Rose Elinor Dougall
Things Are Looking Up
Feb 10, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary Photography by James Kelly
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It's been a minute since we heard from Rose Elinor Dougall. But the former Pipette, sometime member of Mark Ronson's band, and one-third of side-project Innerspace Orchestra hasn't forgotten her solo work. Thanks to an extended label shopping and finding financing for artwork and mastering, it's only now that she's ready to release Stellular, the follow-up to her 2010 solo debut Without Why. ("There's no years in rehab or anything to sex up the story," she jokes.) But the delay, which she attributes more to the fate of the record industry than fate, wasn't without its benefits. By Dougall's estimate, having a few years away from the material helped her come to terms with some of its heavier themes, brought on by a slowly unraveling relationship and the end of her twenties.
"There's an overriding theme of instability," she muses over a glass of wine and hand rolled cigarette from her home in northeast London. "My life was incredibly unstable at the time. Both emotionally and practically. Not just for myself but for a lot of my peers as well. I'm very conscious of the huge promises that were made to my generation. We were told, 'Do all these things and the world will open its arms to you.' It's increasingly less true. There's some incredible, brilliant people around me really struggling to find a way in the world."
But it's not all gloom and doom, a fact highlighted by her new album's sprawling pop palette and starry-eyed moniker. Produced by Oli Bayston of Boxed In ("He also didn't tolerate any bullocks," she notes), Stellular is an upbeat bridge between Dougall's mainstream sensibilities and her background in the independent music world. There's the sweet melancholy of "Take Yourself With You," which began as a piano ballad before she layered drums and guitar over the top. On the opposite end of the spectrum is "All at Once," which sneaks in a driving house beat originally plucked out on a guitar by Canadian troubadour Sean Nicholas Savage during a studio visit. To hear Dougall describe it, the album's inception—like much of her career—was a community driven affair. It's a vibe that she worked to maintain in the final product.
"Quite a lot of the record holds on to stuff we recorded while we were demoing and writing," Dougall says. "You can hear funny little things that Oli is doing on the guitar at the beginning of certain takes. We just kept that. Editing it just didn't feel relevant. It just wasn't the atmosphere of the process. We worked really hard on it. And I really cared about the details. But sometimes you've just got to let it fucking happen."
Given the confidence of the declaration, it almost sounds like Dougall is ready to take on anything the next decade might throw at her. Almost.
"I don't want you to think I have this whole life thing sorted," she laughs, rolling her eyes at the thought. "I'm more than ready for the next crisis. It's fine. But I hope to learn something."
[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue (January/February/March 2017). This is its debut online.]
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