Roseanne Reid on Songwriting, Horticulture, and Being the Daughter of a Proclaimer
SOMETIMES writing a song you just need to be able to wait a bit, Roseanne Reid tells me. “I would love to be someone who writes every day, but I don’t have that kind of discipline,” she admits. “I really am someone who is patient enough to just wait. I know it will come eventually. And it can take months between ideas. It can take me months to write anything. But I know I’ll have an idea in the middle of Tesco one day.
With Covid, patience hasn’t just been necessary for songwriting this past year, of course. Reid is 28 and lives in Dundee with his wife. She is the daughter of a Proclaimer and is currently taking a horticulture course in college while working in a nursery. She is also slowly and patiently developing her own singer-songwriter career.
Fittingly enough, she has a new EP coming out called Horticulture. And yes, this is his confinement record. “All four songs were written and recorded over the past year,” she explains. “It was a pretty organic process. It was a very vague idea that I had at the start of the lockdown to try to release new music. I invested in home recording equipment and did it myself.
The result is a Scottish-flavored Americana EP that showcases both Reid’s ear for its surging but melancholic melodies and a voice that is both intimate and touching.
It’s a Thursday afternoon at the end of March when we speak. Reid is a bright and enthusiastic loveseat, talking about music, friends and family during her lunch break.
She was 14 when she told her parents she wanted to be a songwriter. There is a half-life. She spent the years between becoming. With an album to his credit and a growing reputation in live performance, having toured with Teddy Thompson and the late Justin Townes Earle. She is in the spring of her career and is starting to blossom. Or she did it until the coronavirus kicked in.
“I feel like I know what my sound is now, and I know what works for me musically. But in terms of difficult things like trying to really grow your fan base and get those bigger gigs, it was happening and the pandemic sadly cut it off.
“But I think in a way the time at home allowed me to see what I accomplished before Covid and I’m proud of it. I know I have a strong fan base and I have people who really want to listen to what I’m doing, and I know I have a second album in me.
It is for the future. In the meantime, we have an EP to continue with, one that hails the beauty of northeast Fife and mourns the loss of Earle, who Reid toured with in 2019, before his tragically early death last August from an overdose. accidental drug use. at 38 years old.
The song Tentsmuir Sky features the first. “Tentsmuir is a pretty amazing place,” says Reid. “It’s so vast and it’s pretty mysterious. You have Tentsmuir Forest which is a beautiful green space in itself. And then you walk not even half a mile and you’re on the shore and you’re standing by the ocean. There is no protection. You are totally exposed to the elements. The wind crosses you. It’s just one of those places. It never leaves you once you are there. It leaves its mark on you.
Reid’s music can have this sense of space too, but, alternatively, it can be close and heartfelt, as in Fly High, his song written in response to Earle’s death.
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“I don’t think there is any other way to remember him than through a song,” she says of Fly High.
What do you think we’ve lost, Roseanne? “I think the world has lost a colossal singer-songwriter, someone who really had a lot to give. I’m sure he had a lot more albums in him and it’s hard to accept. But also, you have to remove it. Her family has lost a husband, father and son. There is also this whole level of pain. A huge and so premature loss.
Earle was, of course, Steve Earle’s son, so, like Reid, had the experience of following in his father’s footsteps. Reid is the daughter of Proclaimer Craig Reid, although, she points out, her mother Petra (Margo MacDonald’s daughter) had as much to do with her musical development as her father.
“It was my mother who taught me my first chords on the guitar. She taught me the basics about it and tried to help me with my voice as well, because I don’t project so naturally. I’m not a loud singer at all and she really tried to help me sing my stomach. So, yes, my mom deserves a huge credit for introducing me to music and instruments in general.
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His father encouraged him too. But he was also honest. When Reid first announced that she wanted to be a singer-songwriter, it was her father who pointed out how difficult the industry can be.
“I remember my dad saying that there are thousands, millions of great songwriters you will never hear about and the vast majority of people never make a lot of money from music.
“When I really struggled to see where this is going and where I can actually make music sustainable for me and my family in the long run, I remembered it.
“There are a lot of people like me who are good at what they do but struggle to get to a point where they make a good living. I think it’s important not to get carried away. You have to be realistic and there is nothing wrong with that.
This realism may be at the root of his current shift towards horticultural studies, although it is not the only explanation.
“I have always been fascinated by the natural world and the diverse, complex and vast ecosystems that support life on it. And in these times when all natural products have been phased out for prepackaged and ready-made products and industrial consumerism, I was like, “What can I do to help? ”
“I wouldn’t say I’m doing it because I need to. I’m doing this because I really love the topic and we’re lucky to have a garden here, and I want to make it a nice little sanctuary while we’re all more at home.
Do you have a green thumb, Roseanne? “I’m not entirely convinced that I had a green thumb at the start, but this is one of those subjects where you end up in the deep end. “Hold on, away and cut that.” You learn a lot on the job. I learned a lot in a short time.
Reid is one of a growing number of Scottish and Irish artists who have embraced the Americana and hijacked it for their own purposes. In this sense, one could say that she is following in her father’s footsteps. I wonder if she ever wanted to rebel when she was younger, to kiss, I don’t know, dubstep or S Club 7?
“I never felt the need to rebel musically. But I listened to a lot of nonsense. I was in elementary six, elementary seven, when S Club 7 was really big. You are simply immersed in this kind of pop music and it is played at all parties and discos. ”
There is no party like an S Club Party, as we all know, Roseanne. “Amen,” she laughs. “I enjoyed a lot of things. Some of them still appeal to me. I’ll admit it.
But that’s not what she does. “In terms of what I write, it’s always been in a roots and folklore vein. ”
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We talk about his voice. What I love about it, I tell him, is that it has this thrilling sugar plum grip.
“I think it happened quite organically, because I started doing open mics on the folk circuit and my voice sounded very, very different at first. It didn’t sound so ragged. It sounded a lot cleaner and it probably wasn’t that rich. It grew over the years just doing a bunch of gigs and really perfecting the way I wanted to sound.
His father never hid his accent when he sang. His daughter did not follow in his footsteps. This is something she has given a lot of thought to. “The vast majority of the songs I sing are my songs. I sing originals. I think it gives me the space to do whatever I want with it.
“There are a few songs where I go, ‘No, that sounds good in my own accent.’ But I sincerely believe that most of the things I write sound best in some sort of American accent. This does not detract from the truth in these songs or their authenticity. It’s just the way I like to sing them.
There speaks an artist who knows exactly who she is. I leave it to its songs and its plants. It is time for her to blossom.
EP Horticulture will be released digitally on April 30