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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW ROSINA BULLEN

Hiya Rosina thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

Hello everyone! 

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I don’t know if there was ever a choice for me to do anything else with my life. I have always found music to be my emotional release and a way for me to process the world around me. When I was younger at school, I used to spend all my free time in the music rooms as I often found the outside world to be a bit overwhelming and whenever I sat at the piano the chaos got quieter – my family might disagree with that while listening to me practice for hours on end though! I have always been extremely sensitive and take on the emotions around me, sometimes to my detriment, so the way that I deal with and process that emotion is through music and songwriting. That is the place that I can finally sit down and put what I am feeling into a lyric or a melody and create something meaningful from the turmoil. 

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

So, I grew up in Suffolk, East Anglia in a little village called Bildeston in a very creative family. My siblings and I were always encouraged to be creative and as I mentioned earlier music was always going to be my passion in life. 

I originally wanted to be a violinist but in my early teens I had some wrist complications and had various operations on them that meant that I couldn’t play anymore so I had to find my musical voice in another way, this is when I took my singing more seriously. 

I trained in Jazz at both the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and The Manhattan School of Music in New York and I feel that my jazz education has definitely influenced my songwriting in the way that I think about harmony, melody and rhythm. 

I moved back to the UK when the pandemic hit and it was a bit of a shock to the system to go from the busy streets of New York to living with my parents who enjoyed complaining when they could about the traffic through the village – there were probably about 10 cars that came through the high street a day! However, this did give me the time and space to write and embark on my debut EP and I am now back in New York living in Brooklyn!

If you had to describe your music in a few words, how would you describe it? 

The main themes that spring to mind focus on story-telling, coming-of-age, and womanhood!

What makes you stand out as an artist?

Well, I think that songwriting can be so personal and every lyric or melody is a tiny part of me that I am putting on display for people to see and this can be terrifying but also liberating.  So I hope that it is both my vulnerability and self-empowerment through letting people see me that makes my music stand out.

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

My debut EP “Painting a Picture” is being released and I have had such an amazing time writing and recording this music. I have been lucky enough to work with some of my favourite musicians and I am so excited to be able to finally share my music with the world. 

The EP is made up of 6 tracks and this collection of songs deals with themes of everyday trials and life experiences of a young woman. From finding and losing your first love, dealing with the fear of being alone, what the future might hold, and confronting one’s mortality without fulfilling your dreams and goals. 

The first single ‘Lie Down My Love’ was inspired by a line from the Langston Hughes poem ‘Jazzonia’. The song paints a picture of lovers united under a birch tree, telling a story tinged with sadness over the course of the song as they slowly drift apart when life pulls them in different directions. I think many of us have been in a similar situation which is why this song speaks so much to me and I hope will also speak to you! This song was the anchor of the whole EP and I have used many lyrical and musical elements from the song throughout the project and I feel that all the tracks lead back to or from this song and its overarching story. The EP is a journey of life from young love to ‘coming of age, loss, family, and self-empowerment.  

Talk me through the thought process of the new record.

When putting this music together I really wanted the whole EP to almost feel like one body of work, not just six separate tracks and the arrangements were a key part to making that happen. This is all thanks to my incredible friend and ‘partner in crime’, David Swan who orchestrated and arranged the entire project and we worked on the musical concept of the EP through weekly zoom sessions during the pandemic! I have known David for many years now and somehow, he knows what I want my music to sound like before I know myself and I am so grateful to have worked together with him on this music! 

To create can be a little like walking along a cliff edge sometimes and it can be hard to put yourself out there especially when you are a bit of an introvert like myself and I have felt the acuteness of this balancing act more than ever in the creation of this record but I am so happy with how it has turned out and incredibly thankful to be sharing it with you all!



What was the recording process like?

I loved the recording process for this project and I was lucky enough to be the first person to record in a brand-new studio called School Farm Studios run by Andrew Sunnucks. It was such a beautiful space and perfect for the atmosphere of the music that I was wanting to create. The studio had been converted from an old barn so it had amazing exposed beams and high ceilings. This made such a difference to the sound as often vocalists are put in a tiny box to record but here, I had a big open space and so could get a more natural and authentic sound.

The project itself was quite ambitious with the rhythm section, strings and woodwinds so we split the sessions into two days. The first day was doing the rhythm section and it was such a joy to have Povel Widestrand, Chris Montague, Adam Goldsmith, Tom Herbert and James Maddren play my music! On the second day we recorded the strings in the morning and woodwind in the afternoon and I think my favourite part was hearing the strings being added as it brought such a rich sound to the songs and made the music come to life.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

I think it would have to be finding the right balance between the intimate nature and message of the songs that I wanted to get across along with the large-scale instrumentation involved. A lot of this happened during the production sessions with Chris Hyson who was totally amazing and helped me keep the authentic sound of the music.

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Ooh this is a hard question for me! I think there are always things that we want to change or feel that we should have done differently but I truly loved the process of writing and recording this music and I’m so happy with how it turned out. I feel it is authentic to who I am as a songwriter and artist! I always see a recording as a single snap shot in time and every time I play this music live something new emerges. 

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, how do you feel you are doing?

I am mostly just excited to have created this body of work that I am proud to share and it means so much to hear that my music has connected with people around the world! I feel that I am finding my voice as an artist and have loved collaborating with so many inspiring people to create this music.

We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world to share music with America and the UK, good idea?

100% – an amazing idea! We are able to communicate through technology with so many more people across the world now which gives us access to other sources of inspiration whether that be through music or other art forms. I always love hearing new music and discovering other artists I haven’t heard before and this is such a great way to share that with the world!

Let’s share the love, what bands are doing really well in your Town / City?

Sharing the love is so important! I actually recently moved to New York about two months ago and am blown away by all the incredible musicians I can hear on a daily basis. Having come from the jazz world originally, I love to hear musicians who have a foot in both jazz and folk roots which leads me to an amazing artist called Michelle Willis. I first heard her play live in early 2020 and her new record “Just One Voice” is beautiful!

From back home in the UK an incredibly talented friend of mine has recently released her debut EP “Infinity” and all of the singles so far are completely mesmerising. She is called Hohnen-Ford and you should definitely have a listen if you haven’t already!!

What advice would you give other artists starting out?

Play with as many people as possible and play as many different styles of music as possible! There is always something new to learn that will inspire you! Always know what you want but be willing to adapt.

What was the worst experience on stage?

Falling off it! I am incredibly clumsy and manage to trip over things that aren’t even there!

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about? 

I am totally obsessed with house plants to the point where my room resembles more of a forest than anything else. I also have named them all and I think my housemates are dreading having to water them when I next go away!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Thank you so much for reading this and letting me talk about all things music (and house plants!) I really hope you enjoy listening to the record! 

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