“I Would Love to Record Music in a Park”: A Chat With Lucy Rose

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Midway through her tour supporting and playing with Bombay Bicycle Club at the Southampton Guildhall, The Edge spoke to Lucy Rose about her music, her love of tea, and her plans for 2012.

Lucy, you said this is the biggest venue you’ve played so far. How did you find it today?

Kind of scary. I mean there were a lot of people in there, and it’s a massive room with a high ceiling so it was a washy sound. It took me by surprise because I normally try to play in these intimate, small, little venues if possible. So it took me by surprise, but it was good fun.

What was it that got you into music?

Oh, I don’t know. I played clarinet in the school orchestra. Then I played the drum kit, and then it was only because I got the train to and from school that there was a little guitar shop which I walked past, and this old man would always let me come in and try guitars and stuff after school. I have no idea what made me want to buy one, but I bought one for around £25 and then taught myself guitar. It wasn’t about getting into music, it just naturally happened after that.

When did you start writing your own songs?

After I learnt the guitar, because I was teaching myself what I was doing, I didn’t talk to anyone who knew how to play a guitar properly. I put my fingers in weird places and it made a nice sound. I just started playing around and the melodies came out, and they all became songs over the next couple of years.

How did your collaboration with Bombay Bicycle Club happen?

I moved to London when I was 18 and I started promoting music nights as a way to make some money. There was one down the road at my local pub that my friend was promoting and Bombay were playing there, at the Old Queen’s Head in Angel Islington. I popped down because I really liked them and really wanted to see them. I chatted to Jack [Steadman, vocalist and guitarist] afterwards and somehow he’d heard of me and obviously I’d heard of him. We became friends and he asked me to come and sing on a couple of songs with him at gigs. I went round to his house one day to play some music. We recorded a song and it ended up being ‘Flaws’. That was just in his bedroom and from then onwards I kept singing more and more with them, and the third album was like a natural progression really. The band needed more harmonies and vocals on it, and I wanted to be more involved.

What’s your favourite song that you’ve written?

My favourite songs are always the new ones. Not because I think they’re better, but just because they’re new and fresh. At the moment I have a new song called ‘Red Face’ which I’m really enjoying. It goes to a bit of a break-beat at the end.

Have you got an album in the works?

I’m hoping so, but I’m really busy at the moment. Finding time to record is really difficult, but I’m hoping that by the new year I’ll have an album. Fingers crossed!

We know that you love tea, what’s your favourite kind of tea?

I love tea. My family’s always really liked tea, and I remember a year ago I went home and my family were going through a really hard time. I moved in with them for a bit and just ended up making tea for everyone who came over. All the time, it was like a constant flood of tea going on. Then my mum came up to me afterwards and said “Tea makes all the difference” and I was like “It does!”. In any situation, someone making you the perfect brew can go a long way.

The jam that you are selling, some of the money you make goes to charity. Can you tell us about the charity you’re supporting?

It’s for vulnerable women who are living in London and have got themselves into situations that they’d like to get out of. A friend of mine started it up and she went around and found a person who made apples for Mr. Kipling. They had tonnes of apples, and all of those which were too small to go through the factory he just lets rot because it would take the price of apples down. There’s a lot of farmers who don’t use certain types of food and just leave them to waste. She has all these connections with farmers, like those who have strawberries which are out of harvest. She takes all the food for free and they make jam out of it. These women in Mile End do it, they sell them to me. It’s a really good cause which helps these women to move out, and now they live together and work around all these markets in London. It’s a really amazing thing to do out of nothing. Everything they need to make the jam and pots is out of waste they would just be thrown out.

There are a lot of videos of you on YouTube playing songs in the middle of streets or parks. Would you ever consider recording in a park instead of in a studio?

If that was feasibly possible to get a sound quality that was good enough, I would because I’m a really impatient person when it comes to recording. The reason I love those videos so much is that we do one take and that’s it. There’s no chopping together. It’s just a live version of a song and I feel like that’s the most important thing sometimes which others don’t seem to have sometimes. If you sing a song the whole way through you get the whole emotion in one go, and that’s how I like to record everything. I’ll do it as far as I can, but with drums it takes several takes to get it perfect. If only I could record it like that.

Who inspired you to write?

When I was younger, my parents weren’t into music at all. My mum listened to Rod Stewart. My dad listened to Phil Collins and that was as far as their music knowledge went. I just listened to Radio 1, that was all I had, so my knowledge was just what I thought was being played on the radio. It was really difficult when I moved to London because there were all of these nights and people on open mics were talking of Neil Young and Jonie Mitchell, all of these amazing musicians who were influencing and I’d never really heard of them. I was 18 and found all these amazing musicians. I threw myself into it all, so it’s difficult to know what my influences are now. The thing that excites me are new artists. I appreciate all the old artists, but if you find a band now that’s quite rare that’s got a different sound that’s really exciting because there are a lot of bands around which you can say sound like this or that. The most exciting thing is something that is original or fresh. There can be nothing more influencing or inspiring to hear as a musician than something new.

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