- Photo by Simon J Evans
On an uncharacteristically hot and bright afternoon in East London, we’re joined by the thoroughly charismatic Rozi Plain, fresh from rehearsing tracks from her new album Joined Sometimes Unjoined, available later this month on Fence Records. Having recently moved to London from her previous home of Bristol, Rozi is currently in the process of readying her unique combination of gentle, lilting vocals, intricate guitar picking, joyous yelps and handclaps for the shows that the rest of the year will bring. We catch up with Rozi to find out how Joined Sometimes Unjoined, her second album on Fence Records came to be and to hear more about moving, creating ‘things’ and crocheting.
You’re quite new to London, aren’t you?
It was a year ago that I moved. I’d been in Bristol for six years. It’s so great there, I didn’t feel like I’d had enough of Bristol, but I felt like it could be quite easy to stay there forever, because it’s really nice and I’ve got a lot of friends there. Then I moved up to London with Rob who drums with me.
How is it being a musician in London, as opposed to Bristol?
It’s made me realise how in Bristol, up the road someone has an amp you can borrow, and up the road someone can do this or this. But in London, it’s not just up the road anymore, it’s much further. In Bristol, I had a practise space that I could go to and I paid £14 a month. And just now, I paid £25 for three hours. So there are practical things that are harder, and sometimes when I’m carrying all of my stuff across London, I think to myself that this isn’t any easier than when I came from Bristol to play a gig in London! But, there’s more stuff, there are more people going to things and I like the good, sparky energy. In some ways, I think people are more disinterested, and in some ways I think people are more interested. There’s an aloofness and there’s a total keenness. When I’m here, I definitely feel like i’m being kept on my toes.
On to your new record then, Joined Sometimes Unjoined. Where did the album come to life?
We did a lot of it in Bristol and some of it in Brighton. A lot of them are songs that I’ve had for quite a while, for the past few years. I did quite a lot of recording, then I’d change my mind and do more recording and then change my mind… So some of the songs are quite old, and then there’s some new stuff on there too. We recorded it in Bristol at this place called Toybox Studios, people like PJ Harvey and John Parish use it. It’s really vault-y, there are lots of arches. And then we recorded with a guy called John Emmanuel in Brighton, in this tiny studio that was totally amazing, full of amazing stuff.
How much was new, how much was old?
There are definitely a couple of a lot newer ones. It’s often the way that when you record an album, they’re old songs because you play them for a while, then you decide to record them and it takes a while for them to come out. But there were a couple that were pretty brand new when I recorded them, and that felt good to put in a couple of really recent ones. Some of them are four or five years old, some are a year old.
So how was it to get in the studio?
Going to the studio was a total learning curve for me, because I wasn’t prepared for how prepared you have to be when you’re going to a studio, and you’re paying by the day. So when we went there, I did stuff, but because we didn’t have time to totally obsess over it there, I added stuff afterwards and tweaked it for quite a long time. The album that I did before, I did in people’s houses and my brother mixed it in his bedroom, and we just did stuff as we went, did little bits, changed little bits, and went to someone else’s house and did the same. After that, I thought ‘well, wouldn’t it be great to just go to a studio and be totally ready’, but I wasn’t totally ready! There wasn’t enough stuff, it was too bare so we added a lot of stuff afterwards. Since then, it’s made me clear about how I want things to sound and I think i’m able to articulate it better. It’s hard to explain things, and it’s hard to know how you want things to sound.
Was there a song that was particularly challenging to make?
‘See My Boat’, I’ve recorded a hundred million times. It’s always been really fun to play live and it felt like we never translated it very well when we recorded it. So we changed tack a bit and I’m very pleased that that’s now recorded and on a thing.
Can you describe what you had in mind when creating the artwork?
I find it really hard with my own things. I had it with my last album, where I just did a thing. I was thinking about it all the time, like ‘when I do my artwork, it’s going to be so amazing!’ Because what an amazing thing, to be able to do the artwork for your own album! And then it comes to it, I can’t seem to grab any kind of concept, I just do a thing and a thing and a thing, and I can’t really tell what it looks like.
It’s like recording as well. I have an idea of how I think it sounds, or will sound and it doesn’t come out at all like it, but I don’’t know how it does sound. I have no idea what it’s like.
Have you written much since you’ve been in London?
At the moment, i’m totally into bass lines and grooves! A lot of the stuff i’m writing at the moment is just on one or two strings, because I really love really simple melodies. Maybe i’m just minding less, maybe I used to have a different idea about how a song should be… I don’t know!
What can you tell us about the Cleaner Collective?
It’s really funny that it’s become a ‘thing’! We all used to release CD-R albums and write Cleaner Records on it! It was my brother’s idea, because a few of us moved from Winchester to Bristol. It’s totally a lesson though, if you tell people that you’re a ‘thing’, they’ll start to think of the thing as a thing! All it was though, was a bunch of friends recording each others stuff, releasing EPs, writing Cleaner Records on them and put on shows as Cleaner Records, so I suppose it was a thing, but it didn’t really feel like a ‘thing’ at the time. But that’s the same with loads of things in the music ‘scene’, people talk about the Bristol music scene, but when you live in Bristol, you wonder what that means. When you’re looking at something from far away, that’s a ‘thing’ but then you’re in it, you don’t notice it.
If both you and your brother are music makers, did you grow up in a musical setting?
It’s just what happened, everyone around us was playing the guitar. So I learnt how to play the guitar. My brother used to run this open mic night in Winchester, so we’d all go and play songs. I guess that was probably important because it meant I played a bit, and everyone just got into it, as you do when you’re a teenager!
Are you a comfortable live performer?
I do really like it. I love playing live and being on tour. Sometimes I feel like a confident performer and sometimes I don’t. And I’ve never quite worked out what the situations are that make me feel better. But I don’t think I ever will. Practising doesn’t mean you’re going to play a good show, you can be so well practised and then play a terrible show… And good situations don’t mean you’re going to feel good. It definitely helps! But I go through stages. I also play in This Is The Kit, so I’ve just been on tour and it was really nice – they all play in my band too, so it’s a really nice set up.
What’s the best non musical skill you’ve learnt on tour?
Crocheting, on this last tour with This Is The Kit, I’ve been learning how to crochet Also, yesterday we got two skipping ropes to try to learn double dutch! Impossible. But we’re going to try! This time next year, we’ll be champions!
Joined Sometimes Unjoined is available to preorder now through Fence Records.