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

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Roxanne De Bastion is an artist who is charming audiences worldwide with her incisive storytelling and emotive folk-pop. Since releasing her debut album (Heirlooms & Hearsay) in 2017 the singer-songwriter, who is originally from Berlin and is now based in London, has achieved a ridiculous amount. She has toured the UK and North America, opened for the Wainwright Sisters, Thea Gilmore and Lambchop, performed at Glastonbury and the Cambridge Folk Festival, played a packed show at London’s Roundhouse and had a sold-out book launch at The Lexington for her tour diary Tales from the Rails.

Roxanne will be making a trip up to the North-East to perform at Last Train Home Festival, Darlington on 7th September, where she will be performing at the St John’s church stage. We caught up with the talented musician ahead of the big day.

How would you describe your sound?
There are echoes of folk and singer songwriter traditions in my songs, but essentially I write pop music. I love artists who experiment with different styles and albums that evolve within themselves, so striving towards that is natural to me. This results is writing a punk-pop tune that sits alongside slow sad song about feelings in my set – the common denominator is my voice and point of view. 

Who are your biggest musical influences?
My Dad and John Lennon. The order depends on the time of day. 

What do you write about in your lyrics?

My album ‘Heirlooms & Hearsay’ is inspired by my family history and is dedicated to my grandfather (whom I never met), a pianist from Hungary who survived persecution in the second world war and started life a new in England in the 50s. Wider themes are how short our collective memory can be and the terrifying similarities in events and rhetoric between then and now. The new album I’m recording now deals with mortality, love and their relationship. Occasionally there’s a song about something seemingly small, mundane and peculiar…such as merry-go-rounds and molecules. 

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Some songs are instant gifts and seem to land in your mind or at your fingertips pretty much fully formed. Others are crafted and take months to finish. I usually pick up an instrument and play around with chord patterns or riffs until melodies and words present themselves to suit. Occasionally the lyrics will come first and I’ll set it to music, but that’s a rarity. Songs really come to life when there are people to hear them and to assign meaning to them. At the moment, I’m playing lots of new songs at shows and it’s a really exciting / precarious time. I imagine it’s a little like letting your children run off by themselves for the first time.. whether or not they fall over and hurt themselves is somewhat out of your hands. 

You are performing at the St John’s Church stage, a Victorian grade 2 listed building that was significant in the early part of the industrial revolution. Do you think the prestige that these types of buildings emanate can add to the performance?

Music is always a multi-sensory experience. Songs we love are often tied to the time or place we heard them first. I’ve performed in peoples living rooms, on festival stages, in dingy basements clubs and in churches – all very different beasts, resulting in a slightly different vibe. I can’t wait to play at St John’s Church; the festival lineup is amazing and the venue looks beautiful. Churches have a great natural reverb.. and it’s fun to be able to drink in them. 

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