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February 15, 2011 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Campus Sounds: Roman Birch

Artist: Roman Birch
Studying: Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Media Studies
Genre: Singer-Songwriter
For fans of: Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, Jose Gonzalez
Web: http://www.romanbirch.com

Nelson-born Roman Birch is not your average 19-year-old musician. When I sat down to talk with the songwriter, he was careful and slow in answering, considering every word. There was no showiness, no attempt to buff himself up as something big and important. But that’s because he doesn’t need to: his music says it all. He explains his music is about expression: “In the sense of saying something we all feel, but don’t put words to.”

His start in music was not unusual. “When I was eight, my father bought me an electric guitar; didn’t have a clue how to play it and I still don’t.” He quickly turned to writing his own songs, claiming to have never learned a cover. Nevertheless, Roman gives tribute to his development being aided by great artists and friends. He singles out Eva Cassidy as one of these inspirations, but goes on to say, “I look up to anyone who can create something with an instrument, because its the raw intimate and honest expression of self, as opposed to forcing something through auto tune which is done for all the wrong reasons.” Not a T-Pain fan then.

The music he writes isn’t flashy or technically challenging, and his lyrics don’t reveal any deep philosophy. Instead, Roman creates an atmosphere of sound that grows and moves around the space, his voice crooning in soft whispers over the guitar like a modern day Nick Drake. There is a sense of wisdom and warning in his singing, as though talking to a younger version of himself. His songs act as a guide through the pitfalls of young life, with ‘Patience’ and ‘Hold Your Horses’ dealing with teenagers’ impatience and impulse.

While musically he may owe a bit to Mr Drake and Miss Cassidy, he hopefully won’t share their fate of languishing in obscurity during their lifetimes. Last year, a fan wrote in to Salient telling of their love of his music. Roman, while appreciative, remains humble. “It was a privilege that someone stumbled upon my music page because it allowed them to listen to my music with an open mind, taking what they want.” While promising his music will always be available online, he also is planning on releasing an EP at the end of the summer. If his currently posted tracks and live performances are anything to go by, it will be one to look out for.

Roman Birch will be playing live at Ramsey House from 11.30am on Friday 25 February, with support from The Dreamers, streaming live at www.humanfm.co.nz and over the airwaves at 88.1FM. Each week, Campus Sounds will feature a artist/band currently attending Vic. If you’re interested in being featured, send an email to soundsoncampus@gmail.com

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Comments (2)

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  1. Geordie says:

    looking forward to this Ramsey House set!

  2. Tim B says:

    Praise for exceptional achievement! Kudos to Roman and the author Declan Doherty-Ramsay of this article! :)

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