Ahead of the release of her debut EP, Loah dishes the dirt on its creation, explains why every artist needs some chicken wings from time to time, and tells us what it felt like to co-write a multi-award winning song with Hozier.
By the time you get your grubby little mitts on our latest issue, rising star Loah will be preparing to unveil her long-awaited, much anticipated debut EP. Comprised of six tracks, This Heart features a veritable smorgasbord of sonic flavours, and makes a strong first impression. For the artist born Sallay Matu Garnett, this release serves as something of a calling card and she tells us she’s thrilled to finally give her baby to the world.
“I’m very excited,” grins the Irish Sierra Leonean singer-songwriter. “I mean I’m also a bit terrified too, I’ll be honest. I’m ready to let it go, though. I guess I feel like a real artist now, because I’m like a painter who has just done an exhibition. I’m legit! I’ve got a piece of work that is mine and that makes a big difference when I’m trying to book shows.”
In some ways, ‘This Heart’ had a difficult birth. The product of a year’s worth of work, the self-confessed perfectionist tells us that producer Ken McCabe was a huge help as she poured her soul into her songs.
“Was recording like hell on Earth?” she laughs. “Well, I’d love to say it was all fun and games, but honestly, it was really painful sometimes. I’d like it to be more fun in the future. I put a lot of pressure on myself on this one because I haven’t found a really healthy way to work and maybe I never will. A lot of artists struggle with that. My producer Ken McCabe is really fun though. At times I can get really tense and worried and he’d be like, ‘Ok, let’s stop and go and watch Louie or Game Of Thrones. Let’s have some food and get this girl some chicken wings!’”
The music on ‘This Heart’, which Loah calls “ArtSoul,” eschews any missteps normally associated with a debut release and is both assured and brave, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when the musician confesses that there are times when she struggled with self doubt.
“Sometimes it can be a bit challenging to give myself the permission to step into the role of musician. Then other times I can feel almost frivolous about the whole thing. I have a weird relationship with being an artist. There’s a big part of the EP about allowing myself to go with the flow.”
Recent jaunts to South By Southwest and New York (for her first ever headliner in the States) certainly helped silence any doubts Loah had though.
“It was super educational and it also reminded me that I need to work hard and focus. It was intellectually, emotionally and musically stimulating. The New York show was a lot of fun, people really got what I was about there, which I was so pleased about.”
Another thing Loah was suitably pleased about was receiving a prestigious BMI London Award last October, for co-writing ‘Someone New’ with a plucky young newcomer called Hozier.
“Oh my God it was absolutely class!” beams the singer, who has also collaborated with the likes of Kila and Bantum. “That song is very special for so many reasons. Andy [Hozier] and I wrote it a long time ago and we never knew what happened with it. He didn’t know it would be a huge hit and I certainly didn’t, so to be standing there in a room with Sting and receiving an award the same night as him was pretty trippy.
“Andy’s used to it at this point, that’s the norm for him, but for me as a writer it was such an incredible experience. It got a lot of airplay in the States and it’s crazy that something you write and let go into the world can have such a profound effect on people. It gave me a little boost in terms of confidence.”