Rozi Plain – Interview

Rozi PlainRefined during a year spent touring the world playing bass in This Is The Kit, What A Boost is Rozi Plain’s fourth solo album, recorded over an extended period of time, and released on Memphis Industries. Gentle, pastoral, rootsy, freeform, folksy and warm to the touch, it showcases her blossoming songwriting skills. Whilst in Brighton supporting and playing with This Is The Kit, she took some time out to talk to Jeff Hemmings about the new album, growing up with This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables, and juggling her dual roles as a solo artist, and member of This Is The Kit.

Here we are at the Green Door Store, I’m sure you’ve played here before!
I’m not sure we have played here before as just me. I’ve played a couple of times before with This Is The Kit. I can’t remember! Tonight I’ll be supporting This Is The Kit, and then playing with them, on bass.

How do you juggle it all?!
Generally, it does seem to be reasonably clash-free. For the last album cycle we both had an album out at the same time, and we did a lot of shows together, and then I did a lot of shows with just This Is The Kit. I really like doing both. I don’t feel that playing with This Is The Kit is stopping me playing my own stuff, it’s a valuable part of playing my own stuff.

And you are doing this big show at The Roundhouse tomorrow night.
I’ve played in the foyer there before! We haven’t done many shows for a while, so it’s good to get familiarised with this show here tonight, before we head to London.

Wilkommen, who are promoting this show, have played a big part in you and This Is The Kit’s life…
We’ve known Marcus (Hamblett, founder of Wilkommen) for ages, and Emma Gattrill (who plays with both Rozi and This Is The Kit), who met through Rachel Dadd. Marcus and Emma are both super prolific with playing with loads of people, and Marcus puts on loads of shows, and he sometimes plays with This Is The Kit.

You signed with Memphis Industries, home to Go! Team and Field Music. Good move!?
They are great guys. The radio plugger James Pegrum passed on our music to them. They were really keen to do it before it even existed.

Sounds like a new chapter in your musical career?
It’s a different team of people, that work in different ways. It’s dangerous to say bigger and better, but it is a new and exciting thing. I did love working with Johnny (This Pictish Trail) from Lost Map Records.

There’s Jamie Whitby-Coles on drums, who also plays with This Is The Kit. He also helped produce it as well. Neil on guitar, Gerard Black on synths, Ann-Marie Ranger plays the bass, Rachel Horwood plays some banjo on it, Sam Amidon plays a bit of fiddle, Dan Leavers (The Comet Is Coming) as well. Lots of people. We recorded it in quite a few places, some in London, and in America with Chris Cohen (ex-Deerhoof) when we had a day off.

Your last album Friend was made at the Total Refreshment Centre in London. Was that where you did some of this one?
The TRC has become part of my life. A great community of artists and musicians getting stuff done, making proactive moves

So, it all took quite a while…
It was nice taking ages. We had some classic things like spending a year adding loads of stuff, and then taking it all off again right at the end, when we mixed it. After we did the last one I was like ‘OK, this is the way you are supposed to make an album’. But, there’s no supposed way to do it. Each one is going to be completely different. By the time you have recorded and mixed everything you’ve got so in the habit of making decisions that you’re in a really good position to make an album. You feel prepared! But you’ve just done one, and you have to wait and work out loads of stuff again when you get around to making a new one.

Why is it called What A Boost?
That is a line from a song called ‘Trouble’ I think it’s noticing the things that bring about change you didn’t think was the ‘thing’. Something gives a little shove, and it makes things change. It could be a shove for good, or bad. I feel like you do a lot of looking back, looking forward, looking at your life, and looking out of the window.

What else do you write about?
A bit of me, a bit about others. I feel quite wary about being too specific. I try and keep it vague enough so it doesn’t get anyone into trouble.

Any favourite on the album?
I’m really fond of ‘Symmetrical’, for some reason. I think it’s a good guy! And there’s one called ‘The Gap’ which we recorded several times before we took a ridiculous new angle at the end.

Tell me about your musical upbringing.
Both me and Kate Stables (This Is The Kit) are from Winchester. We knew each other growing up. I was inspired by Kate. She was in the same year as my brother, who ran this open mic in Winchester. Me and Kate and my brother would learn and play songs together. And then I moved to Bristol and started making my own music, and playing with other people. I went to the art college there and worked on these ferry boats that went around the harbour.

Where do you live now?
London, around Hackney Marshes

You like it?
I do. I definitely do get that London is a hard place, but I do find it funny that people are absolutely up for ripping into it. ‘It’s shit’, ‘it’s horrible’. It is very hardcore, but it’s also not that. I’m up for it at the moment. But, it is disgustingly expensive, and that’s not cool at all. It’s forcing people out. But I’ve had a few flukey living situations that makes it doable, so I’m really lucky. I don’t have a family to support. I can be in a situation where I could be a homeless for a month or so.

Is Brexit in your thoughts at all?
We have all become more political, but I haven’t written a song yet called ‘I Hope Brexit Doesn’t Happen’. But as your life is informed by stuff that is happening, even though it is not that necessarily explicit, of course it’s informed by what’s happening. It filters in. I’m also slightly blocking it off. As a form of engaging with it… somehow.

How would you describe what you do?
We once played in America and someone described it as thrift shop pop. That’s brilliant.

Some people have thrown this folk label at you over the years.
It’s definitely not traditional folk, but they are songs. It does feel misrepresentative, but it doesn’t feel wrong.

Jeff Hemmings