Ahead of her show as part of her Australian tour this Saturday, June 8 at Freo.Social, CAITLIN NORRIS spoke to British songwriter Lucy Rose about her new album No Words Left, saying goodbye to social media and the adventure that changed her life.
What has the response to the new album No Words Left been like so far?
God, I’ve got to say I hate thinking about it. It’s just difficult, isn’t it? Because it’s like, I think it’s good? I mean, I’m trying not to read anything bad. I think it’s just really difficult to judge and I’m generally a negative person when looking at my own stuff. So I’m always like, oh god, should it be doing better? It probably should be. But then someone will tell me something great about it, like it got 5 stars in The Guardian or something and that’s amazing.
Do you feel like No Words Left explored anything that your previous work hadn’t really touched on?
Good question. Musically, it explored a lot of different avenues. I’ve never done a record with no drum kit, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but it didn’t feel like the songs were right for that sort of record. Using different instrumentation and using instruments completely differently as well, using them like voices almost. And then I guess lyrically, there’s a lot of new experiences in my life that I was describing.
What made you decide to release Conversation as the first single?
I thought that it would work [laughs]. I thought that it would be a good introduction to the record. I like the song and I like opening with that lyric. After being away and coming off of social media entirely for quite a big chunk of time, coming back with the opening lyrics, “conversation doesn’t come easy but I’ve got a lot to say,” I felt like that was really an insight into the record.
What was that social media detox like? Was it difficult, enlightening?
Oh my god, it was great. It was just great. The apps are on my phone now, so it’s just trying to have self will and it’s impossible. I do think they are addictive and I think they’ve been made to be addictive, so it’s like trying to quit smoking but having a pack of fags on you all the time. Whereas when I just deleted the apps off my phone, that was amazing because it wasn’t even an option.
What made you decide to it in the first place?
I was just wasting my life on them. I kind of feel like every time you use the word time you should use the word life, because if I’m wasting any time on it, I’m wasting my life on it. And I don’t know necessarily if it’s a positive for me. I’m trying to work out like, what do I want to get from social media and am I getting it. And are there any consequences to being on there.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the Something’s Changing documentary. I watched it a few months ago and it was remarkable. Was it frightening one, to put your faith in strangers and two, to document the entire thing and then let everyone see it?
At the time I wasn’t that worried because I’d been chatting to them [fans] on email for a couple of months and they were saying, oh we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna take you here, and they were very excited and looking forward to it. So by the time we were on the plane going, me and my husband, I definitely wasn’t scared. It was just like, here goes one hell of an adventure. I’d never travelled outside of touring before, which is completely organised and safe. This felt very spontaneous and you just didn’t know what was gonna happen, which is what was so exciting. And then documenting it, we bought a camera, my husband had never done any filming before, and he just learnt how to use it as we went along. We thought it would just be for us at the beginning, documenting this crazy story for me and him to tell people we did this, because nobody will believe us. I felt like we came back and there was a story to be told and I was excited about putting it out. I felt like I’d stumbled across something kind of remarkable that I thought that everyone should know.
I really loved what you said about fans and our hastiness to label really passionate and emotive people as crazy or weird for being so unendingly supportive. How did the experience change your perspective on the fan/artist relationship?
Completely. I think often I just thought that I wasn’t worth anything you know, like queuing up hours waiting to see me you just go, oh gosh I can’t be worth all that. Then you realise the power of a song in a moment in someone’s life. It’s amazing that they want to support me because every single day I wake up wondering whether I should carry on or does anybody want my music in the world and what’s the point in it all, really. And then that one person coming up and waiting and encouraging you really is the reason that I carry on.
Happiness and finding fulfilment in unexpected places was a theme throughout the documentary. Especially once you got home, and feeling like those creature comforts weren’t really giving you the same kind of feeling that you’d just experienced. Do you feel like it was hard to digest the experience one you did come home?
Yeah, when I came home I was just buzzing. I was so positive and happy and my confidence was back. I had a lease of life, which I wish could continue [laughs] but I guess the reality is it hasn’t. It was such a special time and coming back with that knowledge, I feel like I’ve got a lot more sort of tools to go on with life and deal with things. But there’s always another block to climb over. And I guess the next block was putting out Something’s Changing and from there I had massive life questions which was like, we stayed a lot with fans while we were touring but is this sustainable? Can I keep asking people for help? Can I keep sleeping in people’s beds and expect them to sleep on the floor forever? I think it was from that place that’s where I found myself writing No Words Left.
Did the trip and the aftermath of the trip affect your writing process?
The trip happened and then I came back and wrote Something’s Changing, the record. The trip happened a year or so before that came out. Then I toured it for a year or so and after that all ended, it had been 3 years since the trip maybe. And a lot changes within that. The big adjustment for me was that I was writing more upbeat stuff for the second record, happy stuff and thinking that’s what people wanted. During the trip I realised that the songs that had meant the most on a really deep and profound level were the softer, more emotional and deeper songs for me, and that I shouldn’t be scared about diving into that. When you play more emotional songs at gigs every night, it’s just a really intense experience because you’re singing them and they’re singing them and feeling it and there’s something very simple about just playing a happy song and everyone bouncing around to it. It made me aware that I could not be scared to write about things that were important and deep to me because people don’t want to hear it, is what I always thought. But they did wanna hear it, and opening myself up in that way and sitting in a room and experiencing it together is intense.
You’re in Australia now with plenty of shows coming up. Is there anything you really like to do when you’re here?
I’m here! It’s great. It’s been a long winter so I haven’t really seen the sun. We went to the Sunshine Coast for a couple of days. I ended up just watching people surf from the comfort of a chair. There’s lots do and lots to see, really. I’m excited.