When Pennyblackmusic first interviewed Rose Kemp she had recently released her second CD, which simply entitled 'Mini Album', was dramatically different to her first album, 'Glance'. She was also playing live constantly to develop material for her next solo album as well as playing live with SJ Esau and Max Milton in her side project, Jeremy Smoking Jacket.Her third album, 'Violence', was released in February and has not disappointed fans eager for more of Rose’s eerie brand of rock which she laces with vocals that range from pained to angelic without a moment's notice.

There is not a better way to experience the atmosphere Rose creates with her music than live. Floating through songs that bring waves of intense vocals crashing against raw guitar infused with feed back and gentle fairy tale riffs.

Rose was brought up in Carlisle but is now based in Bristol. I spoke to her before a gig at Brixton Windmill in London. The support band was starting and without a back room far enough away from the stage we decided the tour manager's car, parked outside the venue, would be quiet enough.

While it was quiet, little did we know there would be a random act of theft to distract us from the interview instead.

PB : How is the tour going?

RK : (Playing with a nodding dog on the dash board) It’s not a tour anymore. I think we broke the nodding dog. Shit, this is really bad. We’ve borrowed someone’s car and broke their nodding dog.

PB : Whose car is it?

RK : It’s Theo’s (the tour manager) girlfriend's car, (attempts to fit it back together) I hope this works. Hang on. There you go. I put a map on its head.

So, the tour, it stopped being a tour some time ago. I had a couple of weeks off up north, I just needed some time off from touring. It’s been a couple of years now and I needed some time to sit on my own and do some writing for a while. So I did that to a certain extent, and I walked up hills to a certain extent and drank in pubs to a certain extent.

PB : Was that up in Carlisle ?

RK : Well, I was in a couple of places in Cumbria, but I did go back to Carlisle for a bit.

PB : The accent does sound a bit more northern

RK : That’s funny, because the longer I’ve been away the more colloquialisms have crept back into my vocabulary. Like, ‘cowp’, do you know what ‘cowp’ is?

PB : No

RK : It’s when something keels over. It usually applies to quad bikes, ‘I it’s gan cowp eh.’ I couldn’t believe it when I came out with it, and at the time nobody could understand what I had just said. There’s loads of things that I say now and just think, ‘nobody is going to understand me’, and that’s partly why I say it (laughs). But yeah, the longer I’ve been away, the more colloquialisms, and the accent just comes back with the words.

PB : Was it nice to be back in your hometown of Carlisle?

RK : It was, but I go there all the time to tell the truth. I play there twice a year, so it’s not as if I’m ever away from the place for any length of time.

PB : But you’re still based in Bristol?

RK: Yeah, I’ve just been back there, I’m finding a house, dealing with all the gubbin’s that needs to be done.

PB : Will it be back to the recording studio soon?

RK : No, I’m still wanting to spend time writing, I’m not one to rush into music so I’d like to be writing for some months yet. All the other recordings I’ve done I’ve had some time to think about, and they have organically changed as I’ve played them live. I don’t see why I should change it now. There’s lots of time. I’m only 22 and I’ve already done three albums.

PB : Part of your most recent album was recorded in a church. Is that right?

RK : We had a crypt of a church, because I don’t like artificial settings, artificial rooms. I just hate it. So we went to a crypt and we recorded some of the backing vocals, one of the acapellas and some of the other stuff. It was very echo-y, so if someone is five feet in front of you and they try to speak to you their voice just scatters in to a million pieces. You have to be nose to nose with someone to understand what they are saying. It was a lovely room for the kind of thing we were doing. We also did some of it at Toy Box in Bristol and some of it at Music Box in Cardiff.

PB : The album has got an eerie atmosphere to it. Is that why the crypt came into the picture?

RK : It’s pretty eerie and there’s some darkness on there but I just literally like the sound the crypt makes. That was definitely the reason for it. It’s a very interesting sound.

PB : Are you still enjoying performing the songs from that album, or are you looking forward to playing new material?

RK : Everybody always looks forward to doing new stuff. That’s definitely what I’m doing. I was going to do a whole set of new stuff tonight but I’ve just realised I’m not ready. I’ve been rehearsing with a completely different amp. It’s like a tiny little bass cube transistor and it’s terrible. The sound is so crap. A lot of the songs rely on feed back and it’s completely different to the feed back you get from a huge valve amp so I've been contemplating not doing the new set. Most of it’s improv as well. Some of the new stuff is yet to form, so it’s always improv before things develop.

PB : Were you nervous about the new album's release?

RK : You know when you get exam results, and you want to open the envelope but then at the same time you don’t want to open it ? Then you pass it to someone else and they read it for you. It’s a bit like that, I don’t really like to ask about sales, and I don’t really want to ask how it’s doing.

(We are suddenly distracted by two hooded youths trying to climb a fence across the road from us)

PB : Are they trying to jump over that fence?!

RK : We’re in the middle of scary land now.

PB : Is that a house or a building site?

RK : I’m serious. This is scary land. Do you know there’s a Doberman on the roof? It had a right old bark at us when we came in, staring and everything like a proper guard dog.

PB : Should we lock the doors?

RK : Let's. (Door locks click down. Luckily it’s an automatic locking system). The nodding dog’s not frightened.

PB : (Back to the interview) Do you shy away from reading reviews as well? Did you see the review in the Guardian?

RK : People sometimes show them to me. I just always go yep. That’s what I expected to read. Every time I think maybe there will be something surprising in there but nope. Occasionally I’ll get an email from someone who likes the album or has seen me live. One person said it reminded them of the good bits of Big Black, and I just think why won't somebody say that in a publication. People see things in the music that I see when they email me, but not often when it’s reviewed. They always seem to go for the obvious. It’s usually PJ Harvey. In the olden days when I used to play in the Source (one of the few independent venues in Carlisle) people used to say I sounded like Jeff Buckley. I used to wander around vocally a lot back then in an airy-fairy fashion, but now I wander around in a not so airy-fairy fashion. People hear all kinds of things but I don’t see it most of the time.

PB : 'Glance' is so different from what you are doing now. Does it feel like two completely different projects?

RK : Everything I do is a different project. Every EP, every side project, every live show, every single piece that I write, that’s why sometimes it’s less than coherent. I’m not a big fan of sticking to the formula. I like doing a different thing every time.

PB : Is your new material going to be completely different?

RK : Yeah, it’s going to be completely different.

PB : In what way?

RK: I can’t tell you because I’ve got no idea…. Oh my goodness, what is going on across that road? (More hooded youths have turned up) There’s people trying to get in now with a pram through the back fence! This is bizarre. So, what were we on about just then?

PB : You were taking about how different your next material is going to be

RK : I’ve got some idea. When I started my music went in two different directions and its added elements of two very certain things. It’s got more rock, and more experimental. So I would venture that the next album is going to be more rock, and more experimental, but that’s the only clue I’ve got currently.

PB : Are you still making music with Jeremy Smoking Jacket?

RK : I am indeed> We are playing Glastonbury this year. We did a Radio One session for Huw Stevens, then we did the Tate Britain and then we’ll be doing Glastonbury all in one year. We haven't even done anything really. We just recorded one EP, 'Now We Are Dead (and Other Stories)' in a bedroom. That’s all we did and we keep getting asked to do these really prestigious things. It’s great. We don’t have a record company or a PR agent or anything. We just do our solo things and then occasionally people ask us to be this band for really cool things.

PB : How does it compare to singing solo?

RK : Well it’s a different project, always a different project – (commotion over the road catches our attention once again) Oh, there’s a ladder now. They’ve got a ladder. Don’t hit that car, don’t hit that car (a metal ladder crashes down to the ground, dropped from over the wall. They miss a nearby car by inches).

PB : They’re stealing a ladder?!

RK : Of course they are. They had to nick something. It’s a building site.

PB : Why would they steal a ladder?

RK : Maybe so they can sell it. I don’t know.

PB : How much for ? Three quid!

RK : (Starts to laugh) People need ladders. I have to say this is the bizarrest interview I have ever done. We are sitting in a car in the middle of Dodgyville and two hoodies have just came along to nick a step ladder from a building site.

PB : Just pretend we haven’t seen (laughing as we try to look inconspicuous) So, where were we, Jeremy Smoking Jacket. Do you think the experimental side of that has rubbed off on to your solo stuff?

RK : Not really. It’s a fun project. We like to do it so we don’t take ourselves too seriously and to just remember that music is fun. I had the joy to be experimental even before I got to Bristol. It’s obviously all inspired me but I wouldn’t say it’s rubbed off on me. I sort of do things at my own pace so I’m doing now the stuff that I really wanted to do about a year and a half ago. I’m quite slow creatively and in my decisions.

Being prolific isn’t all it’s cracked up to be I don’t think because then your formulas can start taking over. I’ve always liked being experimental, I just haven’t always carried it out, but this is definitely the year for it for me. I’m all over it like, like, I had the best quote there and it’s just left my head, I’m all over it like… a hoody in a building site.

PB : When do you think you will be playing your new stuff live?

RK : It depends when I get a rehearsal room and I’m allowed to play loud. It’s hard to practice unless you’re going to play the volume that you’re actually going to be playing, so that’s what I’m really holding out for. I can write the songs but I can’t practice them until I can really make a lot of noise. I was hoping this week but it’s not as simple as I first thought. Maybe next month, I don’t know. Although I’m not planning on doing that many gigs this year. I’ve got a couple of festivals, I’m playing at the Goldmund festival in Germany. That’s going to be wicked. It’s a great festival.

PB : How are you going down with the German fans?

RK : I’ve got an agent out there an everything now, and I’ve got a tour over there in June. Half of what I do comes from Germany now and I’m absolutely over the moon because they have an amazing rock scene over there. The live scene is really, really amazing, It’s all happening. People don’t wait for their friends to say ‘this is really cool’. They just say ‘Yeah I like that’. They just come to a gig because they like music. They’re not too cool to turn up. They are very enthusiastic all the time. The last time I toured there the audiences were really amazing.

PB : Have you been touring else where in Europe?

RK : Italy, I’ve got another tour over there in May as well. I’ve done a few French festivals, I might do a couple of dates in Austria. I’m playing in Paris twice next month. I’m doing a radio show there for a fellow they call the French John Peel. Imagine that. It’s a proper live session in front of an audience that goes out live and everything. Then after that we are going to support Juliette and the Licks.

PB : How did that happen?

RK : They just asked me to do it. It’s a huge venue so I don’t know if we’ll be in the same wing of the building, but I might get to meet them. I’ll be like, ‘lend ‘us a cat suit lass, lend ‘us that leotard,’ (in a strong northern drawl) I’m going to do it.

I think it’ll be a rocking gig. It’s obviously going to be packed. Otherwise they wouldn’t have hired a venue that big. It’s going to be great.

PB: And you said you weren’t playing many gigs this year,

RK: I always say that, and it’s a lie!

I just want to sit in a sound proof room by myself for a couple of months and make a lot of noise but life isn’t like that unfortunately. I don’t really want to record this time until I’m absolutely sure of everything. Things will still come up and change. They always do, but I want to be absolutely sure of what I’m doing first. I think it will be while before I’m recording again.

PB: Thank you.












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