She’s a prog rock goddess with a stage persona that will blow you away but don’t be fooled by the glamour and sequins, Rosalie Cunningham still finds time for charity shopping and sunscreen.
Rosalie Cunningham’s spectacular stage style gives all the Daisy Jones and the Six vibes mixed with Elton John in warp speed. She’s a multi-instrumentalist with a musical style that’s been described as everything from occultist metal (err) to cabaret, but we love a girl who refuses to be pigeonholed. We caught up with her ahead of her set at this year’s Music Barn festival.
Your second solo album came out in 2022 to much acclaim, have you got plans to release any new material this year?
Yes, another album in fact! It’s all written and I have just begun the recording process. If all goes to plan it will come out in September.
You split from your band Purson in 2017 in order to go solo, how’s it been, from a creative point of view, to be in the driving seat? And how has your musical style changed?
There weren’t exactly any restrictions on me in that band as I was the songwriter and very much in the driving seat creatively. What has been a revelation is being in the driving seat from a business point of view. I had no idea what was going on back then! Now that my partner Rosco and I self manage, release and book shows, I feel a little more switched on and in control. Musically, I don’t think my style has changed drastically. I think I am just exploring more deeply a family of musical ideas, some of which were just baby seedlings back then, and letting them grow organically. There is still so much more to say within the style I have carved out for myself.
Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
Beatles – (duh), Bowie, Harry Nilsson, King Crimson, Roy Wood/The Move, Slade, Macca, 10CC, Deep Purple…. It’s hard to pin down a top whatever!
What’s at the top of your current playlist?
As a prog fan, I thought it shameful that I’ve never really ‘got’ Yes. So, I’ve been actively trying to lately but I keep getting distracted by Rick Wakeman’s, dare I say it, more exciting solo albums. Toppermost of the poppermost being the outrageous Six Wives of Henry VIII.
You’ve duetted with your partner Rosco, but who else would you love to sing a duet with?
In terms of current artists, I would love do a duet with Brian of the Lemon Twigs. Actually, can I have brothers Brain and Michael together please? Or is that a threesome? Outstanding voices, both of them, and their Broadway musical vibe is crying out for a male/female musical dialogue.
You’re known for your super cool psychedelic/vaudeville/prog stage aesthetic with a little bit of ’90s rave mixed in and you’re never boring. Where do you shop for your outfits and who are your style icons?
I have never heard the ’90s rave comparison before! I’ve been a magpie for vintage and charity shop bargains forever so, naturally, I have amassed quite a collection of oddities. I like to supplement those with stage outfits by a few current vintage inspired designers like Scorpio Rising and The Hippie Shake. Oh, and i’m not scared of a dodgy boot paint job and sewing or glueing shit to other shit. Style icons are Bowie, of course, Ritchie Blackmore (of Deep Purple), Sonja Kristina and Cher, among many others.
What’s been your favourite venue/festival to play, and where would be your dream venue?
We have played so many wonderful places but one that springs to mind for the vibe is Herzberg festival in Germany. Highly recommend! Dream venue… I am gonna dream big and say the Albert Hall.
What do you eat/drink when you’re on tour and what’s on your rider?
I swear by apple cider vinegar water, honey, ginger and lemon and fistfuls of vitamin supplements. Balances out the 3am junk food and copious amounts of wine nicely, I find.
What’s in your festival survival kit?
Factor 50 and a wide brim hat. I’m an English rose, don’t you know? Otherwise, I am entirely inappropriate and usually end up taking my stupid shoes off to go barefoot and borrowing my boyfriend’s jacket.
What can we expect from you at The Music Barn in June? Are there any other bands on the bill you’re looking forward to?
You can expect a storming set from my amazing band – they blow me away! We will probably be sneaking in some brand new songs. We’re a very friendly bunch, too. Come and say hello at the merch! We’re looking forward to enjoying some of the other bands. King Brasstards sound like a gas – we will try to make their set for sure!
What’s next on the agenda for you?
We’re off on a European tour in a couple of weeks, before and after which I will be working on the new album. Then we have some exciting things happening – Prognosis festival in London and Eindhoven in April, Denmark in May, Ireland in June, a UK tour in September. Lots still being booked up all over the place for the whole year but keep an eye on rosaliecunningham.com for all the dates and ticket links.