Dorset singer/songwriter Roo Panes is counting down the days till his début album “Little Giant” drops this autumn. Met with an abundance of like-minded anticipation and excitement from his adoring fans, it’s sure to be a record that will guide you through life. Brightening up your darkest days, glowing with soft pastel hues and all the comfort of hazy summer days.
Panes’ modest mastery of writing succinct, honest tales of life’s little journeys, the world’s little wonders that amaze us and make us feel thankful to be alive, is part of the allure of his artistry. His music has the power to resonate with the very core of your being, tapping into life’s universal truths and values, it’s music not of the throw-away variety, but music to treasure and sentiments to live by. Enveloping elegant grandeur, rich folk melodies and classical elements are delightfully strung together to create a sensory soundscape of textured, swelling strings, piano notes and gentle guitar rhythms.
We caught up with Roo on Wednesday before his show in Norwich to chat about life on the road, his début record and much more.
Hi Roo, how are things with you? Where are you today?
I’m good thanks. Today, we’ve just come from the Brighton show last night and we spend the day in Brighton looking around, which is pretty nice and then we’re on our way to play in Norwich tonight, which is really exciting.
Lyrically, your songs feel like they’re taken straight from the mouth of a poet with the emphasis on storytelling of life’s little journeys and wonders. I guess every song must take its own time to be written, but in particularly how was the process when writing Tiger Striped Sky?
It’s funny, I definitely love writing poetry and as you say sometimes it can take time but Tiger Striped Sky was a really late arrival on the list of songs for the album. I basically felt very creative as soon as I felt like I was going to be doing the album, and Tiger Striped Sky, I reckon I finished that about a week before the album was recorded, so it was a really nice late arrival and it came very quickly actually.
We did a lot of the actual writing for the strings arrangements during recording which is really fun. I had worked out the song and worked out the lyrics but the actual arrangement was something that was just a natural part of the recording process, which is cool.
You’ve been on quite a journey around the UK within the last month or so. How is the tour going and are there any particular towns that have stood out to you?
The tour’s been awesome, it’s been great to play in all these places. Yeah it’s been quite a journey, I’ve done a lot of miles and I’ve been in this camper van but loving that. Well actually funnily enough, last night’s show in Brighton was one of my favourites, that was really cool.
Cardiff was fantastic, you know all of them have been very different and all have had different things to bring to the table really so it’s hard to pick a favourite. But I loved the Cornwall leg because everyone can go surfing, which I’ve never done before that was great. Yeah I’ve played a real mixture of places, it’s all been great and it’s been lovely to have people come along as well.
I can imagine touring can be quite inspiring, travelling to all these cities and towns that you may be seeing for the first time and I’m sure that can spark lots of songwriting ideas, has this happened on the tour so far?
Yeah it has actually, I’ve been brainstorming a few songs actually, but I’m trying not to funnily enough just because I’m trying to concentrate on playing the shows and because now we’re putting out the album, it doesn’t feel right to suddenly have a whole bunch of new songs that I’m thinking about. But it happens anyway regardless of whether I think that, it doesn’t change.
But what I’ve done is go to nearly every national park that I can find on the way, just because when you’re on the road in a camper van it takes a bit longer but it just makes it so much nicer. You see so many amazing things, spent some time in the Lake District, I went up to Northumberland National Park, Peak District, Scottish Highlands. When I was in Ireland I went down to a national park there as well, so yeah I’ve made sure that I’ve seen a bit of Britain which has been really nice. What usually happens is you take in the experience and then you go away and when it’s all finished that’s when everything starts flooding through and you process it, you start to write, that’s what I find anyway. So I’m sure that knowing I’ve got some stuff that I’m writing now, probably a lot more will come after.
The music video for Tiger Striped Sky, with its mazes and hedgerows, perfectly projects the yearning want to search for adventure and the thrills that come along with it. What was it like on the day of the shoot? Do you enjoy filming music videos?
Well usually I don’t feature in my music videos, partly because I don’t want it to be about me, I want it to be about the music. So I always try to find a narrative metaphor or something that I feel like can explain the song without me being in it. But this time around we had a little bit of a situation where basically I had to jump in at the last minute and act it out, so it was really fun but it was completely like for me “Oh, gosh I’ve got to act”.
In the end I just enjoyed it and I was working with two friends of mine who are really great, so it was just good fun, but it was a pretty wet day and I ran around in that maze for about three hours, through the forest right down the cliff face and stuff, it’s amazing I’m alive really. But yeah it was really good fun.
Tiger Striped Sky is taken off your forthcoming début record. How was the process of working on the record? Was it everything you thought it would be? Did anything surprise you?
I didn’t actually have any idea of what it would be like to do it because it’s my début album and EP’s just feel really different to the process of recording the album. I felt very focussed, and I mean you focus on the EP, but [with the album] it’s just like that kind of natural thing were you like “Here we go, this is going to be a body of work that I really want to be proud of” and you really focus.
So the first one was really absorbing, we did it all in one big go, which I’m glad we did really because it meant that I really got into the zone and the guy I worked with, Rupert Coulson, was fantastic. Really easy going guy and just very good to work with, open to ideas but brought lots to the table himself. It was nice, did it at my house in Dorset, just in a small music room that we had down there, it’s got wooden floors and that’s nice for strings.
We just spent a couple of weeks down in Dorset doing it. Yeah it was a really nice experience, it was quite stressful just because it’s so much in a period of time. You always feel like you want more time but at the same time I’m really happy with the results.
You recorded the album in the comfort of your own home. Do you feel that the outcome would’ve been completely different if you had chosen to record it in a recording studio?
I don’t know that would’ve been a hunch had beforehand that’s why we did at home. I don’t know whether I’m right or wrong but I just feel like it’s nice to record stuff where it’s written. It just made sense to me to do it in a natural environment.
I feel like you can hear a bit of environment on records that I’ve liked in the past, I can’t actually think of one off the top of my head but there are some records that I’ve heard where I really liked the sound, you feel like it’s recorded in a place and it’s just a bit more intimate and I just thought I didn’t particularly want to put a sound in artificially or anything like that. I just wanted it to be about the writing and yeah so that was just a choice I made based on that assumption.
So what kind of album is Little Giant in lyrical terms?
I guess it’s just as you said earlier, it’s just like revelations, stories, thoughts, interpretations of events. I guess it’s quite introspective but also one of the things I love about music is the fact that you can find something that’s relevant to you, like a situation you’re going through and actually like it’s always defined by the fact that we all share human existence, people can relate to it, and so hopefully it’s not too introspective, it’s enough that people can embrace and understand it themselves.
Your songs are very inspirational, reading into your lyrics you seem to be really in awe of the world around you, who and what do you take inspiration from?
Nature is a massive thing. I don’t know whether if its nature itself or it’s the space that nature gives you, I love to go to the emptiest place I can find and write. I think it’s perhaps because you don’t have distractions and you can actually process things and then they end up becoming songs. But I actually also love reading, I don’t listen to a lot of music, I used to read a lot of poetry.
What has being a professional musician taught you about yourself?
Oh, that’s an interesting question.
I think well like anything you learn what you want and what you don’t want and it kind of hones what you love and what you don’t love and what it reminds me of every day is that I just love writing music, that’s where my passion is. And as far as a professional musician goes, I’m not sure whether I can call myself it yet or not, I don’t know.
I’m just reminded through when things are hard, say on this tour, if it gets tiring and stuff what I’m reminded of is the fact that when I do get up on stage and play, I love doing it and I guess it kind of goes to show that you can go through a lot of hurdles and still love what you do. It kind of just reminds you of who you are and why you’re doing it more and more.
I wanted to take some time to try and get to know the man behind the music a little more. At what point in your life, did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in music and what drove you to want to pursue a career in music?
Funnily enough I never thought that I would ever do music. When I was at school and stuff I always wrote music but I kind of wrote to myself, it was something that I didn’t really show to people or anything like that. I just used to get space and go somewhere and do some writing.
I guess I always thought it’s something I love doing, but everyone says to you when you’re young don’t even think about doing that, it’s really hard work and it is really hard work and I guess I kinda thought it’s just something that I do. Then I went to university and I got my degree and I just thought the thing that I want to do the most at the moment is write music and play songs.
I guess it’s all been step-by-step so I’ve never had a grand plan, I’ve just stuck to what I do and just walked it step-by-step. So I’ve never really thought, I’m going here or I’m going there, I just kinda know what I do and what I am and I go with that.
So do we have a release date yet for the album?
We do not have a release date yet, no. But it’s going to be in September.
A special thanks to Roo Panes for this interview and for more info on his music, check out the following links below: