I can only imagine how challenging it is…
for a teenage artist to get a foothold in the music industry. Irish musician ROE discusses her path into music and what inspired the brilliant and arresting, Wasted.Patient.Thinking. She talks about the music scene in Derry – and how important the Irish crowds are – the artists/sounds that inspire her music; whether there are any tour dates coming up – and whether we can expect to see new material very soon.
I ask ROE how it feels having her music described as ‘grumpy’; how musical her young life was; the three albums that mean the most to her; some great new acts worth checking out – how she spends her free time (away from music).
Hi, ROE. How are you? How has your week been?
Heya! It’s been pretty chill for a change!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name’s ROE and I’m an Electro-Pop multi-instrumentalist.
You describe your music as ‘grumpy’. Is that a persona, to an extent – or is it a genuine manifestation of personal anxieties and mood?
I think the grumpy thing comes from my lyrics - so it’s just genuine mood! Most of my songs sound pretty happy - until you really listen to the lyrics and then people realise how dark the things I talk about really are. About a year ago, a blog described my music as ‘grumpy Electro-Pop’ and I really liked the term so, ever since, I’ve just run with it!
Wasted.Patient.Thinking. is your new single. Can you talk about the background and what the song is all about?
Wasted.Patient.Thinking. is about not putting someone else’s happiness above your own. Everybody gets into bad relationships at some point in their life: whether it’s with pals or something more and, even though it might be hard; the best thing in those situations is to get out of it and look after yourself - rather than think about someone else’s feelings.
Is there going to be more material later in the year? What are you working on right now?
Definitely! At the minute; I’m back in the studio working on a big release for this year and I’m always writing new material…
So...you can 100% expect a lot in 2018.
Derry is where you are from. Is there a big music scene there? How inspirational are the people to you?
The music scene in Derry is pretty big and there’s usually always a gig to go to - but I think the support for local artists could be way better. For some reason, I think it’s really hard to get people from Derry to head out to an original band’s gig. The people of in our music community seriously inspired me to get involved in it. The music workshops put on when I was younger were what pushed me to keep writing and playing for people.
I have been thinking about young artists and the pressure the media puts on them. At ninteen; do you feel there is a weight of expectation behind you?
Yeah. I think that, by being a young artist, there is this underlying pressure of having to accomplish all of your goals while you’re still really young - even though there are so many musicians out there that spend years working on their music to get where they want to be. In the year-and-a-half that I’ve been doing this; I’ve also realised how important your image and the way that you present yourself is (which is a bit scary) - because everything that you put up online or say in an interview is just out there in public for everyone to see.
But, there’s also something super-honest about that, though, which I love.
Last year; you played in Europe and the U.K. – some big festival appearances included! Is it quite a whirlwind looking back? Do you hope to have the same success – and busy diary – as 2017?
It’s been absolutely mental!
I never expected to be as busy as I was last year and, in no way, expected to be playing all of these big festivals less than a year into being ROE. I would love to be as busy as last year- hopefully even busier!
Is the stage somewhere you feel your music comes to life? How exhilarating is it getting that first-hand reaction from people?
100%! Anytime I play a gig, it’s always a mad feeling looking out and watching people listen to my songs for the first time. When people cry or smile - or start dancing away - I get this feeling of gratification knowing that I’ve written something that connects to people the way I wanted it to. Even though I play these songs over and over; the crowd and the fact that these people are only hearing what I’ve written for the first time always makes me hyped to play them.
Was your early life filled with music? Which artists were you exposed to at a young age?
I’ve always been connected to music because of my dad. When I was younger, he listened to loads of C.D.s in the house and took me to concerts. I played the cello when I was in primary school and took some piano lessons. But; it wasn’t until I was about fourteen and my brother got a guitar - which I stole - for Christmas that I really got into playing music.
There was a lot of U2, Bon Jovi and The Killers in my life as a kid.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Academic/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Joni Mitchell’s Blue
Because the way that she tells stories in her songs really translated into my writing.
U2’s Songs of Innocence
Because my dad always played them around the house growing up - and he was the one that got me into music.
Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life
Because it’s an album that I always come back to and, every time, it amazes me how incredible of a songwriter he is.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
At the minute, I’m planning an Irish tour! I have a few gigs coming up soon. I’m playing the Nerve Centre on Friday (2nd February) for Independent Venue Week; Output Belfast on 8th - and I have a couple more gigs coming up down in Dublin soon!
Looking back on your time in music so far; are there favourite memories that come to mind?
Glastonbury; because of how insane it was that I was playing at it and the Other Voices festival down in Dingle because of how incredible that weekend was. It was just the best craic - and every show was packed out! Also; Whelan’s Ones to Watch because it was my first time doing a gig there - and there was a full-house (of the best audience) for it.
How do you spend time away from music? Any hobbies or favourite ways to chill?
I go to the gym a few days a week to clear my head; hang out with my friends and watch a lot of T.V. shows!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I Wish - Stevie Wonder