The Argotist Online
Rozi Plain has been making music since her brother taught her a few chords on the guitar at age 13. Raised in Winchester, she spent a few years studying art and painting boats in Bristol, where she began collaborating with long-term collaborators Kate Stables (This Is The Kit) and Rachael Dadd, among many others in a thriving local scene. It was there that she made her first two albums, 2008ís Inside Over Here and 2012ís Joined Sometimes Unjoined.
She released her third album Friend on Lost Map Records in May 2015: a reaffirmation of her as one of the most original voices in UK alt-folk. Friend features contributions from Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor and members of Francois & The Atlas Mountains among many others.
She recently moved to London, from where she tours a great deal all year round. She has taken her live show on the road around Europe, the UK and the USA, in partnership with alt-folk luminaries from Devendra Banhart to KT Tunstall and James Yorkston. She has appeared at festivals, including Glastonbury, Latitude, End of the Road, Green Man and Iceland Airways. As a member of This Is The Kit, she has also toured widely, including several dates around Europe last year opening for The National.
She will play at the BBC 6 Music Festival in February, at SXSW in March and will do a UK tour and release a remix and live album, Friend of A Friend, on Lost Map Records in April 2016.
Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
A: I don't think I do. Although I donít necessarily think they aren't poetry. Because maybe Iím not sure what I think poetry is. But maybe because I guess I think poetry is on the words seen on their own. And the words in a song are part of the song. It's strange sometimes reading the lyrics of a song without hearing them, especially if you havenít ever heard the song, cuz it really exposes them in a way that I guess maybe they werenít meant to be heard I guess.
Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
A: No I don't think it's important but if you're into it then go for it! I often do find though that I do have some rhyming or partially rhyming lines in my songs. I donít think I meant to do that; itís just how some of them came out. Cuz they felt nice to say together. But also non-rhyming stuff can be really fun to say together. I like to think about the rhythm and sound of words. It's really fun when the words really groove.
Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?
A: No I think you can do whatever you like! When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed? I really remember a poetry book at school by Allan Ahlberg called
Heard it in the Playground; there was one poem in it that increased by one word every line. "heard. heard it. heard it in. heard it in the. heard it in the play. heard it in the playground". There's a Bill Callahan song that does that too:
If you could...
If you could only...
If you could only stop...
If you could only stop your...
If you could only stop your heart...
If you could only stop your heart beat...
If you could only stop your heart beat for...
If you could only stop your heart beat for one heart...
If you could only stop your heart beat for one heart beat.
I laughed out loud when I heard it the first time cuz it's so great and it made me think of that poem. My mum used to read us quite a lot of poetry when we were little:
Algy met a bear
A bear met Algy
The bear was bulgy
The bulge was Algy.
Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?
A: I hope so. I think poetry is good for making you enjoy the sounds of words together. Find good ways of saying stuff. I suppose part of the stuff I find enjoyable and amusing about life in general is just saying stuff in a more fun way. We just did some shows in Ireland and there's such an excellent amount of brilliant turns of phrase, it feels like there's real pleasure taken in saying things in a way thatís fun to say.
Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
A: Maybe because songs are a good way of absorbing poetic words without having to concentrate too much or worry about understanding or getting something from them. You can listen to a song and just get a general vibe from it, you don't even have to listen to the words but the words can still mean something to you. Like hearing a song in a language you don't understand can still have a big emotional impact. A song can accompany you while you're doing something else. It might be years after knowing a song well that you suddenly listen to the words and pay attention to what theyíre about. I often get this with songs I listened to as a teenager, songs I would totally sing along to and were huge songs in my life, and then sometimes I hear them again now and am like "ohhh that's what it's about". I guess with reading poetry you've got to be more immediately involved in it, you've got to be more dedicated to understanding and absorbing it there and then. Well maybe not understanding it but at least processing the words in some sort of way. You've got to not really be doing anything else. I guess it's why comedians do such hugely long tours, like three solid months of a show every night cuz you've really got to be there to receive it. It can't just slot in around your life in the way that music can.
copyright © Rozi Plain