Filling our hearts with so much hope despite the tears which have previously made her sad, acclaimed jazz musician Rosina Bullen sits down with A&R Factory and guides us into her 3rd single off her upcoming EP Painting A Picture, with the gorgeous Lie Down My Love.
We truly appreciate you sitting down with us today, Rosina.
Rosina: Thank you so much for having me!
Firstly, please let us know what fans can expect at your show on the 7th of December at The Pheasantry in Chelsea?
Rosina: I am very excited for this show as I will be returning from NYC after 4 months away and I can’t wait to perform back in my home country! The evening will feature the music from my debut EP “Painting a Picture” along with some brand new material that I have written which has never been performed live before, so it is sure to be a special night! I will be joined by my incredibly talented friend and ‘partner in crime’ on this project the wonderful David Swan who’s orchestral arrangements really have brought my music to life – we haven’t actually seen each other in person for over 3 years now due to covid and location so I am very excited for us to perform the music we have created together for the first time! I will also be playing with the wonderful James Maddren, Tom Herbert and special guest Dom Ingham who are all featured on the EP and my amazing friend James Maltby on guitar! This is sure to be a special night that I won’t forget and the official launch of my EP, “Painting a Picture”.
How can the music industry be better for its performers and fans?
Rosina: One of the things I find difficult in the music industry at the moment is that it seems to be so focused on genres and fitting each artist into a box. I often hear that I am “not folk enough or not jazz enough” but I think that having your own unique sound and not fitting into a single box is a good thing but the way the industry is set up at the moment doesn’t always make room for artists who span multiple genres.
I like the fact that I don’t always know what direction my next song or project might take, but the storytelling is always central to my music. So what I guess I’m trying to say is that I hope the music industry will support those artists that don’t want to be defined by just one thing, as creativity doesn’t fit into a single box.
What was it like growing up in Suffolk, England, and how did you get started in music?
Suffolk is a beautiful place and east Anglia is known for its creativity. I have an incredibly supportive family that I am very close with – sadly not geographically anymore, but we speak all the time and I’m so lucky to have them!
I know this probably sounds very predictable, but there really was nothing other than music for me since before I can remember. Ever since I was a little girl, I struggled with my emotions and found the general day to day to be very overwhelming and it took me a long time to realise that not everybody was as sensitive as I was. Therefore, I used to shut myself up in the music blocks at school, which was the only place that I could be alone for a bit and I could then put what I was feeling into something more tangible and this was songwriting. I guess it was almost like my personal therapy as I used to bottle everything up so much and songwriting became my emotional release, where I could put what I was feeling into the lyrics and the music. There is just nothing else that makes me feel the way that music makes me feel – it can hurt like hell or it can heal things you didn’t know needed healing. It is my one true love in this life.
Wow, that got pretty deep there, but I guess that’s as honest as I can be.
The seasons certainly turn around rather quickly in life. What does Painting A Picture mean to you personally and what was the creative process like with David Swan?
It’s quite hard to explain in words what this EP “Painting a Picture” means to me as I find the songwriting process to be so personal. When I write a song, I have to be in a particular frame of mind and emotional state where all my feelings, fears, pain and joy just spill out of me to create a world of music from the place I am in at that moment. I often describe it to friends and family as a little piece of my soul that I have put onto a page. Therefore, I see this record as a piece of me and my life which I am sharing. This can be pretty terrifying but also just the most amazing feeling when I hear that someone has connected with a song or relates to the music I’ve written.
The creative process with David was pretty interesting as we were in lockdown, going over ideas together on zoom calls. David was in Scotland and I was in London, having returned from NYC on one of the last flights back to the UK. I have known David for about 8 years now and he is one of my best friends and favourite musicians. We have performed together many times, and he just knows exactly how to bring my music to life. I am forever grateful to him and we are already working together again on the next record!!
Do you feel like the NYC music scene is alive and back to normal or not yet?
It has been so exciting moving back to NYC after being away for two years and I am just totally in love with this city. I am now living in Brooklyn which I really didn’t know at all as I used to live Uptown in Manhattan before, so I have been exploring lots of new places and am just overwhelmed by all the amazing music that is going on here. I definitely feel that the music scene is alive here and one of the things I love so much about this city is that everyone is always up to play – it doesn’t have to be for a specific gig or concert they just want to play for the joy of it and I find this so infectious and inspiring. I don’t think anywhere will ever be back to normal as many iconic venues sadly closed, including my favourite venue ‘The 55 Bar’ but there is definitely lots of exciting creativity happening which is really special to be around!
Is there a specific venue in the world where you would love to play live?
Ooof this is way too hard as there are just too many!! The biggest thing for me would to be able to travel around the globe playing my music. I have a big travel bug and I love seeing new places and meeting new people, though I am often a little shy at first! One thing I would also love to do is to perform this whole project live with all the strings and woodwind as it was a 20 person project in total, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for that too!
Finally, what advice do you have for young musicians starting out in the industry?
Try not to judge yourself against other people, as we are all individual and we all have something to say. Music and art is not a competition – it’s a gift that we can give to others around us and make something beautiful from the pain or chaos that we feel or see.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen