Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
Jeremy Williams-Chalmers
Arts Correspondent
7:00 AM 22nd May 2020

Interview With Rumer

Rumer discovered the songs of Hugh Prestwood as she searched for "lost gems" while living in the American South. With grand arrangements and traditional elements, Nashville Tears was produced by Fred Mollin at StarStruck Studios with some of Music City’s best musicians. Since her 2010 debut album Seasons of My Soul earned her a MOJO Award and two Brit Award nominations, Rumer has earned praise in the US from the likes of NPR, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and CBS Sunday Morning. We caught up with Rumer to find out more about her upcoming release, Nashville Tears.

First and foremost, hello and how are you?

Hello! And I’m doing fine, thankfully.

Tell us about the record you have just released… How do you feel when releasing a record?

The album is songbook collection of songs by a Country Hall Of Fame Songwriter, Hugh Prestwood.

I feel very happy and proud of this record. It was a special project that I put a great deal of heart and soul into it and I’m excited for people to hear it in its entirety.

What inspired the record?

I was sent a song in passing called Oklahoma Stray and it was so beautiful and special, so I looked into Hugh Prestwood who wrote it and started listening to his magnificent body of work. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him. I thought if I hadn’t heard of him, maybe lots of others in the UK especially hadn’t heard of him too. So I set out curating a selection of his work and studying each song so I could create a collection of Hugh's songs for other people to enjoy. I don’t believe anyone has ever recorded a Hugh Prestwood songbook before, so I’m excited for people to hear it.

Tell us a little about your creative process…

As this record is a songbook project, I use my creativity in a different way. Although I do compose, I’m not the composer on this one, but I’m the curator, I’m the A&R (Artist & Repertoire), I put the concept together, the album title, chose the tracks, set a mood for the listener, I oversaw the production, mixing and mastering in order to compete a vision for the project alongside the producer. It also helps to be a songwriter yourself when you study and curate someone else’s work. For my own songwriting, I use a different set of skills and there is an element of magic to songwriting that you have to allow for.

If the record were an animal, what animal would it be?

Probably a horse because we worked fast - I worked with the greatest musicians in the world in Nashville. Also the album sounds very majestic, with the strings and the high quality production. Also I feel like for years it’s as if I’ve been learning how to ride a horse, and every year I get a bit more confident on the horse, but on this album, I really got to take the horse out of the gate.

Define your sound in five words…

Easy listening traditional pop moods.

What was the first song that caught your attention?

The first song that ever caught my attention was probably "I’m Always Chasing Rainbows" from the movie Ziegfeld Girl. In 1984 they had Judy Garland season on Channel 4. I taped all the movies and watched them over and over again.

What was the first song you bought?

The first song I bought was a 7” of Cliff Richard and The Young Ones "Living Doll".

I was a massive fan of The Young Ones! The 80’s was a golden age for TV comedy.

And the first album?

The first album was Tracy Chapman's Crossroads although I didn’t want that one, I wanted the album with Fast Car on it, but that was the only Tracy Chapman tape they had. My Granny took me to the local Woolworths for my birthday. I still remember it was an import, and very expensive, it was £19.99!

What was the best concert you have ever seen?

You know I haven’t been to many concerts at all because for years I was a struggling musician and if I wasn’t working, I was in the studio. I’ve caught the sets of other musicians through the curtain at festivals and they have really impressed me. Like at North Sea Jazz I caught some of Erykah Badu and she was spectacular. Also Paulo Nutini blows me away live.

What did the experience teach you that you have translated to your own shows?

That I have a long way to go! I definitely need to get more shows under my belt to be as confident as they are.

What other artist are you most excited to hear from?

All the artists I truly love aren’t with us anymore, or they are retired. I love Neil Diamond!

If you could work with them, what would you hope to record?

I would love to write a song with Neil Diamond.

If you had to pick three artists to be filed next to, who would they be and why?

Laura Nyro, but that’s probably over reaching.. Maybe Norah Jones for the mood setting quality we both share although she is a far more skilled musician that I am, and ...Linda Ronstadt because we both have a great sense of song interpretation, although I don’t have a big soaring voice like that!

If you could jam with one artist alive or dead, who would it be?

I’ve jammed with Daryl Hall already and I don’t think it gets better than that but if I was to pick one artist I would say, Andrew Gold. He was on my wish list of artists I wanted to work with when I went to LA but then I found out he had recently died.

If you could have written one song by another artist, what would it be?

Everyone says that The Song Remembers When by Hugh Prestwood ( which I recorded for this album) is the song that most songwriters wish they had written, and I am inclined to agree!

Someone is making a film of your life, who will play you?

I have no idea.. it would probably have to be someone totally unknown!

Lastly, tell us one thing you have never revealed in an interview…

My favorite singer in the whole world is Dusty Springfield.

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