Rosie Frater-Taylor 'Bloom' (Feature Interview)
Updated: Jul 21, 2021
London-based singer, songwriter and guitarist Rosie Frater-Taylor sat down with Ben to talk about her second album 'Bloom', detailing how this album was produced and her reflections on what's inspiring her at the moment.
Blending the lines between jazz, folk, pop and soul, Rosie Frater-Taylor has an adventurous songwriting style that has a whimsical pop sensibility. The multi-layered acoustic soundscapes and virtuoso guitar skills beautifully combine with her trademark luxurious vocals.
Despite only being 21 years old, the confidence and maturity in her sound is incredible to hear. In May 2021, Rosie released the music video for 'Just My Type' via GroundUp Music's (Snarky Puppy) YouTube channel, who are big supporters of the young artist, leading to offer her a spot at their world-renowned GroundUp Music Festival in Miami. Rosie's last single 'Hey' was championed by Gilles Peterson on his BBC6 Music show and he then invited her to play his legendary Brownswood Basement Session, performing four tunes from Bloom.
Frater-Taylor is going places. Read the interview below to find out about her inspirations, the significance of her family, playing live again and the future of music become genreless.
Why did you write the album, and are there any tracks in particular that meant a lot to you to get down on the record?
I had things I wanted to say and music I wanted to write and I guess all artists have a sort of burning urge to express that. I wrote it over about a three year period, so on reflection, I realised that it's sort of an almost coming of age project in terms of the lyrical content, as much as the sort of musical content and my ability of the singer and guitarist and musician.
And so, I feel like that's also reflected in the lyrics to some of the more recent songs I wrote for the album. You know, potentially more honest, they're more, sort of, reflective and introspective. And whereas some of the older tracks are potentially more like stories, to me in a third-person perspective. My style has been almost described as like a diary entry sometimes which isn't intentional. But I guess in that way, maybe songwriting is sort of a bit like therapy.
The tracks capture different moments of time. The songs I was writing then are maybe more like folky and jazzy whereas the ones that I was writing towards the end of the album process, maybe have more of a soul flavour, a pop flavour, because I've been getting into a lot of pop music over the past year or so.
How do you go about approaching writing music compared to how you approach lyrics? Are there any different kind of moods or times that you prefer to play compared to when you'd like to write lyrics?
I would say my writing is very guitar-led, so often what will inspire me to start writing is a nice chord, a complex bit of harmony or a guitar line or even like a rhythm or time signature. It usually starts with the music because that's how I naturally connect to what I do - that will set a mood or a tone for the track. I'll move on to melody and then the lyrics will flow.
But, I'm interested to start exploring different processes. 'Think About You' was maybe the one sort of maverick track on the album where I started with a melody first, and then lyrics, and that's maybe why it has a slightly poppier chorus feel.
Have you ever felt like you've been experimenting more out of your comfort zone compared to how you wrote on your first album?
I don't think so, I've just been exposed to more kinds of music, more styles of music, a wider palette which I've been able to draw from. It's definitely an inner sense for what I'm trying to say, following my inner senses and trying to follow my ear through as much as possible.
Why did you want to put a couple of covers on the album?
It's a really good way to take a bit of inspiration from artists and a good way to demonstrate very clearly what you bring to a song that people already know really well. I really like the process of of reworking something and making it my own, adding to it and changing it. I really enjoy that process along with sort of the obvious marketing benefits of a song someone already knows.
What music has inspired you for this album?
Sort of soul and pop. Laura Marling and Emily King are quite big ones and their sort of stripped back acoustic sound. People who have influenced me for years like Lewis Taylor, Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens reflects what I've been into musically really.
You have finished at the Royal Academy of Music and have studied at Tomorrow's Warriors and NYJO - how have you found learning from different people and how has your approach to music changed learning from different musicians over time?
I've played with so many musicians and that has enabled me to find a band that I really connect with onstage. The album has quite a cohesive band sound I think because I've found the people who I feel can play the music the way I want it to be played. When I was learning jazz and learning about music, it was very important for me to play with other people. I think it's very important to play with people when you're learning.
And it's, sort of, interesting this last year, not being able to play with people, it reminds you just how influential other people can be and what a good learning environment that is. I think I was fortunate enough to grow up in London and have those courses and organizations that could give me that space to sort of be put in the deep end and learn how to improvise and play changes quite intensely.
What's been the best thing for you to come out of lockdown?
Aside from releasing the album? I would say finishing uni and feeling like there's this sort of future. I'd love to spend some time in some different parts of the world. Like meeting different scenes, so maybe like New York and LA and Germany. I feel like coming out of lockdown you sort of remember that, yeah, we are able to do that. So, I'll hopefully have a few shows abroad as well. I'm ready to ready to do more writing and playing.
You performed a sold-out album launch at The Jazz Cafe in May, what's it been like playing again?
It's sort of reminded me why I love music because you can post 15-second reels or tik-toks or highlight the best 15 seconds of your playing and have tons of people like what you're doing but I don't play music for those reasons. I play music to be in that insane environment on stage and having an audience there. So, it's reminded me this is what we've missed.
And it's important because I think for a lot of musicians, there wasn't really a way to convince yourself that you were a musician during lockdown because it's you practising in a room or posting a video on Instagram. But once you return to playing with people, I guess it's really why I play music for the collaborating and the people element of it. Because at the end of the day, it's all that we're trying to do. We're just trying to communicate, just trying to get along and communicate.
How important is your family in your music?
I would say very, very significant. They really are the reason that I have such a grounding in music, and especially in jazz. They're a continuous sort of presence in my life and my musical career. I think it's quite a unique relationship that I have with them. I sort of pride myself on taking a bit of a DIY approach to writing and producing and releasing and mixing and mastering and all those things. And they really facilitate that DIY nature. So it's sort of do it yourself, but with the help of your parents a little bit.
My dad plays the drums on the record and I think you can hear it as well. I think you can hear the family's similarity and sound but especially when me and my dad do duo sets because he knows music so well. And we have similar instincts in that sense. So it's quite a unique thing I feel.
A lot of your music traverses different genres. Do you feel like music is starting to evolve where these boundaries of genres are becoming far less restrictive?
I would like to think so, but I'm not sure. I think there's there's like countless stories of people like Lewis Taylor, a big influence of mine, being one of the people being signed to major labels and then being dropped, specifically because the music is difficult to market. They're trying to do something different genre-wise. I would like to get to that point. But I feel like it's only sort of getting harder for people who are deliberately making music outside of the Spotify playlists.
But at the end of the day, that shouldn't stop us, because Spotify isn't the only route to get your music heard and forming a fan base. And I've been doing a lot with sort of GroundUP Music and that sort of scene who are in the intelligent pop scene that's trying to do something different with genre. I haven't chosen the easy route, people tell me that quite a lot.
What are your plans coming up?
I'm gonna take a little bit of a break from music, just I think you have to do that after a big old album release process. And I want to do a lot of playing and performing the music live. And also just writing really, because it's been a while since I've been in the writing zone. And I want to take some time to really find out what the next album is gonna sound like and maybe work with some people and collaborate and see where it goes. Really just try and stay happy and positive.
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