Beatles fan… you could say it was more of an ‘obsession’ actually- but that’s basically the music I grew up with, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. My parents are nuts about music”.
As Lo discusses her body-art, it seems Daddy Pauling isn’t the only one who could be described as obsessive- in fact, everything word that passes Lo Pauling’s lips seems to drip with an incredible enthusiasm and genuine sense of excitement. It’s also her first ‘proper’ interview and she’s a bit shy at first- we can tell because she laughs at some terrible joke we make which never usually happens. She’s a sweetie…
For those of you outside of London- and for those of you who haven’t that excuse- Lo Pauling is the named part of piano-folk act Lo & the Beholds. Noted for her breathy, idiosyncratic singing style, Lo Pauling’s never had a singing lesson in her life- she insists she’s “ probably doing it all wrong technically” – but somehow she’s been blessed with a voice that manages to convey those formative human emotions that otherwise are as fleeting and as elusive as specs of dust suspended in light. If that sounds waffly and romantic then… good- her lyrics are loaded with romantic undertones and psychological insights delivered through narrative driven folk-tinged piano ballads.
In this sense, she pays fitting homage to the other artists she lists as her influences- the ones she hasn’t had inked yet- namely the piano-bashing quirky warbler Regina Spektor, the lyrically bonkers Kate Bush and (equally bonkers) Joni Mitchell. And in terms of vocal sound, she sounds like another Kate who’s famed for her phonetic-hooks, Kate Nash. In fact, you could list off the artists she sounds reminiscent of-Dolores O’Riordan, Karen Carpenter and even Dido (whatever happened to her? Did she grow her highlights out? Set up a vegan farm in the Cotswold?)... And yet…
Lo stands apart.
The thing I hated most when I did covers was that I felt really uncomfortable when I did American covers etc- I felt awkward with the accents and stuff- it felt unnatural. When I started singing and writing I just wanted it to sound more real- my songs are very personal and so the overwhelming thing I want people to take away from them is that I am being honest and singing about something that’s real. The only way I can manage to sing it is by ‘not trying too hard to sound a particular way’. I sing like I speak.
Lo sings from her heart in every sense of the word and suddenly it dawns on us just why she reminds us of those artists we listed… And the ones that just kept coming to the forefront of our minds. As well as tapping into to a continuum of female sound, Lo’s managed to do that rare and special thing- she’s tapped into an emotional truth. Like Mitchell, Bush and O’Riordan she’s plunged an intra-venous needle directly into her artery and pumped her blood straight into her songs.
‘Though still in the early stages of her career, Lo has already begun to establish a strong fan base which includes non other than guru-of-talent BBC6’s Tom Robinson. On the off-chance, Lo uploaded a track she recorded to the BBC Kent radio website; “Jacob (Rickard) played it a couple of times which was great… Then (totally unexpectedly) he sort of put me forward for the master-class at Abbey Road”. As well as an opportunity to sing for Robinson himself, candidates received advice from industry professionals about the ins-and-outs of the music industry. “It was amazing…After the day ended I was left to my own devices. I went into studio 2 where the Beatles had recorded and wandered round taking photos, smiling inanely”- her track was later selected for airplay on Robinson’s show and off the back of this she was contacted by digital radio station Amazing Radio.
Since these early days, Lo has undergone a bit of a ‘face-lift’ by way of an addition to her stage-name; “I met Anna (violin) and Cat (guitar) and now we’re sort of learning how to play together as a band.” Aside from providing backing-support for vocals and instrumentals, the Beholds bring out a side of Lo’s performance that she felt lacking- “I’m not really that self-confident” she explains, much to our surprise.
“I didn’t do anything for a few years after I left school then a year and a half ago I started playing again.” Thankfully for us, she started performing at open-mic nights whilst studying at university, before she built up enough confidence to lay down an E.P. of material- produced by Rolf Harris’ guitarist, Graham Taylor. “I really enjoyed the process of putting the instruments down and the lyrics”- she effuses, “but when I played live it was just me and the piano. ” She pauses; “piano can get a bit boring. Having the band means we can mix things up a bit- make it more interesting!”
We’re recording now and we’re going to see where it goes- it’d be ace if we can get an EP together before the end of the year. We’ve got dates coming up for some festivals over the summer in Kent, and we’re playing a gig at Monto Water Rat’s on the 30th… you should come along!
We definitely will.
SOUNDS LIKE: Joni Mitchell, Dolores O’Riordan, Kate Bush & Regina Spektor all getting together for an impromptu jam.
BEST TRACKS: Cast out your Demons, Devil in a Box, Routemaster Red
CATCH-THEM: Monto Water Rats 30 March & Hoxton Underbelly 20 April
Special thanks for the wonderful illustrations by Kerri-Ann Hulme and Thom Kofoed & Matt Witt.