Why brit singer-songwriter ROSIE LOWE finds it impossible to define her sound

By Chandreyee Chatterjee
  • Published 6.12.16
What: Rosie Lowe in Concert, as part of British Council’s Selector Live project, in association with t2
When: December 6, 7pm onwards
Where: British Deputy High Commission, on Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Entry: Passes are available at the British Council (Camac Street) on a first come-first served basis

Her songs have been praised by Elton John and Adele is a fan. Meet Rosie Lowe, a 25-year-old British singer, songwriter and musician who will be in concert on Tuesday at the British Deputy High Commission, in association with t2. Best known for her debut single Right Thing, Rosie recently released her debut album, Control. The concert is part of British Council’s Selector Live project which celebrates and showcases musicians/artists/line-up whose works are featured frequently on Selector Radio — British Council’s flagship digital radio channel.

Had you heard about Calcutta before this tour?

Yes, some friends of mine have visited before when travelling India. I’m really excited to explore the city. I’ve completely fallen in love with India on this trip so far and enjoy seeing how different each city is 
from the last.

Your music has a lot of soul, jazz, hip hop, pop. How would you define your sound?

It’s impossible for me to define my own sound — when you are so deeply in something it’s very hard to see/hear it as others do. When I’m writing, I try not to think about how it sounds but just that it feels right for the emotion I’m trying to portray. 

Who have been your influences musically?

I believe influences can be unconscious when they play such a huge role in your upbringing. I grew up with jazz music and world music from a young age (Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Fela Kuti...) and immersed myself in R’n’B and hip hop in my early teens (Erykah Badu, The Roots, Al Green...), so it’s all played a huge part in my journey and sound.

Your songs deal with a lot of serious issues, from feminism to mental health... 

I believe in honesty and transparency in every part of life. The music I have always loved has been honest, dealing with real day-to-day issues we face. It’s important to me that I’m talking about issues that affect me in my music so I can stand by it — gig after gig, year after year. 

‘You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times’— Nina Simone. 

Do the lyrics come first or the melody?

It really depends but usually there is a feeling or a theme that I want to capture and the melody and lyrics come from focusing on that. 

Any singer-songwriter today that you like?

I love Erykah Badu. She’s a great example of someone who is honest and transparent in her music. You can feel her in it. She doesn’t compromise herself. 

Have you heard any Indian music?

Yes, I love traditional Indian tabla music and I love Indian singing. I’m also a fan of Nitin Sawhney, Sulk Station and Open Souls. I’d love to hear more. 

Recording a song or performing on stage, which do you like more?

Oh, I couldn’t pick — they both play such different roles and I love both in very different ways. Recording and writing is a lot more of a solitary process for me (mostly on my own in the middle of nowhere in the countryside) and performing live is about sharing myself/my music with an audience, which can be the best feeling in the world but also terrifying at times! 

What are your expectations from the audience here?

I never have any expectations going in to live shows — I’ve learnt quickly that it is out of your control and it can change from one moment to the next. I really hope people enjoy the music and feel like they know me through it.