You might say Lucy Rose is the Nico to Bombay Bicycle Club’s Velvet Underground. She hangs around, a mysterious chanteuse, not quite part of the band, full of her own projects, but nonetheless inescapably aligned with their banner. She co-wrote the title track of their second album, 2010’s ‘Flaws’, with frontman Jack Steadman, in his bedroom. She does backing vocals for their live shows. And today, she’s being piped down a phoneline from Berlin, about to go onstage as a support act for their latest tour.
“We first met before a show of theirs in north London,” she explains. “It was quite an awkward encounter. They’re all quite shy. I, uh, think I may have said some embarrassingly gushing things about their music…” Mutual admiration grew, and they’ve been joined at the hip ever since. However, despite strong rumours, she is absolutely not shagging Jack. “No. Definitely not!” she says about all that speculation. “Honestly, there are rumours around out there that I’m dating all of them!”
A band nerd at school, Rose had learned to play “pretty much everything” by the time she was 16, hauling a jumble of drums, violins and keyboards back to her family’s Warwickshire basement to get to grips with them. And it’s easy to see what attracted Steadman to his collaborator. Rose’s fragile acoustic’n’vox pop songs bear the same reedy, unvarnished vulnerability as his own. Similarly, she spends a lot of her time denouncing the frauds and phoneys of the business, prizing a pared-back honesty and describing her music as “like therapy”.
Unlike Steadman, she’s no seven-inch-toting music buff: “Until I moved to London at 18 didn’t know who Joni Mitchell was. I didn’t know who Neil Young was either. I really just used to listen to Radio 1 a lot. It was only through playing around and meeting people that I started to fill in all these massive gaps in my knowledge.” Perhaps she’s sufficiently up to speed these days to understand when we say: she’s Alela Diane for the masses, she’s the non-freak Joanna Newsom, she’s the Birdy it’s OK to like…
Need To Know:
For Fans Of: Bombay Bicycle Club, Laura Marling
Buy It: Latest single ‘Scar’ is out now
See her live: London’s Barfly, January 31
Believe It Or Not: Lucy sells her own jam at gigs, made in association with the Rubies In The Rubble charity in aid of ‘disadvantaged and disenfranchised women’
This article originally appeared in the December 10th issue of NME