She is quite simply….effervescent! I have always wanted to use that word to describe someone I wrote on one day and she has made it happen. Rosie Henshaw has that kind of effect on people, making them do and feel things they wouldn’t normally. Perhaps it the gift of a multi-talented cross-sectional musician/ singer/ songwriter that meanders through this life with the spirit of what it truly means to be connected to the heart of music.
Having taking part in the famed television singing contest The Voice Australia in 2013, that experience was merely an additive in the colourful life of Ms Henshaw. Although she never took the win on the Voice, she is an artist who can confidently have the last laugh as she looks back on her already solid achievements in the global music community. With an eclectic childhood being raised in exotic locations like Hong Kong and the Himalayas, Henshaw is a self-proclaimed “Child of the Universe” as her unique blend of acoustic, ambient and celebratory soul sounds are fast amassing her a generous following of Rosie fans. As her name continues to circumnavigate the inner sanctum of Australia’s soul music industry, we begin to see an artist that is miles ahead in a career she has carved out of pure faith and passion. The release of her debut album “ Rosie & the Bees” in January of this year marked a huge milestone for this multi-faceted musician ( who favours the Sitar as one of her instruments of choice) and has seen her travel the world performing in countries like China most recently with her Bees band , sharing her originality with the world.
Closer to home, Rosie is fast becoming the name on everybody’s lips in the local music community as she has been keeping busy with a run of live performances across Sydney, wowing crowds with her instrument skill and vocal range. It is always exciting to watch an artist as layered as Henshaw is take on the different facets of what the soul music genre offers. Like the artists that create under its umbrella, more often than not soul artists are undefinable in their quest for musical freedom, and Rosie Henshaw definitely feigns definition. Always marching to the beat of her own drum, Henshaw heralds in a new breed chanteuse into the Australian music industry, as she takes the focus off the archetype of the genre itself and reignites the senses with the purity of live and acoustic. This interview is open, honest and pure, like the artist it portrays and the sound she creates… Introducing Rosie Henshaw!
Hi Rosie, thanks for your time. How are you and how has life been treating you lately?
Life is beyond good right now! Busy, but that’s exactly how I love it. The universe is aligning in inspiring ways for me right now!
You have quite an amazing and eclectic musical background that truly defies definition. The soul music community in Australia has embraced you with the release of your new album “Rosie & The Bees” so how would Rosie Henshaw best define or describe herself?
Ok, I think I’d simply say that I am a “Child of the Universe” (you have to thank a lovely fan who told me that on Twitter a few weeks back!). I’m a woman who has had wonderful adventures in the school of life, thanks to my parents & all the inspiring people around me, and this is just the beginning! I’m also a singer, bass player, sitar player, Cajon player, guitar player – who incorporates all of these elements into a contemporary fusion/soul context. But I’m still learning so much along the way. Life is rich with experience.
Your personal life has clearly served as the blueprint to your musical journey with your childhood spent in boarding schools in the Himalayas, to study in Australia and also fast paced Hong Kong to name a few places. How do you think this experience has shaped who you are as an artist today and what would you say are some of the biggest lessons living abroad has taught you about yourself?
My eclectic upbringing has definitely contributed to my artistry in the most inspiring ways. It is with thanks to all of my international escapade-ing that I literally had a chance to absorb all the music & culture that was on parade around me. I had the unique privilege of picking up the Sitar, of all instruments, as my first instrument at the age of 9, for example! I’ve also learnt several different languages that I am able to actively incorporate into my songs, and singing/performing style. Living abroad has also forced me to be a very adaptable chameleon! Lots of lessons, lots of living. Lots of love for life!
You have released your debut album “Rosie & The Bees” in January of this year and after your successful stint on the Voice Australia 2014. A busy year it has been for you no doubt. How are you feeling about your album and what did you take from being on The Voice as an artist in yourself?
I had a back-to-back listen of my album on the plane the other day, flying from China to Hong Kong. I was listening with fresh ears after the most enriching tour, performing all around China. Whilst I was listening I kept surprising myself with the poignant lyrics, melodies, harmonies etc. As if i had written the whole album subconsciously, and was only then really understanding the meaning behind every word. It was surreal. Additionally, it was re-affirmed to me the fact that I love EVERY single note, beat, chord, motif, break etc. that my band “The Bees” generously contributed to the album. I was in the BEST hands recording it, with Banel “Baby” Martinez (guitar/bass) as the super MD, Byron “monkey-man” Mark (keys/synth/percussion) as his left hand man, and none other than recording whizz Andro Martinez behind the desk, pouring every atom of his brilliant mind into every section of every song. It was one of the most inspiring, exhausting, enlightening & challenging experiences I have had to date. Being on The Voice helped me confirm exactly what I want out of my music – and that is to share it, and embrace it with every colourful pore in my body.
Who would you say are your greatest musical influences and why?
Damn, what’s with the crazy insightful / hard questions? Love it. Shite. How to put this…You know, I think I have to say, I am influenced by whole movements/genres of music than simply one or two people. Indian music (i.e. Hindustani classical, Bollywood, South Asian Qawwali music), for example, were some of the integral soundtracks to my youth, so I’ve definitely acquired an affinity, as well as being subconsciously influenced by those styles. But then once I came back to finish school in Oz, I got heavily into Soul & hip hop. Yes, I was the 16-year-old with the Tupac poster on my wall too, believe it or not! Hip hop got me into Lauryn Hill, Common, Mos Def, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild etc. But then I joined the Jazz band in year 11 on a music scholarship – so my love & obsession for Jazz started, exploring singers & instrumentalists like Sarah Vaughan, Davis, Carmen McRae, Dinah Washington, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling, Diana Krall etc. So damn, I just can NOT give you one or two of my inspirations. Try 500! Oh and I love Roy Ayers & Betty Davis too. Big time.
What are your thoughts on the Australian soul music community and what do you see your role as being in this industry as a musician and singer?
I have been really inspired lately by the Australian soul community. I have been pleasantly surprised over & over again in the last couple of weeks, with all of the new artists popping up out of, what seems like, nowhere! Beaten Bodies, Josue Vilches, Kyrah Cilia, Sarsha Simone, Thandiwe Phoenix, Thando, Milan & James Chatburn are just some of the Oz-Soul artists who have inspired me lately. And special mention goes of course to sangin’ soul man Jeremy Gregory (who I have the pleasure of frequently playing Cajon & bass, and doing bvs for). That guy can SING, he’s got top skills. I find his attitude to his craft & his singing skills VERY refreshing. Oh but my favourite band in Sydney goes undoubtedly to heavy soul/rock band Gang of Brothers. In terms of “my role” in this industry, it is simply to remain humble, approachable and just keep it real. I’d also love to encourage more singers to pick up instruments, as fresh avenues for writing songs, and brilliant aids for even more exciting front woman/man-ing.
What new projects are you working on? Tours? Performances you can share?
Ooo a few exciting projects in the pipeline. I’m currently brainstorming collaborations with some awesome musicians from India who I had the pleasure of meeting & playing with on my China tour the other week. I’m also soon going to be planning up an eclectic “world fusion” set for Parramasala festival held in Parramatta 17th-19th October. It will feature local tabla maestro Maharishi Raval, my sidekick super talented guitarist Banel Martinez, as well as some phenomenal local South Asian instrumentalists – oh and myself on sitar! Aside from that I’ve got a fab show at 505 this Saturday 30th, as well as an intimate unplugged set as part of Fringe Festival at The Old 505 Theatre in Surry Hills, on 11th September.
That is one is just going to be me, my sitar, my Cajon + Maharishi Raval & Banel Martinez on guitar. I rarely have a chance to perform in such a stripped back setting, and there are very limited tickets avails, so I’m really excited. Aside from that (and that & that!), I’ve got my ALBUM LAUNCH tour coming up in November! We’re talking Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Byron Bay & Brisbane shows. I am so damn excited to finally give our “Rosie & The Bees” sonic offering a PROPER welcome into the world! Our Sydney show will be at The Basement on 6th November – do hope to see you there!
Rosie Henshaw on the Voice Australia 2013
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Aside from big plans to have toured the world even MORE extensively with: a strong foot in the world of Bollywood as the token, yet charming, “white female sitarist” (he he), countless shows in Japan with the release of some J-pop/jazz singles (with me singing in Japanese!), headline spots at Montreux Jazz Festival, a couple of sold out shows at The Opera House, a couple of TEDx talks under my belt, and a few more albums down – in 5 year time I would love nothing more than to be operating my own “Life Centre” – incorporating a Fritter House/health food cafe, a live music venue, a recording/rehearsing studio, instrument/singing school, yoga/meditation/massage studio with an art gallery & basic health shop attached. Wow. Big plans right? Life is too short, I better get busy! Ha-ha. Hope to see you along my travels!
Big love, Rosie
For more information on Rosie Henshaw visit: www.rosiehenshaw.com