"The Yorkshire Mistress Of Self-Expression..."
The Bleeding Obvious is the musical project of Yorkshire lass Jessica Rowbottom. A self-confessed 'queerdo' whose 2015 album The Bleeding Obvious involved over 40 musicians, she is currently tackling the thorny subject of coming out as LGBT+ and self-identification with her new show and followup album Rainbow Heart.
A chorister at Wakefield Cathedral in the 1980s, Jess was weaned on church music but grew up with a mix of electronic pop and whatever she found in her parents' music collection. "Early Elton John, Genesis, Billy Joel... but prog rock was this whole universe which linked it all. Orchestral, jazz, moving soundscapes, choral music, electronica... I mean, I wanted to be Tony Banks from Genesis when I grew up. I don't believe in sticking to genres!"
While Rainbow Heart is hitting the road again throughout 2018 this isn't your run-of-the-mill album tour - the show diverges from the recorded work frequently, as she explains. "Both feature many of the same songs about gender identity and coming out and have a similar narrative, but we get there via very different routes - the album has a lot of talking-heads on it and quotes from interviews with people all along the LGBTQIA spectrum, whereas the show features anecdotes, tales and maybe even audience participation."
All of which leads to favourable comparisons with the work of Fascinating Aida 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 the show last year I met all these wonderful people, without fail I'd have 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."
Musically, Jess favours a piano on-stage but her trademark musical layering is very much present in recorded work - her studio contains a diverse range of instruments including keyboards, organs, acoustic and electric guitars, accordion, ukulele, omnichord, recorder, melodica, and modified childrens' toys such as a Speak'n'Spell. "I still have a loft full of BBC Micros which occasionally make an appearance too!" What, the 1980s home computers? "Yes, the very same!"
She counts artists such as Swing Out Sister, Saint Etienne, Roisin 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 comes out in Spring 2018 with remixes and variations from her first two albums.
The Bleeding Obvious begins the Rainbow Heart 2018 tour on 20th March at Wharf Chambers, Leeds and The Spectrum EP will be released on 6th May 2018 on digital.
Rainbow Exotic Music
Yorkshire Evening Post
I Am Hyperlexic Blog
Dancing About Architecture