by Zhanet Stamatova
I discovered Roo Panes by chance a few months ago and immediately fell in love with his soulful and insightful music. The English singer-songwriter released his debut album, Little Giant, in October last year. It is an enchanting piece of art inspired by personal experience and life’s mysteries with beautifully composed lyrics and melodies. I had the pleasure of speaking to Roo about his music, literature, travelling and more.
You released your debut album a few months ago. How did that feel and what has been the feedback so far?
was really excited to get my first album out. I am really happy with the response. It’s only been out for four-five months, but I feel like there are people listening.
You play on a 12-string guitar. Why did you decide to replace the traditional 6-string with a 12-string?
I actually went into a shop looking for a 6-string guitar, but I had a sound in my head I wanted to find and couldn’t in any of those guitars. Then I picked up that 12-string, the one I play now, and it produced exactly the sound I was looking for. I think the reason why I liked it is because I’ve played a lot of solo shows and it’s just got quite a big sound, because it’s got obviously double the amount of strings. That helps fill a bit of space in the songs.
You come from a creative family – your grandmother played the piano, your mom worked for a theatre. In what ways has this influenced your musical development and career?
It was probably quite instrumental in the beginning; the fact that I even began to play an instrument, because my dad bought my first guitar for me. The first music I ever heard was in my family, but ever since then it’s more been other things that have inspired me.
I find the sound of your songs very melodic and spiritual. What is your main inspiration when composing music?
I think that there are so many things that are inspiring. It’s quite hard to choose one. It’s a case of actually looking for inspiration. If you are trying to find it, there is always something to inspire you. Sometimes I’ll go to traditional sources for me like books or the country side, but sometimes it’s just something that will come to you while you are on the bus. You never really know where inspiration comes from.
The lyrics of your songs are very poetic and insightful. I have noticed references to Shakespeare and Dickens. Is literature something that you are passionate about? Have you written anything apart from song lyrics?
I love literature. When I was young, I used to read quite a lot, because I have always wanted to write a book one day, which I haven’t got around to. I’ve always loved the word. For instance, Shakespeare or Charles Dickens, I love both of them. What I like about literature is it is looking into a corner of life and explaining it and music is doing some of this job, which is why I think the marriage of music and words is such a powerful medium if you do it correctly.
My favourite song of yours is Land of the Living and I was curious – what inspired you to write it?
I actually had this dream of a character on a stage and they were dressed up in old kings’ clothing and in this dull theatre. The guy wanted to run down the aisle, push open the doors and enter the land of the living. Then the melody came the next day and I thought it’s just an interesting visual concept to me. So, I turned it into a piece of writing.
I have read that you love travelling and nature. What is your favourite place you have been to and what place would you like to visit the most?
My favourite place I’ve been to recently would be Norway. I had such a good time in Norway, beautiful country. I wrote a couple of songs there, it was very inspiring – the fjords, the little cabins are. Where I’d like to go the most? Right now I want to go to New Zealand, because I’ve been there once, but it was winter and I want to go back when the sun’s out and see it in the summer.
What artists do you enjoy listening to the most and would be interested in working with?
I love Sigur Rós, an Icelandic band. They create beautiful music. I’ve always been fascinated by them, so it’d be really fun to learn from someone like that. And they have such huge arrangements in their music and I love arrangements.
If you could choose one song by any artist to describe yourself with, which one would it be?
I’d had to choose one of my own, because it’s me explaining myself through music. I’m not sure I can take someone else’s song to explain me. I’d say Know Me Well is probably the track that makes sense to choose.
What has been the highlight of your music career so far?
Releasing Little Giant was the really big milestone and the most exciting thing to date. It feels like each step is always the most exciting, right the next step. Little Giant is the most recent milestone and that was awesome.
What should we expect from you in the future?
I’m hoping to record another album soon. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and after the tour, I reckon that will be the focus – start recording songs that are new material. That’s as far as I’ve really thought.
*Roo Panes is playing at King Tut’s on April 7th. Do not miss the chance to see him live and enjoy a night of great music.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);