We caught up with English folk singer Lucy Rose while on her Cinema Tour in Singapore, talking about her fans, her inspiration and her life changing trip to South America.
Last seen here in 2016 performing at the Neon Lights festival in Singapore, British songstress Lucy Rose has gone through quite the experience since then. Inspired by the numerous tweets fans in South America had sent to her requesting she come perform, the petite Londoner embarked on a tour of the continent against the advice of promoters in South America and her friends and family, putting up at fans’ homes and performing at free gigs these same fans lovingly booked for her.
It’s little wonder then that most of her third album Something’s Changing, released in July this year, was inspired by that journey, and now, more than ever, she feels that she’s become truer to her own voice and more determined than ever to keep making music. Out on the patio of her hotel room in the Parc Sovereign Hotel on Tyrwhitt Road, Lucy looks absolutely unperturbed and completely comfortable even amidst the seventh month ashes blowing about in the wind. She even remarks coolly that it feels “rather refreshing” as the tree above us splashes down a few droplets of water from the rain earlier that afternoon. We’re amazed at this incredible, fearless woman, who we first heard of way back in 2014, when her song Shiver was used as the opening song for zen Japanese anime Mushi-shi.
Most singers go through complete one eighty degree changes in their sound from album to album to keep up with the times, but Lucy Rose’s music has remained surprisingly consistent since her debut with Like I Used To back in 2012, still putting out soulful, incredibly relaxing modern folk tunes. “As I get older, I’m slowly but surely discovering more about myself and more about what I want my music to represent when I put it out. I think this third record has been the one with the strongest, most cohesive overall message that I’ve done,” she muses.
“I think everything is influencing me, like I’m a sponge soaking up everything that’s going on,” she adds, smiling wistfully.
Lucy returned to Singapore again earlier this week as part of her latest whirlwind tour, performing at The Projector after screening a short, twenty minute film documenting her South American journey. The tour, appropriately enough, is entitled The Cinema Tour, so named because she will be performing at indie cinemas on each leg of her tour in order to screen her short film in its full glory. On why she decided to show the film, she says: “The film is such an integral part of telling the story of the record I made that I was kind of desperate to show it to people.”
“It’s available on YouTube, but nowadays it feels like it’s asking a lot of people to click on something and sit through 20 minutes. So the point of the tour is to sort of get people to buy tickets and force them to watch it at my show,” she says, laughing. “A lot of the film is about why I wrote my songs, why I play them.”
It’s certainly an inspired idea, and it works to her advantage. Despite having already watched it once in the morning (on YouTube), we were completely immersed in Lucy’s experience as we watched it on the big screen at The Projector. With no distractions to hamper us, we felt her tiredness as she sat through sixteen hour overnight bus journeys, her tears as she said goodbyes to fans she stayed with, and the feeling of pure joy as she played at her gigs, setting up nicely for her set later on in the evening.
It’s evident that her fans love her as much as she loves them. Originally only intending to perform for one show here in Singapore, when that show sold out, a second one was added the next evening, and saw just as quick a sale. On both evenings, Lucy stayed back to meet, greet and thank each and every fan in the Projector’s lobby, much to their delight, even staying past midnight till the last person had gone home. And on the second night, Lucy even brought an enthusiastic fan (with a beautiful voice) to come up onstage and sing a duet with her on an old favourite, “Don’t You Worry”.
“People are so sweet, I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world to be able to meet the kind of people who’re into my music. They seem to be similar types of people: kind-hearted, soft, and have that kind of depth to them that goes a bit below surface interactions. I’ve even gotten some good recommendations where I should go and eat while I’m here; I just went to Kampong Glam cafe the other day and loved it!”
After the Singapore leg of her tour, Lucy will already be whisked off to Kuala Lumpur before flying up to Bangkok the next day. In spite of all this, she somehow manages to keep up her health and always puts up a good show, giving shoutouts to her band members and her tour manager Will (also her husband), who even guest starred during her gig on Tuesday as he played the keys on a couple of songs. Her advice on staying sane throughout: “Take it easy. When I have time to chill, I do, whether it’s reading a book on the plane, sleeping when I can, or resting my voice in the day. Above all, I always remember how lucky I am to be doing this even if I’m tired, and how amazing the whole experience is.”
Her easy-going attitude of course, translates to her calming sound and her endearing stage presence. Recently, it’s even gone into her directorial debut, when she directed the music video for her single “Is This Called Home”. “All I had was a song and an idea for the video. I found this amazing dancer I wanted to do it with, I had a friend who was going to film it, and I decided to do it on a mountaintop in the Lake District. I really just wanted the dancer to show me how the song makes him feel, and just express himself.”
It’s nothing short of a miracle that the video you see above was achieved in just a single take. “It was the first take of the day, the sun was just rising and it all came together, literally just one take. That’s all I wanted, because I thought as soon as we did more takes, it wouldn’t be genuine anymore,” she remembers. “Don’t overthink things. Imperfections are what makes things beautiful. If you notice, there’s this huge slip that Jonathan (the dancer) has, and I think that’s the absolute best moment of the whole video.”
“Something’s definitely changing definitely within me. My whole perspective on life has changed, my perspective on music and what I want it to mean. When I was younger all I wanted was to be successful and sell records, but now, I’d like to influence a whole generation of young artists to pursue their own music, even if they might have thought no one wanted to hear it. I mean, I thought no one would have wanted to listen to my kind of folk music!”
But as her tour has proved, it’s in fact quite the opposite, with plenty of youths and fans across all kinds of backgrounds who find comfort and solace in her music. “It gets hard to write songs sometimes, and sometimes I think maybe it’d be nice to have a rest. But just having one fan tell me that they need me to write a record for them, that’s all it really takes. When I think of slowing down, one person tells me they truly, really need me to write something for them, and I realize that’s what I need to be doing.”
Closing off her set with the final track on her album “Something’s Changing”, Lucy tells the audience the inspiration behind the song – a fan in Uruguay she spent a week travelling the country with, who she opened up to and vice versa. As she croons the lyrics “But I can’t change it all/And I can’t make it right/But I could give you warmth in your coldest night/I can hear you calling me,” there’s little doubt that her voice has certainly matured with time and reflection, burdened yet enriched with unexpectedly poignant encounters. Listening to her album in its entirety again today, we’re convinced that we ourselves have been incredibly lucky to have encountered and spoken to this rare gem of a person, and feel the weight of her experiences reverberate through each and every song. We can’t wait to see where her music takes her to next.
Photo Credit: Laura Lewis Photography UK
Listen to Lucy Rose’s album Something’s Changing on Spotify