RoseRed And The Butterflies, aka Lydia Nicolaides is a prolific singer/songwriter from north London Enfield, with a DIY ethos. She pens catchy lyrics and silver tongued melodies that tell stories in a refreshing and original way. With a mixture of realism, fun, quirkiness and sadness, RoseRed’s music can move effortlessly from lightness into dark, and her style crosses a variety of genres, from Folk to Rock; from Country to Reggae. ‘Imagine Mary Poppins on acid’ playing the guitar and dancing like a pixie. RoseRed released her eagerly awaited debut album ‘Just A Glimmer’ in 2010 an album which she wrote, recorded, produced and funded herself, in-between several years of playing the London gig circuit and which got voted and won the Fatea Magazine debut album of the year 2010 Award. Her brand new, sophomore album, New Age Drifter has just been released and is well worth the listen.
AHC: What has this journey in music, so far, been like for you, the highs and the lows, and what life lessons do you feel you've picked up along the way?
So far my music journey has been one epic learning process. I have been building up gradually a steady growth of skills and experiences, I guess just like life there are fun times and sad times, I've made some mistakes but learnt from them and bounced back stronger. I have met so many amazing souls along the way and have grown more confident within myself. I'm quite shy usually but when I'm doing things music related I can switch into RoseRed mode and be more brave. I have done things I never thought I was capable of doing and am constantly facing my fears. I have learnt to trust in myself and my abilities and have realized sometimes things won't happen until internally you are ready for them to happen. I feel there are still many more lessons to come! Watch this space.
There is that great quote "You cannot come into your fruitage before you have grown to it" Joseph S. Benner
AHC: What first drew you to music and what was your early musical environment like growing up? Were there pivotal songs for you then that just floored you the moment you heard them?
When I was little I got a red radio for my birthday that also had a cassette player on it that could record and I would spend hours taping radio shows and music hoping the dj's wouldn’t speak during the intros so I could get the whole song, and then I would listen to them at night on my walkman. I grew up in the 80's, I loved music and cassettes and also downstairs we had a big 'Hi-FI' system which had a record player on top and my dad would always stick on records he had, usually compilations of 80's chart songs, Bob Marley, Queen, Wham, Madonna and Michael Jackson. I loved watching the vinyl spin!
When I was 16 I had the urge to play drums, I have no idea where it came from and I started having a few lessons during school time. I loved beating the drums and released much frustration and angst I had within me. That year my brother got a nylon classical guitar for Christmas and I felt drawn to it and I would go in his room and try and play it when he wasn’t home. I had no idea what I was doing but I loved picking at the strings and the sounds it would make. I asked my mum for a guitar for my birthday and we went together to Denmark Street in Central London and bought one. I was over the moon! I then taught myself how to play.
One of my biggest floored moments: My brother got into listening to the Beatles and 60's and 70's music and one day he was watching a video of the 1967 Monterey pop festival and I was just passing by when I heard Janis Joplin for the first time. I'd not heard such a raw voice like hers before, I was so curious I went in his room and watched with him. She was singing Ball & Chain with Big Brother & The Holding Company, pounding her feet and screaming, and then seeing the crowds reaction I was totally blown away and have loved her ever since.
3) Do you remember the first song that you ever wrote? Or that first moment when you picked up a pen and realized that you could create whole worlds just by putting it to paper?
I think the first song I wrote was called Summer's Day it was quite catchy, and I remember I performed it at a local music event, I cant remember how to play it now or the lyrics I have terrible fish memory. I do remember however the first song I wrote that you could say opened Pandora's box within me and led to a flood of other songs. It was in 2001 and called To Breathe, quite a personal one (that I have never performed to anyone) and felt like I was releasing some personal demons. From then on I was hooked on playing guitar and writing and realized it made me feel good and put my heart at ease.
AHC: Which musicians have you learned the most from? Or writers, artists, filmmakers etc?
Hearing Sheryl Crow playing 'Strong Enough' for the first time made me want to learn the guitar riff which to me was quite complicated at the time and I tried and tried till I worked it out and strived to be a better guitarist. I still love that song. Janis Joplin was a great inspiration, I read more about her life after seeing the 1967 Monterey pop festival performance and bought her albums. I also got into HOLE and Nirvana, Aerosmith, Counting Crows, Jeff Buckley, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Pixies, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Ani DiFranco, Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane. All of these musicians and more have touched me musically, i can go on forever about this subject but ill stop with these.
AHC: What do you think makes for a good song, as you're writing and composing, is there a sudden moment when you know you've found the right mix, that perfect angle of light, so to speak?
For me I guess it’s that powerful hook and words that stir something within you and make your body want to react in some way, chords that flow in a effortless pattern. With my writing style I never know whats going to happen but if its flowing I know I'm on the right track.
AHC: Do you consider music to be a type of healing art, the perfect vehicle through which to translate a feeling, a state of rupture, hope lost and regained? Does the writing and creating of the song save you in the kinds of ways that it saves us, the listener?
For sure! I truly believe music is good for the soul, it is the soundtrack to our lives, its like capturing a emotion in time. I couldn't imagine a world without music in it. The feeling you get when you are playing music in perfect timing and synch with other people is such a magical thing. Writing music is what keeps me going everyday so yes for me its a great release and cathartic experience
AHC: What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town? On-tour, on-the-road?
Some of my fondest memories are when I have played a good gig and made someones foot tap or dance, or made some children dance around. Having people come up to you after a show and say your music has touched them in some way is always a great feeling. Meeting other musicians along the way and making some awesome friends at the same time has always been something I will forever be grateful for, you never know who you are going to meet at the places you play.
AHC: You're largely self taught, including teaching yourself music production and a great many other things surrounding the business, what has that process been like, constantly learning and relearning on a curve?
Call me Miss D.I.Y! it's like that scene from The Matrix when they need to know how to do something fast and they quickly upload a disk to your brain and ta da you can fly that helicopter or know bad ass kung fu, only with me it takes a little more time of course and i have books and the internet to help me out. Being an independent artist you have to be resourceful and do a lot of things yourself but I guess that’s the way I have always been in life, I always try and work out how to do things and fix things. I grew up not asking for help for a lot of things and it stuck with me. With guitar there are so many things I still don't know such as scales, how to read music, and names of some chords but I still see myself as constantly learning and many teachers of guitar have complemented me on the style of my playing. Music production wise I'm still a newbie but I'm always improving. I' am getting better at asking for help for things, but it goes to show if you put your mind to something you can achieve it. We never stop learning.
9) When you set out to write an album of songs, how much does 'where the world is' in its current moment, culturally, politically, otherwise, influence the kinds of stories you set out to tell?
Life and the world is one of my biggest influences and I think you will find in quite a lot of my songs lines relating to life in general or hinting at specific things. Because my writing style is quite an unconsious process I don't set out to write about anything specific so what comes out is usually what is festering deep inside.
AHC: Do you have any words of advice for other musicians and singer-songwriters out there who are just starting out and trying to find their voice and their way in this world? What are the kinds of things that you tell yourself when you begin to have doubts or are struggling with the creative process
Oh yes do i have advice *rubs hands* Number one you have to believe in yourself and your music, because if you don't then who else is going to? Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your music and make them a part of your journey. Set goals and have a plan. If you can imagine and see where you want to be and what you want to achieve it will help you alot in getting there. This is something I wished I had done earlier and I'm still working on. To think is to create!
Also take your time to work out who you are as an artist. When i first started singing I tried to mimic Janis Joplin and Courtney Love a lot and sung with an American accent. It was terrible. Eventually I worked out who I was and found my own voice. Things like this take time so don't be in such a hurry. Always be true to who you are and authentic.
One last thing I would say is that there will be times when you will start to question yourself about whether it's all worth it, and ask why are you doing this and say you are not good enough. I call these the gremlin voices, they creep up on you now and again. Don't give up and try and tune them out, it's not going to be an easy road and there is going to be a lot of hard work but if music is truly what you want to do in life just keep going. For some people music is not a choice it’s a necessity.
AHC: Could you talk about your latest album New Age Drifter?
New Age Drifter is my new baby, almost 3 years on and off in the making! It's a mixture of songs written a while ago and last year. I'm forever trying to catch up with myself as I have written so many songs i want to record them all. I recorded this album in a variety of places, mostly in my home DIY studio, some at friends studios, and even while house-sitting a friends house. I was very lucky to be able to mix it properly on a vintage desk at Montana International Music Studios with a producer called Chaz Dabat, who is a music genius and has worked with so many well known people in the music industry. I learned so much from watching him throughout the process and he made me want to step up a level in my production skills. He recorded 'Shadow Dance' for me at his studio and was cracking the whip to get a good vocal performance out of me! The sound of this album is slightly different to my first album and has a bit of a electronic tinge to it in places but its still quite alternative Folk. I also have a few of my amazing musician friends on a couple of tracks which I'm so excited about and proud of.
I commissioned my friend Debbie Attwell to draw some illustrations and paintings to go with the songs and to help tell a story as the album goes along. I wanted to give the listener a different way to experience the album as well as having a cd or download option, so I have put together a whole New Age Drifter section on my website where you can visit a map and choose the song you want to listen to. Each stop on the map features the painting and lyrics and an embedded track so you can sing along while listening to the song. You can visit the New Age Drifter Map here: www.roseredmusic.com/newagedrifter.html
For more information visit www.roseredmusic.com/
And to purchase the new album New Age Drifter visit roseredandthebutterflies.bandcamp.com/
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