It’s an enchanting paradox that Lucy Rose, in a short span of a few years has become one of the most gifted practitioners of the singer – songwriter genre as seen in her recent performance on at the NCPA’s Little Theatre in Mumbai on 26th May.
Not only do her songs communicate effectively with the audience, she also becomes more eloquent in explaining their inspiration as the set goes on. Taking inspiration from folk singer Joni Mitchell, Rose enjoyed the support of two backing musicians in guitar – vocal – violin format, with their approach far from conventional.
Playing to small crowd of fans, Rose rapidly played songs from her two albums, including a few songs from her new album ‘Something’s Changed’, in a one hour set that encapsulated her entire career. You had favourites like Floral Dresses, Shiver, Nebraska and Our Eyes and Is This Called Home, that went down well with everyone present. With a neat frill on her forehead and dressed in simple black attire, Rose who is on her second visit to India, recalled buying incense sticks the last time and stated that when her band was recording in a small box shaped apartment, the whole room was filled with the smell of incense. The blue eyedWarwickshire native surprised a few by apologizing for her inability to speak English fluently.
Prior to her performance, Rose showcased a documentary ‘Something’s Changed’ which focused on her recent trip to South America where she got her fans to crowd fund an entire tour, playing free shows at places she never had heard of, staying with fans and “falling back in love with making music”.
Prior to her gig we met up for a short chat to know more about her and her music.
You started off playing for a band Razorlight and than Bombay Bicycle Club. Can you tell me something about it?
Well yeah I was part of those bands. When I first moved to London, I worked in a clothes shop and the first gig I got in the music industry was singing background vocals for a band called Razorlight, a big Indie band when I was 18 or 19 years old. It was a great experience but it was intense being on the road so young and as a crew. As a young girl there weren’t many girls in the crew bus with all the roadies. It was definitely interesting and then with Bombay Bicycle Club it was slightly different because I was singing on their records and felt like an integral part of the band, like a part of the music making aspect of the band, not just crew. It kind of also means that I’ve been living on the road for 10 years now… wow.
You embarked on a tour to South America crowd funded by your fans, How did this happen?
This happened because, I guess with the beauty of social media I can receive peoples messages, and they can contact me through Twitter daily or anything, through my YouTube videos or on Facebook I get messages like- “please come to Brazil, please come to Mexico” and it would be over and over again, At the beginning I thought, “wow that’samazing my music is there” but then I thought it would be important for me to go there and play my music for my fans. I felt like at the end of my second record, there was so much focus on building new fans and building fan base and getting bigger and stuff that I hadn’t played music to the majority of my fans in different countries. So then I just decided that that was something which was very important to me and the only way to do it was by going and asking my fans to book for me shows, find out places, meeting and living them financially. So yeah, it’s one of the best things I’ve done.
As a young girl, was music always on your mind When did you discover the love for music?
That’s a good question, I’m trying to think of the last time I didn’t have music on my mind. At what age I started thinking about music all the time, I think probably when I started secondary school like 12 or 13. There were way more musical activities like choir, orchestra and I used to play the drumkit. So I was playing drums in the orchestra and in the choir and all these things that was the first time I think I really enjoyed music was when I was younger. I think it was when I enjoyed a part of school in a way. I guess it was only when I bought my own guitar and taught myself at 15 was when I took it up and realised-“oh maybe I can do this, what I wanna be when I’m older” so probably from around then
These DIY (Do It Yourself)trips have they changed you in anyway, your music as a person?
Yeah completely, the more DIY I’ve been, the more risks I’ve taken and the more things I’ve said yes to in terms of travelling and seeing the world, meeting people and engaging with my fans. It has been really instrumental to who I am now ‘because it’s taught me a lot about myself as all travelling does. And DIY stuff when you’re working hard and it feels like you’re doing it alone a little, but with DIY, it’s just me and my husband who helps me, just working on something and doing something that’s different from the industry. I guess it’s taught me that music is really important to me, I’ve always loved it, but I think doing all the things I’ve loved doing and enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying it, I think I chose the right thing to do with my life.
Has going to these places and meeting fans restored your faith in music?
Oh big time, not just in music but also in humanity as well. Everywhere I went, I was living with a complete stranger. It’s the same as everywhere, but especially when I was in South America, so many people told me it’s as dangerous and I shouldn’t go, especially living with strangers who you’ve never met before and it wasn’t. I was just greeted with so many kind, generous people, same as in India. Everyone I have come across has been so lovely, everywhere I went, people who looked after me have been so nice and it restores your faith in humanity in the world, and in the good of people.
Would you do this sin South Asia?
Yeah I want to. It was so much work to organise it but I really would like to do it. I just need to find the time to do it all again cause I have another tour in south East Asia in September. So I was thinking as soon as I get dates, I could see some people who will allow us to live with them. We did the same thing in South America. Like two weeks ago, we lived with fans again and it was really exciting
For those who may be new to your music, how best would you describe yourself to as an artist?
I guess, if you’ve not heard my music before, the best way to desire me is that I’m a singer songwriter. I play, write songs on guitar and piano, its relatively folk, it relatively stripped back and simple and organic and lightly country I would say. I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake so if you like that types of music then have a listen
Where do you draw your influence from, your inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere, all around me, I guess a lot of it is personal, I guess with the records that have changed my life. It would be things like Joni Mitchel’s Blue where she opened up so greatly and making that record. At that time, her record label told her it was too much and didn’t want to put out because she was giving away too big a part of herself and she said no this is what I like and this is what I want to do. And I think that’s what inspired me, someone who was brave enough to just lay it all out there and not being scared of being judged. So I guess the biggest inspiration when it comes to writing is for me to be honest within myself, with who I am and that is scary sometimes. Because sometimes I don’t like what I hear, but I still think it’s important for me to put it out with music
What else is coming up for you in the few weeks and months?
Well my album comes out in a couple of months, in July, so that’s exciting. I go back to UK and I start releasing more things and my video is coming out next week. Start shooting promos, back in the UK and Europe. Once the record is out, it’s going to festivals and then again touring for the rest of the year in Southeast Asia and in the USA, Canada and then I’ll be doing a full month of November in the UK I am also pushing for ‘vote for your home town’ which is a thing we’ve launched on Band square. It is my 2018 touring which is going to be completely dictated by wherever my fans want me to come see me play. So at the moment, my number one voted place is Kuching in Malaysia. So I’m really going to listen to where people want me to play and it could be the smallest town anywhere in the world, but enough people in your town rally up and vote, then I promise I will go there. So that’s the new thing.
There are so many female singer writersout there how do you make yourself stand out?
I have no intention of standing out against my fellow female singer songwriters because I think that’s a big problem. No one says what makes you stand out amongst songwriters, male or female. I’m not competing to women you know, I feel like the industry is so male dominated. In music it’s much harder I think for a female musician than it is a for a male musician. In so many countries and the fact that we are pitted against each other as competitors is wrong. I just want to support female musicians and there are so many amazing female singer songwriters that I feel are not getting near as much success as they should so yeah.
Interviewed By Verus Ferreira