Interview: Bosola | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Bosola is a lo-fi indie singer-songwriter from Newcastle inspired by the likes of Tom Waits, Sonic Youth and Los Campensinos! He’s had a prolific five months releasing five singles and two-track EPs and performing at various venues around the region. 

Having only recorded it days ago Bosola releases his brand new EP, Socially Distant, on Friday 27th March, with a live stream performance of the EP via Facebook on the evening at 7pm. As the name might suggest, it is inspired by a spell in social isolation and so we spoke to him (online) to find out more.

These tracks were recorded in the past few days as you were distancing yourself. What inspired you to put your current experiences down in music form and why the quick turn around from recording to release?
I’m a big believer in the power of music to bring people together particularly in hard times. I’ve always struggled with feelings of isolation and alienation as I’ve struggled with my mental health over the years. The experience of depression often made me feel like an outsider in my friendship groups, romantic relationships and family. Whenever things have got really bad music has always reached out to me and enabled me to put into words what I’m going through. This has helped me to feel part of something bigger. To realise my problems are problems which are common to human existence as opposed to just my existence. You can go to a gig or listen to a song and just feel some hope, intimacy, validation or even dare I say it, joy in sharing experiences, even when they are painful. I mean, look at Sam Fender, almost every one of his songs is nailing a big painful issue in people’s lives and people are lapping it up – and rightly so! 

Social distancing and isolation mean there will be lots of people experiencing isolation and other troubling experiences over the next few weeks and months. What we know about the world is really being tested. The more we can come together around these experiences and normalise them, the better in my view. More than anything I just want it to give people some hope and  10 minutes away from the terror of what’s going on around us. I also hope it inspires to express themselves whilst they have the time at home, to pick up the long-neglected paintbrush, poetry journal or musical instrument and just get back into it. If I can do it, chances are, so can you. This EP is just me, my guitars and drum tracks from Garageband. 

Briefly describe your songwriting process.
When there is an experience or issue I can’t easily resolve and is causing me discomfort I will try and distil that feeling into one lyrical slogan or phrase and I will write a melody for it. Once I have that I tend to be able to fill out a couple of verses and chorus with how I feel about the situation. Within a few minutes, I’ll have the structure of a song and the lyrics (which I tweak to make it flow better musically). I then play it over and over again until it is slick. I then record it on my home studio and send it to my friends to see what they think.

I tend to draw upon the music that I’ve been listening to recently. For these tracks, I’d say the musical influences range from Pavement to Big Deal, My Bloody Valentine to Max Bloom. I’m digging that guitar pop/shoegaze vibe at the moment. Lyrically I’m a big fan of Scott Hutchinson, Conor Oberst, Sylvia Plath and Nicky Wire.

Can you shed some more light about what each track is about?
‘Ophelia Headstrong’ is about following your dreams even when people that you grew up with don’t get it and try to persuade you to settle for what they have settled for. Since I’ve moved to the North East I’ve met so many people who are so supportive of art and creativity and it’s a really lovely place to perform. I’ve always felt that people around here (Ren Lawton, Russell Poad from Bobiks and Joey from NAMI UP NORTH) have said ‘give it a go man, you’re only gonna get better’. I love the support so the second chorus is written for them and the friends I’ve made since moving here.

‘Me on a Good Day’ is a song I wrote a long time ago when I hit a major low in my mid-twenties. It’s about spiritual dissonance, self-doubt, the emptiness of consumerism (the title is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at a well known Berocca advert at the time) and the desperation to find solace in relationships. It was a rocky ride back then but I’m glad to say after a lot of starts and stops, and a lot of help from my friends, things got better! 

‘Find Your Peace’ is about loss and bereavement. It’s by far the rawest song that I have ever written and was painful to write. Some people that I love very dearly lost a family member in the last few months and it was excruciating to watch them going through that pain. Writing the song was the only way I could process what had happened. I just hope its of some comfort to people experiencing loss. 

Find Your Peace was recorded by and with local folk artist Ren Lawton. How did that collaboration come about?
I met the guy at The Chillingham pub in Spring 2018 and he’s quickly become one of my best mates. He snuck me into Evolution Emerging festival 2018 and showed me the local talent. It inspired me to start writing again and he put me on as support for the launch of his single ‘Blue Hounds’ at the Alphabetti Theatre back then and we see each other as often as we can to drink, watch football and make musical plans. He’s pretty much a musical mentor.

I’ve worked with him a number of times at his South Shield’s home Studio. He encouraged me to think about releasing the song after we recorded a few weeks ago with some of the other songs he knew I was working on. When socially distancing measures were announced, that’s when I decided to release the EP.

 He’s just got this magic ability to understand the ‘feel’ of a track and helps me to express that when I record with him. He’s mixed, mastered and contributed musically to this track so I can’t thank him enough really. 

He’s got a track coming out on Friday 27th too, called ‘The World and Me’ – Check it out. 

Will there be any more recordings in the near future?
Yeah, I’m in the process of recording an EP with Russ from 11th Hour Sound at a real recording studio which will be a predominantly acoustic/folky – Elliot Smith/Frightened Rabbit/Nick Drake sort of vibe. The EP has a working title of ‘Grieving for a Dream’. 

I’ve also got some other songs up my sleeve. I’m planning to start performing with a band in the Autumn so watch this space. 

What’s the first thing you are going to do when you no longer have to isolate yourself?
Well, I’m just finishing my doctoral thesis at the moment, so hopefully becoming a doctor. After that, I’ll go and see all the friends and family who I’m missing desperately already. Then I’ll finish off my EP with Russ and start rehearsing for some more live performances in the Autumn. Can’t wait.

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