From playing and writing songs at a tender age, relocating to a new country, and immersing in a full experience of playing varied venues and cities across the country to share her music, singer songwriter Roxanne de Bastion is at the point where wide awareness is just an inviting one big step away. Following on from her successful single Red & White Blood Cells, Roxanne is counting the eager days to the release of her debut album The Real Thing. Wanting to find out more about the artists and release before its unveiling we had the pleasure of talking to Roxanne about her early life, music, and forthcoming album.
Hi Roxanne and welcome to The Ringmaster Review
For those yet to meet you musically tell us about yourself and your history to date.
Hi everybody! My name’s Roxanne de Bastion and I write songs and perform them, usually on my guitar. I was born in Berlin to a German mother and an English father – we moved back and forth a bit when was a child. When I finished school I was finally able to pursue music (which is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember) and moved to England with my guitar a bunch of songs and a suitcase. Last year I got the chance to record my first album, which I’m releasing on Nomad Songs on April 18th.
Was music a constant in your informative years whether from personal or family interest?
Yeah – it’s still my only constant. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Some people have a very distinct concept of ‘home’, their family house, the town they grew up in… I just feel at home in music.
When did the passion for music take over leading you to make it your career?
Hmm… that’s quite tricky. It was kind of a seamless transition. I’ve been gigging and writing songs since my early teenage years, so when school was over it was more a matter of “how am I going to do this?” as opposed to “what am I going to do now?” This is super nerdy, but I just looked up the definition of “career” and the free dictionary calls it “a chosen pursuit”, which I can totally live with and, in that case, I guess it was always a career.
What were the predominant sounds and bands which caught the imagination of a young girl in Berlin?
The predominant sound was that of the Beatles! I fell in love with their music when I was about four years old and I am still just as enamoured with it as I was then. It was John Lennon’s songwriting in particular that got me hooked. Bob Dylan, the Kinks and The Who were all close seconds. Years later the next thing that really grabbed me was Alanis Morissette and No Doubt…spent hours singing their songs in my room as a teenager.
You came to the UK in2007 I believe, was this an investigation or with intentions to stay and perform as long as you have to date?
It’s still an investigation! I guess the thought of moving away from Berlin was so scary that I just made myself believe that I’d just be “checking it out”… and here I am! It’s a lot less scary now.
How did you find things on arrival and how have things musically progressed for you since arriving here?
It was weird, man! It really was… I was culture shocked…which sounds strange, but everything was so different overnight, especially as my very first months were spent in the West Midlands and not in London: So I moved from laid back city life in Berlin, living with my parents and going to school, to working in a pub in, what seemed to me to be the middle of a field (which at least did remind of Pepperland, so that was cool), serving drinks I’d never heard of, having rent to pay and a whole new life to come to terms with. It was one big adventure. I got to meet a lot of great people that inspired me. Musically things have come a long way – the best way I can describe it is starting off in a completely dark room, feeling your way around and bumping into furniture, now my eyes have gotten a little more used to the dark or maybe someone’s opened the door a little.
It must have been daunting at first, how did you cope with or stand strong against the things which naturally would have sprung up, loneliness, lack of contacts etc.?
Music’s great for that. You find out where all the open mics are in your area and automatically you stumble upon a group of friendly musicians. It was daunting, but it always will be – as it is for everybody! That’s just part of going out and living your life.
You have and do perform across the UK not just in London where you are based. How easy was it to find venues welcoming a complete newcomer to play around the country?
Well that’s the good thing about being a bit of a Nomad. There are some places like Liverpool and Coventry outside of London where I gigged often enough for it to become a kind of a base. Judging by its suggestions, Twitter still thinks I live in Liverpool… not that I would mind!
Although it’s not always easy, I am infinitely thankful to be able to practice what fulfils me most, to make and perform music, and for all of you who have found enjoyment in my songs and journey. Thank you so much for coming to my shows, listening to my words and for your support!
You have just released your single Red and White Blood Cells, which people can grab as a free download. How would you describe its unique sounds for those new to you?
Oh, how about “Riot Grrl Folk”? I got to play electric guitar for this one, which was super fun! The song itself is a little silly, inspired by listening to a lot of Regina Spektor and constantly catching colds in London.
Is the single a good representation for what your forthcoming self-released debut album The Real Thing will offer?
Only in the sense that all songs were recorded live – just a couple of full takes with no major post-production. Style wise I think the songs are all very different.
How do you write songs generally and what seeds them more often than not?
Very undisciplined…I find I can’t force it…either songs come or they don’t. I’ll pick up the guitar and coast around chords or melodies I find interesting, sometimes I start by playing somebody else’s song that I’m currently listening to, but usually, when a song comes, it comes pretty much complete, as if it were there all along – tis a strange thing!
What are your major influences and how have they impacted on your unique sound and style?
The move to England and newly found shoebox-life in London influenced me a lot…people I meet and new music I hear. I think growing up with two different languages and cultures, where you only really feel at home in a combination of both of them probably plays a big part.
In our review of your single we said your voice was ‘angelic and devilish at the same time’, a fair description? …and which singers if any have inspired the standout delivery you have?
Why thank you! Regina Spektor has been a huge musical influence over the last couple of years. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Judee Sill, so completely different style again…
The single and album was produced by Gordon Raphael (The Strokes / Regina Spektor) I believe. How did the link up with him come about and what impact has he made on how you looked at and recorded your songs in the studio?
Well, I looked at the back of my “Soviet Kitsch” CD and saw his name, typed it into Google and emailed him with a couple of my demos. The bizarre thing was that, although he’s from Seattle, Gordon is actually living in Berlin at the moment. So we met up over Christmas last year and decided to record the album pretty much then and there.
I loved working with Gordon – lots of fun and just what I wanted for my songs. He does everything very organically and always has time for whacky suggestions. Plus, he has a really cool collection of instruments like the Hammond organ and the Gibson guitar we got to use on the record.
Can you give us some hints and background to what will be on the album?
Not much more than I’ve already given you!
When will it be released and what is planned around it for yourself and the rest of 2013 in general?
I’m going on tour again in the UK and in Germany towards the end of April and throughout May. Hopefully I’ll get to play some fun Festivals in the summer and I think there’s another Germany tour in the autumn. Other than that, not sure yet and really can’t wait to see what’s going to happen!
A big thank you for taking time to talk with us… Any last thoughts you would like to share?
Thank you! I hope you keep in touch and perhaps see you at a show soon!
And finally as you travel the country by train etc. what is your personal musical soundtrack to while away the hours between venues?
I neeeed to invest in an MP3 player…! During the last two tours I’ve been using my laptop as an overly large jukebox, which has oddly consisted of the soundtrack to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Sky Captains of Industry (my friends’ amazingly fun band in NYC), Anais Mitchell’s “Hadestown” as well as a few stray Regina and Bob Dylan Songs.
Read the Red and White Blood Cells @
The RingMaster Review 06/03/2013
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