Rose Wintergreen Interview
AUSTEP MUSIC INTERVIEW WITH ROSE WINTERGREEN, NOV 2010
Where did your band name come from?
It’s my name!
Who’s in the band? What’s your musical background? When did you start playing?
I’m a solo artist. I’ve always fluffed about with music (singing in choirs, playing instruments in school bands) but never really went for it. I’ve been secretly writing songs and singing my whole life, but I only started singing and songwriting in a more dedicated and public way more recently. I’ve been lucky enough to find really talented and experienced session musicians to play on my recording and live on stage for my The Road Leads Home Tour dates (a joint EP launch tour with Hannah Acfield).
How has your music evolved?
My music has changed as I have learnt more tricks on my instruments and picked up different tips from other singer/songwriters and performers.
What is your creative process?
I take notes on the little things that happen every day. I record snippets of melody when they come to me. Sometimes I’ll sit down and write a lot about one thing that’s getting to me, but more often it’s a process of having an idea of a story I want to tell, and looking through my bits and pieces of ideas to see what might work. I’ll fiddle around with a few different instruments (guitar/ukulele/thumb piano or whatever else is lying around) and decide which sound suits the song best.
How would you describe your music to people?
Acoustic/folk/pop with a dollop of world flavour.
What messages does your music convey?
Every song has a different intention, but generally speaking I try to write songs that make people feel less alone in life.
Who are your musical influences?
Midnight Oil, Sufjan Stevens (the Seven Swans album era), Indian and Balkan music, Clare Bowditch, The Eurythmics, Ani DiFranco, Suzanne Vega and many more…
How do you sell your music?
I sell CDs at shows but find most people these days want digital downloads, so I also use a digital aggregator to sell to multiple online stores, including iTunes, Amazon and many more.
What live performance experience have you had?
Most of my live performance experience comes from playing shows in Brisbane. Usually relaxed affairs at cafes, but also at folk clubs. I moved to Sydney recently and have just finished my EP launch tour with dates in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you have a set play list?
I have one or two songs that I will always play, because they are people’s favourites, and are great songs for beginning or ending a show in terms of the mood. My set list for each show is quite different though – what works well at a Sunday afternoon show at a café is not going to be as suited to a Friday night show where I’m on a bill with 3 other acts. I consider carefully what the mood will be like, who is coming, and how my set fits with what the other acts are doing.
Do you ever play covers?
I never did, up until recently. I’ve started performing “I do not want what I haven’t got”, a gorgeous acappella piece written and recorded by Sinead O’Connor.
What has been your biggest highlight as a musician?
Playing the Melbourne show of “The Road Leads Home” tour was pretty brilliant. The audience was packed and incredibly attentive, and all of the other acts on the night were fantastic. Everybody there seemed to be really engaged and having a great time. Many people came along who had never heard of us before but had heard us being interviewed on the radio in the days leading up to the show. I also really treasure those times when more experienced musicians share their tips. Going to the APRA Song Summit conference this year was really great for this – I got to be in a small songwriting group with Clare Bowditch and Robert Forster (of the Go-Betweens) for three hours one day. I learnt a lot.
What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?
Performing mostly as a solo artist, and being self-managed and promoted, my challenge has been juggling all the admin tasks with the creative side of things. It’s easy to get unmotivated and swallowed up by all the mundane things that need doing.
What are your long-term goals as a musician?
To be respected by the musicians I admire and aspire to, and have opportunities to collaborate with them, and/or perform alongside them. To be respected by my fans and supporters and not have to work in a non-music job to support the cost of my music career.
Do you have any tips for other musos?
Perform as many live shows as you can (for the experience) but don’t ask everyone to come along all the time. Pick and choose the shows you really want to promote and have people come to. Otherwise you will over-saturate and find yourself in a position where people come less often.
Research what’s working for other people. Ask other musicians and bands who you like and admire and seem to be doing well what their approach is, whether they have a strategy, and if they have any tips. Most people are happy to help out if they can. Another way you can pick up ideas is by subscribing to newsletters. I subscribe to many, including those run by APRA, QMusic, MusicNSW and grassrootsy. Whatever state you’re living in, find out if there is a local body that can help you with your music career, because they are really good at what they do.
Where can we hear your tunes online?