LUCY ROSE – Interview

Lucy Rose hat am 22. März ihr viertes Studioalbum veröffentlicht. Damit führte sie die musikalische Wende, die sie mit ihrem letzten Album Something’s Changing eingeschlagen hat, fort. Die neue Platte ist persönlicher als je zuvor, die reduzierten Arrangements leben vor allem von ihrer Stimme. Der emotionale Schreibprozess, von dem Rose im Interview in Berlin erzählt, hat sich ausgezahlt: No Words Left ist ihr bisher bestes Album. Auch im Gespräch lässt sie uns teilhaben an ihren oft sehr selbstkritischen Denkprozessen. Sie erzählt von Gefühlen, die sie nur über Musik vermitteln kann, von Sprachlosigkeit und warum Joni Mitchell und Dinnereinladungen auf ihrer Südamerikatour sie wieder an sich selbst glauben ließen.

With your last record Something’s Changing you have left a major label. It has also been discussed as a turning point in your music. How do you feel about that?
The last record enabled me to see a future in music and I discovered the rules for the type of music I want to make, and I believed that there were people there that want it. I had lost all that confidence beforehand.

So, if the motif was change, the title of your last album was very descriptive then. With your new record, it is interesting to call an album No Words Left and have an opening track that is called Conversation. Can you tell us more about that motif of speech and speechlessness on your new record?
It first came when I wrote Interlude – it was a deep raw emotion that I could only describe in music, but not speaking. I felt like you could only understand that true mixture of emotion and pain through that song that had no lyrics. And I felt like I had no more words left to describe this anymore. In one way, I felt like it’s all out, I’ve said everything, there are no words left, because it’s all written down. And also, I think some of us have been there, when the emotion is there, but you have no words left to talk about it. Pretty simple, actually.

Do you think, music can be an easier way of communication than words alone?

Definitely, yes! Conversation doesn’t come easy – that’s the opening line of the record. Half the time I’m thinking about everything I’m saying that I don’t know if I actually mean it, or if I’m just saying it. I do mean it, but some days, I don’t mean it. The combination in a song – the music and the words – can describe an emotion that I could talk about for hours and not be able to describe it. And in a song, you feel it.

I have read that one your inspirations is Joni Mitchell – can you tell us in what way she inspired you and your music?
She inspires me not just musically, but as a person. I find, it’s a great pressure, when you’re doing this job, that you have to be a good person. It’s hard to describe, because I know I’m a good person.

Do you feel you have to be a role model?
I feel like I have to be charming and I’m not charming, I’m clumsy and awkward. And that’s a huge burden to feel like that all the time. So maybe people like my music, but if they don’t like me, maybe they won’t like my music. The thing I like about Joni is that she doesn’t seem to care about winning people over or pleasing people. She just was on her own path, doing her own thing. And she would call anyone out, whom she thought, was an ass. And she always questioned people, she questioned the world. Because she is such an inspiration to me beyond music, she has enabled me to like myself.

Do you think that’s especially important to have women that are outspoken and not perfect, but strong in an often seemingly perfect music business?
Yes! That’s much more relatable to me. I can’t relate to hollow and saying all the right things. It’s not about manners, it’s about believing in things and standing up for what you believe in. And some people won’t like that. When you walk into a studio or any kind of business and there’s a man saying how it is and you don’t just smile and nod and you say your opinion, then you sometimes you feel that you’re not going to be liked. And Joni did that all the time. With people with those strong personalities, it’s not rude, it’s just straight forward. What you see is what you get. No pretending, the talk is sincere and honest and real. It’s not just the nice side of it, it’s the whole package and I would always take that over anything else.

Making Folk music, your art still is a market niche. Does that enable you to be freer and to do what you want? Or is there more pressure to be commercially successful?
Less! I feel utterly free to do whatever I want now. Especially with streaming services: for me, it has opened up a door of introducing my music to people that like my type of music and enabled them to find me. It’s very difficult, because obviously it’s a very complex discussion. But when I have been touring, a lot of people told me that they had discovered my music through streaming or YouTube and I realized that I don’t need to rely on the normal ways of putting your music out, which is radio. And nowadays radio is so predominantly happy and upbeat, and it never slows down for anything. That doesn’t feel like an avenue for me and my music. And that’s always been scary. But now, I have realized that not being commercial doesn’t mean that there aren’t people that like my kind of music. And after going around and meeting them, I feel like they’re willing to spend longer to discover as well. They don’t need to be just fed by a machine. So I have a big confidence in the biggest varieties of music, which is great.

I actually discovered your music through facebook. A friend from Australia shared one your songs with me.
There’s nothing more powerful than a friend telling you about an artist. And we have to take all of the stress out of “week one”. Everyone is so obsessed with it. Week one – whatever! You put an album out, it can grow for years. Literally, 30 years later, people can discover it. And that’s the beauty of it, it’s nothing to be scared about. Maybe there will be a 16 years old kid that listens to my music in 30 years’ time and likes it. There is no expiry date. Well, if you make extremely contemporary pop music, then it does feel like there is a lot of pressure on it being now and in the present moment. But that’s the thing, people like and embrace about the genre of music I do, is that it feels – I hope – timeless.

Tell us about your writing process: How does it usually work for you? Is there a place or a state of mind that usually inspires you most?
I think I’m in my head all the time. And I don’t know if it’s called writing, I don’t know what it’s called. But there are a lot of words, moments, and things in my head that I analyze. I think, I analyze almost everything every waking moment of the day. That’s the creative burden, every creative person has, that your thinking about things. I didn’t write a lot down. I got into a habit of it in the summer. Actually, with this record, I ended up just writing everything down. Even my most terrible thoughts. Which is totally new to me, I’ve never done that. I really don’t remember writing too much of the record, I remember sitting down at the piano, I remember beginnings of songs, I remember extreme emotion, and something sparked me. It’s all been quite a subconscious thing. There have been a few moments, when I sat back after hours and a song has been finished and I didn’t have any idea where it came from. Which is weird. I spent a lot of time crying. It’s a painful inner journey I have to go on to find the true essence of a feeling and understand it. I’ve come out stronger every time.

Before your last album came out, you toured in South America – partly organized by your fans. Has that experience changed your perspective on touring and playing live?
Yes. Sometimes, there is so much pressure on gigs on being perfect: singing perfectly, playing perfectly, and not fucking up. That can make the whole thing a quite unenjoyable experience. At least, it can be a bit daunting. The thing I have to remember and encompass to this tour is to relax. At the South America touring, we went to dinner at people’s houses and they had a bottle of wine. Usually, I don’t drink before gigs and I’m really taking it seriously, but with that tour, I had a drink and just relaxed and played some songs afterwards. And it was no bigger deal than that. That was a way, I could enjoy things forever. And at the moment, I’m talking to myself in my own head constantly: before a gig and after a gig, analyzing everything I did wrong and everything, I could have done better. With this campaign, I have been falling into old habits again and I need to remember something very crucial. I think true fans don’t care if you fuck up, hopefully, they’re just happy, you’re there.

Are you still looking forward to your UK and European tour dates this year?
I do. I love playing live. There is a distinctiveness between playing in my bedroom and playing for people. For me, as soon as I’m on the stage and I see that one person that I can tell that cares, then I’m fine. I just need to find somebody quickly, who I can tell, has my back for the whole thing. Then it’s worthwhile. And all it takes is those people. At some gig, I had the worst day, one of the worst days I’ve ever had touring. And I was in the venue trying to work out, how the hell I was going to do this gig and get through it. But just before, I met these two young girls with their mum, they were maybe 17 and 19, and the mother has driven up six hours just to be at the show. It showed me that I have lost perspective. Seeing them in the crowd, and chatting to them afterwards – I’m so excited touring for those moments of importance. They last a lifetime with me.