Roxanne de Bastion
Heart of Stone
Heart of Stone is available at:
Singer-Songwriter; Pop; Alternative; Folk
London, U.K.; Berlin, Germany
28th July, 2017
The album, Heirlooms & Hearsay, is available at:
THERE is so much to love and respect…
about Roxanne de Bastion. I will come to look at her track, Heart of Stone, but, before then, aspects relating to the young artist. I want to look at Berlin and the German music market; artists who strive for equality and better rights for their peers; mixing 1960s touches with varied compositions; a striking voice and its effectiveness; the inspiration behind albums and touring schedules – gaining popularity and what that can lead to. I shall start by looking at Germany – where de Bastion spent her first few years. It is, I am seeing, a lot of musicians actually immigrate to Berlin. It may seem like London is the most attractive proposition but that is not exclusively the case. A band I am interviewing later this week, Zap!, have found themselves in the German capital. It seems like their way of life and way of working is attractive and alluring. I can understand, given the way the country has been divided here, why many would want to go to another nation. Germany seems a lot more stable – politically, anyway – and capable of speaking for its people without creating a generation divide. We have screwed up every political decision/vote we’ve had and it seems like the ‘majority’ are advocating a detachment from people and other nations. Germany, at the very least, is more pragmatic and less entitled. When nations are divided, it impacts on every sector of society. The music industry here is great but it seems like Berlin is flourishing – and promoting some of the finest bands around. Even though de Bastion lives over here; she began her music course in Berlin and learnt a lot. I want to talk about a few of the bands making waves and the sort of music coming out of the city. I am taking from this article and their choices of the best artists to keep an eye out for.
Roosevelt is one stunning artist who has been progressing over the last year or two:
“His 2013 EP “Elliot” was praised by the international music press, and he toured with Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Crystal Fighters. His self-titled debut full-length, released August 19 on Greco-Roman, the Berlin-London-based label co-founded by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, will be accompanied by a world tour with dates in Europe and the United States (many already sold out). Like his label-mates, this record is loaded with instant dance party anthems. Although he was born in 1990, Roosevelt makes music that sounds like a New Wave smash hit: dance-pop with unabashedly big melodic pop hooks, fetching vocals, and memorable sing-along choruses. Trust us: You will hear this record at every house party you go to this year”.
Slow Steve are a quartet that is “Inspired by ’70s science fiction films and the work of Jules Verne, the debut album from French musician Remi Letournelle, formerly of the band Fenster, feels like the vintage soundtrack to an unmade film. Delicately layered psychedelic pop soundscapes, and vintage analog instruments create otherworldly settings, while the lyrics tell interwoven stories about exploring land, sea and sky”. One of the other acts worth watching (from Berlin) is Laisse-Moi:
“Laisse-Moi, a Berlin-based synth pop trio, was born in a analyst’s office. As a teenager, Manon Heugel grew up as the “girl singer” in “guy’s bands,” but got sick of singing the funk rock fashionable in ‘90s Paris, moved to Berlin, and found work as an actress. But then, in her analyst’s office, she decided she wanted to sing her own songs. She found a German bassist, Christina Riesenweber, and a classically-trained French pianist, Marie Klock, and with a drum machine and vintage analog synthesizers, they formed a synthpop band inspired by German no-wave and ‘80s French pop, narrating stories of Berlin nightlife with a sexy, feminist bent”.
Diät “is comprised of two Australian guys and two German guys playing melodic post-punk that wouldn’t be out of place in the original Manchester scene. Their debut record, “Positive Energy,” co-released last year on Berlin’s Adagio830 and American label Iron Lung, was recorded in the middle of an East Berlin winter, and reflects the relentless dark northern European days when the sun goes down by 4 pm”. ANA ANA is a vital and incredible voice coming from the city right now:
“Now an electropop musician based in Berlin, she creates ambient triphop clearly influenced by artists such as Massive Attack. But her piano remains the distinctive center of her work, calling to mind classic piano-based singer songwriters such as Carole King, Tori Amos and Regina Spektor, while her strong, soulful pop vocals are influenced by American R&B artists (she particularly likes Prince and Aaliyah)”.
It is clear there is a lot of talent and diversity buzzing out of Berlin. I can see why many people are lured there: it is obvious how Roxanne de Bastion has grown and what she took from Germany. Now, she is in London and amalgamating her German experiences with fresh sounds and scents of the British capital. Fascinating to see de Bastion, in essence, having quite a Germanic approach to music – sublimating and fusing that with British tastes and elements. Whether she will remain here and take advantage of the country – or move again further down the line – she is, surely, one of the best artists the city has produced in the last couple of decades. Discovering artists like de Bastion gives us an insight into a nation like Germany and the type of music that is favoured. She will encourage others to investigate the capital and all the terrific music that is being played there. It is clear Germany gets overlooked (compared to the U.S. and U.K.) and warrants a lot more fondness.
Before I go on; a little bit of insight from the musician herself - on her upbringing and connection to music:
"My family has a piano. It has tiny marks on the top right corner, where my Dad used to gnaw at the wood with his baby teeth. Years later, I would play underneath it, while my Dad played his compositions, soaking up the sounds before my hands were large enough to reach a fifth. Our piano is a Blüthner baby-grand from Leipzig and was bought by my great grandfather, Aladar Holzer, in Szeged as a wedding present for his wife to be, Katicza Schwarz, in 1905. I carry her name as my middle name and share her birth year, exactly 100 years later. Their son Stephen de Bastion, then Bastyai von Holzer, learnt to play on this piano and became a professional musician in his early 30s. Shortly after, World War II broke out and, as for countless others, life was derailed, for them and generations to follow. Aladar, Katica and Stephen survived the hardships, but that is a story for another day (or another album). This is about our piano. It too survived; both the nazi and the communist takeover of Hungary and was shipped to England, where it was to live in a council house on the outskirts of Stratford upon Avon. My grandfather did not pursue his music career in the UK. He did, however, keep composing and in the late hours of June 19th 1954, he recorded “The Old Mill”, on a ferrograph. Our piano was given to my father after Stephen passed away. The piano moved back to Berlin in the 1990s, only miles from where it started its journey nearly 100 years earlier. Our collective history, the enigma that is my grandfather and our piano inspired this album. I am so grateful that my father, Richard de Bastion, played it on my song Train Tracks (remotely from Berlin), making this an album featuring three generations of de Bastion musicians. This album is dedicated to Stephen de Bastion"
One of the greatest things about Roxanne de Bastion is her commitment to equal rights and making sure artists are heard. She is on the board of FAC - whose advocacy is as follows:
“The FAC functions as a collective voice, actively promoting transparency and fairness within the industry. Artists possess a persuasive voice in influencing political debates, so the FAC ensures that voice is heard by government and policymakers in the UK, USA and EU.
Within the music industry, the FAC encourages better standards and business practices from record labels, music publishers and other business partners. The FAC has secured a seat on the board of UK Music, an umbrella organisation that brings together all sides of the music industry. This ensures the artist voice is heard at the highest level and on an equal footing alongside labels and other stakeholders.
The FAC is also at the heart of umbrella artist organisation IAO (International Artist Organisation) in order to unite artists on an international level”.
The Featured Artists Coalition is a vital movement and one de Bastion immerses herself in. She joined as a Board Director in 2014 and, spoke on a panel (in Berlin) with Travis’ Fran Healy. She is someone who wants the best for her fellow musicians. That is impressive to hear in someone whose hands must be tied up with various commitments, music and personal. I am amazed she finds the time but it is clear how much passion she has for music. In 2014, she conceived, organised and ran the From Me to You (FM2U). It’s a one-day conference that is specifically for independent artists. The panels are moderated to ensure all topics addressed relate to musicians and benefit them – there is no looking at the bottom-line and business interests. It also looks at lucrative technologies and the best ways to aid and develop the music industry. Having travelled around Europe; de Bastion realised a lot of things were being ignored – subject matters raised had little to do with music-making and the real experience of being a musician. She strives to change this and has seen her ventures grow. Few are as proactive and involved as Roxanne de Bastion. Not only is she getting her music right and good: she wants to make certain, when her songs are out there, it is given opportunity, proper exposure and respect.
I am really impressed by de Bastion’s business-minded attitude to music. As much as anything; she wants to make the industry fairer and safer for artists. She is encouraging dialogue and equality – that is something we can all get behind. In my previous review, looking at London’s The Wild Things, I spoke about feminism, sexual equality and how, over the past few weeks especially, there has been a lot of issues surrounding sexism. It seems we, as a people, are not as forward-thinking and modern as we hope. There needs to be real change in music: restructuring how decisions are made and who exerts the most control. The music industry should be a cooperative where the key shareholders are the musicians and listeners. It seems the big decisions are made by men or those who run businesses. They have a very skewed view of how music should run and what constitutes fairness and equality. I will come to this in my conclusion but want to look at de Bastion’s music. I shall touch, briefly, on her album later but I am concerned with the song, Heart of Stone. It has its own story – again, I shall address this – but seems to blend disparate and beautiful sounds into a cohesive whole. I know there are 1960s’ Psychedelia and strangeness in a lot of de Bastion’s work. It is never divisive or two out-there – every element and touch have accessibility and appeal. She ties that with varied compositions elements. Bringing in classic-sounding instruments and sophisticated soothe: there is bohemianism and sophisticated; rich emotion and ample passion. Artists often have an issue concocting great music that brings in diverse and polemic elements. Many fuse genres like Folk and Hip-Hop (well, a few try that) with varied compositions elements. Bringing in classic-sounding instruments and sophisticated soothe: there is bohemianism and sophisticated; rich emotion and ample passion. Artists often have an issue concocting great music that brings in diverse and polemic elements. Many fuse genres like Folk and Hip-Hop (well, a few do!) and others try Pop and Rock. Getting it right is not always as easy as one might perceive. Creating something original and popular is often the hardest thing – the two do not always have a logical bond. There is that desire for something commercial which often contradicts the quality and innovation of modern music. Sounds that are foreign and unusual are not the most obvious songs that make the mainstream.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris McCracken
I want to look at Berlin and the German music market; artists who strive for equality and better rights for their peers; mixing 1960s touches with varied compositions; a striking voice and its effectiveness; the inspiration behind albums and touring schedules – gaining popularity and what that can lead to. Perhaps de Bastion’s upbringing – a bilingual, highly musical family – was instrumental in her current path. It would be hard to ignore the sounds that would have swirled from the family home. De Bastion herself puts the luscious piano and soaked strings with more conventional and Pop/Folk-minded sounds. I am not sure what de Bastion grew up lionising but I imagine there would have been local sounds and chart acts of the time. She is still a very young woman and is adopting new inspiration with everything she records. It is a bold and impressive approach to music. One would forgive her for reigning things in and replicating her older work: her new album is rife with social commentary and mixed sounds; so many different ideas and expressions run through it. Heart of Stone, as I shall investigate, is a jewel that, once heard, begs you to listen back and unearth its true intricacy and mystery. It is no surprise that, running alongside this wide-ranging musical approach is a startling and singular voice. I have been reading reviews from radio stations and publications who all express the same thing: Roxanne de Bastion’s voice is like nothing you will ever hear. Most of the singers I come across, in one way or the other, are similar to others. Many are gearing themselves for the mainstream and consciously have a very familiar tone – something that has been approved and used to sell millions of records. Those who are unconcerned with that side of things are free to have their own sound and use their voice to truly inspire. That is what one gets from de Bastion. She is a songbird who, according to some high-profile names, is someone you need in your life.
I am not one to argue my betters so have been intrigued by what it is that makes her so special. Perhaps it is that unique background that has led to this stunning concoction. On the one hand, the young artist would have been open to Germanic sounds and artists playing around Berlin. She would get a glimpse into Classic music and Folk. Moving to London, she has had a chance to witness a new nation and a different source for inspiration. There is that bi-nation, bilingual approach to music that extends to her personality and ethos. Here is someone who wants to connect with people and does not believe in entitlement and shutting others out. We are divided by language and balkanised right now. The U.K. wants little to do with Europe: the rest of the continent is bemused and, for no logical reason, there is a rift running through the continent. Not only have the British people made it clear – the majority; not me or many people I know – they would prefer to be isolated; it is galling and a very worrying nationalism. Those, like many of my generation, who want people to join together and fight issues as a united force is finding it hard to have our voices heard. In a way, de Bastion’s singing voice is an instrument that appeals and attracts people from all around the world. It has no graces or demands: a singular delight that shows how universal music is. Why, then, do our people insist on division when they love music so much? Music is an art form that hates separation and hatred. Hearing someone like Roxanne de Bastion sing melts troubles away and shows how silly and frustrating divisions are. There are no easy answers – things will take a long time to settle down – but one should not underestimate the power of music. Roxanne de Bastion is someone who wants to change the world through music and what she is putting out. Not only does she want to make the best music she can: there is a need to have all artists on the same level – making sure each of them gets heard and is not overlooked. That is impressive and commendable from someone who could well easily ignore that and focus on her own sounds.
I shall come to look at Heart of Stone soon but, before then, a look at the C.V. of Roxanne de Bastion. U.S. artist Lambchop has chosen de Bastion to support them as they tour the U.K. in August. There will be a collection of dates that range from the South Coast to Scotland. On 29th July, she will take to the Cambridge Folk Festival and a great chance to have her music spread to the eager and passionate masses. It is going to be a very busy next couple of months but one that will introduce her music to new supporters. Again, in my last review, I wondered how musicians survive on the profits from streaming services and gigs. The former seems like a risky avenue and one not compensating its artists sufficiently. Touring is the way to make any money – and survive. If small venues are not as stable as they should; getting these festivals and mini-tours are invaluable. Few artists have the same chances as de Bastion but she, as we have seen, is a rare bird that has deserved everything that has come her way. Of course, she will be looking at small venues and spots around the country to subsidise her earnings. Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester are a few of the bigger cities the Berlin-born singer-songwriter will be heading to in the near-future. The fact she has already got big plaudits from stations like BBC Radio 6 Music means there will be a solid fanbase already. I know her social media numbers and growing and she is getting so much recognition and love on Facebook and Twitter. Her eager P.R. drive – assisted by Helen at Folkstock – is getting this remarkable music to stations, new people and nations. I am sure, in the coming years, she will be one of those artists who tours the world endlessly. It seems like an international sojourn would suit her greatly. Whether she is playing back in Berlin or not I am not sure – the following she has here might keep her in the U.K. for a bit.
Before coming to Heart of Stone; its origins intrigue me. The song is about, as its writer explained, about repentance and being born anew. It is about casting off those dark thoughts and washing your hands of blood and dirt. Whether there was a personal moment that inspired the song I am unsure but it is a great and original avenue to explore. What fascinates me about the song is how stunning and mature it sounds. The composition and vocalisation is wondrous and profound. There is something unexpected and mesmeric about the song that seems to suit the lyrical Genesis. That need to cast aside a black soul and not be tied up with dark concerns is reflected in the music. Not many artists are addressing something as universal and necessary through music. So many still get hooked on love and exploiting that for all it is worth. In a way; Heart of Stone could be about love and not being poisoned by a relationship not worth your time. I can extrapolate a lot from that side of things. Unrequited love is always a heartbreaking and harrowing thing so, being madly in love with someone who might be aligned to the wrong man is always painful and upsetting. Not naming names but seeing a friend – whom I have immense feelings for – making questionable choices – or following the unwise part of her heart – means it creates a lot of stress and longing in me. Heart of Stone could easily be about that kind of love: not getting what you want and not letting it consume you. Rather than being obsessed by options and possible ways in - perhaps accepting things might not work the way you’d hope is a healthy and dogmatic realisation. I do not know but songs like this certainly make one think. Songs are designed to inspire and make us richer as people. I am concerned few are taking the trouble to pen something that resonates beyond their own ego and concerns. Roxanne de Bastion is a young woman who has a philosophical approach to music. She writes songs that are designed to help and improve a human. Heart of Stone, her album as well, is full of teachable lessons and wise words. Let’s hope many of her peers follow suit and make music a more diverse and extraordinary place.
Barely a whisper accompanies Roxanne de Bastion as she announces the first words of Heart of Stone. Covered in sand and dirt, in the video, she proclaims how she woke up feeling old. Not knowing what this should be the case; there is a sense of the young artist literally and figuratively feeling age and the years on her shoulders. Maybe that is a comment on the connection to her grandfather. Perhaps there is an element of being burdened by certain issues and struggles. Given we know the song is about washing away negativity; one can see there are some personal concerns that need airing. Knowing what I know about her grandparents – and how she casts her mind back to their realities – it is understandable she would want to rid her body and mind of any bad feelings. In those initial stages, one is entranced by the purity and stillness of the vocal. It is almost child-like in its delicate nature. There is a sense of social acrophobia in the heroine. She does not want to go out and tackle the world around her. Maybe the state of affairs in the world has taken their toll and there is little need to fight it. A bit of defeatism and hopelessness is on her shoulders. With the voices swirling in her head; many could forgive her for shutting away from the crowds and resting. Instead, the doors are being flung open and she is embracing the world. Many might literally interpret the song as a sense of frighten: not facing the perils of the outside but having to swallow any anxieties. To me, I feel there is a personal struggle that is much broader and larger than the world around her. That seems odd – given the size of the planet – but the pains and strains one can carry in their heart. Perhaps there is a lost love or personal relationships that need to be exorcised. It is interesting because the words are broad and personal at the same time. There is no specific event
As the heroine’s body gets stronger and more determined; the composition matches her and heightens. More elements come into play and one starts to hear the piano become more prominent – other instruments in the mix. The production gets hotter and more lustrous. The vocals, as such, match the surroundings and become more energised. Roxanne de Bastion is not someone who changes her ethics and sound without necessity. Her voice retains that beauty and grace but needs to inject more urgency and rawness when the lyrics call for it. This is not a cynical ploy to awaken the senses: it is a natural progression and evolution of the story. I became more engrossed as the song continued and what it could symbolise. Few artists can hook you in and get into the heart as readily as de Bastion. Heart of Stone is a general song that urges people not to be defeated by the worst instincts and urges. Knowing what I have unearthed about de Bastion; I wonder how many areas the song ventures into. Maybe there is a symbolic aspect in the video – on the ground and face covered in mud/sand. I think about the music industry and how influential that is. Maybe there are little warning signs to those who hide behind desks and masks – not really thinking about the equality and fairness in the music industry; concerned with faulty ways and their own egos. Given her family history; perhaps there are warning to a Europe that is, in many ways, as divided and fraught as it was in 1939. There is a delirious and cherry-lipped charm to the composition and vocal in the song. It bursts into life and has its own charm and personality. One moment, you are stunned by its emotiveness and seriousness: the next, enchanted by its merriness and defiance. The heroine woke up cold and alone; she was dealing with something serious but, in a single moment, decided to change things.
There are so many different notes and ideas that work away in the background. Whilst the heroine is facing the changes of the day and the way she approaches thing – the composition seems to summon alterations in the climate and emotional reflections. Strained strings and swooping notes; tinkle of the piano and percussive notation. There is so much working away but Heart of Stone retains a simplicity and focus. In the video, the heroine draws a chalk picture of a piano – colours burst out of it and it seems to represent the clash of colour and black-and-white emotions. Things are not as simple as they appear (black-and-white) whilst realisation and epiphany can be a colourful realisation. Music is a way of unlocking that freedom but so too is purging things and feelings that bog you down. From feeling sleepy and wanting to retreat; there is this renewed energy and determination to tackle things head-on. That is inspiring for anyone in the same predicament but adds curiosity to the song. I feel like Heart of Stone is more personal and intimate than I first thought. That feeling of coming to – she literally says it in the song – is a real turning-point. Having washed the blood from her hands (whether a symbol of guilt and accusation or literal) there is a chance to improve and embrace happiness. Few songs go through such a transformation in such a short time. One gets the sense the origins of this pain are more complicated than a couple of minutes of music. I assume there was a struggling period and real dark period. The key to unlocking the positivity and hope inside is what we hear in Heart of Stone. There is salvation, ambition and urgency. The song continues its spirited and galloping sound. The percussion and piano entwine and rolls around the floor as the heroine’s voice is at its most expressive and stunning. You are compelled and struck by the power and beauty that remains throughout the song. Heart of Stone is the perfect representation of Roxanne de Bastion and the sort of music she is putting out. Heart of Stone is a brilliant song whose nuances and brilliance will have you coming back for more – keep an eye out for announcements of new music very soon.
Before I revisit some of my earlier points; I want to look at Roxanne de Bastion’s album, Heirlooms & Hearsay. The idea of an heirloom is not something one thinks about and connects it to music. In a way, all of music belongs to every one of us. It is out chattel and inherited bequeathment. The heirloom of music is to be treasured and passed to new generations. The ‘hearsay’ part of the album could be about rumours and toxic gossip – the way that kind of talk is not helpful. Maybe it is about false promises and chasms that exist between the reality of the music industry and the way it is being run. In discussing the album, de Bastion has stated it is about her family and the differences between generations. Not identifying herself as either German or British – not a fan of the notion of a nation state – we are all one of the same and a lot richer than previous generations. De Bastion’s grandparents were caught up in the war and had to evade terrible social poverty and physical harm. It seems, as a more privileged and, in a way, ignorant generation, we forget what life was like in the late-1930s and 1940s. De Bastion’s grandparents made it to the U.K. in 1947 and just as well – if they did not, we might not have had Roxanne de Bastion on the planet. She is thankful she is here and feels this entitlement – the sense we should all get what we want all the time – ties to a sense of class and the modern age. With the Internet controlling our lives – social media ruling many – we seem unable to disconnect from the machine and bond with our fellow man. The U.K. is a wealthy nation but there are huge differences between those in the poorer quarters – compared to the richer in our society. Many who have money and success do not think about those less fortunate and take the time to do anything about it.
As a nation, we are less human and aware of the world around us than ever before. Whether that is because of technology and how buried in it we get – perhaps there are other reasons. In a lot of ways; Roxanne de Bastion’s album addresses that and why we get entangled in negativity and selfishness. Heart of Stone is about washing away negativity before our hearts cement and close off for good. Other tracks on the album ask why we find it logical to think of ourselves and push others away. We do this in our own lives but, as a country, we are showing how singular and stupid we can really be – cutting ties with a continent that has supported us through the decades. Having gone through two World Wars; it seems all that the brave men and women fought for – unification and a solidified continent – is being ripped apart. It shows ingratitude that has inspired a lot of anger in de Bastion. Thinking about her grandfather, especially, and the things he had to go through really lit a spark. Half the album looks at him and the stark realities of his life. The other half looks at now and how the world has changed. It is a fascinating blend that is like a concept, in many ways. It is a history of Europe and how the continent has evolved since the 1940s, especially. In a lot of ways, we have not moved on at all: certainly not learnt any lessons and continue to push others away. Our means are less forceful but the motives are, in a way, more disturbing. There is no issue of national security and world peace: we feel we are better off without our European cousins. I urge people to get the album on Spotify – or go to de Bastion’s official website, too – and listen to a record that teaches and informs. It points at where we have come from and how we need to improve as a group of humans. Recorded with some great musicians; the L.P. has a great live feeling. It makes the songs sound more stark, beautiful and direct. It is the start of things for de Bastion and indication she is an artist who will be a worldwide treasure very soon.
I will close this down but, before then, a kick nod to the subjects I discussed early on. I will come back to Germany in the last moments but want to come back to artists who promote equality and look out for their peers; a bit on clashing decades and sounds – what a truly terrific voice can do. Roxanne de Bastion’s work across music – as an artist and what she does with the Featured Artists Coalition – means she is getting her name and songs out to a lot of people. In a way, her music is stronger because of what she does with F.A.C. She sees, first-hand, the struggles musicians go through and what divisions exist. One can apply this to aspects of the album: the young artist talking about her contemporaries and the bad deal they get. In any case; de Bastion has that empathy and insight into how the music industry truly works. She knows changes need to be made and is aiming to get better rights for musicians. That is commendable but it is a struggle and fight we all need to be a part of. If we want the music industry to grow and survive; it is fundamental and paramount we engage with it and ask questions. It is not the case there is little money available to ensure music’s heritage and foundations are kept solid and visible. The government has a chance to contribute; those who make decisions in music have power and influence – it seems there is a lack of effort and consideration for something as wonderful as the music industry. It would be a crying shame were we to live in an age when our best small venues are extinguished and replaced. Gentrification and changing tastes are seeing venues being closed and replaced with bars and flats. Maybe people are staying in more and it is not possible to ensure the survival of all venues around the country. That is something we might have to face but there are so many other issues and aspects that need addressing – Roxanne de Bastion is a woman who gives her heart and soul to making things fairer, better and more human. She acts as an ambassador and envoy of music – someone who can really make a difference.
Looking and listening to Roxanne de Bastion and I have every faith she will be a star of the future. She is a beautiful and strong woman who concerns herself with the business, morals and sustainability of the music industry. She wants to change national perceptions and eradicate the interconnection Berlin Wall of division that has blighted the landscape. In essence, having descended from grandparents involved in the Second World War; she knows, through them, what life was like for them in the 1940s. It was a hard and modest time that was as synonymous with destruction as it was normality. We do not have the same threat and problems to contend with. I think we ignore and forget how the world was and think, as we are free from war, we should go to the other end of the spectrum and hang on to a privilege only earned through the freedoms and liberties our previous generations fought for. In any case, there are people like Roxanne de Bastion who are ensuring we do not become completely ignorant and naïve. Not only is her passionate speaking voice causing waves: her striking and heavenly singing voice is causing quivers and tremors. I have heard few singers that can startle and silence people. Many are hailing it as one of those truly original and legendary sounds. I have heard it in the context of Heart of Stone and can share that opinion. Not only does the British-based songwriter harness her extraordinary voice: there is a keen passion for various genres and sounds. She is not someone reserved to a genre or mould – like so many of her contemporaries. I know musicians that replicate others in order to find some form of cheap success. For Roxanne de Bastion; she has the fortitude to create her own voice and tackle music her own way. In the short-term she might have to fight harder but, in the long-term, she will reap the rewards.
Roxanne de Bastion grew up in a German household but turned into a woman whilst in our country. That combination of Germanic childhood memories – the music of her parents and local musicians – with the chart and mainstream acts she would have experienced here (and local gems) have combined in a rich and astonishing melting pot. Maybe it is her family and bi-nation exposure but I’d like to think de Bastion was instilled with the curiosity and endeavour from birth. I love how she employs bits of the 1960s and the psychedelic sounds of the time. There are hints of earlier Folk artists and some artists, no doubt she would have heard in Berlin as a child – the bands and acts reserved for that city. Throw in some modern artists in Britain and you have that unique Roxanne de Bastion sound. Coming from a city like Berlin; she would have been inspired by the fantastic artists playing around there at the time. She is away from there now but, even if she has left, the spirit and quality have not dampened. I mentioned a few artists earlier but they are the tip of a sturdy iceberg. Maybe London has the better reputation but Berlin is becoming a natural calling for many musicians. I know artists there who are fascinated by the range of clubs and venues in the city. There are dive bars for Rock bands and those untampered, decaying areas that inspire the heaviest and sweatiest bands. There are great Jazz clubs and plenty of choices for those who want something more sophisticated. Being a cosmopolitan city; there are big arenas and theatres – all manner of spaces for new musicians to cut their teeth and be inspired by. Visit Berlin and you will experience a different people and way of life. More connected and less distant than many here: it is an extraordinary place for art and music. I feel more musicians should take guidance from Berlin and the way things are done there. Maybe the international media is more concerned with British and American music but there are a lot of promising artists that will make their way to international focus. Roxanne de Bastion has taken all the spirit and colour from Berlin and married it to the differences and qualities of Britain. That goes into a musician that has revealed a stunning album – Heirlooms & Hearsay – and the single, Heart of Stone. In fact, the song is part of a double A-side. The Painter is the other part of it, could not have the time to review both, and was co-written with Thom Morecroft. It is a rare co-write and one that just sort of happened – showing de Bastion can work in various situations and create music in different ways. Discover her music and what comes from a rare and special woman. She wants to make real and positive changes in the world of music and has the power to do that. Listen to a song like Heart of Stone and you would have to ask…
PHOTO CREDIT: Helen Meissner
HOW could you possibly ignore her?!
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