Edward Crawford catches up with Lucy Rose, the rising star of the acoustic neo-folk music scene
Lucy Rose is not your ordinary singer-songwriter. Christened Lucy Rose Parton, the 23 year old from Warwickshire could certain be accused of riding the British pop-folk revival wave that has seen the likes of Laura Marling and Ed Sheeran rise to prominence, but such comparisons would be doing a disservice to the porcelain-voiced redhead.
She is the indie-kid’s acoustic dream, fusing Neil Young-esque soft and subtle guitar lines with a lively, experimental approach to songwriting which has clearly drawn influence from the likes of Foals, the Maccabees, and of course, Bombay Bicycle Club.
Having been spotted in an Islington pub by Bombay front-man Jack Steadman, Lucy was invited to start playing with the indie four-piece from north London, eventually joining them on tour and in the studio for their second album, Flaws. Such exposure clearly helped, and although she is yet to achieve the heights that her talent clearly warrants, an incredibly loyal fan-base, a record deal with Columbia Records, and a critically acclaimed first album have put her firmly on the radar of many in-the-know, and a growing number of the general public as well. Currently in the middle of a UK tour, I caught up with Lucy the day after her show at Oxford’s 02 Academy as she travelled down to the south-west to continue her tour. I start by asking Rose about her development as an artist.
So how did it all start? ”I bought a guitar when I was younger, when I was about 16. I learnt a few songs, and then tried writing a few of my own. Nothing particularly exciting, but it went from there really.” I remark that touring and recording with Bombay Bicycle Club, that must have been a pretty exciting experience. Rose nods and adds “I’m sure it has helped me, definitely. I mean, doing all that touring with them and everything, that’s how a lot of people found out about me early on. It’s all been, you know, creatively inspiring for me.” This is clearly a question that Lucy is asked often.
Her experiences with Bombay Bicycle Club have undoubtedly developed her fan-base and created a great deal of exposure, but it is clear that Lucy is keen to forge her own path and distance herself from these beginnings. So I try asking her about her own creative experiences and processes, and she instantly perks up. I was a massive fan of Rose’s debut album, Like I Used To.
I ask whether she can elaborate on its development. How did she go about writing and recording that album? ”I loved the challenge. It really took a while for me to flesh out what I wanted to do with it. I wrote down some arrangements and I wrote loads of parts. I had a few friends and I asked if they’d like to play with me, and you know, they helped me to sort of find the sound that I wanted. When it came to recording I still had no money, so I ended up going to my parents’ house and recording it in the family room.” At her last couple of gigs Rose has played some brand new tracks which are sounding really awesome. Is there a new album in the works, or is she just touring with these new tracks and enjoying trying them out on your fans? “Well hopefully one day I’ll be able to record some of them, but at the moment I’m sort of trying to keep it as normal as it was the first time. I don’t want to go recording an album that, like, is completely rushed and has songs I’ve hardly played at all. I love my songs and I love playing them live, but hopefully if it all goes well I’ll be recording at some point.” As a musician myself I have always been really interested in Rose’s song writing process; so how does she go about writing a new track?
“Well a lot of the songs from my first album I wrote just on the guitar at home. So I sort of came up with the chords first, and then normally lyrics come at the same time. Except for the second verse, which is always a pain! But all of these new ones I sort of did it completely differently. We tried starting a song on a different instrument, so some of them we started with the bass and drums, and then its built on that, and then the lyrics have been, you know, the last thing in a way.
Lucy’s current tour has already taken in a number of venues around the UK, including a near-sell at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire earlier this week. It’s clear that playing her songs live is what it’s all about for Lucy, and with a trip to the US planned for September, there’s no sign of stopping. This tour is taking in quite a number of cities and venues. So is there a particular highlight of the tour for her? “Yeah, it’s all been really fun. I’m just trying to keep going everywhere I can really. Oxford was really really good last night. I also had a lot of fun in Liverpool when we were there, and Glasgow was really good as well, I really enjoyed that.”
To keep herself occupied on the long journeys and hanging around inevitably encountered on tour, Lucy tells me “I’ve got a ball which I throw around a bit when I’m bored. I get in trouble with it a bit with the guys though!”
Lucy Rose’s first album, ‘Like I Used To’, is out now on Columbia Records. Songs to look out for include ‘Red Face’, ‘Middle of the Bed’, and the hauntingly beautiful ‘Shiver’. She’s next in Oxford for Wilderness Festival on August 8th, and is also due to play at a number of other festivals, including Glastonbury on June 26th.