Roo Panes’ music flourishes with a deep, heartfelt sincerity. It’s the kind of self-expression that makes you see the world differently, vivid with colour and vast with opportunity, his musings paint a world full of promise and wonder. The singer has been touring the UK with Rae Morris for the past month, today see’s the tour come to a close but not before a triumphant end. As the coming weeks promise new music from Panes forthcoming second record ‘Paperweights’, the future is looking just that little bit brighter.
We caught up with Roo, before he took to the stage in Manchester supporting Rae Morris, to talk about the release of his new single ‘Stay With Me’, his forthcoming sophomore album and how he met Rae Morris all those years ago.
You recently unveiled the first single from your second album ‘Paperweights’. I guess when you release the first material from a new album, you must feel a little nervous anticipation to get the initial track out there?
Roo Panes: “I wasn’t nervous, I was really excited actually. That’s why I wanted to get it out as quick as I could because I love writing. Obviously you can’t get [songs] out instantly but as soon as you can, so for me, this was the soonest I could get it out. Yeah of course, you’re wondering if people are gonna like it or not but also…I write something that I am happy with, so then I kinda leave it at that and I think if they don’t like it then that’s up to them. But I’m always excited to share it, just because I’m happy to have made it.”
Was ‘Stay With Me’ always the first choice to start the new album campaign?
“No, not actually. I think originally when I wrote it and recorded it I thought ‘oh, that would be a nice one to share’ but then you know, you record another one you’re like ‘oh, I’d quite like to share that one too’ and you can’t share them all. So I had a bit of a discussion about it and there was a few different opinions but in the end, we all thought that one would be a nice one to put out first.”
Has your approach changed at all to how you went about the production process from your first to your second?
“I don’t think there’s been any drastic changes. I used the same producer, Rupert Coulson, I love working with him and in a way it’s kind of a development from there I hope. It’s got similar ideas, it’s got similar character. I like the idea of development rather than change, so I’m just kinda being myself still and I hope there’s some kind of development in it, but our approach to it I think is pretty similar. There’s a bit more percussion on this album. That’s something on the last album that didn’t fit with the songs that I was writing, but on this album there is a bit more percussion. We’ve got some really funny instruments going on.”
Is ‘Stay With Me’ a good introduction to the album – can we be expecting similar themes to emerge from the rest of the songs?
“This album, for me, I don’t know whether you’ll agree when you listen, but for me I wouldn’t be able to say because ‘Stay With Me’ has got its own character, but then I think that each track is actually quite different. It’s got a lot of variety on it, so I wouldn’t say it’s an introduction to the other songs because actually a lot of them are quite different from each other. I’m hoping that it still just sounds like me. That’s one song with its character and then the other songs have their own character with them, which is why it was quite a task working out which one I wanted to put out first, because I just thought ‘but that one’s different to that one’. Whereas with ‘Little Giant’ it was a different situation because with that one, I had songs that I’d had for ages. I had been living with them for a long time and I had an idea of how I wanted the whole album to sound. Whereas this one, it’s a different thing when you’re writing a bit quicker, I was writing with more freedom and the ideas were coming a lot quicker. So yeah, I’m not sure if I could say it’s an introduction but it’s just one song of a few.”
How long did the whole writing and recording process take for this record?
“The writing of the record didn’t take a whole amount of time, like as soon as I released ‘Little Giant’ I was writing again, because I don’t sit down and say I’m gonna write. I actually said to myself after ‘Little Giant’ I’d quite like to go down a few different directions here and then before you know it, a song’s come along and you haven’t had time to think about doing things in a conceived way. A song comes along and you write it. I reckon by the time I had recorded ‘Little Giant’ about 3 of these songs had already been written. Maybe more. So then I’m suddenly like ‘I’ve got to release them!’. I think it probably all together took about 3 months maybe, the writing of it. And then the recording of it took about 4 weeks, or something like that.”
“So quite a quick turn around, but that’s off the top my head because it can be quite an extended period but condensed. I think that’s probably about how long it took.”
How do you feel about this record? Do you feel that it is a progression from your last?
“I like the record, personally. I’m happy with it because of the fact that it has come out with lots of different little characters on it. I think in terms of progression I couldn’t tell you, you’d have to tell me. I think I’ve tried some things that I’ve not tried yet, so if that’s progression then I’ve tried to do that. At the same time, I was happy with ‘Little Giant’ and I’m happy with this. I don’t have huge targets for my writing, I just write songs that I’m happy with, so I think there might be some natural progression, I hope. But I haven’t tried that hard to break boundaries or anything, I’m still just trying to write stuff that means something to me, however that kind of looks. I have got some different things going on with it though.”
You have worked with your sister, Lucy, on all your releases. She has a great eye for imagery, what has been your favourite cover that she’s produced or maybe the one that means the most to you?
“The one that springs to mind is ‘The Land of the Living’. I really loved that one. She used to do a lot of black and white stuff, and that was like one of the first times she worked in colour. I really like the one for ‘Paperweights’ because she’s done that one as well, which I don’t think you’ve seen yet. I don’t think it’s been released. She’s doing the marbling texture at the moment with the ‘Stay With Me’ release and the next one coming up, so we’re using similar artwork to this album imagery but I think my favourite personally is ‘The Land of the Living’.”
You’re on tour with Rae Morris, I hear you’re old friends. How long have you known each other for?
“I’ve known Rae since Burberry acoustic days because she did some Burberry acoustics. So that must be 3 and a half years, 4 years but I went to Holland with her recently to do some shows with a guy called Andreas Moe. We all travelled together for Songbird sessions, which was excellent, so that was the first time I’d seen her for a while. And now I’m doing this tour with her, which is really nice because I met her quite early on in my musical journey and I imagine quite early on in hers too. So it’s quite fun to be back playing some music together.”
You play with a 12-string guitar, when did you first learn to play? And is it a difficult instrument to master?
“I think that the 12-string is not that much more difficult than the 6-string. I think it’s just familiarity, because actually the strings are one octave higher than the one below it, so it’s actually the same notes, so its six notes but twelve strings. And I think you just get used to the way that you pick it, so it’s not necessarily a more technical guitar, I don’t think. There are some people that will probably say it is, because they’re phenomenal and they know exactly what they’re doing, whereas I’m self-taught so I wouldn’t know the technical difference. I started playing that when I…I must have been about 22. I wanted to go and buy a guitar that had a lot of body to it. I was looking for a 6-string guitar and I went into the shop and saw that one in the corner, I’d never played a guitar string before, then I played it and I was like ‘ahh, that’s exactly the sound that I want!’ and then I bought it and I’ve played it ever since.”
When you think back to the time, you first picked up an instrument or when you realised that music was everything to you, what was that feeling like? Do you remember were you where?
“What was weird for me is, I actually never consciously knew that I was any different writing music. You know, I’m just a normal person, who lived a normal life and just wrote music because I enjoyed it. When I was a kid, I wasn’t like the kid who went to all the gigs and stuff. I really wasn’t. I used to read. I don’t know, I kinda put reading and music together for some reason. I got to a certain point, I think it was around university, where I realised that I could write music and it was actually something that was a bit different and something I realised that was quite a unique thing and I thought ‘wow this is something that’s become a part of my character’. I didn’t really consciously choose it or track that down but when I noticed that, I thought I’m going to have to do something with it because that’s really something that I can do which is worth pursuing.”
Finally, I have to ask, have you started planning the album tour yet?
“I would love to. I think this is definitely something in the pipeline, so I’ve got a feeling it’ll probably be Spring.”
Just got to lock in the album date really…
“Yeah we’ve got to work out a few of the dates first. You know, once we’ve got the actual release date finalised then we’ll know. But I would really love to, obviously. I love doing support tours and meeting everybody, and I have done a few solo tours as well and they’re fun but the idea of doing a full tour of the whole album with all the people that I’ve been musically involved with in my team, would be really awesome, so I’m very looking forward to that once we’ve got a date lined up.”
The first single, ‘Stay with Me’, to be taken off Roo Panes forthcoming album ‘Paperweights’ is out now. Buy it on iTunes here.