When Manchester’s Lou Rhodes was in the pretty drum n’ bass/dance concoction Lamb, she made up one-half of an incredibly sexy duo. Hers and Andy Barlow’s songs collided and exploded and shadow-boxed with each other as sweet vocals climbed over trippy electronic beats.
Live, they were unstoppable.
In person, they are tremendous.
Lou and Andy are textbook beautiful-on-both-sides people: their kindness to me when I recounted a particularly sad story to them backstage once in Toronto still reverberates in my grey matter and makes me feel as equally warm and squishy. They are quite simply lovely people who made lovely, edgy music. Want proof? One song: “Gorecki”
And yet their musical partnership was always as fluid as the music, and after 2003’s Between Darkness and Wonder, the band separated. They still play together once and a while now, praise Jeebus.
But in 2006, the little redhead with the big voice released a solo album, Beloved One. It was clean, simple and earned her a Mercury Music Prize nom. The fairytale songs paved the way, eventually, to today.
Today, this very day, (in the UK at least, North America has to wait until April 20), Lou Rhodes releases her second solo effort, One Good Thing – a quiet, heartbreaking, romantic and dusky girl-and-guitar (and strings) album. It promises to be as pretty as she, swoon swoon.
So what’s a girl with a crush to do? BackstageRider metaphorically knocked upon her door with 10 questions, proffering a bouquet of wildflowers and a jar of fireflies. Here are her answers:
1. What’s the one thing you want people to know about your music?
That I do it for love not commerce…
2. Which of your own songs is your favourite and why?
Just now I guess it’s “There for the Taking” from my new album One Good Thing. It’s just one of those songs that flowed so easily in the writing and somehow evokes goosebumps and a tear from me and most who hear it. Those kinda songs come through you not from you.
3. What’s the most absurd thing that has ever happened to you on tour?
Hmm, absurd? Probably one thing was touring the States when I was in early pregnancy with my first son, Reuben. I’d decided to keep it a secret, at least for a little while, but I had hideous morning sickness which basically meant I wanted to throw up every time I got onto the tourbus (which we were basically living on). Imagine the smell of stale beer and the unwashed laundry of twelve guys in a small, moving space. That’ll give you some idea…
4. What keeps you sane on the road?
Reading, little moments of time alone, the beauty of music and tour jokes that get more stupid by the day.
5. If I ever meet you again, what would you like us to talk about?
Your greatest fear, or maybe your deepest loves. Or a combination of both.
6. Describe your bandmates’ personalities…and how would they describe you?
With my solo project I tour with a cellist, Danny Keane, and double bass player, Jon Thorne. Danny’s a deep classical player who bugs out in avant garde jazz mode with the best of ’em. This makes him perfect company for Jonny who, I guess came from a jazz/folk background but taught himself to read and score classically. They both have the daftest sense of humour which also helps. How would they describe me? Lord knows…
7. If you could produce the album of any other musician, whom would it be and why?
Dunno that I’d ever want to produce another musician’s work, especially one I admire. I’d love to have worked with Elliott Smith…though not when he was wasted.
8. If the universe is everything, and scientists say that the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?
9. What things do you wish that you could have on your backstage rider but don’t?
A shiatsu masseur, fresh air and sunshine.
10. What makes you ridiculously happy?
Certain people with a foolish streak. Sunshine, the ocean, forests and the smell of coffee. \m/
One Good Thing is out on NinjaTune. Lou Rhodes is on tour in the UK and Europe during April & May. Though Vancouver, it has to be said, offers the ocean, forests, and the smell of coffee. Just sayin’.