The Word - Rosie Tee

Rosie Tee - Pic credit Jess Ingram

In the final article of a week celebrating Women in Music in honour of International Woman's Day 2022, I'm delighted to share with you an interview I did towards the end of last year with the phenomenally talented Rosie Tee.

For as long as humans have gathered in tribes and started to use language, music has been an integral part of our existence. As well as being one of the most significant artforms, it's one of the most inclusive. It transcends all of our differences. Either shared or listening alone, it has the absolute power to change our mental state instantly. It can invoke feelings of ecstasy, grief or just make us want to dance with utter abandonment.

Whatever the emotion we're seeking, music has the power to move and connect us like no other art form. Music has that way of transcending perceived barriers and Rosie is looking to transcend and challenge our ideas of what music can be – pushing it as an art form to evoke different emotional responses

The Word, is a brand new feature on Dreaminisfree with in depth interviews featuring artists, whose music has had such a significant impact on me that I've had to learn more about the person behind the art. Rosie Tee is an artist whose music is very much in that category. Her art almost defies categorisation or genre. Her latest EP Earth, Embrace Me In is less a collection of songs and more of a sonic soundscape. It's one of the most beguiling bodies of work I've listened to in a very long time, I say without pomp it's nothing short of spectacular.

The phrase avant-garde comes to mind when I think of her music. It's as if she's drawn influences from the last 500 years of music and created something that teleports this listener to another dimension. The first track I heard of Rosie's was Anchors - my mind was totally blown.

Regular readers of this blog know that for me music is all about the emotional response I have to the artist and when listening to Rosie I feel like I'm a time traveller - Take the track of hers I heard first Anchors. The start evoked imagery in my mind like I'd been plucked from an Elizabethan landscape plonked into a new century - with all of the awe and wonder of how much had changed. The video for Anchors is as bewitching and beguiling as the audio experience. When sharing this vision with Rosie she, she liked it a lot. "Timeless". Was her summary and it turns out I wasn't far from how she sees her music. “That's always something that I thought about when writing music, not too intentionally; but I think that the idea is that. I don't want, any music that I create to age if that makes sense?”

It makes perfect sense to me. Some artists write songs that slot into a certain moment in history, but those artists disappear as soon as quickly as they appear. Rosie however on my impression, isn’t going to be suffering that same fate.

Her latest EP Earth, Embrace Me In as a body of work, is an absolute masterpiece.

If you’re seeking music that will evoke imagery of windswept landscapes, stormy seas swirling in high tides or kaleidoscopic flocks of birds moving as one organic being then this is an EP you need to listen to. Maybe it’s from a childhood spent growing up near the North-East coast, but whatever the imagery her art evokes in you as a listener one thing is certain – it will move you to your very core.

Imagery is an important concept to her in how she creates her music, “I think that, that is a big thing, lyrically for me I've never really been much of a one for a narrative, telling the story. It has all been quite image based, so the fact that you can go away, listen to that, and come up with a complete set of your images with…it's so, so special”.

Rosie does get to create this magic with an incredibly talented group of musicians with writing being a collaborative process. “I work with my beautiful band, there's the four of us together, it usually starts off with me writing a track using an audio workstation like logic to start. I challenge myself more to use my ears, at least I started trying to ask myself to do that a little more. Its intuitive.

With Arts Council funding in early 2021, it gave Rosie and the band the opportunity to go away on a residency for a week. Hiring a beautiful chapel in the middle of the Brecon Beacons, turned out to be a masterstroke. With the acoustics that a chapel afforded in such a stunning location they were able to create massive sounds – some of those Rosie has promised me will end up as future releases promising we’ll hear the massive sound. If her unreleased material is a majestic as her last EP then I can’t wait to be spellbound.

When asked how she would describe her music in her own words I love the description Rosie uses, “I suppose it’s like psychedelic avant-garde pop but later in space. There are a few pop-like sensibilities, but really it is abstract. It doesn't tie itself down to anyone thing. I suppose psychedelic because it's just the soundscapes and the textures and everything. I certainly think its music for people who don't like really like stuff in the mainstream – those who like something a bit out there!

She hasn’t set out to make music that is weird though, “It’s not that I've ever tried to make weird music, it's just that I've kind of embodied the word weird recently - I think it's an absolute positive thing. I don't think weird is a bad thing. Trusting your instincts and asking would I listen to this myself? I think if the answer is yes, then you're doing what you should be doing”.

When it comes to inspiration artists like Anna Meredith have been a huge inspiration, “Her heavy synth music is just so unapologetic, and again her music can exist in so many forms. For example, most recently she's been commissioned to write music for bumper cars outside Somerset House in London. I believe the music changes when you bump into someone… it's just absolute genius.”

As an artist who creates music you have to decide if you want to follow the more traditional way of creating your art, or do something completely unique, “As soon as I realised that being a musician isn't just about being in a band and putting music out online; it can be so much more so that those artists to me, especially as women, have just absolutely inspired me think differently. You don't ever need to put how you create music in a box, because it can exist in so many ways. What I find really interesting about her work is that she often performs in full costume with her face completely obscured, so it's the idea that she can completely transform herself on stage. Her personas on stage are really scary. Then you see her being interviewed and she’s the kindest, loveliest lady - but you would never get any of that from this scary in your face persona that she creates onstage. There's so many levels to music, it's more than just the music. It's how do you present yourself and where is the music going to exist? You know it doesn't have to exist as one practise even! I think that's what's inspired me to make music. It's more than just the notes and is more than yeah just recordings or whatever. Like I, I do like the idea that it can be quite heavily curated in terms of putting on a show.”

With the inspiration and almost feeling of musical abandon in her music, I wanted to find out if her music has a set format when she plays live. “It almost feels like it would perhaps be a bit performative, as opposed to being right. We do have a set list, but we don't have that many opening proper sections. I don't know whether that's me - everything is pretty much pre-composed but I think within that there is this element letting ourselves go. We’ve rehearsed them so much that when we're on stage like, it is a completely like a transporting experience. So whilst it might sound a little bit cliché, I do find it insanely cathartic. I feel like I need it like. I get this pent up energy, and then when you do a gig; I know that it's going to go and fly away somewhere”.

The energy that’s released by the artist during the gig must be different to that for the gig goer. It’s always fascinated me the emotional reaction the artist must have, especially being the orchestrator of the medium that’s affecting everyone else in the room. “It's as if it's somewhere else - A kind of envelope that’s just the music and you. You kind of lose sense of time and space. I need to balance off an audience, but at the same time I think it is that. I'm just in my own little bubble, just for a little bit 45 minutes. I'm in my bubble with my best friends on stage, which is always an absolute dream as they are my best mates. I feel so lucky I share that with them”.

Asking an artist whom they would like to collaborate with, you often are given a name of a band or a global superstar. In retrospect I’m not surprised with Rosie’s response, I’m totally inspired, “Let me think… Bands that I'd love to write music with quite often vanish... I've never really thought about it coz, I get a lot of what I need from with my band, but the kind of collaborations I've been thinking about recently is writing for live shows. Maybe not collaborations with other artists as such, but I have been thinking a lot about where else can I present my music that isn't just in a band setting? I think that kind of slightly more installation-esque. An experience some friends of mine had recently was instant music as part of a walk around a park - like an audio book where you can listen to music as you around. So maybe something like a woodland tale for children and families would be magical. I think that there is so much opportunity out there to make things outside of the kind of conventional music - up-cycling how we usually listen to it.”

Her advice for anyone starting out in music is sound advice for anyone seeking to create and put something into the world (myself included), “It seems like bad advice, but I think it is good advice. Nobody is waiting for your music.. especially early on, you've gotta be doing it for yourself. I've got to do this for me, otherwise why am I doing it? So, that sense that nobody is waiting, takes the pressure off. Take your time. We live in a world with the unrealistic standards set by social media – we’re expected to create a never-ending stream of content. If you do need to take a six-months break to write really decent music? Then that's good! s good. You don't have to be churning out song week - I know that everybody has different ways of working, but my advice is to do it for yourself.”

Rosie Tee - Image credit broaden

Rosie Tee

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