Roxanne de Bastion has yet to have the chance to tour her new album, You & Me, We Are The Same. This will be rectified in June.
In advance of Roxanne de Bastion’s upcoming tour and, particularly, her gig at Leaf in Liverpool on 9 June, we managed to catch up with her on the phone for a chat.
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
Roxanne: I’m at home, in North London and I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook version of Dave Grohl’s version of The StoryTeller. I’d recommend it. It’s so good. It’s basically a love letter to Paul McCartney.
P3dro: You reference The Beatles quite a lot in some of your music.
Roxanne: Yeah, they’re my number one musical love and always have been. They definitely precede musical memories for me. I watched Yellow Submarine when I was four. And just really fell in love with, not just their music, but harmony, songwriting, story telling. And from that point on I always knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. So, that was my musical starting point. My taste hasn’t really changed that much [since then].
P3dro: We’ve read you don’t actually have a Plan B! You were always going to be a musician.
Roxanne: Yeah. It’s definitely a blessing and a curse. I don’t really know what it’s like not to know what do with my life. It’s always been that for me. I suppose the tricky bit is it’s just a strange and unpredictable career. There’s no handbook. I was totally naive, so when I finished school I moved from Berlin to UK and had really very little idea of what I was doing, I had a lot of stubborn conviction. I started playing open mic nights and started gigging as much as I could and built things up from there.
P3dro: Looking at your website, you do have some extra-curricular activities. You work with Featured Artist Coalition and you’ve written a book.
Roxanne: These all grew out of being an independent grass roots musician. FAC approached me because they were looking for artists who could represent more of that generation who evolved outside of the mainstream music industry. I think they found me because I was doing lots of house concert tours across Europe and making a living that way.
I was learning by doing and how the music industry works, one step at a time. I really believe in it and artists helping one another. I suppose we grew up with this hangover and an industry telling us we were in competition with each other. If I look at how my career happened and how it is progressing, so much of it is musicians helping other musicians. Artists recommending gigs to me or sharing contacts. It’s great that I’ve found outlets like that and in a more formal way with FAC and I can represent artists within the industry.
And I’ve found the music scene in Liverpool is so full of talent and musicians in Liverpool really lead by example when it comes to community and camaraderie.
P3dro: Yeah, totally. They support each other.
Roxanne: For the past few years, with some of my friends and Liverpool Acoustic we’ve run annual charity gigs, celebrating which ever Beatles album was turning 50 that year. We got up to Abbey Road [but had to stop because of the pandemic]. We ask local musicians to perform a song off the record and they’ll all give their time to it. Everyone is so up for things in Liverpool and supporting one another. I love that.
P3dro: None of this is terribly easy is it? We all need to support each other.
Roxanne: Exactly. And if we didn’t know that before, then we definitely know it now!
P3dro: How was the last two years for you?
Roxanne: It was such a unique thing we all lived through. I’d just finished recording my album before the world shut down and my Dad had died, who next to The Beatles was my number one musical inspiration. We’d played a show in Liverpool just a few weeks before he passed away and that was pretty magical. In fact, that’s the last time I was in Liverpool. That was the fifty years of Abbey Road show, at Leaf, so it will be emotional to go back there.
So, on the one hand, looking for silver linings, initially it was a good thing for me to have that enforced break, just to be in one place and to be with my grief. Knowing me, I don’t think I would have taken that break otherwise.
And then, of course it got tough with live shows being cancelled and the uncertainty of when we might return. We’re still struggling with it to a certain degree.
I did enjoy the challenge. I did a lot of live streaming, which was a steep learning curve as I don’t really have a set up at home, but I did manage to get into it over lockdown. I found it was a great opportunity to get to know my fans a bit more. I think music lovers and musicians have grown closer over this time. So that was another little silver lining.
P3dro: Did you manage to record any new music in the last couple of years?
Roxanne: I did a lot of writing over lockdown, but I haven’t done any recording other than jotting down [notes], so there are new songs, but I’m still focused on getting this new album out to the world.
P3dro: So, this is the first chance you get to play the album in public.
Roxanne: Yeah, and I’m so excited for it. Even though, technically, the album has been out since September last year, this is the album tour and finally a chance to play the new songs.
P3dro: Thinking in particular of Molecules [the first track on the new album] and what you’ve said before about how we’re all made up of water and bits of carbon …
Roxanne: Yeah, that was one of those magical bits of writing where the song came really quickly. I’d been watching a documentary and there was comment along the lines of how you can feel molecules react to sound. I thought that was so fascinating. For me, music is the closest thing I have to religion, but I am so interested in trying to find odd connections and patterns that others may not turn to for songwriting.
I was really fascinated by the idea that everything that exists, everything we always were and are is on that tiny level. And then grief and mortality is such a strange to be confronted with, be it your own or someone very close to you. It does make you examine things a bit differently.
I was nervous after releasing this album and I was worried it wasn’t wise to put myself through this and talk so openly about my grief, particularly as I was so close with my Dad. I was nervous this wouldn’t be a good experience for me. But I’ve found, unfortunately, like a rite of passage we go through in life, it was cathartic to take about it openly and share with people.
My Dad dealt with everything so well and he just put so much love into the world, that’s what has stuck with me and that’s the focus for me. So, it’s been quite a positive experience to be able to talk about it.
P3dro: What’s your experience of Liverpool? What are you looking forward to?
Roxanne: I love Liverpool. I don’t care if this comes across as biased, but out of all the shows on the tour it’s one I’m looking forward to the most. What I love about Leaf is that it’s all the things. I briefly lived in Liverpool and used to hang out there to use it as my office with my laptop and drinking tea. I love a venue that can transform itself so much. Upstairs, I’ve seen so many different types of show there. So, I’m looking forward to it. It’s a bit rude of The Rolling Stones to book a show on the same day!
P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.
Roxanne: A more folky one – I recommend Anaïs Mitchell’s new album, also called Anaïs Mitchell. If you’re into classic 60’s, 70’s singer / songwriter then definitely listen to that.
|ROXANNE DE BASTION – ‘YOU & ME, WE ARE THE SAME’ TOUR 2022:|
4th June: Tiny Rebel, Cardiff
6th June: Blue Moon, Cambridge
7th June: Tin Music & Arts, Coventry
8th June: The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
9th June: Leaf, Liverpool
10th June: The Castle, Manchester
11th June: Crofters Rights, Bristol
12th June: The Brook, Southampton
14th June: The Horn, St Albans
15th June: The Lexington, London