Rosie Lowe is a singer-songwriter from the UK. She is also a feminist. Her first album “Control” embodies her. It’s honest and vulnerable. She’s an artist who believes in transparency, who doesn’t hold back, hence the charm and power of her debut record.
Thanks to Rosie and Mercury
Special Thanks to Anthony
Interview Patricia Tavares De Oliveira
I’ve played here a few times. I love playing in Paris. I’ve played a few festivals here. It’s always great.
Can you tell us about your first album “Control”? Why the title?
When I was writing the album, I didn’t have a name for it. 80% of the songs had the word control in them, and I thought oh god I’ve got to change the lyrics. I’m just repeating myself, how embarrassing. Or maybe there is a reason why I use the word so much. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for the past few years. I felt like, as a woman, as an artist, you have to hold on to everything so tightly and control everything. For me, the last few years have been about the relinquishing of control, giving my trust over to people, and giving people permission to be a part of things, and not feel like everything is going to dissolve if I do. For me, it was about trust. It was about needing to give away some control because I’m quite a controlled person. The only time I don’t really control is when I’m writing music but that’s okay.
I think there’s a real contrast between your public image which is quite pared-down and controlled and your lyrics which are very honest and personal.
I really feel safe when I’m writing music. I like very simple, Scandinavian visuals. To be honest, if I had a choice I wouldn’t be in any of the artwork. Now everything is so visual and I think looks shouldn’t matter. I feel like people listen to music differently if they have a picture of someone. People make assumptions. We all do it. A lot of male artists we don’t know what they look like, and I think it creates a mystery. You listen more.
You’ve been called a feminist. Is that a label you’re comfortable with?
Yes, totally. I call myself a feminist. The word has such negative connotations but I feel like the only way to budge those connotations is to continue working it, honing what it actually means. It means equality of genders. It’s getting better. Feminism is one of the things I’m passionate about.
What did you grow up listening to?
My dad listened to a lot of jazz and world music and my mom listened to R&B. I fell in love with jazz music at a really young age. I listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and I wanted to be a singer because of them. My mom had a big influence on my tastes from the age of 11 onwards. I loved the Spice Girls. I loved Erykah Badu. I just loved her. I found her music so fun and playful. She’s been a great inspiration for me. She is so uncompromising.
How did you go about writing “Control”? What was the process like?
Each song started with a feeling, something I’m going through at the time of writing, and then I work on the melody. I try not to go to the piano and guitar right away. I just record as much as I can, really quickly. And then I go back to the keyboard and start producing it. Finally I take it to my producer and we work on it together. I did most of the album alone. I did 80% of the songs alone. It happened that way. “Control” is my first album and I thought that if there’s any time to be vulnerable and honest, this is it. I wanted the music to embody me.
Transparency is at the center of your songwriting process. Tell us about that.
I’m quite a transparent person. I’m not somebody who holds back. I’m not someone who spends hours changing lyrics. I quite like conversational lyrics and I love poetic lyrics. Joni Mitchell is one of my favorite songwriters. I also like songs where you immediately understand what it’s about. The songs on the album came to me quite quickly. I didn’t go the extra mile and tried to be super clever. If they felt right they were right. Lyrics are really important to me. I’m a listener. I always listen to lyrics first. I told my producer that I wanted the album to feel spacious sonically and for the songwriting to be at the heart of it and the production to support the narrative of the songs and not the other way around. There is so much great music out there, but sometimes the songs are overproduced and it’s hard to know what they’re about. I wanted the opposite of that.
You have a very unique visual identity. How did it develop?
I usually know exactly what I want. In the video for the song “Woman,” I knew which coloring I wanted. I knew the palette. I read up a lot on feminist literature and women’s art and I have for a long time. I came to incorporate a lot of my inspirations in the video. I chose the director. I wanted an all-female team actually, but that was impossible, it would have cost a lot more. We wanted to play with the female beauty and challenge it. We were looking for vulnerable as opposed to structured. It all came really naturally. It was such a fun video to do.
Any collaborations in the pipeline?
A song with Little Simz, one with Machinedrum. I’ve also done a few features. Another song with The Invisible coming out in June, and a few others exciting things I’m not allowed to discuss
Are there other issues you’re vocal about?
I’m passionate about earth and global warming, sustainable clothing, knowing where my clothes come from and not hurting anyone in the process. Everything is so short-term now. The main thing I’m passionate about is children and young people. That’s why I’m so vocal about feminism, it’s for me, it’s for my future daughter or son. Nowadays with social media, the visual image comes before anything. I feel like it’s a dangerous time. It seemed hard in my time, I can’t imagine what it’s like now. The only thing I can do is spread the message. There is more to life than what you look like. Women should be encouraged to do all sorts of things.
Your musical obsessions of the moment?
I love Gabriel Garzón-Montano who is an amazing American artist. There are so many great people but I still love Erykah Badu. She did a mixtape not too long ago, but come on she can do better than that 😉
What can we expect from your Paris show tonight?
It’ll be fun. The album with a live band, and a bit of French speaking maybe, it’s so embarrassing