We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.
Haroula Rose performs tonight, September 20th, at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, opening for Azure Ray. For more details pop over here.
Sweetness can be alluring, but it can also hide subtle depths. It’s a flower’s bouquet that draws us close but there are the complexities of its botany – pollen, the transformation of carbon dioxide into oxygen, etc. Singer-songwriter Haroula Rose possesses a great deal of sweetness but spend some time with her music and the subtleties emerge – the patient songcraft, the measured performances, the ease her tunes stir in one.
There’s a lovely, just-left-of-center charm to Rose, and she sings tender, clear, romantic lines like “If we are only friends, why do you kiss me like you do?” with pitch perfect grace. She is kin to cult adored greats like Bridget St. John and Linda Perhacs, but tempered with some of the radio ready chanteuse aura of early Petula Clark and Carole King, where the feeling is we’re just beginning to see the potential reach of this young artist. Swinging between Topanga Canyon country rock and a classic pop sensibility, Rose has produced one full-length release [These Open Roads (2011)] and recently put out the swell 5-track So Easy EP, which finds a trio of winning new originals hanging with two choice covers [Francoise Hardy’s “Only Friends” and Jimmy Webb’s “Witchita Lineman”]. Her second album is due next year, and was produced with Andy Lemaster (Now It’s Overhead, Bright Eyes) and Zac Rae (Pedestrian) along with Jim White during sessions in Rose’s home base of Los Angeles and Athens, GA.
We grabbed Haroula for a quick chat.
Why do you think you’re a musician?
Because I can’t think of what else I’d like to do more.
There’s so much going on in music and so much to draw from it that it’s hard to imagine anyone exhausting the possibilities.
It feels like there’s always more to learn in terms of the past and what’s going on now. I find that I’m equally moved by music someone plays for me from years ago as I am by something brand new.
Some of your earlier work was a bit folkier, and it seems like you’re developing an interest in pop music in the classic sense.
Well, at least for this [new] EP since summer and fall were approaching and my new record won’t be finished until early next year, I thought it would be fun to play around with arrangements and do something more upbeat because that’s not what I’ve done before. I like to set my own homework assignments and challenges to do something different every time. The next one after [the EP] is not pop but it is something else, but just what I can’t say [laughs]. It’s percolating. It’s not really straight folkie, bluegrass stuff but this combination of things that I hope makes sense.
It’s interesting to juxtapose the straighter lines of folk and bluegrass with complications.
Just sticking to a category – whatever it is – can be too monotonous…or maybe I just have ADD with my own albums. I don’t want to do the same emotion the whole time.
The cover choices on the EP are great. I especially like the gender shift of a woman singing “Wichita Lineman.”
Cool! My friend I recorded that with who played the keys and the baritone guitar – his name is Zach Ray – actually played that song with Glen Campbell. I thought that was a neat little circle.
You get to the melancholy at the heart of the song in a really nice way. It’s a sad tune in a way.
I think so, too. I just got an email from someone who interviewed Jimmy Webb a few years ago about the writing of the song.
So, tell me about the haunted building you live in down in Los Angeles. That line caught my attention in your bio.
I live in this building on the edge of Koreatown and the border of several other neighborhoods. William Randolph Hearst built it in 1920s for his mistress, Marion Davies, and when you walk in it has this really interesting vibe like Citizen Kane. It’s got these interesting mouldings and it’s gone through all these changes. It was a fancy hotel where actors would stay, then it went through a phase of being sketchy and abandoned, and then it was almost destroyed by an earthquake. A historical society came in after that and got it preserved as part of L.A. history. And I swear there’s this ghost hunter friend of a friend who came over and asked, “How often do you feel alone in here? Because you’re not.” There were a couple times I felt someone was in my apartment with me. It doesn’t feel ominous. It just feels like it wants to be there.
Do you often feel connections to things out in the universe, to unseen things? You seem comfortable with engaging with the world in poetic language.
I think there are so many things we don’t know about, and I’m open to whatever is out there we don’t know yet.
So, what’s usually going through your head right before you go onstage?
Probably, how I want to run away and hide [laughs]. It’s weird, too, because the smaller, more intimate shows are the hardest. There’s times when I’m not as afraid – it’s going away over time – and after the first song it’s great.