Rosie Alena brings her Mixed Messages and more to Southsea

Following a well-received slot at last October’s Dials Festival, Rosie Alena returns to the city this weekend for her debut headline gig.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:40 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:41 pm
Singer-songwriter Rosie Alena is at the Wave Maiden, Southsea, on February 8, 2020. Picture by Holly Whitaker

The psychedelic-folk artist has also recently released her debut single, Mixed Messages, on the Portsmouth-based Strong Island Recordings (SIR) label.

Rosie, who is currently finishing a degree in popular music at Goldsmiths University in London, was put in touch with SIR via her friend Holly, who also happens to be from Portsmouth but is also the bassist in rising indie band Goat Girl.

A prodigious talent, Rosie says she’s been writing songs since she was about 11 and played her first gig at 16 while a pupil at The Brit School, which includes Adele and Amy Winehouse among its most famous alumni.

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A life-long resident of London, Mixed Messages is the singer-songwriter’s love letter to the capital.And for the accompanying video she spent several days wandering around the city while being filmed.

‘The whole idea of the song, for me, because I've grown up in London, is that it’s such a busy environment, but then making time to just be alone in your own thoughts and to have your own space to go off in is quite difficult.

‘When we were filming I was wearing this bright red dress as I walked around, so I looked a bit random because at some points you couldn’t tell I was being filmed – I just looked a bit crazy.

‘I got a lot of weird looks. And some of the places were quite touristy as well – people like to jump on the bandwagon even if they don't know what's going on, but like to be part of it, so there were some shots that we couldn't use because people were staring at the camera.’

Rosie’s backing band on the recorded version of the single is three-quarters of the 2019 Mercury Prize-nominated experimental rockers Black Midi. But the performance they put in on the dream-pop of Mixed Messages is a world away from the noise they generate in the day job.

‘Yeah, their own material is completely different,’ Rosie agrees, ‘but we're all friends from when we were at The Brit School together.

‘Before they were Black Midi, when I was forming my own band, they were part of it, so we’ve been friends for ages, and making music for ages.

‘I'm just lucky because they're such great musicians and I’m really lucky to have them on my side.

‘We recorded Mixed Messages quite a while ago – before things took off for them, but nowadays they’re so busy.’

With support already from the likes of Line of Best Fit, So Young Magazine, Beats 1, and KEXP as well as recently opening a Huw Stephens Presents… gig, Rosie has been attracting a fair bit of attention.

‘It’s good to have only released one official single, and to see that people are enjoying it and are already interested in me this early on in my career.’

Beyond this single Rosie’s already looking ahead.

‘I have three more songs that are actually recorded and mixed – well, pretty much finished. I don’t know exactly when I’m going to release something next, but hopefully within the next couple of months. We’ll see, but it’s definitely going to be a single.

‘It’s cool at the moment when I’m starting out just to release singles.’

But when she has several tracks out Rosie plans to combine them all for an EP.

When her university finals are done in June, she says: ‘Once that’s out of the way, I want to gig more, release more, and hopefully to make some money out of doing my music – that’s the dream!’

Support comes from Number 9, Temples Of Youth and Beau Curtis.

Rosie is also slated to appear at Psyched Fest at The Wedgewood Rooms on May 2.

Rosie Alena

The Wave Maiden, Southsea

Saturday, February 8