Interview: Roo Panes

We caught up with Dorset-born troubadour Roo Panes for a chat ahead of his show at The Sunflower Lounge on Thursday 16th April (tickets are available here)

You released your debut album Little Giant last year, how has the reaction been to the record?

I’ve been happy with it, it seems like people have been listening to it, which is a good start! And last week one of the songs hit 10,000,000 plays on Spotify which was a real highlight. But to be honest I try not to think too much about response, I just want to continue writing and enjoying music, so since release my mind has been on the next project.

What’s the story behind the album? Did the album have any specific influences musically and stylistically?

I think the sound of the album was a combination of many things. I’ve always loved strings, in almost any format, so I naturally ended up infusing them with the song writing. Lyrically the whole album is a collection of different stories and moments from the last few years. I don’t think I’d pick out one constant narrative, perhaps there’s more thematic continuity.

Your sister sings on the album and also contributes to the artwork, plus we’ve also read that you recorded the album at home; how important is it for you to involve your family and friends in your music?

It’s great; to be honest it came out of just trying to use what’s around me. It’s very expensive to outsource everything, and I’m fortunate to have really talented sisters and friends. At the same time, it’s become a really nice thing, it keeps the process familiar and often musically it gives us more scope for spontaneity.

How did you find the recording process?

I love recording because I love arranging. It is a chance to compose your music and present each song in its perfect form. Of course, that isn’t always the result, but I like the challenge!

Rupert Coulson, famous for working with bands such as Portishead and Oasis, acted as producer on this record. In what way did he contribute to the album and what was it like working with him?

Rupert was great, he’s a really humble guy which means he is great at finding out your hopes for the songs first, and nothing feels forced upon you. Very quickly it felt like we were working from the same page.

You released a number of EPs before Little Giant, how did you decide on the tracklisting for the album?

Track listing was hard, because songs all have individual characters, but I think in the end we had to pick a collection of songs that we felt hung together as a piece of art. Also, we had a look at the patterns occurring in the writing, and decided that a pensive autumnal album seemed the most natural result.

What was the initial inspiration for you to pick up a guitar and start writing songs?

I’m not really sure about that one. I just found that as soon as I picked up a guitar I began writing. I was never good at learning other people’s music, I seemed better at making new things.

Which other artists do you admire or take inspiration from?

I love classical music for inspiration, and big sound-scape bands like Sigur Ros and cinematic orchestra, but there are loads of other great artists that I admire, Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, and more recently bands like The National and Feist I have been listening to this week.

What can Birmingham audiences expect from your show at The Sunflower Lounge?

It’s just me this time around, so it will be an honest singer-songwriter show, which is sometimes nice because the emphasis falls on the lyrics.

You’ve played Birmingham in the past, do you have any particular memories from previous Birmingham gigs or any places you particularly like to visit when you’re here?

I’ve only played Birmingham once before, on my last solo tour, where I was camper-vanning around the UK for 24 dates I think. Birmingham was great but I didn’t have much of a chance to stay and look around, because I hit the road right after the show. However I look forward to seeing a bit more this time!

Roo Panes plays The Sunflower Lounge Birmingham on Thurs 16th April 2015, with support from My Grey Horse. Tickets available here.