Published on 26th July 2019
Hi Rosalie, thank you agreeing to answer TPA’s questions, please feel free to answer as openly as you wish.
I was disappointed when Purson faded, one of only a handful of bands I’ve seen twice in a week (HRH Prog, followed by Exeter’s The Cavern, where we briefly spoke and I became instantly forgotten (best way 😀 ). So, glad to see you back.
The questions I hope are quite broad, but please feel free to expand beyond the limits of them.
Why analogue? In these days where the issues of high and low end loss have in the main disappeared, what attracts you to the tape medium?
Hi there. Thank you for writing about the album!
I always prefer to record analogue when I can, simply because I think it sounds better. I do use digital recording for demos at home as it’s easier to work with at the writing/experimenting stage but even then, once i’m happy with the tracks I’ve laid down, I often run them through a tape machine and back into Logic to warm them up, add compression, or drive the pre-amp if I want a bit of distortion. Digital recording can sound a bit clinical and I find you need to do so much to it to create the same sound you get from tape. Then there is the constraint of having to whittle everything down to 16 tracks which I find helps me get a better mix. I can focus on what is there, you can manageably juggle 16 tracks in your mind whereas when you’re working with 50 plus tracks and looking at a screen rather than using your ears, things can get confusing.
You have openly stated you love of 60/70’s music, some of your style and the sounds we hear are from that time (and lovely to hear too), do you think there is a risk of be labelled old school despite addressing very modern themes?
I’ve been labelled all sorts of things but none of them mean much to me. My music is inspired more by bands from that era, yes, but I don’t think I ever plagiarise and hopefully it doesn’t come across as pastiche. It comes from a very genuine place. If people want to label it old school, I have no qualms with that!
Your eponymous first album comes out 27th July, some three years after the bands demise, without prying what were you doing in your wilderness years?
26th actually! 😎 Well, this album was finished a while ago but the release has been put back a couple of times due to the Pledge Music campaign collapsing and consequently moving to a new label.
2017 was a bit of a downer, I didn’t do much musically and wasn’t exactly happy for various reasons. 2018 was when I pulled my socks up and decided to do this record. I already had a lot of it written or half written but I hadn’t had the motivation to turn it into an album until that point. I was still working on music a lot in the ‘wilderness years’, just very privately.
The album cover is both beautiful and slightly disturbing, a mix of light and dark. Interesting cover, or an expression of the content?
It was painted by a friend of mine, Tom Di Capite, originally for a tour poster. I loved it so much that I thought it would be wasted if not used as the cover. I think it is a perfect expression of what it contains.
The music is nostalgic in delivery, and of the here and now, and amongst the female artist with or without band a vocal style that can be both whimsical and unique, reminiscent of the multi-tracked Beatles psychedelia era. It is theatrical, is this your aim?
I like theatrical, bombastic music so I take it as a compliment but it isn’t always how I set out to write or record. I sometimes begin with what I think is going to be a neat little folk song and then my imagination gets the better of me and 10 keyboard tracks later, it’s a complex mind fuck!
Who is the Rosalie stage persona? It’s fun but seems like an expanded character to me.
It is genuine, I promise you. Of course I don’t walk about having conversations with vibrato! But I don’t see it as a persona. It’s just me.
Starting with the end, A Yarn… is an interesting piece unlimited in one style, but what is the tale behind the yarn?
There are many levels to that story and what actually made the cut onto the record isn’t the half of it. It was in flux for a few years before I cemented it into what you hear now. I had ideas of it being a metaphor for the grander cycles that repeat throughout the universe, then the micro – the journey of one life and the lessons learned within that cycle to bring the character back to where he began – like the fool’s journey in the tarot. On a personal level, it deals with my journey as a musician through the highs and lows and eventually coming back to what it’s all about – feeling the simple joy of music again.
Is there a thematic that courses through these tunes?
Not really. Each song deals with quite different themes.
I felt that lyrically on some songs you were asking questions about the differences between public and private personas? Is this the case?
Some songs are certainly dealing with different facets of my personality but not public and private personas. They are more like monologues, debates between my two selves, the angel and the devil. I think everybody has these, I just choose to put them to music!
Whilst that Psychedelic image pervades, the canvas of which you paint your words and music seems broader, encompassing both pop and rock, deliberate?
Again, none of it is that deliberate. I don’t think “I’ve been far out before so now is the time to write something more direct”. I think the fact that I had more time to spend over the songwriting and recording process meant that I was more comfortable exposing the songs rather hiding them with aural smoke and mirrors.
Love the long silence at the end of Nobody Hears, an interesting statement, or playful Rosalie?
Haha! 😎 That was actually a mistake in the version you were sent! I am so sorry! But I am glad that you appreciated it on some level anyway. Maybe I should have left it in?
I’ve picked out Beatles stylings, which others have influenced the style here? I detect a touch of Hendrix, and probably many more?
Bowie always. A plethora of psych and prog bands. But on this album more solo artists like Harry Nilsson, Peter Hammill even like Elton John and Carole King. I’ve been very into songs.
Butterflies fits that, but most of all its charm comes from its simplicity? It opens up your voice, will we see more pared down production?
I hope so! I love doing things like that but, like I said earlier, I get carried away and end up turning a solo into a symphony. I hope to have some more self control next time.
One of the best things about your album is its determination not to be pigeon holed. Do you see yourself continuing this broad genre free canvas or settling for a particular direction and style?
I have no idea what the future holds really. I get bored sticking to one genre in one song though, let alone settling for it full stop. So I doubt it.
The cover to me speaks of a love of the theatrical, can you give us a clue of what we might expect to see when you are on the road?
You can expect a shit hot band! I am playing with some amazing musicians and the songs have developed into something else live. At the moment we are playing such small stages that there isn’t a lot of room for theatrics. Just expect a great band.
You are establishing yourself as a solo artist, but is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
I’m not the best collaborator in the world, to be honest. I am a control freak, for one, but the flip side is that I freak out around musicians I hugely admire. This tends to inhibit me to the point where I find it hard to express myself. I am writing with my partner at the moment and that’s going pretty well. We’ve written a couple of songs for his next album and a couple for mine and it’s fun to work with someone that way. We both still have hang ups about it though. It’s very hard to leave your ego or your vision at the door.
Thank you very much for answering the questions of a humble hack Rosalie.
You can read Tony Colvill’s review of Rosalie Cunningham’s eponymous album HERE.
The album out in days, 26th!!!
Rosalie is now on tour! Highly recommend you pop along to see as I have never been disappointed to date, see the band, buy the merch, the new album is great!