By Milan Perera, Second Year English Literature and Community Engagement
Epigram Music catches up with the singer-songwriter ahead of her Bristol gig at Crofters Rights on the 11th June.
She strums a jet black Rickenbacker and sings with a dulcet voice closer to the microphone. It doesn’t take Hercule Poirot to figure out that she is an ardent Beatles fan. When I interviewed her over the phone prior to the rescheduled UK tour, I had to ask her if she is a secret Beatles fan as she is championing a Rickenbacker rather than a Fender Telecaster or a Les Paul. She burst out laughing and said there is no secret about it. There was such a note of jollity in her voice that the overcast afternoon suddenly seemed golden.
Roxanne de Bastion loves the Beatles. She grew up listening to the sonic cascade of the Beatles played by her father on their record player. Those chord progressions, the signature guitar licks of George Harrison and the beautifully entwined vocal harmonies of Lennon and McCartney were seared on to her from a tender age. De Bastion’s approach to music making is a throwback to this gilded age of rock and roll. She doesn’t have a secret army of Tin Pan Alley songwriters. She writes them all and plays multiple instruments on the records alongside the session musicians. With an extensive back catalogue and slick music videos, Roxanne de Bastion set her marker down in the music scene.
Her debut album Heirloom and Hearsay, released in 2017, marked her triumphant entry into the music scene. Her songwriting is gifted with a rare sparkle that shines bright. She doesn’t like to be confined to a neatly defined genre. It is an explosion of sound that covers many genres: from folk to rock and roll and from indie rock to pop. What matters most for her is to channel her message across despite the genre.
It is almost akin to swimming against the tide: she refused to be a darling of a mega record label under the auspices of a music mogul. Instead, she invites her fandom to be her collaborators: fans and well-wishers can contribute to her musical projects via her Patreon page. Her love for her audience is sincere and heartfelt. She often asks members to come forward nearer to the stage. The audiences are an integral part of the performance as she would make them belt out the choruses to their hearts' content.
Born in Germany to a musical family where her father was a musician by profession, De Bastion’s musical education was multifaceted, much like her future creative output after avidly listening to great artists of yester years. She has performed at prestigious music festivals including the iconic Glastonbury Acoustic stage and Cambridge Folk Festival. She is the ultimate consummate artist who never takes her audience for granted. Whether if it’s an audience of 30,000 or 30, she always guarantees to provide a memorable experience.
Her second album was written before the lockdown, but it would seem that the sequence of events that took place immediately before the lockdown may have shaped the album. Before the world went into a complete lockdown at the mercy of an epidemic, she lost her father, who was also her best friend, mentor and confidant. While fellow artists were busy producing ‘lockdown albums’, de Bastion used the first few months of the lockdown to come to terms with her personal bereavement. It was a period of healing and catharsis which made her get back to her artistic groove with a renewed vigour. Her second album, ‘You & Me, We Are The Same’, is no lugubrious solemnity but a kaleidoscope of musical delights. It is poignant but never mournful or indulgent, but a life-affirming ode. For ‘You & Me, We Are The Same’ is given an enormous boost with the involvement of Bernard Butler during its production phase. Butler’s contribution is akin to having a dream tag-team partner as he is one of the highly acclaimed producers in the music scene who has perfected the art of producing showstopper albums to a tee.
The scheduled spring tour had to be postponed much to her chagrin. She expressed her disappointment for not being able to launch the tour in spring as she needed some more time to take the stock for a gruelling UK tour followed by a European tour. When I asked her if she has played in Bristol before, she apologetically responded, “only once at the Fleece.” She is looking forward to performing at the intimate music venue of Crofters Rights. De Bastion’s headline tour is also graced with the performances from the rising stars Ellie James and Zoe Konez. It is guaranteed to be an evening of verve, vitality and panache. A musical engagement not to be missed.
Will you be seeing Roxanne de Bastion at Crofters Rights?