The Scotsman Sessions #146: Rosie Bans

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Glaswegian singer-songwriter Rosie Bans performs her song Flourish, the title track from her forthcoming EP

“I chose Flourish because it’s all about the fundamental human experience of needing one another,” explains Glaswegian singer-songwriter Rosie Bans of her very apt song selection for the Scotsman Sessions. “It’s a reminder that I can help you and you can help me – that we categorically cannot ‘do’ this life alone. That community is hard-wired into our brains, and community is exactly what has kept us alive as a species for all this time, but in the modern day it’s easily lost.”

Bans, who released her debut album Identify Yourself in 2017, is an artist with the urge to collaborate and to help nurture fellow talent in her DNA. When not writing and performing she spends her time “connecting with other musicians, and in particular women, online,” she says. “I like to discuss ways in which we can all be better for one another.” She’s the founder of Women Producers Meet, a group for music producers who identify as womxn to discuss, support and platform each other in the music industry. Bans also co-runs the Songseeds Songwriting Retreats project – four-day online writing camps aimed at developing, connecting and networking songwriters.

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Flourish is the title track from Bans’ forthcoming sixth EP, the product of what she calls her “inhale year” in 2020, building up a body of new work which she plans to release in stages across 2021 – “My exhale year,” she adds, hopefully.

Rosie Bans

Besides her sophisticated songcraft at the nexus of jazz, pop and soul, what’s noteworthy about Bans’ Scottish Sessions performance is her incredibly fleet-fingered piano playing – it’s an instrument she began mastering aged seven, even before she’d gotten home from Argos with her first Casio keyboard, bought for her by her dad.

“I remember being so excited that I didn’t let us walk up Sauchiehall Street before opening it up, loading in the batteries and demanding to play there and then,” Bans laughs. “I have always been drawn to the keyboard and even vandalised the top of my chest of drawers with a biro attempting to recreate the keyboard in order to ‘fantasy play.’

“I was one of the very lucky students to go to a high school with free musical instrument education. I 100 per cent would not have a music career if I did not receive this free music tuition. So, I suppose it all started there. I then went to college and studied keyboards, eventually graduating from Uni with a BA in pop music composition. My keyboard playing became really important to me as a teenager, particular when my mum died in 2007, as it was a place to escape, to make money and to get out of Glasgow. I played piano professionally for five years while living in London and so within my playing is a whole lot of experience, practice, emotion and craft.”

Of her experience of navigating her way through 2020, “the year that no one will forget, but we will sure as hell try,” she sighs, Bans speaks of her sympathy for fellow musicians whose livelihoods have been hit hard by the global pandemic – and of her gratitude for being thrown a financial lifeline by a couple of institutions which have done what they can to keep creatives like her afloat. “I really feel for those around me that have struggled this year,” she says, “even though there is a little help out there it’s really not enough. The fall-out from the lack of money to the arts will take years to recalibrate. Personally, I have been incredibly lucky to have received some support this year. Help Musician's UK awarded me a grant to pay for mentorship which has changed my life, professionally and personally and I was also awarded funding from Creative Scotland to move forward with my SongSeeds Online Songwriting Retreats project.”

Bans will bring her expertise and passion for encouraging and inspiring up-and-coming musicians by appearing as a guest speaker at the upcoming Off The Record virtual music industry event for 16-25 year-olds in Scotland, taking place on 4 and 5 December. “OTR is an excellent conference and I am really chuffed to be one of many voices contributing to it,” she says. “I’ll be chatting to a great panel on the topic of Collaborating Remotely which will hopefully give some viewers the confidence to connect with other musicians and writers online and start expanding their networks, friendships and opportunities.

“The music industry can seem like a minefield at times, particularly to younger people, but I always want to remind folk that it’s always and only about people. It’s an industry made up of human beings and collaboration is something that is in built within us for survival and creativity, so it’s okay to explore that.”

For more on Rosie Bans, visit www.rosiebans.com; for details of this year’s Off the Record programme, visit www.otrscot.com

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