Words by:
Photography: Niko Studio

In his own words, Louis Carnell recalls the artistic freedom and control he discovered when he let go of his alias – and other people’s expectations

When Britain finally admitted we were in a pandemic, I’d just finished my album A Call to Arms, which would become the last release under my Visionist alias. I left London to stay with my granny, who has offered me escape and peace so often in my life. Being in a village, surrounded by fields, still offered a sense of freedom, but after completing my album artwork I was left to wonder how I would cope being in the city again. I decided to return so I would be ready for whatever future I may have. A few months later I got the news that my granny had passed, and my world quickly became one I couldn’t contemplate. I never got to show her the images I made while staying with her.

I was dealing with so much loss on a personal level, but also, releasing an album during that time made it impossible to have a traditional show schedule. I needed control of something. I knew that moving forward I wanted to reaffirm the communication around my artistry, and stripping away my alias would remove all barriers.

"I wanted to reaffirm the communication around my artistry, and stripping away my alias would remove all barriers"

The narrative I originally gave to my alias was about trying to create something futuristic, centred around the deconstruction of club music. The future was a place I felt comfortable speaking about because it was more removed from personal matters. But by doing that, I noticed that some listeners preferred to connect to musical characterisations, either questioning or ignoring the more introspective journey I was going through with each record. When I was young, I was very good at containing my feelings, and in later years having an alias became symbolic of that. It’s scary to let go of something you’ve had for so long, but ultimately, I feel I’m my most free and aligned self now, artistically.

My first venture as Louis Carnell is 111. I’ve been described as a recluse, but actually, I’ve always sought connections within the music community. To continue and celebrate that, I wanted to work with people I’ve formed close relationships with over the years, musicians who have inspired me along the way, and to seek out a new array of artists. I also wanted to give power back to the listener and return to that feeling of discovery – of picking something up in a record shop, listening, and seeing the ways we connect. If anything, 111 is a result of A Call to Arms, as we all need to be embraced.

111 is out now on Mute