When a song like “Red and White Blood Cells” falls into your hands, you don’t just part your fingers and let it slip through. It’s safe to say I instantly fell for it and the girl behind it; Roxanne de Bastion. It’s a simple song that doesn’t rely on anything but a quirky sound and an indie pop vocal that fans of Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson would wholeheartedly enjoy.
“Red and White Blood Cells” is the lead single off Roxanne’s album that’s due out April 18th, so you should know that I’ve already made a note to bother her for a copy to review already. She just got home from touring Germany and will pack her bags again at the end of April to tour once again to coincide with the album’s release. Roxanne can’t handle being away from the road, admitting, “…it’s really hard for me to take breaks from playing shows.” So if you’re over in her homeland of the UK, keep your eyes on her sites for when she’ll be in your neck of the woods, because as she said, she doesn’t like being away from tour life for that long.
Other than having one of the best songs I’ve had the chance to hear in 2013 so far, Roxanne has made me want to relocate to Berlin. You’ll read later on why, but let’s just say that in Berlin they don’t have the horrendous “club attire” rules that America has. Tweet me for a story in which a bar said my Vans were inappropriate, but all the dudes had them on; hello…sexist much? Anyways other than stating Berlin’s dress code, read on for what you can expect from Roxanne’s upcoming album, her take on Zooey Deschanel and more.
Roxanne de Bastion: It’s really easy to “disown” your earlier work… You evolve as a performer and songwriter all the time, so sometimes, even things I wrote or did a couple of months ago feel old and stale to me. That’s probably a good thing! I think the first song I wrote (and recorded, thanks Dad…) was a ditty about dolphins when I was about eight years old – so pretty cool stuff.
Kendra: How long did you save before you bought that one way ticket to London to pursue music?
Roxanne: I didn’t. I literally started from zero and it truly was an adventure. I lived with a relative in the west midlands for two months before coming to London, so I just started gigging and working at bars and restaurants right away and started from there.
Kendra: Were your parents okay with their daughter heading out by herself to such a big, most times, intimidating city?
Roxanne: I think they were more nervous about it then they let on. In fact, that’s probably still the case. They were always supportive of my music though so I consider myself very lucky. Although I knew I didn’t want to go back, it was always reassuring to know that I could if I had to. Berlin’s only a short cheap-airline flight away!
Kendra: How is that album shaping up, a lot of other songs like “Red and White Blood Cells?”
Roxanne: None at all! The songs on the record all vary in style and dynamic. What ties them together is how we recorded them – they’re all really organic, live takes with very little post-production trickery. I really wanted an honest and raw delivery of my songs, kind of like what you’d get if you came to see me live, just with a little bit of added texture (Hammond organ, percussion) here and there.
Kendra: You started playing shows at 10 years old, so do you consider yourself a pro now when it comes to all that jazz?
Roxanne: Not really. I feel like I’m still just at the very beginning. There’s always so much to learn, to explore and to improve on that it never feels old. I always get nervous before every show too.
Kendra: I noticed that you blog regularly on your site. When things start to get hectic, will you still try to find 15-20 minutes to keep your fans in the know?
Roxanne: Thanks for noticing! I love writing, so I’d probably keep doing that even if I wouldn’t have the chance to share it with people online. I tour alone, so it’s always nice to share what’s going on with folks back at home – even if it’s just silly musings and observations. You know, I’m still really surprised that people actually read my blog! It amazes me…I hope you find it entertaining and I’d like to thank everyone for stopping by in my little world of thoughts and funnery!
Kendra: I also noticed that you don’t dress up often; you seem like a bit of a tomboy. That the case?
Roxanne: Ha! Really? Hm…I’ve never thought about that – I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. In Berlin it’s much more common to dress down. Jeans and convers are much more accepted even in clubs than skirts and heels. I’ve never really been that concerned with things like that – I’d much rather my songs and performances are striking.
Kendra: Dressed up or casual, you have a sort of Zooey Deschanel look going on. Have you ever played that to your advantage?
Roxanne: I think she has a Roxanne de Bastion look going on! People have been telling me that I remind them of Zooey Deschanel even before I knew who she was. I think it’s probably just the dark hair and fringe. I’m not that keen on She and Him to be honest, but I like who she is and think it’s great that she gets to be the lead in her TV show – there just aren’t many lead female characters who get to be funny. So no, I have not played that to my advantage and I really wouldn’t know how to!
Kendra: Since you started out doing Beatles covers in your set back when you were a kid, I want you to give me the top 5 Beatles songs you’d put on a mixtape for an up and coming artist to help them ease their stage fright jitters, go!
Roxanne: Hurray! That must be my favorite question ever. So, if it’s just about what songs are good for performing live (as opposed to my personal favorites), I’d go for:
“Ticket to Ride” …no matter where in the world you are, people will sing along to that one – I love that!
“Helter Skelter” …because it rocks
“Dig a Pony” (off Let It Be) … love the strength in the harmonies on the “All I want is you!”
“Hey Bulldog” …I would definitely play that all the time if I had a piano!
“Rain” …because it’s the best B-side ever.