“Growing up it was me, myself and I – I didn’t have any role models; I had to have that belief in myself

BY EMILY EATON

A “global community creating intimate gigs for artists and music lovers” Sofar Sounds is – if you haven’t already been – a bloody great way to spend an evening.

It’s an event that’s about “getting back in the moment,” Sofar Sounds founder, Rafe Offer, tells the room at the early 2019 event I’m lucky enough to be invited along to – held in Offer’s own, north London home.

“The experience is as unique for our artists as it is for the audience.”

Set list

As the bands got ready to perform, I got chatting to Bang Bang Romeo, aka Anastasia Walker, Ross Cameron and Richard Gartland.

“How are you guys?” I ask as they set up.

“Really good!” replies lead singer Anastasia.

“It’s quite strange going into 2019 because last year, we knew that when 2019 hit, the album was coming out and the tour was happening.

“Now that it’s finally here it’s so weird to go: ‘Shit, this is the year, isn’t it?’ It’s daunting but really, really exciting.

“We feel fresh and ready.”

The in-house crowd at Sofar Sounds

Known for their love of film and aesthetics, I wondered if this had always been the case for BBR.

“From Day one – films are up there with music for us, the band pipes up.

“They both tell stories so to put them together is quite special for us. A massive dream of ours would be to write a screenplay!”

It’s amazing to hear that they all have such intense visions when it comes to seeing the visuals that assist their music. “

“We’re like… ‘Can you see fog when I play this?’ ‘Yeah, it sounds really foggy!’ Do you know what I mean?”

Anastasia, who also identifies as lesbian, is a great role model for our generation – I wondered if she had any LGBTQI+ role models growing up.

“See, that’s the thing – I didn’t. I’m from essentially a mining town in Doncaster and the only gay I knew was my friend Ben who was going through the same hell that I was; we sort of came out together.

“I remember when I came out as bi, some of my friends were like, ‘Can we invite her to a sleepover?’ and it’s like, actually – you’re not my type!

“But no, I never really had anyone. Now I absolutely do. I mean for me, it’s Rupaul’s Drag Race! Like, oh my God… Even though it’s men, I think it’s so incredibly inspiring because it’s so in your face and zero shits are given.

“But growing up it was me, myself and I. I had to have the belief in myself to go, ‘If you can’t accept me then that’s not my fucking problem – I’ve got lots of friends and I don’t need you!'”

“Still, I went through a very dark period when I was a teenager. Including self-harm, and I’ve never actually said this to anyone else but, that period of time I spent absolutely terrified.

“And then I realised –’ I’m awesome, why am I doing this? I am actually, awesome.’ I thought: ‘Everything’s going to be okay and I have a wonderful family.’

I remember when I came out to my dad he went, “Yeah well, there are Megan Fox posters everywhere and your friend’s always sleeping over.”

“Then they told me to invite her round for tea and I thought, ‘How lucky am I?’ A lot of people don’t have that.”

Bang Bang Romeo perform

My heart physically aches listening to Anastasia’s story. I can only hope that anyone who feels how she did then, can grow to be as positive as she is now.

Was there anything specific that set such a turnaround in motion?.

“Yeah, I fell for a girl at school who was a few years older than me and she told the police,” Anastasia explained. “Yep – the police.”

“It backfired for her though because they were like, you’re wasting police time.

“I was at school and I was doing these plays at the time – I had the lead part and then I didn’t because I was ‘too big’. I had a sit-down talk with my dad and he was like: you’re Anastasia Walker – why are you worrying about all of this? It just kind of clicked then.

“I know a lot of people have had it much rougher than I have, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. To anyone who’s struggling out there now I’d say, “Listen, you are fucking ace.”

So just what have they got lined up for 2019?

“The big one is supporting P!nk. On top of that, we’re releasing our debut album, which for us is the greatest thing. It’s gonna be jam-packed.”

As we finished up, I wondered if Anastasia had any advice for LGBTQI+ folk wanting to enter the music industry – she did:

“Don’t be scared of what everyone else thinks. The more confident you are in yourself, the more it’s infectious.

“If you want someone to fight your corner as a musician, you’ve got to fight your corner. It’s about the music, so crack on!”

Fancy catching Bang Bang Romeo live? Click here or follow them on social here. For more on Sofar Sounds click here. Photo(s): Petra Gent for Sofar Sounds.

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