Images and Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“Even if I remotely inspire someone to pick up a guitar,
play piano, or write songs, then that would be my greatest achievement.”
— Lucy Rose
Lucy Rose is a singer-songwriter from Warwickshire, England. She has released three studio albums, including 2012’s debut Like I Used To and 2014’s Work It Out on Columbia Records. Her third album Something’s Changing (2017), inspired by her 2016 fan-built tour through South America, was accompanied by a documentary film of the experience. Rose has collaborated with acts like Daughter, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Logic.
Lucy Rose has just wrapped what seems to be the final installment of her Something’s Changing project, which now includes this summer’s remix album, Something’s Changing (Remixes). The project began in 2015 after years of South American fans tweeting Rose and asking her to perform in their hometowns. Rose posted to Facebook saying that she was going to travel to South America, inviting their participation. This post sparked hundreds of responses, which then led to an ambitious two-month tour across South America—playing in towns and places where few ever have.
As Lucy wrote, “Each place I’ll be visiting is purely down to an individual person who has asked me to come play in their town. I’ve saved up money to cover all my transport costs so that nearly all the gigs are free entry, anyone can come and in return each person has invited me into their home to stay with them and show me around their town. A concept that music can be a currency for accommodation and dinner.”
This tour brought about the songs for the Something’s Changing album as well as a documentary filmed by Rose’s husband during their travels. The breadth of Something’s Changing showcases the wealth of creativity Rose gleans from being on the road. Speaking about her newest installment, Rose says, “I’ve got my own record and then my friends’ versions of the songs.” We caught up with Rose about how her career has come about, the lessons she’s learned along the way, and her abiding love of travel.
When did you start making music?
I started writing songs when I first taught myself how to play guitar. I think I was about 15, and I’m 29 now, so you do the math.
Joan Armatrading is a British singer-songwriter who emerged from the 1970s folk scene with her hit “Love and Affection.” A three-time Grammy nominee, Armatrading’s music spans several genres including jazz, pop, and blues. Her most recent album, Not Too Far Away (2018), was self-recorded and produced.
Who did you listen to growing up?
I had pretty terrible taste in music when I was younger. Then I moved to London when I was 18 and discovered Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Tom Waits, Joan Armatrading, and all that lot. I think that’s what has influenced my music more than the music that I grew up listening to. I listened to a lot of Green Day when I was younger.
How did you get started and when did you begin to feel that it would work out?
When I was 18, I moved to London. I had a job in a clothes shop, but I was doing open mics and at that point I felt like the journey had begun. I was so happy just playing open mics because I had been at school waiting for that moment of freedom where I could play music every night. Every year I felt there was some sort of progression. It wasn’t massive, but it felt like it was worth continuing.
I don’t know if there was a particular year it all clicked into place because every year something exciting happened, whether it was singing and touring with Bombay Bicycle Club, making my own record, or getting signed and putting a record out.
When did you decide this is what you are going to do?
I was writing a lot of songs in my bedroom and recording them on my laptop. I ended up giving a CD to our neighbor whose son was in the music industry managing different bands. He was interested, and that was a big moment for me where it was like, “This person who knows what he’s doing thinks I should continue with this.” At that moment, it became real and not just a dream. I felt like I should really take this seriously.
“I was so happy just playing open mics because I had been at school waiting for that moment of freedom where I could play music every night.”
— Lucy Rose
Your Something’s Changing album, documentary and remixes is a remarkable project. How did it come about?
The record and the documentary that went with it, both called Something’s Changing, was just an idea to go traveling around Latin America and meet my friends and live with them. It turned out to be this life-changing experience, which taught me more about my music and more about why it was important to write songs.
It was eight weeks, and it kind of changed everything. My husband filmed the documentary when we were there—we didn’t plan it to happen. The remixes project that came after is just a fun, collaborative thing where I got a load of friends to remix different songs. So I’ve got my own record and then my friends’ versions of the songs.
Do you plan to continue this further as an ongoing project?
Traveling around the world more and going to places I haven’t toured is definitely something I’m passionate about. I’d love to go to Central America and do something similar there. I very much feel like I’m continuing with the same mindset of how I wrote the last record.
“That was a big moment for me where it was like, ‘This person who knows what he’s doing thinks I should continue with this.’ At that moment, it became real and not just a dream.”
— Lucy Rose
What do you feel you learned from this project?
I learned was not to be scared of the deeper things, the things you don’t talk about so much. I always felt embarrassed when I exposed myself in a song and that maybe no one wants to hear these innermost thoughts and feelings. I was sometimes embarrassed playing them, but actually people connected most with those songs. It encouraged me not to be afraid of talking about those subjects.
What do you hope people take away and learn from your project?
Even if I remotely inspire someone to pick up a guitar, play piano, or write songs, then that would be my greatest achievement.
What are some topics you like to address through your music?
I’m able to talk deeply about what certain feelings mean within a song, but when it comes to saying it out loud, I still find it difficult. I let my songs have the message and I don’t really say much else.
“I always felt embarrassed when I exposed myself in a song and that maybe no one wants to hear these innermost thoughts and feelings.”
— Lucy Rose
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
It’s such an obvious choice, but Neil Young. If I could aim at the highest, I’d go with him because he is my hero, and I think I would learn more from him than anyone else.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
I’m really into my gardening. I used to play a lot of tennis when I was younger, and I recently started getting back into it. Hiking, and I’m a big walker. I’ve done some beautiful walks while we’ve been in LA. I saw a coyote the other morning.
What is your favorite book, film, and music right now?
To Kill a Mockingbird is still my favorite book. Favorite film: I always think of Harold and Maude. Favorite music: I’ve been listening to Amen Dunes’s record Freedom all summer.