Rosie Turton Interview
How did your new album come about?
The album is a 5ive, which is a series that Jazz Re:freshed do, where a musician will write and record five tunes. They’re all composed by me, apart from one tune, Butterfly, which is my own arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s classic tune. It’s taken inspiration from all over really, influences from where I’ve been over the last two years, lots of inspiration from travelling in India and music that I learnt over there as well as an electronic element from working with producers in London. I wanted to incorporate some kind of production into the album as well, and being in London, surrounded by all the jazz music that’s around.
You’ve been in the recording studio before but this is your first album under your own name, what did you learn from the whole experience?
It’s been a really informative educational experience for me. We recorded at Soup Studios in East London and we spent a day in the studio back in April 2017 and recorded four of the tracks then. We recorded the final, fifth track last June. It was really fun. We played through all the tunes as though we were doing a gig, so we just started from the top and went to the end, to record all of them, then after that we took the takes that we liked. I took it to a producer called Matthew Owen to mix it, but also because I wanted to do post-production on it like adding delays and adding extra synthesizers and electronics. We spent a long time on that. It was amazing, getting into it and thinking about the soundworld that it was in, and trying to create something different. At the same time, I was learning a lot about music production and how I can mix the two worlds together: the live jazz and the electronic element.
Tell us about the musicians that you’ve got on the album because the instrumentation is a bit different.
There’s violin and trombone in the lead which is quite an unusual mix. When I started the project I knew that I needed another melodic instrument and I was trying to think about what would work well with the compositions. With Johanna [Burnheart], the violin player, we’d done some projects before in the past together. She uses an effects pedal really well for the violin, and she’s also a really, really great player. So I thought ‘I wonder how that would work?’ because she can add in delays and extra soundworlds. I thought the trombone and violin would mix well because they’re both fretless instruments and the trombone is quite low and the violin is quite high. So I was interested to see how that would blend. I asked Johanna if she was up for it, we had some rehearsals and I was like ‘wow, this is a really interesting fusion of those two sounds’. Then we’ve got Maria Chiara Argirò on piano, Twm Dylan on the bass and Jake Long on the drums. We also have Ben Hayes playing synthesizers on one of the tracks, Orange Moon, and Luke Newman did the vocals on Stolen Ribs.
How did you first get into playing trombone?
I started playing the violin when I was quite little. I don’t know if that influenced me to have violin in the band. I was really into trying instruments growing up but my parents said ’no, Rosie, you can’t do that because you’ll change your mind in two weeks’.
When I started high school there was a trombone at the school that they lent me and a teacher there as well so I could get lessons. I think I must have heard somebody play the trombone and I just liked the sound of it so I started when I began secondary school and it stuck.
What would you say were the crucial stages in terms of your development as a musician?
My trombone teacher, Adam Lincolnshire, was very encouraging about introducing people to jazz music. He ran a local big band, The Jazz Vehicle, and he got me involved in that too. There were opportunities in that band to improvise. That was how I got into the idea of playing jazz. I’d always grown up listening to it, from my parents, and then a few years later when I was 16 I found out about Tomorrow’s Warriors. The trumpet player Abram Wilson came in to my school to do some workshops and he told me about Tomorrow’s Warriors happening in London and how they had jam sessions and workshops. He said ‘you should go check it out’ so I started going down to London on weekends when I was 16-18. I met Gary Crosby and I met all the other musicians my age that were going through it at the time.
I suppose the biggest turning point for me was getting into jazz, and learning so much and being able to play it with other musicians.
After that I went to Trinity College of Music to do the jazz course. Again, I met some incredible musicians there. In my year I met Jake Long playing alongside Joe Armon-Jones and Mark Kavuma, and through that, living in South East London and getting connected to the different music scenes there. For all of us at Trinity and in that world, meeting rappers and producers, singers and poets, for a lot of us that was a really important thing. This cross-collaboration and taking what we were doing with jazz and mixing it with what they were doing with hip hop and lots of different kinds of music, it all grew from there.
What plans do you have for the future?
The plan is to do some touring for the album, and then get started on the next one. The wheels are already turning for that. But mostly it will be playing with the band as much as possible. There’s also some new music coming out from Nerija later this year which is exciting.
I’ll be travelling back to India towards the end of this year. There’s music out there, such as dub sound systems from Delhi that I go on tour with around different parts of India. So hopefully it will be a year of lots of playing and lots happening.
Is there anything that you do outside of music, such as a hobby that’s not music-related?
Let me think. I guess most things that I do are in some ways musically influenced, but I’d say a big one is definitely travelling. I suppose there’s always the incentive to go to different countries and explore what’s going on with the music over there.
Is there anywhere in the world that you haven’t been to that you’d really like to go?
It’s a big list. Definitely Chicago and Detroit are on the list. I’d like to go and check out the music. Also, Brazil is definitely somewhere that I’d like to go.
I’m really looking forward to getting it out into the world. It’s been a long process in the making, but it’s been a great process. I’ve loved every minute of it but feel it’s time for people apart from myself and the band to hear it.
Rosie Turton’s 5ive is out now on the Jazz Re:freshed label.
Rosie Turton was interviewed by Charlie Anderson.