In Conversation Believe What Rebecca Downes Says
BD: Hi Rebecca it is great to speak to you. So much has happened since the UKBlues Challenge last year. Live album and so much more.
RD: No problem life is busy and good.
BD: Lots of touring, the band has been busy off the road. Supporting King King and Magnum as well as headline shows and Festivals. So tell us about your experiences on the road.
RD: I love supporting King King. Being around the King King crowds we knew where we are with fans of their blues-infused rock music. I was much more worried about opening for Magnum. Would the fans like us and go for our music. They loved our music it was the best gig of last year. The reaction blew me away. I am always nervous when playing as the support band. Magnum must have approved as we are supporting their 2018 show. Headlining is different. I still worry, always worrying about getting people to them, how to manage the PR. There is a big difference between Europe and UK. In Europe, people go out and see live music all the time whether in the week or weekends and is on later. Life on the road is a bit of a whirlwind really. For me, I am anxious and nervous. That said I love what I am doing such a privilege to play music. It does have its ups and downs. Music is not the kindest industry in the world. I have to remember that I chose this and get it all into perspective, at the end of the day I am lucky to be doing it. I got great reviews in the early days; that was fab, it is my baby. Then I got one arsey review, it was quite bitchy, no need for that, reviewers can say they don’t like it, not my cup of tea that is fine. I had to learn to leave the negatives behind and move on.
BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Wolverhampton?
RD: Through my Mum & Dad, they were older parents and loved swing and jazz. The likes of Ella Fitzgerald; Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Julie Covington, Sammy Davis Jnr, etc. Both of my parents had been to see Ella Fitzgerald before they met so had this is common. Especially female singers of this era were the best of the best. The Carpenters were the most pop Mum listened to. She said to me if you are going to be a singer be like them. It is the notes, choice of melody, tone, and timing that sets them apart. I know how tricky they are. As a vocal coach people ask me all the time how can I sing like Ella. The key is to have your pitch right. What unbelievable changes she achieves with her voice. Her voice can mimic even the brass section.
BD: There has been lots of Rebecca news. Your exciting trip to the States; will you be touring over there next year.
RD: Firstly, didn’t say I was going being careful as previously had a similar opportunity and it fell through. We were over in the States pitching what we do to a record company, how we can work with them. Before we went out had all new songs demoed and properly recorded with video. Been speaking with them this week so it will be interesting how this pans out – definitely watch this space. I do lots of the PR & Admin work myself working until 11 pm. Life for a musician isn’t all the fun stuff but have to keep on top of it. Facebook, people put on a comment and they like you to react to it and say something. That takes time. I now try to only open the messages when I have time to answer them.
BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?
RD: Steve Birkett and I work together we both crossover between lyrics and melodies. Sometimes lyrics come first other times basic riffs sometimes both together. I almost always have a hand in the finished song. I owe my Ex’s most of my PRS statements much of my inspiration comes from past relationships. Think the new album will see a change. It is true – a happy song cannot be written when sad, you just want to wallow in your misery. Uplifting songs will be on the new album along with those inspired by life experiences.
Some songs write themselves Believe is one I just wrote. It was almost as if I was downloading and I was just the vessel that spat it out it was a bizarre experience.
BD: You are also in the studio at the moment making a new album. Will Chris Kimsey be involved in the whole album or just the re-mix of Sailing In A Pool Of Tears?
RD: Chris Kimsey is mixing and helping record the new album along with Mark T Stuart who records all our stuff. He is the nicest person he gets what we do. It is not strictly blues he gets where we are going slightly darker, slightly rockier. He is an absolute joy to work with. The new album is going to be released early 2018, the tracks include those we took to the States. It is ready to go now working out the release time, PR loads of things that are all in the pipeline.
BD: What plans have you in the pipeline for rest of 2017 and into 2018??
RD: Rest 2017 we have a headline tour of Germany throughout November and a T.V. show over there. Then back in the U.K. Tenby Blues Festival and King King’s Christmas party which will be fun. Then for 2018 making a video, our own tour of Europe and UK; opening for Magnum and more. It is gigging that keeps me alive. Music is my drug.
BD: What are the Blues or how do you define the Blues the perennial debate?
RD: What does blues mean to me? It is music with an emotional depth. Real blues goes back to the acoustic guitar through to the clean sound of the electric guitar. Today it is more rock than blues. With blues-tinged vocals and guitar with its roots firmly in the blues with other influences layered on top. Blues is 12-bars why do we want to do it still when the past masters have done it better, the likes of John Lee Hooker and the other greats. Now we take the elements and shaped differently. Norman Beaker once said blues is anything that has got emotional depth. A melody link and a bluesy hook. Sound and guitar doing them as well, like the Blues Band who do the originals so well.
BD: If you were putting together your perfect fantasy band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
Vocals: Aretha Franklin
Guitar: Bonnie Raitt
Drums: Dave Grohl
Bass: Kevin McCormick
BD: Thanks for your time Rebecca and in the meantime catch Rebecca Live check out her tour dates HERE and keep listening to her albums they are infectious and will pass the time until her new album in 2018
Be Live – The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes Rebecca is not defined by the blues but shaped by them with a soulful voice and a stage presence that shines out as wide as her dazzling smile. Rebecca is a singer who loves the stage and the audience loves her back as the music flows and Be Live captures the essence of a Downes live show. Read MORE HERE
Believe – Believe has Rebecca Downes Singing the Blues …… The album does that crossing genre and with tempos and beats that will appeal far beyond the confines of blues clubs and blues aficionados. Read MORE HERE………