It can be pretty frustrating being a music fan in a remote town. The likelihood of you getting to see your favourite artists play live without embarking on a weekend-long jaunt are pretty slim. But don’t worry, Lucy Rose fans, your favourite songstress has got you.
Over the last nine weeks Lucy has been on a DIY tour of South America – the itinerary decided by places her fans wished she would play. The fans then host Lucy in their town before she hikes off to another part of the continent. As she put it in her leaving letter, “I need to stop worrying about getting new fans and go visit those who exist now.”
Arriving home after countless guerilla gigs, we got on the phone with Rose to find out how the trip has changed her, how it’ll shape her music and why she thinks every musician should do something similar.
Are you sad to be back in the UK?
“I’m sad the trip’s over but I’m really happy like we did it. It happened, and you know, it all went to plan! So something that had no plan, did somehow go to plan, and it was all perfect. It feels very crazy to be back in my bed at home and like the last time I was there I was feeling completely different. Which was, ‘I wonder what the hell’s gonna happen over the next nine weeks.’ So yeah, it kinda felt different to be back in bed going ‘Oh that actually happened!'”
How many gigs did you actually end up playing overall? Can you remember the exact amount?
“Well, the one on the poster that I put out is like 30-something gigs, and nearly every centre we went to asked us to do another one because the first one, all the free tickets went and they were like ‘Can you do another one on your day off?’ So nearly every day off I had, there was a gig. I think there was one run which I did eleven gigs in a row, everyday and then one night we had off in between. Lots of gigs. It wasn’t like a regular tour because we were trying to see as much everyday. I enjoyed everything. If someone was offering me a delicious caipirinha, or something in Brazil I was like ‘I’m gonna drink it!’
Was there a particular place you enjoyed the most or you felt like you connected with better?
“It’s really difficult because, everyone on stage was really loved. And they were all so nice! The families that had the least, were giving the most. That was something that was quite shocking, if I tried and pay for my bus tickets that they bought in advance for me, they just wouldn’t let me pay them back. And we would just give them $40 each and they were like ‘Absolutely not!’
I just realised that I never answered your question about where is my favourite place. I can’t choose. It’s too difficult. I really couldn’t choose a country that was better than any because I feel like I would in a way, be saying another one wasn’t as good. But I guess, I feel like Brazil was very amazing. Brazil is a country where I feel like the people were extremely friendly and enthusiastic, so maybe there if I had to choose one.”
Is there anywhere you wish you could’ve gone to that you didn’t get the chance to?
“It’s so tough and I also want to choose a country, which is less well known and less, explored like Ecuador or Paraguay. There were lots of places where I think I was like the first British artist ever to play in these towns. It was kind of crazy.”
Has going to these places and connecting with these fans restored your faith in music?
“It made me realise how important music is to different people and especially in some of the places we went to, music is so important. I guess it made me realise why I do music and what the importance of music is. Just taking a long tour I was actually appreciating people that have heard my music and have connected to it, without worrying about all the rest of the crap, which is really annoying sometimes.
It was really nice, it was really rewarding just to be able to spend time with people that did care about my music instead of constantly trying to sell myself and work into any interviews ‘why should people come and see your show’ and it’s really difficult, all of those sort of questions, and be like ‘oh because it’s going to be amazing, and my show is going to be great’.
Playing free entrances for me was a really important part of this trip. We did some gigs in India and comparing sometimes ticket prices for some of the gigs compared to like a monthly average wage, you realise that you’re only playing to the most privileged people in some of these countries. Like when I did a gig in Manila in the Philippines I realised afterwards that the tickets to the festival were more than one months average wage by a long way, and I think I’ve learned that music is so universal and the people that really connect to music on a really deep level can be people who can’t actually afford to go to lots of gigs, even if their favourite band does come because it’s so expensive.
For me, that was why I was insistent that the majority, nearly 90% of tickets had to be free entry. I know people that had so little compared to me, and music was so important to them. Sometimes I guess when you don’t have as much, things like music become more important because of that.”
Would you like to do this again? Would you go and do it somewhere like Asia or Africa perhaps?
“I would love to. I was thinking like going even somewhere like Central America. There was a guy who would had flown from Honduras to Argentina for one of my shows. It’s crazy!”
Is this something you would recommend that sort of every musician would do if they could go and connect with all their fans all across the globe?
“I would love more people to do this. For me I never realised that me turning up to someone’s town could cause anyone happiness and make anyone happy or change their lives in anyway by doing something like this But actually there are people that when they are tweeting you saying, ‘I wish you would come to this town, it would be the best, like a dream come true.’ And you read these tweets and you think often actually I could do them, I could make this dream come true and I could tune in, in their living room and play their favourite song and meet them. And I think we don’t realise how important it is to make other people happy I guess, and that is why we do music, it’s to make other people happy.”
My time in Uruguay has been more than wonderful, it’s an amazing country and the people I’ve met are beyond amazing. Thank you Agustin for bringing me to Colonia Del Sacramento and Flo for showing me round Montevideo. I loved staying with you both, Flo your family are the best and thanks for teaching me how to sing in Spanish. Today I’m off to Asunción, Paraguay to meet some new people.
When you start making music again do you think this trip will influence it?
“I’m sure that it would. I’m going to make music that I love and hopefully these people that I’ve met on the show will also love it – I’m thinking of them as well, when I’m writing it.”
So this weekend you’re playing at The Unplugged Festival, do you reckon it will be an extension, where you just disconnect from the world connect with real people?
“I have no idea what to expect. Like everything that I’ve been doing with the trip I don’t know who is going to pick me up, I don’t know where I’m staying that night, I have no idea. And I have actually a very little idea of what is going to happen this weekend, but I think I’m just going to have to see what happens and enjoy it!
Lucy Rose performed at the Innocent Un-Plugged festival, a ‘weekend off the grid’ (28th – 30th May) innocentunplugged.com