Lucy Rose talks forging her own path after Bombay Bicycle Club
Lucy Rose chats to Ed Power ahead of her gig at the Helix on February 22, when she supports City and Colour.
Lucy Rose plays by her own rules. The dulcet-voiced English singer had a sparkling future as unofficial member of Bombay Bicycle Club but walked away just as the alt-pop urchins were shooting for the stratosphere. Later, when her record label gently suggested she postpone her debut album in order to build media buzz she demurred. She would not allow herself become a slave to hype.
Beneath its wistful surface contours, her music, meanwhile, trembles with intensity. With her 2012 debut, Like I Used To, Rose spun folk-pop cliches into darkly compelling new directions; the 2015 follow-up, Work It Out, for its part, upholstered the wispiness with zinging indie guitars. We spoke to her ahead of her February 22 date at The Helix, Dublin, where she supports City and Colour.
1: Your second album came out last summer. Has your relationship with the songs changed after living with them for the past several months?
In some ways, yes. I guess talking to other people and having someone else relate to them makes a difference. They feel “accepted” and, in ways, then, I do too. It's funny with songs. I've kind of let them go so I'm less attached to them than I was. Now I'm just attached to the newest one that I can relate to the most.
2: Was it weird working on a body of songs knowing you had a substantial fanbase waiting to hear what you did next?
Definitely. The first record was written thinking no-one would hear the songs, which makes it easier to be open. I had to make sure I forgot that these songs were going to be released and write them for the right reasons and be as honest as possible.
3: Are you comfortable in the spotlight – or is it something you had to grow into? Was stage fright ever an issue?
I know it sounds cheesy but, even though I get terrible nerves before I go on stage, once I'm up there I do feel like I'm in a room full of friends. I also don't feel at all in the spotlight at all. So no, I don't feel uncomfortable.
4: How much of your music is drawn from personal experience? You are happily married – does domestic bliss mean your reservoir of issues to write about has dried up?
I don't know and, in a really selfish way, don't care. There is so much to write about that isn't always going to be about love with your other half. Love can be between friends and there are endless topics not about love that are important and should be spoken about. So I guess what I'm say is ‘no’. Being married is the best decision I've made and I'm excited about the perspective it's given me.
5: How important was singing with Bombay Bicycle Club to you as an artist? Did it shape your solo career? Or would you be where you are today regardless?
It was a truly special time of my life, where a band I loved asked me to sing with them. It was pretty much a dream come true. And on top of that, they were all lovely and super supportive of me and my own music and would let me support them. I owe them a lot. Not just for getting me out there but teaching me so much.
6: Did you really sell Lucy Rose branded tea at gigs?
I love tea and especially this particular blend: a mixture of English Breakfast and Earl Grey. I thought it would be fun to make the blend and then see if anyone else enjoyed it as much as me. We have a great little tea factory down south that makes it so it's very simple.
7: You've opened for many artists – is it fun or a challenge? Have you ever found yourself singing to a room of people talking at the top of their voices?
Every artist and musician has found themselves in that position. To stay focused is the most important thing, as you can't hear the people that are listening. So even though it's noisy there might be someone listening. You play to them.
8: Has your label ever gently suggested you work with a co-writer?
I don't know if ‘gentle’ is the word but yes, there is pressure on lots of artists to start co-writing. It's definitely not for me. My stance is, whatever works for you, do that. Co-writing does work for some people.
9:The world is still coming to terms with the death of David Bowie. Was he an important figure for you?
Of course, he was a huge inspiration. Not just his music but who he was as a person. He’s given many people a courage to be themselves. He certainly has with me. He was so innovative, risky and would never follow the norm, which is exactly what we need in music and society.
10: You grew up in the sticks. Was it bucolic and inspiring or dull and stifling?
Bit of both I suppose. I loved my childhood and loved all the long country walks. However, I do wonder what it would have been like to grow up in the city.
Lucy Rose plays Helix Dublin, February 22, opening for City and Colour.