Roselit Bone,
The TVD First Date

“I spent a lot of time on the city bus throughout high school, so most of my music listening was done with a Walkman until after I graduated. From the day I first got a turntable, possibly because I’ve never had much money, I’ve always been fascinated with bargain bins and thrift store finds. Possibly due to being poor, I almost never buy records new unless I buy them at a show or from a band I know. I will go to the thrift store and buy records based on the cover and usually most will be keepers. One of my first and all time favorites was a tattered 4-disc set of “folk songs” with a nondescript black cover which I’ve since lost. Three of the discs were bland, throwaway ’60s folk, but the fourth was a mix of Odetta’s best songs.”

“I had never heard Odetta before buying this and was instantly blown away. Her recordings of “Santy Anno,” “Ox-Driver,” and “All the Pretty Horses” introduced me to what I now consider “western” music, which was totally different from the blues or classic country that I was exploring at the time. These songs were earnest, desolate, and quietly violent.

“All the Pretty Horses” was the first folk song I heard that depicted death without humor, family or God nearby to soothe or give meaning to the pain. For me that song was on par with the Gun Club or Joy Division in its mystery and genuine bleakness. The fact that this was one of my first records, packaged so mysteriously, made it feel like I was listening to a ghost.

I don’t have a huge record collection, but I do have a lot of records in a few genres most people don’t care about. I have a large “singing cowboys/yodelers” collection full of Slim Whitman, Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, Elton Britt, etc. all of which I listen to often. I’d say my vocal style is heavily influenced by these artists. I don’t listen to this stuff out of nostalgia and I never forget that the innocent Hollywood cowboys were complex people making art during the most terrifying war in history, so it’s easy for me to draw a line from this to more modern music genres that deal with heavy subject matter.

I also collect Mexican folk and ranchera records, my favorite being a Miguel Aceves Mejia – El Gallo Colorado, and particularly the song “Adorado Tormento.” This song has a huge influence on the arrangements I write and I’m always returning to it for inspiration and learning something new. I love that ranchera music can be operatic, heavily orchestrated big band music without ever losing its sparse desert feel. It predates Morricone, but ranchera music is like a Morricone soundtrack wrapped around a lyrical song.

I listen to music for 7 hours a day at the bar I work at, usually through streaming sites out of necessity, but one good trip to the record store usually brings better discoveries than a day spent poking around on Spotify. I try not to fetishize any physical format, but there is a social element to vinyl records that doesn’t exist with digital music. No one keeps their records hidden away. When you go to a friend’s house their records, like books, are each a tiny window of conversation waiting to be opened.

With so much of our knowledge and personalities locked up in computers, it’s increasingly important to have art that takes on a physical form.”
Josh McCaslin

Roselit Bone’s Blister Steel arrives in stores on June 2, 2017 via Friendship Fever Records—on vinyl.

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PHOTO: BROOK DILLON

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