Diary Of A Songwriter: Roo Panes
The Dorset singer-songwriter journals a week of writing, mixing and taking a trip to a farm in search of inspiration
English musician Andrew “Roo” Panes returned earlier this year with the release of his third full-length album. Quiet Man is a meditative and graceful modern folk record which builds on the foundations laid by previous efforts Little Giant and Paperweights and cements his position as one of the most treasured artists of his scene – that’s what 160 million Spotify streams will do for you!
Originally from the market town of Wimborne in Dorset, Quiet Man came together while Roo was taking a break from London life in the Devonshire countryside. Long walks proved to fuel his creative fire and it wasn’t long before his notebook was bulging with new ideas for songs. Comparisons with Ben Howard and Sufjan Stevens seem merited rather than aspirational, occupying a similarly ambitious space. With the album out and tour not yet started, here’s how he’s been spending his time…
The week seems to start with admin. I’m off on tour to the USA soon, followed almost immediately by a tour in Europe. I’m thinking about set lists (usually I freewheel, but I have a band to think about in this instance), sorting out posters and other practical bits and bobs that pop up constantly. I’ve been really keen to get writing, so I try to tick off as much as possible. Whenever I’m dealing with the USA tour my mind starts to wander to all the amazing places I’m looking forward to visiting – we’ve chosen a scenic route which will finish in Colorado state in the Rocky Mountains, having come down from the moody rainforests of Washington state, and across from Boston and Michigan, famous for their fall. You can tell I’m excited. I’m also chatting with my local record store in Dorset, who have just re-opened, about gathering people for a little evening show in the shop window next week.
Today I’m signing off a mix that I’ve done of Ophelia from my new album Quiet Man with Bassi Fox. The last couple of weeks I’ve been up and down to London recording new parts and now we’re at the latter end of the mixing stage. We’ve done a few… But it’s worth getting right. I listen to that a number of times, and after a few more little edits we both get there. Sometimes when you’ve recorded an album, usually with a huge amount to do and not very much time, you look at a song and just feel it deserves to be more fully realised. So this is a single version, and I’m excited to share it. I’m also making notes on a totally different live session I did with my band and signing off the mixes for that simultaneously.
I decide to spend the day out on a friends farm to get a change of scene. We often like to chat about things that get your mind turning, so having done that I take some time in a barn to write down some thoughts in my notebook. The weather is looking ominous, and on the way over I had stopped on top of Melbury Abbas to watch the clouds racing over the hills and their shadows pass through the valley. My head is full of thoughts, but I can’t quite make sense of them, so tomorrow I’m going to write them all down and hope that clarifies things. In the evening, I have a few friends round and we end up watching Interstellar – I’m loving the Hans Zimmer soundtrack…