Artist Highlight: Rozi Plain – Our Tradition


Born in Winchester, England, Rosalind Leyden was 16 when her brother, Sam, took over the open mic night time at a small native pub and inspired her to get into music. In 2008, she made her debut as Rozi Plain with Inside Over Right here, a group of homespun recordings that launched her hazy alt-folk sound in its barest kind. Now based mostly in London, Plain lower her tooth within the Bristol DIY scene, co-founding the Cleaner Information collective and collaborating with Kate Stables of This Is The Equipment, with whom she’s spent a lot of her time on tour. As a solo artist, she’s been broadening her horizons with every album, and 2019’s What a Enhance noticed her folding in additional experimental textures than any of her prior releases.

Plain’s fifth LP, Prize, out as we speak, is constructed from recording periods that passed off all over the place from the French Basque Nation to the Isle of Eigg in addition to studios in London, Bristol, and Glasgow. That includes co-producer Jamie Whitby-Coles (additionally This Is the Equipment) on drums, Amaury Ranger on bass, and Gerard Black on synths, as effectively a powerful forged of visitor musicians together with jazz saxophonist Alabaster DePlume, synth manipulator Danalogue, and harpist Serafina Steer, the album is rooted in a communal spirit however shimmers with the identical mild, hypnotic intimacy that has permeated Plain’s music prior to now. On the identical time, Plain wraps her typically perplexing lyrics round winding, subtly complicated preparations with out overshadowing the songs’ vibrant heat and understated candor. She leaves questions hanging within the air, but makes drifting alongside them really feel effortlessly pure.

We caught up with Rozi Plain for this version of our Artist Highlight interview sequence to speak concerning the making of Prize, her method to songwriting, reconciling previous and future, and extra.

A number of days in the past, I had an in a single day layover on the airport, and I listened to your data, so as, from Associates all the way in which to Prize. I’d already listened to the brand new album a number of instances, however the music actually got here alive another way once I was on this barely-awake state. It made me marvel what kind of headspace you’re often in whenever you enter the writing course of, if it’s extra acutely aware or a type of dream state.

I really feel like there’s totally different headspaces. There’s undoubtedly moments of writing that do really feel like divine intervention or one thing, and it appears like a type of combination of distraction and focus; when you may distract your self from your self sufficient to seek out focus in a brand new factor. Generally it appears like issues are coming to you a bit. However I believe that’s additionally fairly uncommon, and I believe I used to suppose that it needed to be these moments; it needed to be this, like, “Oh, wow, I’ve simply written a track in 5 minutes.” However I’ve modified my thoughts about that. That does occur generally, however it’s also possible to slowly craft a track by working in your stuff, and it will probably are available a very totally different approach. It may be actually troublesome, after which ultimately it will probably nonetheless have the identical feeling. It’s discovering the issues that compel you to maintain taking part in them; I need to discover a guitar riff that I don’t need to cease taking part in as a result of it feels so satisfying to play, or a sentence that feels that I actually get pleasure from to sing again and again. I believe I’ve mentioned it earlier than, however eager to make, like, savory music. I need it to really feel deeply, deeply satisfying.

With Prize, did you go extra within the path of attempting to slowly craft one thing and have an added sense of management?

I undoubtedly didn’t attempt to make it slower than it was as a result of I’m conscious of how sluggish I’m anyway. I’m actually sluggish at writing. And likewise, as a result of it had been the pandemic, we needed to look ahead to fairly a very long time earlier than we might file the album how we wished to do it, so I used to be desirous to get on with it. I additionally had been given a deadline by the label, after which realized it simply wasn’t prepared. I used to be attempting to make it prepared, after which I noticed it was not prepared, so we delayed it I believe by two months or one thing, the hand-in. And that made such an incredible distinction. It prefer it simply I used to be so confused about it. I used to be attempting to make it like, “There’s sufficient stuff there and it’s completed,” and it simply wasn’t. After which I despatched this e-mail saying, “I can’t hand it in now, it’s going to be a month later.” And the extreme aid I felt – out of the blue we might make all these actually good choices about it and, like, see the wooden for the bushes, as a result of I used to be in a little bit of a panic attempting so as to add issues on it. After which I used to be like, “Okay. Okay, that is what it wants.” The additional delay time we gave ourselves, it actually modified the album. I really feel prefer it actually grew to become mine once more someway.

In what sense do you imply?

I don’t know, it’s like we unlocked the recordings. Additionally, how we’ve finished issues earlier than is recording the bottom of issues after which including plenty of overdubs, and it felt tougher to do on this album. It simply felt like every little thing needed to be so particular. And if it actually didn’t improve it, it did distract from it, it wasn’t price having it there. So we added plenty of issues, and we took off plenty of issues as effectively. We blended it with Ash Workman in Margate, after which my good friend James [Howard] added fairly a little bit of guitar on plenty of the tracks. I used to be simply pondering, “I believe simply this one track simply wants one…” After which he did it on about seven or eight songs, and it simply lifted all of them up. It was wonderful.

Is there a selected motive all of your albums comply with a 10-track, 40-minute construction?

I believe for this album, it was a part of the contract that there needed to be 10 songs. However I believe there would have been 10 songs anyway. Each album has had ten songs. I don’t know – not that I’ve even realized it earlier than, however I believe, “Oh, an album’s acquired to be ten songs.” [laughs] And I don’t even know why I believe that, however it’s like 9 appears too little. However then I find it irresistible. I’m not tremendous prolific, I don’t make a large quantity of stuff. I imply, I don’t have 1000’s of songs to select from. It’s most likely numerous that as effectively, truly.

You’ve expanded your sound with every album, and although the songs can generally get fairly intricate and ambiguous, they maintain a sure readability and nearly simplicity of coronary heart. ‘Sophisticated’, as an example, regardless of its title, is without doubt one of the sparsest tracks on the file.

Sure, once we had been engaged on it, we did carry on attempting so as to add issues, after which we’re identical to, “I believe this track simply must be actually easy.” It feels satisfying that it’s like that and known as ‘Sophisticated’. That’s a pleasant swip-swap. I’m writing about my very own experiences, however I’ve by no means felt compelled to type of sort out issues head-on; I need to make it so folks can interpret it in numerous methods, however to expertise that means in it. I need it to really feel like sharing as an alternative of explaining. I need issues to really feel open.

There are plenty of songs that begin with an “it” or a “one thing,” however it’s by no means absolutely revealed what that one thing is. It’s such as you’re coming into in the course of a dialog or the center of a thought course of.

Yeah, yeah. And I do discover that I’ve plenty of questions in, and I suppose it’s stuff that I’m asking myself and different folks. It’s nice that you may say “you” whenever you imply “I,” since you’re allowed – as a result of it’s your track, you are able to do no matter you want. However sure, it’s humorous as a result of I did really feel actually acutely aware concerning the phrase “it” and I did suppose, Oh my god, I can’t use the phrase “it” anymore.  [laughs] However you need to use the phrase “it” generally.

As listeners, we’re used to listening to “you” with out it being tied to a selected particular person, however I believe it turns into fascinating when the “it” is as much as interpretation. After all, the album begins with, “What lets name it?”

Yeah. However I’m additionally in my life fairly a query attacker. It’s fairly a snug place for me to be if I’m chatting to somebody is simply asking plenty of questions. [laughs] And I don’t all the time suppose that’s a superb factor. I don’t suppose I’m horrifically interrogatory or one thing, however I believe I do ask plenty of questions. It’s nice when you may spend time with somebody and never asking these questions – not simply say, “Oh, how was that? And the way is that going? And the place did you go then?” That’s like the conventional stuff, isn’t it? It appears like a problem to not try this, however I believe it’s good train to not try this. Since you typically discover out extra from folks whenever you don’t simply get the info off them. It’s good whenever you meet up with a good friend, and you then notice you don’t know something that they’ve been doing. [laughs] However you’ve nonetheless had a very high quality catch-up.

I do know what you imply, generally it’s onerous whenever you’re having a dialog with somebody to not be in that mode the place you’re making it concerning the different particular person.

Sure, precisely, simply making it concerning the different particular person. After which additionally, whenever you make it concerning the different particular person, inevitably they’re gonna make it about you in a second. They’re gonna say, “And what about you?” Like, “What? Oh no, I don’t need that! I simply wished to get you to do the speaking!” [laughs]

How do you suppose you’ve been influenced by the totally different locations which were part of your musical journey, from Winchester to Bristol to London?

Once I take into consideration the songs I’ve written, they’ve acquired a spot and a time and an period. As a result of I suppose a sense you’re attempting to seize, deliberately or not, will get tied to time and place. Somebody was asking me about this the opposite day, about transferring round, how that impacts me, but in addition, it appears like that’s like been my life for the final 15 years or one thing. I’ve been touring for ages, in my undertaking or This Is the Equipment, and that’s the type of stuff I do. It undoubtedly does soak in, however it appears like a pure a part of my life. That appears like my life expertise. I really like doing that, after which I additionally like coming residence.

However it does have an effect on your relationship to residence, proper?

Yeah, undoubtedly. However I believe the sensation of residence generally is a very movable factor. Generally it appears like a home and the place you reside, and generally it feels just like the folks you’re with. There’s undoubtedly instances when on tour with my band or on tour with That is the Equipment appears like my homely atmosphere. I really feel prefer it adjustments a bit, however it additionally appears like the last word quest, feeling at residence. And it’s cool when you may determine type of what that’s for a bit.

I need to single out the road “Standing up within the full blue of newness,” which curiously seems in the direction of the top of the file. Do you bear in mind developing with it?

I truly do, as a result of I really feel like had a major realization a number of years in the past that – I ponder if I may even bear in mind what my important realization was. [laughs] It was one thing like, I noticed that I didn’t let my future in on my previous; I didn’t belief my future with my beloved previous or one thing. And I didn’t belief my beloved previous to imagine sooner or later. And I assumed, I preserve these issues actually far-off from one another. And truly, after all, they’re utterly joined. I don’t even know if something’s modified since, however I believe most likely I’m responsible of being a reasonably nostalgic particular person. The truth that issues which have occurred simply type of grow to be truth – regardless that these info can change, however the truth is, they occurred. It’s like, if I take heed to an outdated album, I believe, “I can’t even bear in mind how I did it – how did I come to all these choices? God, I should have identified what I used to be doing.” It appears like there’s all this conviction concerning the previous, simply because it’s the previous now. As a result of these are the issues that occurred, and you may write them down. And after which the long run, after all, is unknown, and also you don’t know the way it’s going to be and also you’re anxious you’re going to do it fallacious otherwise you gained’t do it justice from how significant you discovered the issues which have occurred. However you discover them significant as a result of they occurred or one thing.

Additionally, my mum proofread the lyrics, and the phrase “blue” was the phrase “bloom.” And he or she’d heard the album earlier than and she or he was like, “Oh, I assumed it was blue.” And I used to be like, “Oh, that’s hundreds higher. I’m altering it to bloom.” [laughs] I type of by no means felt very comfy about having the phrase “bloom,” it by no means sat very simply with me. And the phrase “blue” made extra sense. It type of felt like the brilliant blue new. And it’s cool, I really like that it was a misheard factor. Additionally, I typically don’t pronounce the final sound of a phrase. I’m all the time not doing that, I simply fade out. So it doesn’t sound like I’m singling “bloom” anyway, it seems like I’m saying “blue.”

As a result of there are so few objects truly talked about within the lyrics, naming the file Prize feels important. What does it imply to you?

Each time I’ve named an album, it’s been a lyric from the album. I’ve typically not held that a lot attachment to naming songs. It’s type of admin; everybody has to know what track they’re taking part in, so it’s the obvious phrase in it or one thing. And I’ve all the time named albums by simply going by means of the lyrics, and after some time, one thing stands out, I simply suppose, “Oh, yeah, I believe it’s known as that.” I used to be going to name it Nothing Will Do, after which it felt a bit faffy, a bit sophisticated. After which some folks spooked me by saying it’s not good to have a unfavourable phrase in there.

However I actually like that it’s a five-letter phrase. I just like the quantity 5. And I like that it’s acquired a “z” in. But additionally, I believe there’s most likely quite a bit within the album about – I don’t even know if I imply competitors, however type of wanting to come back good or show one thing to somebody or to your self. I suppose I’m type of enthusiastic about shut tensions and relationships between myself and totally different folks. Individuals need to be not misunderstood and misrepresented, and I believe it’s straightforward for folks to get misinterpreted as eager to be proper or win or one thing, when, truly, they only need to be certain that they’ve expressed themselves clearly and have been understood. Additionally, it’s fairly a enjoyable phrase.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and size.

Rozi Plain’s Prize is out now through Memphis Industries.


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