Here it is then: Dogstar Rose is quite a character!
Alicia “Dogstar” Rose is one of those people not content to just live life, she takes life by the scruff of the neck, she has it large and loud, she embraces new experiences, loves learning new things, seems up for almost any challenge, and she seems never to sit still or take a back seat. Her persona is almost larger than life – and no, she’s not just acting up because she wants to seem like an interesting musician in this interview – in no time at all you realise that this is the real Alicia talking!
And you can’t help but be carried along by her gusto for life and boundless sense of fun. And she makes good sense about quite a lot of things too.
So, first the basics, where does the handle Dogstar Rose come from? Dogstar seems, after all, a peculiar kind of moniker. “Well,” she explains, “the star, Sirius in the constellation Canis Major is the brightest star in the night sky, and its nickname is the ‘dog star’. A good friend said to me a few years ago that I was such a bright and wonderful thing in his life,” she laughs uproariously at the suggestion, “that I should call myself the Dogstar too. And it kind of stuck. I keep my surname Rose as that softens the stage name a bit.” There is also the association with the Dogstar music venue in Brixton, South London, and she quite likes the connection with her London roots.
Dogstar speaks with a broad London accent, having grown up in North London. “My first job was as a waitress for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club,” she smiles, “It was a great job for a young girl, I met lots of celebrities and got to travel around quite a lot too. That was back when Alan Sugar was chairman at Spurs, and contrary to what some people say about him, he’s actually a very nice bloke.”
Dogstar’s twenties were spent doing various jobs, though she became skilled as a photographer, and spent many a photo shoot rubbing shoulders with celebrities from the worlds of sport, music, television and cinema.
In her early 30s Dogstar came to Liverpool to, in her words, “Start a new life”. When I ask why, she counters with, “Well why not?! I just fancied a change and Liverpool seemed like a great place to come and start again!” Since coming to Liverpool Dogstar has firmly rooted herself into the music and media scene of the city, you see her name turning up in all kinds of places in all kinds of roles.
“I’ve always enjoyed singing,” she says, “I think my earliest memory of singing in public was when I was about 14 in the Hop Poles pub in Enfield.” She smiles at the memory. “I only took up guitar about 7 years ago though. When I was first in Liverpool a friend took me to the Jacaranda pub in Slater Street, and we went downstairs and there was all this live acoustic music going on there, and the whole vibe was just wonderful. I swore to myself at that moment that I would be playing at the Jacaranda myself within a year – and I was!” And, as the saying goes, she has never looked back since.
What else is there to know about Dogstar Rose – read on….!
Q. What have you done today?
A. Today I’ve walked my dogs and have spent some time organising my event at Stanley park tomorrow, it’s part of the Liverpool International Music Festival, I’m running an event at the Stanley Park bandstand under the umbrella of the Futurejack Academy of Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E).
Q. Tell us something random about yourself….
A. I’m a qualified lorry driver – I’ve got an HGV licence. Also I take videos of people in the cupboard in “Winifred Kitchen” and put them up on YouTube! I’m sure we could get you in the cupboard you know…..
Q. What do you think about Liverpool? Do you like the city?
A. I love the place, and I feel blessed that I found it. I sometimes despair of the ignorance of some people who’ve never been here and trot out the same old stereotypical rubbish about the city. It’s a fantastic city with its own unmistakeable identity, and it has real heart and soul.
Q. What do you think about Liverpool’s music scene?
Musically I think you have to acknowledge that Liverpool really is the birthplace of popular music, but I feel there is so much talent in and around the city that it’s become saturated, which is unfortunate in some ways. There are so many wonderful performers playing in Liverpool and they can’t shine through because there is just too much good stuff. I think sometimes you need to take your music out of the city to see if it works somewhere else. You need something really different to stand out.
Q. Tell us about your song, “Strange Enough” which features on the album, what’s it about? Where did the inspiration come from?
A. It was 6.00 am and I was sitting on my sofa at home, just after the ending of a relationship the night before. The song just all came out at once, it was all there almost on the first play through. It was an odd experience; I actually felt it coming into my right frontal lobe!
Q. Do your songs always come that quickly or do you normally follow some other writing process?
A. Some of them take a while, but quite often they just “happen” really quickly. I think it’s because I didn’t start writing songs until I was in my 30s, and there seem to be loads of them inside me that have been there for years trying to get out!
Q. Do you ever work with other musicians when recording or performing? Are there any musicians you’d like to work with?
A. I play regularly in the band Futurejack of course, but the answer to this is that I am active musically every single day with all kinds of people. I’m part of a circle of musician friends and we all collaborate on different projects from time to time, people come and go, it’s all a bit fluid really. There is nobody I would ever say that I won’t work with – the only proviso is that massive egos absolutely don’t fit.
Q. What are your music influences?
A. My musical tastes span decades and are so varied – as a girl I used to like Barbra Streisand and Randy Crawford, who are both amazing artists. Later I got into P J Harvey, Bjork, and I love Sonja Kristina from the band Curved Air, also Jefferson Airplane, Patti Smith and Jarvis Cocker. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, but I’m a real Sonja Kristina fan.
Q. How do you feel about performing or releasing a song? Do you ever feel shy about revealing yourself to the world?
A. No, I don’t worry at all, that’s what song-writing is all about. The soul of art only exists if it is out there for others to experience.
Q. Are there any songs that make you emotional? Laugh or cry?
A. I already mentioned Curved Air didn’t I? “It Happened Today” and “Easy” by Curved Air do it for me every time.
Q. What is your proudest moment ever?
A. I don’t do pride! I’ll tell you about an exciting experience though. I was involved in a photo shoot for “Party in the Park” for the Prince’s trust in 2001 and got to photograph and meet all kinds of famous people and celebrities, and I threw a pair of knickers at Tom Jones. When he was performing I’d found a little pair of knickers with a label on them that said “throw me” so that’s exactly what I did. I got in trouble with the security people for that, they wanted to chuck me out!
Q. Would you like to be signed and compromise your musical principles a bit, or would you rather be an untainted amateur?
A. Simple answer – I’d like to be signed and keep my principles. It is possible! If you know your mind and understand your art you can stay true to yourself and make a living from it.
Dogstar Rose’s haunting ballad “Strange Enough” features as track 7 on disc 1 on the K’s Choice City of Music 2013 compilation album https://soundcloud.com/iamdogstar/strange-enough
To learn more about Dogstar Rose and find links to her other work please click here https://www.facebook.com/DogstarRoseMusic
Get hold of a copy of the album here https://kschoiceacoustic.wordpress.com/the-city-of-music-2013-compilation-album/