“I just knew I couldn’t do my first record again” – hmv.com talks to Lucy Rose
Lucy Rose first got introduced to the public as the backing singer to indie experimentalists Bombay Bicycle Club, but it was obvious as soon as she began posting solo material online that she was destined to make her own mark.
Her debut album Like I Used To was a dainty and lovely collection of folkie indie pop, but her second album Work It Out (which is out now and available to purchase and preview on the right-hand side of the page) is a very different animal. The acoustic stylings and folk influences are still there, but they are joined by electro, jagged beats and a new embracing of electric guitars.
We sat down with her to find out about the making of Work It Out, her dabbling with electronica and why the Manic Street Preachers helped her go electric…
Work It Out is finally out, have you had it finished for quite a while?
“A little bit of both, most of it was finished for quite a while, I started back in December 2013, I’d just come back from touring America and I had all these new songs and I was raring to go. We recorded all of those and then I felt like I might like to get back to the sound of my earlier songs, the ones I’d written in my bedroom. So I carried on writing at home and I think we eventually finished in the middle of last year. So yeah, it’s been a little while."
Did it feel quite different to how you made your debut album?
“Creatively it wasn’t that different. The biggest difference was I that I was signed this time, when the album was finished last time it was because it had to be and when I said it was done it was done. Now that’s not just my decision and I can’t control when it comes out. The writing wasn’t much different, I didn’t struggle at all, it took me a while to get the songs together, I just needed to feel like I had something worth releasing, which always takes a while.”
You’ve experimented with some quite different sounds?
“I feel like I had to. I couldn’t make the same record again. I wanted to build songs around different things, bass riffs, drum beats. I was on tour across America last year and we’d spend hours in the van and I couldn’t keep playing the acoustic guitar because I knew I would drive my band crazy. I got this app on my iPad called BeatMaker2 and that’s where a lot of the songs came from, songs like ‘Cover Up’ and ‘Our Eyes’, a lot of the more electric songs started that way.”
Did those long drives feed into the sound of songs?
“I think so. When you’re on long, long journeys, after seven hours no one has much to talk about anymore so you do get a lot of time to think about what’s important to you, that’s always good for songwriting.”
Did you end up with loads of songs?
“I always say 50, but I’ve never actually counted them. Lots of demos, some were cool, but some were pretty wild and very electronic.”
How did you know what was too far away from your earlier sound?
“You play tracks to people and they say things like ‘Oh wow, that’s cool but that does not sound like you. That doesn’t sound like Lucy Rose’. It was weird to hear stuff like that because I always just figured I would write music and it’d come out a certain way, but I knew what they meant. I just knew I couldn’t do my first record again.”
You’ve been doing more on the electric guitar too…
“I’d been borrowing an electric guitar from a friend and I was saving up for one at the same time. Then I did this song with Manic Street Preachers, which is called ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’. I went in and did the song and I was telling them I was saving up for a Fender Jaguar. We did the song and we were saying goodbye and James (Dean Bradfield) said ‘come upstairs with me’ and he took me up to this room that must have had 100 guitars. He leans over and pulls out this brand new Fender Jaguar and says ‘I never use it, do you want it?’."
Wow, what did you do?
“I said ‘I can’t do that’, thinking I just couldn’t, but he was immediately like ‘Lucy, Jesus, just take it, I never play it’. So I suddenly walked back into soundcheck with this beautiful guitar and it was all I wanted to play.”
You’ve recorded and toured a lot with Bombay Bicycle Club, has it been inspiring to see them grow as writers? Because they’ve completely transformed their sound…
“Jack (Steadman, Bombay Bicycle Club frontman) was like me, he just started out writing on acoustic guitar, now he can start from anything, a bass line, a drum beat, a sample, it opens up your songwriting completely. Being surrounded by that completely opened my eyes to doing that too.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s probably the thing that’s most similar to the first album. Musically it’s very different, more electronic, but in both cases I just tried my hardest to write the best lyrics I could. My first album was very heartfelt and very inward looking, this one is quite similar. The things that mean a lot are still the same, but my language is a bit more expansive and I’ve tried writing from other people’s perspectives, it’s a bit happier too.”
How do you write? Do you need to force yourself to get lyrics down on paper?
“No, I hate talking about my feelings, I never wrote them down. If I ever kept a diary it was very factual, proper ‘I got up at 8 and brushed my teeth’ type stuff. I have to make myself sit down and address my feelings, but I don’t look forward to it.”
Do you get any catharsis from the process?
“I guess I do, I certainly get clarity, I’ll work out how I feel and then I’ll put it in a song. I make myself sit down and work it out. I’ll take some of them to a producer or people I’m working with, because I sometimes end up getting halfway through, that’s good, because it’s easier for them to filter out what’s worth going on with.”
Finally, what’s your plan to take the record out live?
“We’ve got festivals then a month in Europe in September then a UK tour. In all honesty it depends on how the record does, if it does well then that improves my chances of going to America and places like that. I think if worst comes to worst and I can’t take my band I’ll be doing what I did on my last album and I’ll rent a car and drive from Chicago to San Francisco playing acoustic gigs every night.”
Lucy Rose’s new album Work It Out is out now in hmv stores and available to order here.