I am kicking off today by speaking with Alice Rose…
who has been talking about her new single, Berlin Is for Dreamers, and what its story is. She discusses her upcoming E.P. and explains what the scene is like in Berlin right now – and why the Government are forcing musicians off of the streets.
Alice Rose tells me about her musical influences and albums that strike hard; what she hopes to achieve by the end of this year and whether there are any tour dates coming – she ends the interview by selecting a real good song.
Hi, Alice. How are you? How has your week been?
My week was exciting! I was in the studio making a remix for my Berlin Is for Dreamers song - coming out next year.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Well. I am Alice Rose. I am a cosmopolitan, Danish singer-songwriter, autoharp and viola player. I was a one-woman-performer with sample and drum machine for many years and I spend most of my life living in different countries, sharing my music. I love unusual instruments and sounds. I was attracted early on to Electronic music, so I have done a fair amount of songs and music with Electronic production.
I spend hours in the studio producing new material and honing my craft. I also have a love for acoustic and minimal music and my roots in Classical music. On this new album, which is Dream-Folk; I have chosen to work very old-fashioned, I guess: no computer instruments or sequencer; recording all instruments live in two months last summer…a handmade album. It was a great process. I was writing so many poetic lyrics and this album just came pouring out of me.
(I am Alice Rose. I am singer-songwriter from Copenhagen, originally, in a musical home. I played violin and piano, sang in choirs; then I started with bands and theatre practice. This slowly took me into my own songwriting. Now, I live in Berlin. And, before that, I lived in Prague, Amsterdam and Cologne. I have made a few albums, mainly as a songwriter avant-garde Pop with Electronic production. I have been a featured vocalist with House and Techno music and have produced Tech, House and D.J. sets under the name ‘Tiger Rose’.
Now, at the moment, I am working mainly with an instrument called the autoharp and my new album is working without computer-generated sounds. I still love to play the viola and my loop station and am constantly working on new songs).
Berlin Is for Dreamers is your new single. What is it about Berlin that struck your imagination?
The freedom, the people; the energy. From all over the world, people travel here to live out their artistic dreams and creativity is everywhere. At least this is how it has been. Affordable rents and space has given artists a chance to immerse themselves in their work. I like this about the city and I hope it stays this way, although rents are rising and forcing people to work jobs - and therefore having less time for their art.
Would you recommend people visit Berlin? Is it a very creative city?
Yes. Berlin is a big creative hub; there is a lot to explore here. You can come as you are and just be open - and doors will open for you. There are a lot of heavy things past here: war, poverty; Nazi buildings and past. But, there is also the equal amount of old traditions of freedom, exploration and unlimited options. It is a very facetted place with many highs and lows - just like I write about in my song, Berlin Is for Dreamers.
Might we see more material coming next year?
Yes. I am doing an E.P. of remixes of Berlin Is for Dreamers. More dancey and upbeat - also, the songs What to Do in the Rain and Heart High. At the same time, I am writing my next album which is also Singer-Songwriter but I cannot say when it will be finished. Writing, recording and producing is a process and releasing takes time and planning, especially in these D.I.Y. musician days...so, let's see.
Which artists did you grow up around? Were you raised in a musical family?
I was raised in a very musical family. We sang a lot and my mom is a pianist as well as my grandfather who was also a Classical singer. He worked as an organ player and music teacher and we spend a lot of time in his place in the countryside. I used to climb up and secretly play the strings inside the grand piano a bit like the strings on an autoharp. I also grew up playing with a tape recorder that my uncle gave us; my sister and I would do our own music show. My first job, from age seven, was singing in choir in church and I got to play piano and then the violin. Violin was my dream instrument.
My dad would listen to a lot of Beat music like The Beatles or Jazz. But, we also heard a ton of Classical music like Bach, Mozart and Peter and the Wolf by Tchaikovsky. So, a great mix. My older sister was a Whitney Houston and WHAM fan, so I was sort of ‘forced’ to listen to that when we did the dishes after dinner. I was more into Pink Floyd and Eurythmics, but when I hear a good Pop song today, I bless my sister for that influence as well. Some amazing pop songs in the '80s.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
To have released my album to my satisfaction, shared the music with the world; reached some people and have hopefully inspired the audiences near and far. I also would like to finish my remixes and have set up my home studio for new recording adventures.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
When I lived in Amsterdam in 2015, I started playing street music as a live producer with a loop station, a small Hip-Hop drum machine, voice and my viola. I soon found out that they didn't tolerate amplified music in Amsterdam and got stopped by the police. Didn't wanna give up!
I had the strong urge to play impromptu concerts for myself and the world and so I bought four sets of headphones, some camping chairs and set up a silent concert where people could listen to my music on the street. A bit like a silent disco. It was amazing! So many encounters with people; met a lot of curious children; the music sounded fantastic on the headphones - like diving into a magical world – so, yeah; so many beautiful moments! It was an unforgettable feeling and experience. I may repeat it here in Berlin in 2019.
At the moment, the city is changing so much! They are kicking musicians off the streets, to ‘clean up’ the city, which I think is terrible! They should rather get rid of the many cars! I may start my silent concerts again; also as a sort of protest and to keep on living my art...
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
It is hard to say. SO many beautiful albums.
I do like the soundtrack of (Out of Rosenheim) Bagdad Cafe - a movie about a German lady who goes to live in a small cafe in the desert. I was so inspired by the movie that I wanted the L.P. for my birthday. It was my first record. That and a Eurythmics tape. I love Eurythmics. Uh…and Pink Floyd! Wow. Too many to choose.
An important record to me was Homegenic by Björk. It really touched me in deep ways. I remember I sat in a dark room listening to it the first time. Music can touch us in a way no words can describe. And, such a modern production! Great lyrics and a creative way to use instruments. Just a beautiful piece of work.
One more record I like to listen to (is the L.P.): Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come. Jamaican vibes. Also, it’s a soundtrack record. I remember watching the movie with my parents and loving the groove! One of the first old vinyl records I bought when I was a teenager.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Well. I think it would be amazing to go on tour with Joni Mitchell, but I am not sure she tours anymore. If he was still alive, it would be Leonard Cohen but he passed, as we know.
Well. My dream scenario on stage would be with the autoharp accompanied by a string quartet, banjo; a grand piano, a real harp; guitar, hang drum and percussions so I could play my album the way it actually sounds with all the instruments.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Meditate, travel; dance, do yoga or tai chi - so many practices to learn to be in the present moment. And, to relax in between. It’s so easy to get carried away so you need strategies to be grounded. Get to know yourself. Don't try to live up to some ideal or standard set by the music industry, business or other people. Find your own voice and write the song that it is living in you. Write from a pure heart!
Sounds easy, and maybe it’s a cliché, but actually coming from a place of true meaning is an ongoing journey. Again and again, we have to catch ourselves and ask: ‘Am I doing this for the right reasons?!’ A mantra I keep repeating to myself is “Always for the love, never for the money”, which is, of course, not easy because as musicians we also have to live and pay rent and all that. I think, in order to do something in an authentic way, you have to come home to yourself, repeatedly. I practice that, which is sometimes not so easy in this crazy, busy world full of input from everywhere.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Only in Germany at the moment:
25.10: Kaffee Burger - Berlin
26.11: Aether Bar - Berlin
02.11: Wulberts - Dresden
04.11: Kindle Stuben - Berlin
07.11: Ä-Bar - Berlin
08.11: Prachtwerk - Berlin
15.11: Musikmachine - Mainz
16.11: Ladezone – Leichlingen
17.11: Cologne – T.B.A.
21.11: Komm Du - Hamburg
22.11: Hamburg – T.B.A.
24.11: Prinz Willy - Kiel
28.11: Oblomov - Berlin
06.12: Artliners - Berli
Might you come to the U.K. and play at some point?
That would be wonderful, but I have nothing planned so far. Maybe next summer some festivals will pick me up, but it is beyond my control.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
In Berlin, there are so many exciting, young artists. That is mainly what I listen to, but often I do not know the names.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Yoga, meditation - and I love to dance. Also, I have an inflatable boat in the summer. It's fun to paddle around Berlin in that. Being on the water makes me very relaxed and happy. In the winter, I go to Asia and play music and do yoga. It is nice to be away from city life.
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).
This Side of the Blue - Joanna Newsom
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