Louise Goffin is the daughter of the powerhouse songwriting team of Carole King and Gary Goffin. It doesn’t seem possible that Louise could take any other path than being a singer/songwriter.
The pressure must have been immense to attempt to walk in those lofty shoes of her parents. It took Louise a good amount of time to write a record that she was happy with. One that touched her. There were wonderful complications involved with her album. Find that out and more as we chat with her.
When was the album finished?
Wow. Why did it sit so long?
Well it was kind of frustrating for me. Dreamworks really believed in the record and wanted to give it a shot. They had a lot of success last year with their artists and they felt like if they put the record out with other things that were successful I would get lost. So they wanted to be able to give it their full attention. It was worth while because they are really focused on me now.
Were you working on new songs during then?
I’m a new mother so it was a nice break for me because I had my hands full. If I wasn’t a mother I think I would have melted down by now. And then when I got a Gap commercial (with her aforementioned mother) they held the album even longer. When they told us that management and I were like ‘Oh my God’. The absolute latest we thought they were going to hold it was last fall. We were absolutely gutted when they said it would take longer. But then when they said it would be next year (2002) we were just beyond the point of no return. What is fortunate is that the record holds up and isn’t really playing up what is in fashion.
Are you more frustrated because you know its good or is it just your baby and you want it out to the people?
The thing with the release date was frustrating, but it wasn’t so much as that I thought it would date and they’d blow it. It was always clear in our communications that they thought so much of the record that they really wanted to shine the light on the record. It was sitting around, but I knew it was waiting for its moment in the sun, not to be forgotten.
Since the album is now almost two years old, how old were the songs?
I wasn’t really making a record for a record deal. What happened was that I was six-month pregnant and had a huge catalog of songs, because I’m a songwriter. But the songs I was writing just seemed to be getting better and better and I was at the point in my life where I was trying to get songs on big artists albums like Madonna. I thought it was as normal job. So I was getting together with new artists who just got deals and needed songs. So we wrote songs but then the artists got dropped and so much stuff fell by the wayside. Then songs I wrote for big name artists never made the record. It’s a long shot. But in the meantime I had been writing songs for myself so I said to my producer, who is also my partner (husband Greg Wells, Creeper Lagoon), that I wanted to record all the songs I had before I had the baby because I wouldn’t have time after the baby was born. So he took a month off and we set up a studio in our house, which was chaotic, and we recorded seven songs. At the end of that I was eight months pregnant. So he had a meeting with the CEO of Dreamworks. and he asked him what he had been doing so he played him my songs and he just flipped out. So he wanted to meet me. But at the time teen music was huge and I thought I was beyond anything a record label would want; pregnant (we both laugh) and over the age of twenty-five. So the record really just came from me wanting to make music to please myself. After the baby was born I finished the songs during naptime. (laughs)
Did you want to see if the old saying held true, that its in the blood when it came to songwriting?
Well it’s really something I just did. I had been doing it since I was eight. It’s been my spearhead through life. It’s amazing what having a challenge can do. I’ve always wanted to write songs and make music and things that I heard inspired me and I’d be like ‘I want to do something like that’. The biggest challenges for me were singing and writing lyrics. Having anything to say of any depth was really hard. I wanted to sound deeper, but I had no life experience. Singing was really hard as well because I was desperately shy. So it took some time to hone those things. The next challenge was to make a record that was the way I wanted to hear it. I made a lot of records that missed the mark. It was a long road. Sometimes A Circle is finally the record that I’ve been hearing my whole life.
Was part of the problem with the place you were at in 2000 with this record that finally you were putting together songs with substance and all of the sudden substance isn’t fashionable?
I wasn’t really worried anymore. I just accepted the market wasn’t interested. I did consider writing lighter songs as a day job. Some of the songs were surprisingly good. I had written songs for artists who looked really promising and some who were going to be the next big thirteen year old (laughs) but later they are gone and you are like ‘what the hell happened to them?’
Was songwriting work, or was it inherited?
I totally learned it. I just listened to everything, which I don’t do anymore. At the time I was super-hungry and would make comp tapes and give them to my friends. I had so much pride that my car tapes had the best of everything out there. I had really little patience for bad music. In my personal hard drive I just tried to nourish myself with the best music I could. I think the biggest thing for me was when I met Greg Wells. We just had an immense musical chemistry and everything suddenly made sense to me. He made it possible for me to make what I heard in my head and that gave me a lot of confidence. I used to spend a lot of time arranging and being a producer, but now I can write the song and sing it instead of wearing too many hats.
What is your best way to write?
I like to carry a notebook around. Sometimes things will jump together that I read in a magazine and a phrase will pop out and I’ll write it down. So many times things come out of people’s mouths. Someone will come from some city I never been to and they’ll say something I never heard and I’ll be like ‘wow, that is cool’ and I’ll write it down. In music today I hear so many songs with lyrics that you’ve heard a million times before and it just has no life force. And I like to keep my songs vital.
Do you ever hear a lyric that just blows your mind and you’ll nudge someone and say ‘wow, did you hear that?’ and you need to rewind and play it again?
I do. I’m so passionate about certain things that I love. Those are the kinds of songs that still sound so powerful even after time.
I think of it as a good book, good lyrics never loose their power.
Right. Songs are just little timepieces that have enriched your life. They are different than seeing a movie because they can almost become a backdrop of your life. The enrich anything you are doing at a later point as well.
Was there a lot of relief finishing the album?
There was a sense of completion. But because I had a child I wasn’t even ready to write songs. I am just now ready to start writing again. I really took a break and I feel good about taking that break.
Let’s say that the album takes off now, there must be some serious complications involved with a realized dream?
Now you are talking about my deep human dilemma here. Everything worked out well because other moms always say ‘how do you manage to have a cd coming out and a two year old?’ But for me it worked out right because I wrote the songs before the baby came and it allowed me to have time to be in my head because when you have a baby you have no time for that. So the making of the record he was young enough to sleep enough during the do so I could record. But I always thought the promotion of the record would be earlier so I didn’t know what I was going to do then.
+ charlie craine