London Singer Songwriter Roxanne de Bastion releases 'Run' on November 17th, we thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up as it's been a couple of years since we last chatted. We got together and discussed her Glastonbury 2016 experience, how she got to appear on primetime German TV alongside Taylor Swift and her likes and dislikes of touring, read on for more....
I know who you are, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you perform live on more than one occasion but if I was Roxanne de Bastion ‘Newbie’, how would you describe your music to me?
Clumsily. After pulling a few exasperated faces, I’d probably say that story telling is a very important part of what I do. It is essentially clever pop music, but would also be at home in the folk bracket, because performances and arrangements are usually quite stripped back. I’m either playing guitar or piano and I might be accompanied by a cello or by the occasional electric guitar.
Regina Spektor has been a major influence, but I also love 1960s and 1970s folk-rock and, let’s face it, I am first and foremost a Beatles fan. So if you’re listening to a recording of mine, there will probably be something played backwards at some point. :)
We last spoke a couple of years back, in a couple of paragraphs, please would you summarise the past two years of your musical life for me?
Has it really been that long? Thank so much for taking the time to catch up with me now! The past year in particular has been amazing - I’ve been on the road (well, I usually travel by train, so rails..) for most of the past 12 months.. I got to perform at Folk Alliance in Kansas City, got to tour with the Wainwright Sisters, Thea Gilmore, Ricky Ross and US country singer Hayes Carll. I’ve also been touring a lot in Germany and Italy and went on my first headline tour in the UK this April. A definite highlight was playing Glastonbury, but I’ve just spied that that’s the next question, so I’m getting ahead of myself there…
You played at Glastonbury on the Acoustic Stage this year, what would you say were your top three Glasto moments?
Well, the top one moment was just performing at Glastonbury. It was one of my favourite shows ever. It was such a strange day, waking up to the news of Brexit at 5am and then driving the beautiful country lanes, listening to the news and letting that all sink in. I had a fantastic experience at Glastonbury though - the entire team was so helpful and friendly, I felt really well taken care of and in a way, I think the Brexit news and everything going on around me, took away my nerves. I just enjoyed playing and really, thoroughly enjoyed the attentive audience. They were amazing.
It was also pretty muddy… I climbed to the top of the hill to enjoy the view and managed to not fall. So that was a second highlight.
I didn’t actually get to see that much music… but just watching the people would be the third highlight. There are people from all walks of life, all ages and all music tastes at Glastonbury, which is just heart-warming to see, so that would be highlight number 3.
In Germany, you made the prime time news together with Taylor Swift in a feature on the future of music, tell me more about this please….
Well sometimes odd things happen. I just got an email one morning asking if I was available to talk about streaming services from an artists perspective. When I agreed to do it, I actually had no idea that it was for the prime time news on one of the major commercial TV stations in Germany, I thought it was for a regional radio station. I was in a coffee shop in Camden at the time and, upon learning I was going to be on TV, had ten minutes to run and buy a hairbrush and smear some make-up on my face. Just as well, seeing it was along side Taylor Swift…
Staying with the future of music, what formats do you think will still be in use in 25 years time? Are we about to see the demise of the Compact Disc? Will vinyl still be around?
I think there will always be a demand for some kind of physical format. I don’t think CDs were a good idea to begin with, so I wouldn’t be sad to see the last of them. Personally, I love vinyl. I love buying them, listening to them and collecting them. My next album is definitely going to be available on vinyl! I think it’s a great time to make music and technology will only help, not hinder, creativity in the future.
You recorded ‘Run’ and your forthcoming album ‘Heirlooms & Hearsay’ in rural Devonshire together with producer Peter Miles, have you worked with Peter before? What did you learn from Peter whilst in the studio?
This was the first time we’ve worked together. I really enjoyed working with Pete and the studio was just amazing. The recording process is a strange one. I have to say I prefer performing live to recording, or at least I have done in the past. You always learn a lot about yourself during the recording process. This time around, I learnt to trust myself a little more. One of my favourite things about working with Pete, is that he has a network of amazing musicians (incl. himself obviously!). I’m so honoured to have them on my record! Pete’s great at nurturing that network of nice people who happen to be great musicians. I also learnt the importance of tidying up the studio and having labels on hard drives (…he’s very organised).
I can honestly say I went through ALL the emotions recording this album… but maybe that’s just the way it has to be. I’m so pleased with the result and I can’t wait to share it.
The main inspiration for ‘Run’ was your grandfather Stephen de Bastion. I read that he recorded tapes of his experiences in the second world war, have you heard any of these? Do you know if the tapes will ever be transcribed and published?
I’ve always felt very connected to him, although we never really met (he passed away when I was a baby). I think it’s the fact that he was a musician and had such an interesting life story. I would love to been able to talk to him and I think on him often. I’m very interested in how experiences get passed down through the generations. We are all victims of our time and circumstance and all have our own fascinating paths. We all come from somewhere and make do with what we’ve got. That really is the theme of my album.
I grew up in Germany and have relatives who survived persecution. So I’ve been confronted with this very dark and recent chapter of our history, both factually and on that very personal level. It worries me that I am the last generation that will have been able to meet survivors of the holocaust. We live in an age where some still deny that it ever even happened. We have access to more information than ever before and simultaneously find it harder to distinguish between fact, fiction and propaganda. It’s scary and fascinating.
I haven’t heard the tapes. I will listen to to them one day. I’m glad they exist and think they are important, but It is not for me to say whether they’ll ever get published.
Now, I don’t normally ask about politics or religion but I’d love to hear your views on BREXIT, I know that you voted to REMAIN in the EU, what do you think the future holds for us OUTSIDE of the EU now?
Let’s wait and see whether it actually happens or not… I thought it was so interesting for many different reasons. Where I grew up, political discussions among family and friends was very much encouraged. It was fine and normal to disagree, argue and then go home as friends. England, like America, is a more private culture when it comes to politics and I feel people were not equipped to discuss the referendum with an open mind and, you know, facts.
I am fortunate to have dual citizenship. For those who don’t, especially those in the creative industries, a future in the UK without the right to travel and work freely within Europe will prove very challenging.
And staying with politics, were you at all surprised with the result of the US Presidential race? Do you think that Trump was the lesser of two evils?
Oh god… what was that about David Bowie holding together the fabric of the universe? Well, I can’t say I was surprised to be honest and no, I don’t think the “lesser of two evils” argument is helpful at all. Now’s the time to support organisations and charities that work hard representing those who’s rights may be in danger over the next four years. Like… women, non—white people, people of different faiths, the LGBTQ community, and so on… It’s time to be positive and base your decisions and actions on love and compassion, not on fear and mistrust.
I enjoyed reading your blog piece on ‘5 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED ON TOUR‘, it was quite refreshing to learn that despite you being a world famous musician, you discovered that you get 2 sound engineers at larger venues….(it was news to me too!) What would you say are your top three likes and dislikes of being on the road?
Three likes (which by far outweigh the dislikes):
1. Meeting amazing people & making new friends
2. Having headspace and time to write songs and blog posts on train journeys and in coffee shops
3. Getting to sing every night
1. Having knots in my shoulders from carrying my stuff
2. Waiting around a lot
3. Being sleepy and cold
Christmas is nearly upon us what’s on your Christmas list this year?
Christmas is all about spending time with my family, whom I don’t get to see that much and the food… Ok, not in that order… it’s all about the food… and my family’s there too.
Where will you be celebrating on New Years Eve this year? I usually watch Jools Holland (even though it’s not live)
Berlin is the best for NYE parties… they take it very seriously. Jools Holland is pretty much the only mainstream live music show left! So sad… we need more and hooray for Jools. Let me know who’s on.
We’re all about discovering new talent from all over the world, please tell me about 3 bands or artists that we should be checking out.
I always recommend Niall Connolly… he’s one of my favourite songwriters / poets / performers. Check out a song called Corridors (amazing lyrics).
Check out Fish & Bird, a band I met and fell in love with in Kansas City this year (they’re from Canada and live in NYC):
Finally, if you don’t know her yet, Anais Mitchell (got to see her perform in London last night actually! Listen to “The Wall” (which is tragically relevant at the moment) and “Young Man in America”
Lastly, do you still have your red boots? (Please provide photographic evidence!)
Yes, here they are worn earlier this year Kansas City...
We's like to thank Roxanne for taking the time to chat to us, we wish her every success with the release of 'Run' and her forthcoming album 'Heirlooms & Hearsay' (hopefully on vinyl as well as CD/Download) and look forward to catching up with her again. Hopefully we won't leave it another 2 years this time!
To keep in touch with Roxanne's whereabouts, her music and just about everything else, I've listed all of her social media links below.