Written by Amye Koziel
Based in London but internationally recognized and revered, Lou Nour has made significant waves in the global dance music industry and her passion for the genre has made her a heavyweight advocate for lively, chest-rattling 140 bpm sounds. Her early love of music led her to sign up for local dance and musical theatre groups, which helped to shape her on-stage persona today. Her explorations into electronic dance music during her teenage years led her to invest in her first pair of CDJs as a means to escape her university studies. As one half of the imprint Sicaria Sound, Lou and her partner were noted as the undisputed champions of dancefloors worldwide, responsible for exposing dubstep as a culture to an entirely new audience. Now, as a solo artist, Sicaria seeks to carry forth this legacy into her new ventures, having already experienced two solo North American tours and delivering highlight sets at both Basscoast and Shambhala festivals in Canada.
We sat down for a chat with Sicara ahead of her Red Rocks performance to discuss her solo project, love for the music, and challenges she faced during her breakthrough.
What went into the decision to keep the Sicaria project going?
Well, as you can imagine, after that whole debacle during the pandemic I decided that really that I was going to quit the industry altogether, for personal reasons. But once things started coming back, I really realized, like, how much I love what I do. And I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Like, I tried. I tried different avenues during the pandemic, I tried doing a nine to five, in a sort of creative industry. It was cool, but it was too rigid, and I don't like rigid structure. And then I tried picking up acting classes again, because I used to do musical theater when I was younger. Again, it just didn't feel as natural as music did to me. Then, things came back – I've always loved 140, I've always loved Dubstep and I couldn't imagine playing anything else, let's be honest. It feels the most natural and the most authentic to me. I enjoy it the most, I think that comes across in my sets. I was happy with the direction that we were going in as Sicaria Sound, and I think that's what spurred me on to keep it up – the fact that I wasn't really going to go in any different direction or do anything different musically.
Was there anything that happened during the pandemic that made you want to turn your back to the industry?
Yeah, I think I just started to see all the negative stuff that we've been going through. For loads of people, what you see online is this portrait of success. Everyone posts their highlight reel, everyone's having a good time. And it felt like we were really privy to that, we were doing the same thing. But actually a lot of people didn't know the things that were happening in the background. Everyone saw the Boiler Room and our career took off from that. But actually, when it came down to the pandemic, I was still in loads of debt. Like I hadn't paid off any of my debt that I accumulated from trying to do music full time, or trying to dedicate myself to music. I also moved back home but I had to share it, my living situation isn't the best. I live in what you determine as like the projects of London and shared a room with my sister. And it felt like I was regressing in life. I'd dedicated my life to music because I loved it, but it felt like it wasn't loving me back in many sorts of ways. It felt like the industry was breaking me. My health, mental health wasn't completely there. I was having a lot of physical health issues that were probably actually a result of the mental health issues. So it just felt like I wouldn't be able to tour sustainably if things were to come back. I was really healing and enjoying the peace. So I was thinking, you know, maybe the whole music industry, music touring thing wasn't for me. But then when things came back, I decided that I could just try and do things a bit differently this time, like, I didn't have to go back and do the same old, same old. Now I don't drink when I'm touring. I don't touch any other substances. I try and keep as much space to myself as possible. And I have actual down days where I don't do anything but recoup.
I think my job now is to not take things so seriously. Like it's all about 100% fun. And if things aren't turning out out to be you know, 100%, then who gives a fuck?
Have you noticed any changes in the industry since the COVID pandemic?
I felt like it was so funny because during the pandemic, I think that a lot of DJs decided that they were going to change the way that they work, maybe take on less shows after things came back, like ready to take care of their mental health and put their priorities first so they didn't burn out. And I think a few of us stuck by that. But then I definitely see that a lot of people are funneling themselves back into that whole, like, get the bag regime, you know. In terms of the actual industry, I feel like there's a lot more inclusivity now, which is really, really nice. I feel like after several movements during the pandemic, it opened up a lot of these corporate music spaces’ eyes. And yeah, I'm starting to see a lot more different types of people with different backgrounds getting support, which is amazing.
In what ways do you think the underground dubstep scene has changed?
Oh, 100%. I'm so glad that you've asked this question. So it's funny, because whenever I come and play in America, the Americans have started to call this type of dubstep, UK dubstep, which is interesting. Because obviously, it's the original form of dubstep, which then got lost and interpreted in many different ways. Before it became mainstream. But it's actually really lovely to hear dubstep get its flowers, you know, especially the original form of it. But yeah, in America, they're starting to say that it's really popping off and like, it's this. They're saying that it's starting to bubble. And I think it might potentially hit the mainstream again in five years time. But we're experiencing the opposite in the UK and Europe, really, whereby, things have kind of moved on. People are mainly into drum and bass and garage. That's kind of the hot genres right now. I think with dubstep, there's a select few acts that are getting booked in the UK, but it doesn't feel like there's a scene anymore, not how it used to be before. And I think that's what we kind of need to focus on. Like bringing that community back. I mean, Denver has an amazing community for dubstep and I think it's time that we started to emulate that in the UK now.
Why do you think the deeper and darker style of dubstep resonates with American crowds?
I think it's because they probably grew up with EDM and brostep culture. And this is something new and novel to them. It's something they've not really heard before. And I think you could say the same with any genre, when you've listened to something for so long, that almost kind of gets boring and you’re wanting to find something new. This is something that is new for them, you know. And with this form of dubstep, I think people are starting to realize that you don't need like a sort of huge, grating mid range base, to be able to dance or feel something like you can rely entirely on subs to have a good time, and a good melody line and a good baseline, you know. But yeah, I think they're just finding something new and you know, kind of gravitating towards that.
Catch Sicaria alongside Eazybaked, Kumarion, and Ganja White Night this Saturday at Red Rocks Amphitheater!