30 seconds with... Rosabella Gregory

She has collaborated with the likes of jazz artist Bob James, supported Jools Holland and performed with Craig David. Now she's about to promote her self-financed album in NYC. Songwriter, composer and arranger Rosabella Gregory spends 30 seconds with M

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 21 Oct 2011
  • min read
She has collaborated with the likes of jazz artist Bob James, supported Jools Holland and performed with Craig David. Now she's about to promote her self-financed album in NYC. Songwriter, composer and arranger Rosabella Gregory  spends 30 seconds with M

How long have you been making music?
I started playing the piano at 6 and wrote my first song at 7. Considering that music has been the only way I have earned my living ever since, I sometimes wish I'd have acquired a passion for corporate law at the age of 8…

What inspired your latest single/EP/album?
Grit, and steely determination! I had recently reached the end of a laborious and uncreative time with a label, so was celebrating new-found freedom. As soon as I was free I got stuck into creating my next work.

To say I worked on it like a woman-obsessed would be an understatement. I scored the orchestra long before the first recording sessions with my band, with full knowledge that I would have to edit/cut/sack some of these ideas. But they had to come out and inform the way I directed the band sessions, since the album Soundscape had already taken complete shape in my mind. Dangerous Games was recorded in a beautiful residential studio in Cornwall in 5 days.  The whole creative period was a 'Dangerous Game' since it cost a small fortune (I was financing things myself), but thankfully singing on a successful advert covered a good chunk. The other big reason for recording this album is that I tend to write songs like some people keep a diary and therefore have an overflowing catalogue of songs. Saves on therapy bills.

What process do you go through to create your music?
Sometimes I liken it to trying to tune in to a specific frequency on a radio dial. If I stumble upon inspiration it is the complete idea and my only aim at this point is to make sure I can grasp the inspiration quickly so I don't lose it (iPhone recorder comes in handy if I am away from a piano). Then there is the 'emotional trigger': Sylvia is a song on my album that was inspired by a teenager in a convenience store who at first intimidated me, but on seeing self-inflicted scars all over her arms I felt an immediate urge to tell her story and her music came instantly. Most people like to people-watch and imagine the lives of those they observe. I do this religiously…

How would you describe your sound?
I'd try and define my sound as something like 'classic songwriting with a filmic twist, infused with improvisational elements' but that sounds way too convoluted. The storytelling aspect is the key. I want to take the listener into a specific world, like a mini-movie. Everything in that world- the band, the orchestra, my voice- is creating a scene and enhancing the lyric. I love the idea of some old muso chuckling about some tiny detail embedded in the song, and I equally love being told by an audience member that 'that song was about me'.

What would your dream collaboration be?
I've already been lucky enough to have had some dream collaborations:  Bob James (on my first album), and Manolo Badrena (on my 2nd, Dangerous Games) both met me through MySpace. I'd love to work with Richard Bona, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Sting, but I'd also love to write orchestral arrangements for the likes of Timbaland and Jay Z (we're dreaming here so I can expand...). I think a lot of my music has the potential to be re-worked/sampled by some imaginative ears, then it could serve to enhance other music that may sit in a very different genre. The ultimate goal/the holy grail is to leave a musical mark, not simply repackage old ideas. I think this is only really achievable if you are open to stepping outside 'genre' territory and flexing your creative muscle!

Where can we catch you performing next?
On 10 November I'll be playing at Chinawhite (filmed for TV)
On 15 November I'll be doing a 40 minute acoustic set at the Bedford in Balham.

For more dates check my website www.rosabellagregory.co.uk

Rosabella's album Dangerous Games is available on iTunes/CD baby by going to these pages:
http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dangerous-games/id436832976
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rosabellagregory