"The Yorkshire Mistress Of Self-Expression..."
The Bleeding Obvious has one single member: Jessica Rowbottom. A self-confessed 'queerdo' from Yorkshire, she is currently heading into the realms of disco-funk as a prelude to her third album, Dirty Blonde.
The self-titled debut The Bleeding Obvious released in 2016 was a blaze of genres featuring an impressive array of vocalists, musicians and an orchestra. During 2017 she followed it up with the album and touring show Rainbow Heart, an odyssey about LGBT+ identity and coming out of the closet. Dirty Blonde however is lining up to be a very different beast altogether with themes covering dancing through bad times, keeping your head above water and the neon lights at the end of the tunnel - why is that?
"I wrote the first two albums during the Summers of 2016 and 2017," explains Jessica. "Wonderful sunny days, lots of time in my home studio which has plenty of natural light. After I finished each one I crashed mentally as the nights drew in. Don't get me wrong, I toured and it was fun but a real effort to stay afloat sometimes."
"The difference with album 3 is that it's being written in the darkest part of the year, slow-boiling it through winter, striking back against seasonal depression. Life will hopefully brighten up and sunlight will return but we can fight the darkness by donning the sequins, flashing the lights and hitting the dancefloor. It's quite optimistic."
Jessica counts artists such as Swing Out Sister, Saint Etienne, Roísín Murphy and M83 as influences, and as a result her work sashays effortlessly between genres including pop, electro, chiptune, spoken word and disco. With two albums under her belt Jess even released a Christmas song The Last Thought for good measure, and The Spectrum EP with companion remixes and variations from her first two albums performed with live musicians.
She hasn't just been busy in the studio though - The Bleeding Obvious' second album Rainbow Heart led to a nationwide tour with dates in Bristol, York, Nottingham, Totnes, Brighton, Leeds and Manchester among others. She played to a busy off-West End theatre for Pride In London and led a thousand-strong crowd in a singalong of her new song One Girl Girl at Wakefield Pride. For someone who didn't want to do live shows that's something of a turnaround.
Jessica laughs, "When I said I wasn't keen on doing live shows, I'd anticipated one gig to launch the debut album! Then I acquired a proper decent stage piano, went back to my old music teacher from school days for coaching, and started performing original live cabaret. I'm addicted to it now!"
All this leads to favourable comparisons with the work of Fascinating Aïda and musical comedians Victoria Wood and Tim Minchin. A good thing?
"Oh I think so - humour defuses the stress of the situation. When I toured Rainbow Heart I met all these wonderful people, without fail I'd have queer audience members come up after the show and say 'You just described my life!'. I don't think that'd have happened if it was all stern and serious. Folks identify with gender and sexuality issues I sing and talk about, and will derive strength and be more open if there's a comedy side."
Although Jessica favours a piano on-stage, her trademark musical layering is very much present in recorded work. Her home studio, affectionately known as The Fishbowl contains a diverse range of instruments including keyboards, organs, and synthesisers, acoustic and electric guitars, an accordion, ukulele, omnichord, recorder, melodica, and modified childrens' toys such as a Speak'n'Spell. "I still have a loft full of 1980s BBC Micros which occasionally make an appearance!"
The Bleeding Obvious continues to perform live shows and will release her third album Dirty Blonde in 2020.
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