R&B of the late 80’/ 90’s created legendary music that defined the era. My Pony, This is How We Do It, and No Scrubs became instant classics. Artists such as Ginuwine, Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, Toni Braxton, and Maxwell to name but a few, wrote their name in history and their legacy continues with a new ambassador – Norwegian songstress Louam.
From her launch on the music scene, Louam has impressed with catchy, dance-floor filling R&B singles in harmony with striking, colourful and visually expressive videos.
‘I love switching up my hair, that’s the fun part for me’, she says joyously, and anyone who’s seen her videos would have witnessed her go from Afro to short hair, and from dark to blonde, awash in a rainbow of fashionable bright colours.
As a journey, she’s enjoying it. It wasn’t until she wrote No-One that she found her sound. It was from there she founds the album wholeness. In our review, you’ll see that track as one of my highlighted singles. But it wasn’t an easy start.
“Growing up I had stage fright. I didn’t have the courage until I was 20. Then I started singing a lot more public and it wasn’t so scary. I couldn’t really not do it either. I really enjoy it now. If you have it and you can control it, then it feels even better – you get a kick out of it!”
Stage-fright can be debilitating and its inspiring hearing her describe how she uses it to give her strength and get more emotion in her performance. Listening to her speak Louam has an aura of a confident and outgoing woman.
Louams’ parents are from Eritrea, and both parents sing, though not in a professional capacity, but with a love that resonated with their young daughter. Her father was the first to note her potential on a family trip.
“We were in the back seat of the car, and I was probably singing to TLC songs when he stopped and noticed. He didn’t make a big deal, but it said to me this is something.”
With his encouragement, Louam continued to sing. As long as it makes you happy, underlined his sentiments. Stage-fright kept the young singer from openly expressing in front of others until high school, leading the vocals on a stage musical. Listening to Louam her accent is warm and natural with neither a strong US or UK dialect coating her words. However, the terms ‘high school’ and ‘recess’ are clues to her English education.
Louam is born and raised in the east side of Oslo. Predominately multi-cultural, the media has cast this area with overwhelmingly negative stories. It’s a description she doesn’t relate to.
“I had one of the best childhoods ever! Most of my friends agree. We have beautiful nature, playing in woods, playing soccer, having fun, so I don’t know where that comes from? The media likes to look only at certain stuff.”
Winters are long in Norway and thick snow coats the country for months. Naturally, a regular part of growing up is heading out to the mountains skiing. Despite the schools repeated attempts Louam admits to not being a good skier.
“I’m a summer girl. I hate the cold. I don’t want to go out when it’s cold!”
It’s the balance of both worlds that Louam likes – the city and nature. She feels lucky that Oslo offers that.
At home Louam was influenced by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. She felt she could look up to them as they ‘kinda looked the same’ and the music spoke to her.
“I loved the melodies and the vocals’ she explained. “The vocals are a huge part of R&B music for me, that’s why I fell for it. And my brother used to listen to a lot of hip hop.” Laughing she tells me how she tried it a little bit and has her ‘rap moments.
R&B is resurging across Scandinavia, but it’s still a niche. Regardless Louam has never wanted to head under the popular umbrella of pop.
“I’ve always been surrounded by people who listened to R&B/Hip hop and around 2000 it took over popular music. It was the golden time. There’s a lot of good music today that’s been influenced by that golden time. It’s progressing and evolved in terms of how you can mix the genre and the roles of females and males in what they’re singing about.”
On Me is an intimate single on the album and I asked her about writing it.
“I know it’s not normal and people might find it cheesy but it’s more of a love song than something sexual. It’s about love — all heart. I’m very romantic.”
The album Wreckless Love was released on Valentine’s day, and five of the seven tracks are love songs with a theme of unreliable and indecisive guys. When I ask her to expand on this, she replied shortly ‘ I write about how I feel’. The subjects may be serious but the feeling I took from her music was certainly uplifting and energising.
“If you’re going through something negative I always try to see the positive in that. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with most of my songs.”
Louam has praise and gratitude to her producers, Logan and JNS (pronounced Jones) as we discussed the albums authentic sound. Swedish producer Logan helped create most of the music and worked hard to create production tailored for Louam.
Throughout the album there is one R&B artist who emanates – Mary J Blige. Louam penned homage to her (Track 9) has the lift and empowering vocals of her icon and I ask her if Mary has heard it.
“I don’t know. Mary J is amazing! I hope she gets to hear it. I hope she likes it!”
Wreckless Love is available now on all digital and streaming platforms.
Top photos by: Emma Sukalic / Large photo by David Clifford-Holmes