John Prescott might not be the obvious person to turn to for music advice, but when Rumer appeared on Jools Holland a couple of weeks ago he sprung up full of praise on Twitter (and later the Guardian) labelling the singer-songwriter the new Karen Carpenter. There's certainly a lot of Karen's elements here and Rumer's voice gently lends itself to a laid-back Bacharach vibe. New single Aretha is out today plus she'll be appearing alongside Elton John at the BBC Electric Proms on October 28. Not bad for your second single.
Hello Rumer! Introduce yourself
Hi I'm Rumer, and I'm a soul/jazz style singer songwriter from south London.
London's been your home a couple of times, but where's been your favourite place to live?
I have lived in a few different places around London, mainly in Herne Hill and Brixton. I lived up in Finsbury Park for a while which was interesting. I think it's true that Londoners are either North or South, and can't really understand the attraction of the other. It's a whole different atmosphere up in North London. Everything is bigger, and the roads seem longer. I lasted 3 months!
Where are you from originally?
I am a small town country girl and I grew up in a small town by the sea on the edge of the New Forest. When you live in a small town you don't really appreciate it at the time, and all you want to do is go where the activity us. Still I was lucky to have grown up in a beautiful environment. I do miss the nature, the country pubs, the animals, the coastline, walking along the cliffs. Having said that London has the most beautiful parks.
So what made you head to the capital?
London is the best city in the world. I went to New York for the first time, full of expectation and in the end I thought London is so much better. London has so much character. Yes its overpopulated and it can be gritty but it's great that both wealthy and disadvantaged people live side by side and there are no ghettos. In some cities the rich people live in the centre and the poor live only on the outskirts. I think New York is a bit like that. A former colleague of mine who I worked with at the Apple Store on Regent Street, a security guard originally from Sierra Leone, told me that he couldn't believe what he saw when he arrived in London, having previously lived in Paris. He said you would never see a "black man with dreadlocks as the boss" in France, and found it a surprise to see that they was no inequality in London. When you talk to people from other cultures, who have settled in London, they can make you feel so patriotic. This is a great, great multicultural city we live in.
What's been the most important London location in your career so far?
The Herne Hill area around Brockwell Park in South London. A lot of the music on the album was written in a second floor flat that overlooked the park. I used to sit in my chair and watch the seasons change outside my window. I still bitterly regret ever moving out of that place. I am so emotionally attached to the flat that I sometimes walk past and just stare up at it mournfully.
Awh, we have an old house we are a bit mournful about too. Performance wise, what's your favourite London venue and why?
My favourite London venue is the Half Moon in Herne Hill. It was a legendary music venue in the seventies. Rumour has it that U2 was discovered there back in the day. Since then it has changed hands a lot it and subsequently been forgotten about. Now that has changed because they have a great new management team in there now who are bringing the venue back to life again. I recently put on a charity band bash on there for the Red Cross appeal for Pakistan.
Is there anywhere unusual you'd like to play?
I love the Chelsea Pensioners Cricket Pavillion. It's like stepping back in time. I want to do an event there in aid of the British Legion. I could do it with Blunty! [Rumer's Atlantic Records label mate, James Blunt]
When can we see you play live next? And what can we expect?
I am on tour right now supporting Joshua Radin. Then I will be supporting Jools Holland at some great venues across the country in November, concluding at the Albert hall, which I am really looking forward to. I have never been there before! If you go to my myspace there's a full list of all my upcoming shows.
You can expect a show that's got passion and heart in it! I am playing with a great band of old pros as well so it's a professional old school line up.
Your new single is called Aretha. Is it about the legend herself?
In Aretha I tell the story of a little girl walking to school who is having a hard time at school and whose mother is suffering from a mental illness. The little girl listens to Aretha on her headphones and has imaginary conversations with her, telling her all her problems. Aretha suddenly comes to life and appears to the little girl, encouraging her dreams and aspirations. Aretha Franklin is symbolic as the main character in the story because she is the "Queen of Soul", the ultimate female music icon. She is also a maternal character, a mother figure, to the child in the story. It's a story about music, and how life affirming it can be, especially growing up.
We hear you live in Battersea - tell us three amazing things we should do there
I know I should say boating on the lake, cycling in the park, or walking by the river, but truthfully most of the things I do in Battersea are food and drink related. I do like a pint in the Drafthouse on quiz night; and Battersea Spice curry house is amazing!
What other new London bands / artists should we be checking out?
My favourite band is called
And finally what's your London secret?
I recently was taken to see a play at Regents Park Theatre. I had never been there before and I really loved it. It made me realize just how many interesting and beautiful places there are in London and how much there is yet to discover...
Rumer's single 'Aretha' is out today