by Jane Bradley, 28 April 2010.
You might already have heard of Rosie Vanier. The angel-voiced saucepot’s previous band, Rosie & The Goldbug, had a stomping live reputation; they toured with Cyndi Lauper for almost all of 2008, and the Guardian called them “Kate Bush on crack with Goldfrapp on synths.”
Critics fawned over them, and their lyrics kept listeners intrigued with a lurid, syrupy mixture of whimsy, lust and bite. For a while it seemed as though Rosie & The Goldbug were well on their way to world domination. Then, without warning in August 2009, there was an announcement on their Myspace, saying that the band would be going their separate ways. At the time, all that was said was: “the three of us are very sad about this, but we can no longer continue with the band. We would love to explain and tell you all the details, but we can’t.”
Fast-forward two months to October 2009, when I managed to wangle some time to chat to Rosie, and she'd already bounced back with a new band, RubyVamp. Now, in April 2010, that also seems to have been disbanded, and according to Rosie's Myspace, she's been in Mexico and New York, working on material for her solo career.
When we chatted, my first question was inevitably about the reason behind the Goldbug split, and Rosie somehow managed to be a charming combination of outspoken and cryptic: “Rosie & the Goldbug was killed by a bad curse who’s name I cannot mention,” she said. “My creativity was crushed by this person. I was pushed into a corner; a black, damp and evil corner. I had to start again. But I still love Rosie &The Goldbug, I still have my goldbug tattooed over my feet and it will continue to be in my heart. Forever and ever, amen.”
We soon got to talking about all the media acclaim for Rosie & The Goldbug; an enviable accomplishment for an unsigned band. I speculated about what Rosie could achieve with the backing of a major label, and as with every other topic, she was passionate and opinionated in her reply: “I would sign to a major, but I don’t have to have one for people to hear what I do. The music industry is different now. I’m about the art, not the deal. Some A&R dudes don’t get that, so you do have to be careful. There are pros and cons to both. If you’re unsigned, you’re independent, so you can be much more creative. ”
Following the 2008 tour with Cyndi Lauper, Rosie’s been very much in demand. With a voice that can move between a bewitching hoarse whisper guaranteed to send shivers down your spine, to guttural growls and banshee howls, it’s no wonder she’s shared stages with such musical superstars as Glen Matlock, Wayne Carson and Brett Anderson.
So I was curious about about what other famous faces she’d encountered. Cyndi Lauper she described variously as “fucking incredible”, “my muse” and “an education.” Kirsten Dunst was “cute.” A famous Calvin Klein model made amorous advances towards her, but she politely declined: “He was wearing Calvin Klein pants and mine were from Primark!” Who else? “Tyson from the All American Rejects once wrote me a song. I played him ‘This Mess We’re In’ by PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke in a rental car I had in LA. I think he liked it. He’s a sweet, sweet person. I have a lot of love for my fellow musicians and comrades.”
Although I’m sure they wouldn’t admit it to such icons as Cyndi, Siouxsie or Debbie Harry, there are still some foolish folk who view women in rock as something of a novelty act, so I asked Rosie whether she’d faced any hostility on this front from other musicians. “The girls I’ve met and think are real are Cyndi, of course, as well as Marcella Detroit, Little Fish and Natasha Khan. I must admit there are a few out there who don’t match up to that calibre, but I won’t mention them. But I know the girls I do mention are not novelties. They are real musicians, and so am I. I’m a songwriter and a performer. Like any other guy, girl, hermaphrodite or fisherman who makes great music. We’re all the same, regardless of our genitals. To be honest I have never had a problem with anyone not taking me seriously because of my gender. I do have small tits, though, so maybe that’s why! I don’t know if I’d class myself as a feminist but I do know what’s right and what’s wrong and if I feel someone should step down and behave themselves I don’t hesitate to tell them.”
After this interview, I was even more besotted with Rosie than I had been beforehand, and although she's even more of enigma now than she was then (what happened with RubyVamp? What will her solo material sound like? When will she be touring again?), one thing's for certain: this isn't the last we've heard from Rosie Vanier. She'll apparently be releasing a solo album at some point this year, but in the the meantime, keep an eye on her Myspace for more: