Singer Rosie Lowe talks to us about the vulnerability inherent in live performance, creative recharging and the power of songwriting to teach her about herself. Her first album, Control, came out earlier this year, showcasing her unique style. Now Rosie is working on her second album, and she's planning to keep experimenting while also harkening back to her early roots in jazz.
You’ve played so many concerts and festivals this year. How has performing been?
I don’t think you can ever be prepared for getting up and singing your own stuff. Starting when I was 11 or 12, I made money by playing saxophone in a jazz band with my dad on the weekends—and I was always really comfortable on stage. But as soon as I started doing my own music instead of jazz standards, it became a different experience entirely. It’s much harder; you’re so vulnerable. Now I really get stage fright—the first song is always terrifying, but after that I get over it. Then I love it and I never want it to end.
You grew up playing a variety of instruments. How do you fuse that with your process today?
I did, but I don’t anymore. At 13, I decided to focus on my singing, my songwriting and my saxophone. Now I write mainly on the piano, and I just started to pick up my guitar a bit again. I’d like to incorporate saxophone into my music in an abstract way as well, as long as I’m not going to be playing it on stage. I feel like that’d be a huge step back for me because it just reminds me of what I did every weekend in my teenage years.
You wrote your first album in Devon, at the home in the woods where you grew up. Do you still go there to write?
Yeah; I’ve been writing some of the music for the second album there now. In Devon there’s peace—there’s no Facebook or anything to distract me. If I want to procrastinate, I have to take a walk, or chop wood to light a fire to heat up water for a bath. I find I write better, more meaningful stuff when I take myself out of my day-to-day life and basically allow myself the space to see what’s going on with me. When I separate myself from everything, it gives me license to try anything without that niggling, self-critical voice.
You tend toward very emotionally bare lyrics. How do you channel that?
The songwriting process is what I love most about music—it’s my therapy. It’s the way I understand how I’m feeling. It can be hard to hear other people being vulnerable, so my first album wasn’t very easily digestible. I wasn’t writing cheery pop songs about love; I was talking about things that people don’t really like to talk about. It’s fine—you can’t please everybody. I want my audience to be only people that want to go deep.
How is the attention you’ve gotten for your first album affecting your writing for the second one?
My label believes in me and wants a second album, so that’s a lovely way to go into it. But my second album might be completely different. I mean, I hope it will be completely different. I can’t worry about people liking it though—then I don’t think I would ever release anything.