Music interview: Lucy Roleff
The talented Lucy Roleff, a classically-trained musician from Melbourne, who works alone and with indie group Magic Hands, is set to release her first EP, Longbows. We chat to her about her time overseas and how she creatively spends the witching hours.
You grew up in a classical music household. What was the first instrument that you took on?
My first memory of music lessons was singing in the Australian Girls Choir at age five. I think I was crying within ten minutes of the first class. It was all really overwhelming and I sort of resisted structured music for ages – maybe because I subconsciously picked up how important it was in my family. After that it was piano lessons, then flute, cello, violin, guitar. That got a little too intense. So once upon a time it was pretty much every day after school I had something going on. These days I stick to guitar to accompany myself, sometimes keyboard, but if I’m not in the mood, I can’t force it.
What have been a couple of your favourite records that have been released this year?
Even though I’m sort of in the folk arena, I’m often drawn to artists that aren’t. Fade by Yo La Tengo has been on high rotation since its release earlier in the year. It’s a bit of a heartbreaker that one. Prudence Rees-Lee’s album ‘Court Music from the of Planet Love’ is also so unique and special. A real gem. Other than that I haven’t been very up to date with what’s new this year – Lately I’ve been devouring the music of a group called These Trails who made one album in the 1970’s and then sort of vanished. The album is psych meets Hawaiian folk meets downright bewitching.
You spent some time in Berlin, how did living overseas influence your creativity?
It was a really productive time for me during the recent stint living there. Last time I lived there I just kind of roamed about and because it was winter and I spent a lot of time inside counting my pennies and listening to music. Last year was pretty challenging for me so to be able to take a step away from familiar surroundings and focus on making music and drawings was just what I needed. I have that weird guilt where I totally get the mentality and life of Germans but I can’t immerse myself in their world as much I’d like because of my limited language skills. So there’s that interesting dynamic too where you don’t feel 100% comfortable in a place and it keeps you on your toes.
How did it feel when you first heard your music being played on the radio?
The first time I heard myself on the radio was when my Dad secretly sent some scrappy recordings I made to the more “upper brow” stations, like 3MBS or a German program on SBS. So anytime I hear myself I’m immediately transported to being 17 or 18 and getting in my Mum’s car to tune in, half excited, half wondering if the radio programmers thought I was a weirdo.
Why do you cite 1.30am as being an influential hour?
I like being alone. I used to feel guilty about that, especially when I’d stay home from parties and such to draw or write something. It just feels OK to be pottering about by yourself at 1.30am because it feels a little like time as stopped and you won’t miss out on much. Also I used to have this phase where I’d wake up around 1.30 or 2am and feel super creative. Funnily enough I learnt recently that our great great great ancestors used to sleep in two shifts, waking for about 2 hours around this time of the night before going back to sleep til morning. I like that idea.
How do you see yourself spending the remainder of the year? Will there be a tour to follow the launch of your EP, Longbows?
After the EP release I have quite a few things I’m looking forward to. I also play in an electro-pop duo called Magic Hands (pictured right) and we recorded our second single and shot a film clip while in Europe which I’m really excited to polish off and release. As for my solo work, I want to start on the next album as soon as possible. But yes, I should probably cool my engines for now as I would love to take the EP out for a little stroll, perform a few shows outside of Melbourne and see what happens.
If you would like to see Lucy Roleff in action, playing ditties from the new EP, head along to the Longbows launch Wednesday October 30th at The Grace Darling in Melbourne, joined by special guests. For more information check out her bandcamp page, here and her website, here.
Interview by Carol Bowditch.