• Gabby Bortolot

To Slow Down Time with Louise Gaul

Naarm/Melbourne based singer-songwriter Louise Gaul has released a blazing six-track debut EP To Slow Down Time. An exploration of heartbreak, pain and a collapsing worldview, To Slow Down Time captures glimpses into the tangles of existentialism and the collateral damage left behind in the wake of crises.



Co-produced with Matty Sievers and Nick Elliot, the introspective and burgeoning debut EP was recorded from a makeshift home studio during 2020. Poured over a canvas of grandiose chamber rock, sentimental blues and fiery pop-rock energy, To Slow Down Time unveils the complexities of deteriorating relationships and emotional healing in the midst of destabilised identity.


West-side local, and long-time friend of Forever West, Lousie took the time to walk us through her intricately beautiful debut EP.


These Palms


I felt like this track set the landscape for everything I wanted to share in this EP. I had written the first two lines - “Bless these palms, holding your hand on Sunday nights” - one year prior to ‘These Palms’, intending to write a love song that I never completed. Within that year, I experienced a break up, abuse and the tumultuous deterioration of the religion I was raised in. So when I sat down to write about the mess those experiences left behind and came across those two lines again, I wanted to create a darker, existential, twisted version of that initial song.


The track ponders the implications of hypocrisy and betrayal from the perspective of someone looking back on a youthful love, all the while venturing through the gritty, twisted remnants of religious trauma. I wanted this song to feel like a lyrical, one-sided conversation that’s trying to navigate body and mind with an unresolved pull between intimacy and disassociation - hence the blend of an earthy groove with sweeping elaborate strings.


To Slow Down Time


The idea of trying to slow down time represents two kinds of responses to a crisis for me. The first is the powerless scramble to hold something together right as it starts inevitably crumbling (mimicked in the momentous rhythmic verses). The second is the moment of entering a disassociated numb place, where the external world blurs around you and your internal world comes to a standstill (emulated in the slower grandiose choruses). Both feel like moments when the body and the mind are trying to slow down time. This track was written to be a kind of detached ode to the accustomed misery of a decaying relationship, with subtle commentary on gendered trauma and how that exhibits itself in a hetero dynamic. I wrote and arranged the song to emulate the ebb and flow of anger, misery, apathy and eventual relief of an inevitable ending.


The Weight of Simple Things


This is my sad-girl winter baby. It’s the first song I wrote chronologically within this EP but was nearly not included in it. I had spent about two years creating different arrangements for it - using full bands, using just strings and piano, etc - but it just wasn’t working or sitting right. I had pretty much decided to cut it from the EP when Matty (producer of all the other tracks on this EP) suggested that I record it the way I perform it live - just me and a piano, no additional instrumentation, no vocal layers. I think I was hesitant to do so because of the nakedness of the song - it basically just lays bare my experience of a deteriorating toxic dynamic, which is a lot easier to share when you’ve got a full arrangement to hide behind. But the stripped back version worked and it was a moment of simplicity that the EP needed.



You Don’t Have Me


I had so much fun creating this track. I wrote this as a direct response to The Weight of Simple Things as my way of re-asserting and reclaiming my own autonomy, and the more it developed, the more it felt relevant to my broader experience of leaving a high-control religious group and feeling a sense of individualism and independent-identity for the first time.


It starts pretty minimalist, establishing a subdued confidence and conviction that gradually intensifies, and basically evolves into this reactive and intense outpouring of all the anger that inspired it. I highly recommend listening to this one when you’re in the mood to tear down walls and shit.


Paper Walls


I had heard the phrase “paper walls” used to describe the feeble way we build our realities in a TED talk or something and the phrase stuck with me. It was like an offensively appropriate way to describe the fragility of the relationships and philosophies I depended so much on for stability. So I wrote this determinedly upbeat, spirited song that’s pretty much grounded in nihilism. The characters in the song live in a fragile paper society and embody a blissful, wilful ignorance that keeps them repeating the same unending patterns. I wanted the track to be bright and light-hearted to invite a romanticisation of its subject matter, so a little sax solo seemed in order. Bringing in Alannah Sawyer on sax was absolutely a highlight in creating this song.


Butterfly


‘Butterfly’ is the final track on the EP and pours out every bit of heartache and fear I felt when walking away from my faith. I had written the first half of the song on the precipice of this decision, never intending for anyone else to ever hear it, and it became the most honest song I’ve written. It was also the first song I produced with Matty Sievers. It came together so perfectly, the track you hear on the final recording is essentially the demo track - the vocals are the first and only take we did, and although I was sick as a dog, I knew the honesty that came through those vocals was something I couldn’t replace. It was actually in the vocal booth that I wrote that final layer in the second half of the song - “I can be small, and I can be strong…”. I had more to give in the song, so I jotted down those lyrics and we just hit record.


The final lyric of the EP - “I don’t wanna be right, ‘cus how can I then slow down time?” - refers back to the idea of us trying to slow down time being a condition of mortality. It came from the realisation that if this is all there is and we stop existing at death, how can we possibly slow down time adequately so that we have enough?


Photos by Simon Huska



Louise Gaul

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