On a still autumn day in Neukölln, Rookling clinked beers with Steve Cuffari, producer of the Voices from the Dark podcast. Here’s an extract discussing the crossover of theatre and music.
VFTD: So three years ago you started writing songs. Before that, did you do any other kind of performance?
R: I did some theatrical performance. I used to act.
And did you enjoy that?
I did. I think that’s where I got my taste for the, for the stage from. And I picked that up when I was maybe thirteen, and did that for some time at school and some time at university.
For a few years, or…?
Yeah, for a few years.
And do you feel like you are a better musical performer because of your experience in theatre? I’d probably just say yes…
I’m easier under the spotlights.
“At the beginning I was absolutely terrified”
Okay. So what kind of – just how to be calm, or – what kind of lessons as a theatre player – what kind of lessons from that can you bring into music performance?
One big thing is delivery. And I would suggest that’s less about the way you sing but more the way you speak to the crowd in between songs; introductions, so that you’re not mumbling or saying irrelevant things. Not that I’ve never mumbled or said irrelevant things in a stage performance, but, um, that’s something which I can criticise in myself through what I’ve learnt in acting. And another big thing is conceptualising: who am I speaking to? What kind of figures am I conjuring – even if I’m performing solo – alongside myself through the things that I say? Imagining that it’s a monologue, a one-person show, um… You have to conjure up the lover to whom you’re addressing the song, and then, that sort of imagined presence, and the way that you look at them, even if you’re looking into the distance, is something that people latch onto. So that whole realm of thinking, I came quite late to applying to my solo performances.
So when you first started performing – performing music – you went out on the stage and you did your best and only after you started to think, “Oh, I should have done it this way or that way” – and you were referring to your theatre work…
Yes, I think that’s a good analysis of how it worked over three years and how it will work over the next three years and more. I think it’s also important to give credit to the fact that standing up on stage for the first time and playing your own songs is terrifying. So you have to get over that fear first, then you have to think, “Could I deliver that better, could I sing that better?” Then you gotta think – then gradually as you get over the different obstacles, you have more space in your mind to… to improve various aspects. But at the beginning I was absolutely terrified.
Yep, I can imagine. I’ve performed a couple of times. I don’t think I’m ever 100% comfortable. Like even now, I try to do the podcast, you know, being as comfortable as possible, that’s like my aesthetic or whatever for Voices From The Dark. And like this way that we’re doing it right now is even – I’m trying to be even more relaxed.