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A Dirty Dozen with ROSINA BULLEN – June 2024

According to a recent press release: “Rosina Bullen is writing her musical memoir one song at a time. On Trip to Tikal, her second EP, the U.K.-born / Brooklyn-based singer / songwriter draws inspiration from the confessional songwriting of Elliott Smith and Phoebe Bridgers, the tight pop of Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush, and the forward-thinking sonic worlds created by Big Thief and Talk Talk as she shares four stories from her own life.” We get Rosina to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

When I begin writing a song I am always thinking about a specific situation or experience in my life, so even though I sometimes present the song as if someone else is speaking it really is my own voice. This includes the first and title track of the EP “Trip To Tikal” which is actually about my own kidnapping experience in 2014. It’s a bit of a crazy story but if you listen closely to the lyrics, you will hear what happened! I would also mention the returning piano riff of “Inside a Box” as this is meant to imitate that idea of a music box spinning round and round, which is also meant to echo my amazing ability to keep repeating mistakes. You might pick that up in the lyric “sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and rewrite the things that I wish I’d forgot.” “Dear Daphne” has a similar double message to the song – yes it is dedicated to my niece and kind of like a wish for her future but also a bit of a lament to the little girl that I was and hoping that the world is an easier place to grow up in now as a girl than it was.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Ever since I can remember I have loved music, and it has always been the one and only thing that I wanted to do with my life. I know that might sound a bit cliche, but music became my safe space from a really early age and a world that I could express all that I was feeling and put it into something tangible which was by writing songs. I realised that I could take all the confusing and messy emotions of life and write it into a song which helped me to process things better. I love the way that a song or a lyric can either break your heart and make you want to cry or feel like dancing with joy. Nothing else in the world makes me feel that way and that is why I could never have been anything else other than a musician.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

This is a hard question as there are just so many incredible artists that have influenced my own songwriting. I think I’m going to have to put Joni Mitchell at the top as her music has shaped me so much as a musician and songwriter. Though while I was writing the music for this EP I was listening to a lot of artists like David Bowie, Elliott Smith, Kate Bush, The Beatles… the list goes on, but I think you can hear elements of these artists influence within the songwriting on the EP.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

If I could collaborate with anyone in the world, I would pick Kate Bush! She is such a powerhouse and has the most unique sound and approach to writing. So much of her music feels like I’m being taken into an alternate universe, and I love how she stretches the boundaries with her writing which is something that I try to apply to my own songwriting.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?

I actually love repurposing things whether it’s old clothes, furniture, or bits I find in thrift stores. It gives me something creative that’s not music which helps me to relax whilst still feeling productive!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I always feel that each song or record sounds so different to the previous one so it can be hard for me to describe! I would probably say that it’s lyrically led music which focuses on story telling with elements of both indie folk and rock and a little something else mixed in too! Haha! Honestly, I have been pretty lucky with feedback, but I’ll be sure to let you know if anything cringe turns up!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Angus and Nick are definitely the first to crack out whatever instrument they can find and start making lots of noise! I reckon I’m the one who cooks but Mathias, the bass player, is the better cook so I need to persuade him to do it more!!

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

It was actually earlier this year when I went to see Fred Hersh play at the Village Vanguard in NYC. He is one of my all-time favourite piano players and I was totally mesmerised by the show. At the end he was hanging around chatting with people and I plucked up the courage to go and say hello. I’m sure I was a stammering fool, and I honestly can’t remember anything I said as I was just totally blown away.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

It’s not an easy thing to be a musician and there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes – it’s not as simple as “write, record, release, repeat” – though I wish it was! Haha! My favourite part of being a musician is the writing process – there is nothing better than that magical moment when you sit down at the piano and the music just seems to write itself. For this reason I really don’t know what I’d be if I couldn’t be a musician – It would definitely need to be something creative – maybe a dancer however I have terrible spacial awareness and a unique ability to trip on things that aren’t even there!

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Honestly, I could talk for hours and hours about the songwriting process and how each song gets developed into what you get on the record – I’m such a nerd when it comes to songwriting, and I just love every little bit about it! So basically, anything about my process of writing which is often varied depending on the mood I am in. I normally like to start with some strong lyrical ideas but sometimes the melody or chord progression comes first! I actually genuinely find it so difficult to describe my music within genres as it changes so much, and it can be hard when you’re so close to the music to take a step back and have an unbiased objective opinion!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Yes and no because there are always things that I’m going to wish I had done differently. Even listening to some of the tracks on the EP now I wish I had sung some lines in another way or added another instrument but that’s also the beauty of art as each recording or performance is a snapshot of that moment in time and you’re never going to get that back again! I have also learnt so much from each mistake I’ve made along the way and learning what NOT to do is just as important as learning WHAT to do!

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

For me it would have to be Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue. This music has accompanied me through so much of my life and the raw emotion that is felt through every single line gets to me each time I listen to it. You know when you hear a song sometimes and it feels as if the artist was writing about your life and emotions – this is how I feel about this album! I also love the simplicity of her use of instrumentation, no bells and whistles just Joni’s voice with either piano, guitar, or dulcimer, you don’t need anything else as the songs speak for themselves and Joni’s genius is present in each note.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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