It’s a big world out there and The Rodeo is keen to explore it. The singer-songwriter has already travelled as far as San Francisco where an open mike at the Hotel Utah prompted the realization that there might just be an audience out there for her twisted take on folk. Fittingly, The Rodeo’s second EP, a 5 track taster for Music Maelström, her debut album to be released on Naïve on February 23rd, is also called Hotel Utah, an affectionate nod to the venue where everything changed.
Since then, The Rodeo has played her rough and tender songs at SXSW in Austin, Texas, in New York, Montreal, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, the UK and her native France. The Rodeo is the alter ego of French singer-songwriter Dorothée. “A friend of mine pointed out that if you rearranged the letters of my first name, it spelt The Rodeo. My music has a lot of folk, country, blues and gospel influences, what people call roots, so it all fits,” she explains, before naming Sweetheart Of The Rodeo by The Byrds as one of her favourite listens.
Dorothée found an acoustic guitar in her uncle’s attic when she was 15. “That’s how I started. I’m self-taught. After a couple of years, I started to sing. I didn’t even notice I have a rather unusual voice. I was quite shy and music helped me to come out of my shell”.
While her uncle instilled in her a love of musicals, her older sister supplemented her diet with Nirvana, Rolling Stones and Serge Gainsbourg. Dorothée’s inquisitive nature did the rest, joining the dots between the soul music of Marvin Gaye, girl groups like The Shangri-Las and The Supremes and the jazz of Billie Holiday. “My influences don’t have much to do with the music I make. I get inspired by everything around me” she stresses.
The singer-songwriter has also developed a knack for unusual covers since her repertoire includes a detour via Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People at the end of her composition Cha Cha Cha, and versions of Kanye West’s Amazing. “I write melodies in my head, and then I try and find the chords on the guitar. An image, a book, a film can spark off an idea...” she explains. On The Radio, one of the album’s highlights, tackles the information overload of the modern metropolis.
The Rodeo’s album Music Maelström was partly recorded in Dallas, Texas, and mixed by producer Stuart Sikes (Cat Power, White Stripes, The Walkmen). “For me, music-making is also about the people you meet,” she states before expanding on what makes her tick. “When I’m on stage, my aim is to get this guy at the bar, talking to his mate, with his back turned to me, to turn around and listen. That’s the target I set myself. You have to be able to deliver the goods in a live situation.” This The Rodeo has certainly done on a regular basis, as a headliner or opening for Moriarty, My Brightest Diamond, Nina Nastasia or Nouvelle Vague.