The 405 meets Lucy Rose
Sitting three doors down from Elektrowerkz, the basement venue in which she played one of her first London headline shows in 2010, Lucy Rose is talking about her debut album. Recorded in her parent's basement, but mastered at Abbey Road studios in London, Lucy describes the album as "Lo-fi, with tons of character," and admits that she is terrified of releasing it.
Since featuring on Bombay Bicycle Club's critically acclaimed acoustic album Flaws, Lucy has been talked about on just about every platform going, and her brand of husky, atmospheric folk has even been picked up by Radio 1. Not fazed by the increasing word-of-mouth excitement generated over her debut, Lucy insists she doesn't buy into the hype, and is more excited to hear her fan's reaction to the record.
Since 2010, Lucy's been touring the world with Bombay Bicycle Club, whilst simultaneously doing round of solo tours, with increasing venue sizes each time. This autumn she sets off on her biggest tour yet, playing The Electric in London, a 1,500 capacity venue which is almost double her last London show. Soaking up the last of the sun in London, Lucy chatted about what the last 2 years has been like for her.
Your album's been a long time in the making, how do you feel now that it's about to be released?
I feel like I've gone through a lot of different stages of emotions about it coming out. When we first started recording I was so excited for people to hear it, and once I got signed I was really pushing for it to come out soon, and then the last few weeks I've been like, "Oh god, am I really ready for this now? Am I in the right place for this to be coming out?" and now I think since this morning, I've just thought that it's coming out, it's happening. Whatever happens happens, and it would just be a waste of energy to be worrying about it now.
Does the album sound as you hoped it would when you started recording?
It's exactly what I wanted it to sound like! Songs like Shiver, I just thought I'd never be able to capture it as it should be, and I think it's perfect. Obviously there are always things you'd change if you could go back, but we were doing it in my parent's house, and it was never going to be perfect. That's the reason I love it, it's lo-fi and it's got tons of character. I think you can really tell when an album's been made in a glossy studio instead of your parent's room, and I think that character is perfect for the first album.
Did you feel the pressure of so many people having high expectations?
I think if I'd been on BBC sound of 2012 or something along those lines, there would be serious pressure to deliver, which can be a curse in itself. I don't really buy into hype, but what's nice is that the hype this album's received is just people excited to hear it. All the radio stations have been really helpful in picking it up, and supporting it. It's just my first album, and hopefully I can grow on it, and get better.
It was recorded in your parent's basement, but mastered at Abbey Road studios. What was that experience like?
That was a bit weird, because I wasn't really involved in that bit. I didn't know it was going to be Abbey Road until that morning, and it seemed quite ironic because the rest of the process of the album was so different!
A lot of the songs on the album were demos on your myspace a while ago, what was it like to have those recorded with a full band?
The demos were so rough, it was exciting to do it properly and exactly how I wanted them to be. The worst thing is making a perfect demo, and having this kind of demo-itis and not being sure how to make it any better. Even if I was writing new bits on the day, I wanted the whole band to be playing them so they felt like they were really creating something with me. There were a few moments where it was like "shit, this song doesn't sound right anymore" but they were the best moments for me, because when you get the right guitar part or the right vocal, it just all makes sense again. I knew exactly how I didn't want the album to be, I think I'm probably my producer's worst nightmare, being like "I hate this and this, we have to change it!" but then I'd make him a cup of tea and we'd be fine.
The lyrics on the album are very personal, was that intentional or just the way you write?
I don't think about what I'm writing, it's just a release for me. All those years when I was writing songs and nobody was listening to them, it was just a release for me to say how I felt. I'm such a closed book in all other aspects of my life, I don't talk to people about my feelings, and song-writing is the only time I do. In 'Shiver' there was a moment where I was feeling what I was feeling, and I wrote the song in my bedroom, and it was nothing more than that.
Do you find it weird having such personal lyrics available to the public?
Yeah! I think I'm more used to it now, but especially when you're singing new songs that are really personal, and mean a lot to you, it's difficult to do that without feeling totally embarrassed the whole time. The first time I played a lot of these songs was scary, to say the least. Especially when it's a new song, it's more of a fresh feeling as well, so you've just written it and you're still feeling it and you're about to sing it to people, it can be quite an overwhelming feeling.
You've played a couple of festivals this summer, have there been any highlights for you?
Yeah, there have been tons of highlights! Just before Green Man our van broke down in Cornwall, which is a seven-hour drive from the festival, and we had to hire two cars. Only two of us had driving licenses, so I had to drive for seven hours, more than I'd ever done before, and we got there about half an hour before show time, and we just didn't know what we were doing. If that show had been bad, I would've just jumped off a cliff, but it was so good. It was one of the best festivals of the whole summer, and we got an encore which was really bizarre. Reading and Leeds was really good too, because it's a rock festival so you don't expect the crowd, and they were unbelievably special.
How does playing smaller solo shows compare to playing massive crowds with Bombay Bicycle Club?
They're totally different. Playing my own music is a different feeling. I much prefer the smaller crowds. In the smaller tents, I love the crowd interaction, whereas in the big tents the gap between the stage and the crowd is so huge, it's weird. With Bombay, I get to sing on all of their brilliant songs which is lovely, but I've had to stop touring with them now, Ally Pally was my last proper show.
Has touring with them inspired your writing and sound, do you think?
Definitely! Jack's just such a brilliant songwriter, I've definitely been inspired by him at some point or another. The band themselves are just so tight, it's probably pushed me to make sure me and my band were equally as tight.
Do you take inspiration from any other artists when writing and recording?
I'm sure I do subconsciously. I'm sure that deep down the music I listen to inspires me, because it's what I love and what I listen to. At the moment I'm listening to the Maccabees new album, Feist, Cat Power, Kurt Vile. When I first started writing this album I was listening to a lot of Neil Young, which I think drove the direction of this album.
Do you think that playing with a full band now has given you more confidence performing live?
I think I just enjoy it more, because it's exciting. When I used to play in the school orchestra, it was 40 people picking up instruments and making this amazing sound together. I love that feeling with the band, everyone's playing something and together you make a noise. Playing music with your friends is so exciting when you're creating this wall of sound.
Do you have any songs that are your favourite to play live?
I think the band and me love to play Watch Over live, because it's exciting and it changes. Lines is also a lot of fun to play live, when the chorus kicks in that's really fun.
Do you still have your tea and jam onsale at shows?
Yeah I do! The next tour there'll be lots of tea and jam, and I'm trying to get tea towels. And maybe t-shirts.
The video for 'Bikes' is so different to any of your others so far. How did that come together?
We were in a meeting and the record company asked if I had an idea for a video for 'Bikes', and I was like "Actually…I kinda do" and I said that I want to be on a bike, in the American desert, with lots of Hell's Angels biking with me, and a bar fight. They were just like "Alright, let's do it.' Some of the label wanted to do it in England, and the whole idea was the desert and the whole American dream concept, and I didn't know if we could do it in the Lake District, so the main debate was getting them to fly me to LA for two days. It sounds like a bigger deal than it was, I just sat on a plane for my own for two days!
You're about to tour some big venues this autumn, does that make you nervous?
Massively so. I don't even want to think about the difference in venue sizes, I'm dying! We play our hardest every time, and it's quite hard to make it different each time, but everyone will have the album this time, so they should know all the words! Hopefully the shows will be more upbeat in places than people imagine, we can make a serious amount of noise together!
Like I Used To by Lucy Rose is out today.
Purchase and listen
Although Like I Used To is perhaps not the faultless debut which some were expecting, it still represents an incredibly strong debut album for the young artist. It's been a long road to this point, however, the fruits of these struggles are far from just inconveniences, as they are steeped into every fibre of this album. [read more]