I was well aware of the sultry, soulful voice that is Rose Elinor Dougall from her tenure with the British girl group The Pipettes and her excellent vocal stay with Mark Ronson. What I would easily consider the work I cherish most of hers lays within the body of her fantastic solo offerings. That is where she combines her innate ability to write emotional charged songs and deliver them through her strikingly heartfelt vocal performances. Graciously, Rose took the time to catch up with AMBY and let us know what she has been up to lately.
AMBY: Without Why was a stellar debut album. What are you feelings about it now that you’ve had some time to reflect on it?
RED: I feel very proud of it. The fact that it even exists and was released feels like a real achievement to me, considering it was done for absolutely no money, and really just ran on love and favours. I haven’t really listened to it much since it came out a couple of years ago, but occasionally I’ve played a song or two to people and sometimes people tell me that it meant something to them and so on.. I feel like it was so long ago, I started making it in 2008, and so much has happened in my life since then, musically and personally. I feel like it was a very private, insular album, and it had to be that way after my experiences with my previous band, The Pipettes. I think I was really just feeling my way quite tentatively into the sound, and despite still being engaged with that process, I feel bolder about the kind of music I want to make, the kind of songs I want to write now. I think it is a very honest, innocent document of that time, and the years leading up to it.
AMBY: The Distractions EP was a trio of lovely songs. What is the story behind the accompanying videos?
RED: That came out of time spent with my live band at the time, and was part of me starting to explore working in a more live context. They are all recorded quickly and live, and are songs that I developed out of the studio, and on the road and in the rehearsal room. I wanted to capture that time, and I think there is some great energy on those recordings.. It’s less cerebral than previous recordings of mine, but it didn’t really fit with Without Why, or where I wanted to take the next album. My manager and his wife actually made those videos out of found bits of film and images from the internet. The whole thing was very immediate and spontaneous..
AMBY: Which songs are you most proud of?
RED: I’m not entirely sure, but do think Find Me Out was one of the songs that came together so naturally in the studio, and in a really unexpected way. It started life as a tiny 2 minute song with just a bontempi beat and a couple of chords on a casio, and then it transformed into this much more expansive thing, but it’s still really simple. I am really interested in expanding the smallest of ideas and seeing where that takes you..
AMBY: Your brother Tom plays in the excellent band TOY. Did you give him any key advice about the music business?
RED: Ha no not really. Tom has a really clear vision of what he wants to make and achieve.. He’s had quite a lot of experience himself from an early age, he really doesn’t give a fuck about anything else other than making the music he wants to make, which is a hard thing to do. But he’s doing it pretty damn well if I say so myself!
AMBY: Who influences you as a songwriter?
RED: The first people that really made an impression on me were Joni Mitchell, John Martyn and that kind of thing, then Bridget St John and other folk singers. My taste has become much broader as I’ve got older, and I really try to listen to as much music as I can from all kinds of different places.. However I’m always drawn to the female voice, so people like PJ Harvey, St Vincent, Bat for Lashes who have made beautiful strong albums recently would probably be the people I look up to at the moment…
In a more direct way, I’m sure the musicians I know personally, including my brother, are people that I think of when I write..
AMBY: Fallen Over is a terrific song, what is the story behind it?
RED: I wrote it at a time when there was a lot of change occurring, and new things happening all the time. It’s fundamentally a love song, about the accidental happiness that can cross your path and the fear that comes along with that.
AMBY: What do you do for fun away from music?
RED: I love to walk in the woods. I’ve done a lot of that this year, I try and get out of London regularly to blow away the cobwebs and free the channels. I read, watch films, I listen to a lot of music. I also really love to go to the pub for chats with my mates. Talking in general seems to take up a lot of my time.
AMBY: You have worked with Mark Ronson, who else would you like to collaborate with?
RED: I have opened myself up to collaboration much more in the last couple of years. I’m quite guarded about my work and want to be careful not to spread myself too thinly, but in the last few months I think I’ve found a couple of really special working relationships that seem to be really fruitful, so I’m happy with those for now. I think these things just happen in the way they are meant to, and even if a collaboration can look amazing on paper, there are many abstract or unidentifiable things that have to be in place for it to work. I just want to be open to possibilities, so who knows what the future holds..
AMBY: What song could you live without ever hearing again?
RED: So many I don’t know where to start.. I think most of the Black Eyed Peas output is to my ears, pretty irredeemable. Yeah, specifically I Gotta Feeling.. fuck I hate that song.
AMBY: How is the next album coming along and what is planned as far as a release date for it?
RED: It’s coming along well! From the outside it might seem slow, but I only finished touring with mark just over a year ago. It took me a little while to re focus on what I wanted to achieve on the next record after that experience. I guess I re-discovered my love for pop music and performance through working with Mark, and I wanted to find a way involve elements of that in my new songs. I also have met so many amazing musicians from very different backgrounds since my last album, and have had the opportunity to collaborate and write with different people, which has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve been writing pretty much solidly for over year, I’ve probably got over two albums worth of material, but I really wanted to fully explore all these new ideas and make something really bold. I’m hoping to finish recording in the beginning of next year, so I would imagine a new album will be out properly around summer or beginning of autumn. There’s lots of other stuff to come before that though, so I don’t want to say too much yet!! I feel really excited about it.
AMBY: Tell me something about you that nobody knows.
RED: I make pretty delicious braised red cabbage.
Take a look at Rose’s video for her great track Hanging Around. And thank you very much Rose, for giving us your answers!
Alicia & Yaz Atout