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Classical-Folk Artist, Roo Panes: An Interview

Photo Credit: Deborah Panes

Living in a desert can be very inspirational. Take the breathtaking vision of a sunset, when the clear blue-sky morphs into shades of deep purple, red, pink and gold. The calm in hearing nothing but the beating of sunshine as it bakes the earth. The peace in watching constellations unfurl over the mountainous Sonoran landscape.

Yet, from a lifetime of experience, there is no sight like the rolling, grey clouds of an English rainstorm. There is nothing so comforting as the chatter of family and friends at a pub lunch. And sometimes, serenity is enjoying a well-brewed cup of tea in the back garden.

Dorset born singer-songwriter, Roo Panes, seems to share an appreciation for the simple wonders life has to offer, portraying the world around him through artistic lyrics and resonating melodies.

His music career significantly picked up after Panes sent a shot-in-the-dark email to major fashion house, Burberry, expressing an interest in the Burberry Acoustic films.

Getting more than he bargained for in response, Panes wound up not only collaborating with Burberry Acoustic, but was also cast in the label’s autumn/winter 2012-13 campaign.

Panes has released three EPs in total: Once (April 2012), Weight of Your World (December 2012) and most recently, Land of the Living (December 2013). While Panes is currently busy recording a debut album, I was able to catch up with him to discuss Land of the Living and learned a bit more about his musical life.


How did your music career begin? Were you influenced by studies at university, or was it an intrinsic interest?

I’d say writing songs has always been intrinsic. In fact there are times when it is difficult to think of it as a career, because it’s part of your self, and perhaps is at its healthiest when there’s no strings attached. I always found that music chose me really, I never dreamed of becoming a career musician or anything, songs just kept on coming. Who knows, maybe some day soon I’ll take up a simple job in pottery or thatching or something, do music as a passion and make home made albums again.

What inspired you to write/compose the tracks on ‘Land of the Living’?

Well, I guess like everyone, there are moments in life that feel significant, be it a revelation, a feeling, a story, I just process them through music and turn them into songs. A lot of the moments in the EP are times that life taught me something about the world or myself. So I’d simply say life inspired them. Sometimes it can be other people’s lives and stories as much as my own that inspires me to write. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look.

What is the process of writing a song: is it something you do alone, or do you compose with other musicians?

It varies. I nearly always write alone, and usually in my head to begin with. It just feels like everything has a song, it’s quite hard to explain. But if you look out of the window, perhaps there’s someone struggling against the wind that you feel sorry for, or maybe it’s just blinding sunlight – there’s an intrinsic song to articulate that moment in front of you, words to explain it, a melody to express it. Sorry if that makes no sense!

Who are the other musicians you work with? How did this group get started?

There’s a bunch now, so I won’t list them all. But it began solo, and then has grown one by one until this day. Sean Hatton, who plays drums, was producing our first demos, I’d never met him before, but he and I started playing sport together and he joined the band from that point on. Miles who recently started playing piano with us worked with me at a charity in London. We’re all close pals first and foremost.

Do you have one particular spot you return to in order to write/compose, or do you prefer travelling about for inspiration?

I definitely love travelling for inspiration. But there are a few special spots that I go back to… but I’d rather keep them secret.

On the EP, which track is your favorite for the way the lyrics turned out and which is your favorite in terms of the musicality?

That’s quite tricky, but I think I have a soft spot for “Little Giant”. I think for musicality I’d say “Silver Moon” because I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to try and share this moment through music’ when I first wrote it.

Did you run across any unexpected challenges whilst recording the EP (can you discuss the process a bit?)?

There are always some unexpected challenges, but most of them un- musical. There are always more voices in the room than you’re prepared for, and logistics can be a pain. It can be hard to get in the zone with other things going on, but it all comes together in the end.

I personally do not have a Tumblr, but people who I have introduced your music to assure me that there are many ‘tumblrs’ and fan blogs featuring you. I’m the sort of person who, while flattered, would be sort of uncomfortable with that type of attention. How does it feel and what is your coping mechanism for the building craze?

Well, it’s always encouraging to hear that people are appreciating the music. I’m also quite a private individual, which I feel my listeners understand, so I kind of keep myself to myself and take it day by day. From what I know I have nice listeners, and they respect all that, so I just get on being me.

What are some career and/or personal goals that you hope to accomplishover the next few years?

To be honest I try not to think like that. I’m just going to take it day by day, finish the album, and then think about what’s next. I’m quite step-by-step.


While waiting for Panes’ next step in the official debut of his album, be sure to check out Land of the Livingon iTunes and here in Phoenix, Ariz., on The Blaze 1330 AM.



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