Music / Features
Little Big Steps -
A chat with Romanie
Words and interview by Sofia Jayne
Monday 8th November, 2021
In August, rising songwriter Romanie shared Little Big Steps, her debut collection of serene indie-folk goodness, and now as Melbourne’s live music venues are opening up again, she’s launching the EP at the Brunswick Artist’s Bar. Ahead of the show this Thursday, we caught up with her to have a chat about the EP.
Romanie is a singer-songwriter originally from Belgium. She followed love and moved to Melbourne two years ago with her partner. Having grown up in a small town, Romanie has had to find her feet in the big city. She knew of Melbourne’s opportunistic music scene before coming here, but when she arrived what she found was quite overwhelming. Everyone seemed to be a musician and a very good one at that. Romanie went back to writing songs in her bedroom and busking on the streets, which was quite daunting for her. It was a tough process to find her grounding in a new city, but over time she says she has met the right people and that has helped her to get back into performing.

Despite her initial difficulties, she says the big city suits her better, especially when it comes to music. Romanie lived in Brisbane for a little while when she was 18. When she returned home to Pittem, her small town in Belgium, she realised that nothing had changed. She didn’t feel she belonged there anymore, because she had changed.

Little Big Steps is a story of identity and finding the self in new lands. Each song on the EP paints a scene of emerging changes. Opening with the title track, we get a taste of the album’s transcendental harmonies and Romanie’s soothing honey vocals. Accompanied by a balletic music clip of sand dunes and twirling red ribbon, ‘Stranger In My Skin’ builds into an emotional chorus depicting feelings of melancholic longing intertwined with hopeful new beginnings. This sets the mood for the album, as ‘I’m Anything (But Myself Around You)’ and ‘Fake Friends’ continues this story of personal growth and understanding who we are in relation to the people around us. ‘Changing’ maintains the album’s elegant sound of soft guitars riddled with folk undertones.

Pour yourself a tea, sit in the sun and grace your ears with Romanie’s remedying vocals. However, as a storyteller, Romanie’s music is meant to be shared; and she’s doing exactly that this Thursday, November 11th, at the Brunswick Artist’s Bar for the Little Big Steps EP launch. To celebrate Romanie’s return to the live scene, we’ve had the pleasure of catching up with her for a chat.
TJ: Do you think moving to Australia and living in a different setting has influenced the music that you are making?

R: Definitely, yeah. Well, the whole record is about me moving and doubting myself, and growing as a person and a musician. But I definitely think that with every major event in life, everyone is influenced by lockdown and things happening to you and around you, and definitely getting into a big city and seeing all these new changes in life majorly influenced me. And also, I think discovering new music genres. Australian musicians have a really specific sound, and everyone always thinks that they don’t have a specific sound, but you can tell, like the slick guitars and pedals. That was something that I knew that it existed, but I had never experienced and experimented with it, yeah, it’s cool. And now I am all for genre blending and bending. Yeah, I’m keen to see where it all goes.

What sort of music were you playing in Belgium before coming to Australia?

Very singer-songwriter, folk. I feel the first few songs that I’ve written in Australia, like ‘Little Big Steps’ that was the first song I wrote when I was here, and I feel like that’s still in the old genre but then I was starting to think about - where do I want to go with music? I wanted a band eventually, so I wanted to get that bigger feel. I was looking for a producer, but I couldn’t find the right fit because I always had this idea that I had to do everything by myself as a singer-songwriter, and I would be a fraud if I sounded any different on the recording than if I was doing it live. Soon I learnt that that was not true. Then I met James and he helped me build my sound and now I’ve got a band, which is really exciting. I feel like now I’m writing more with a band-sound in mind, which is really cool because it gives you more opportunities and options.

In listening to your album, there seems to be a theme of identity with lyrics like “I don’t want to be this person anymore” - why is this?

The long lockdown last year got me into a really dark period in life, and I feel like ‘Stranger in My Skin’ is a really good reflection of that. I was really feeling angry that I was letting myself go so deep and I was questioning whether it was a good move to move overseas, and I was angry with myself that I had left everything behind. But then, my partner was here, so I was like why am I feeling like this? I’m not sick, I don’t have Covid. I think that song is about that feeling, the anger and the sadness of letting things go.

I always try to write from within me. It will always be about identity and things in your head I guess, because it is important and mental health is always a top priority for me. So yeah, it’s nice that that comes across.

Do you think the feeling of returning home to Belgium to find that nothing had changed, but you had changed, influenced this idea of identity?

Yeah, and I think ‘Changing’ is all about that because I was writing all these sad songs and ‘Changing’ started as a bit of a parody with myself, because I was like I should change. And then that sort of clicked in my head, because I was changing, and everyone is always changing. It’s weird because there is so much happening at home and it’s nice to keep those friendships alive although you’re not home. I think I am a very existential person, so I think I always ask questions and I’ve got big questions. I think it translates in my music.

In Belgium you played a lot of folk music and you describe the music that you play now as ‘ethereal’ - why do you play this style of music?

I think I grew up listening to female singer-songwriters and always having that focus on vocals and melodies and storytelling. I guess that fits that ethereal and vibey music. I want to step away from having very specific genre a little bit, and I am a fan of Paramore, but I really love how they don’t describe themselves as a genre and they just cut through it and I think that I aspire to be that kind of musician who just doesn’t want to follow any kind of guidebook and just do whatever you like I guess. I’m still trying to figure things out and I guess no one ever knows what they’re doing but it’s nice to try and experiment and have influences still.

You have three beautiful music clips - what’s the story behind these?

I’ve worked with Rick Clifford for two of them and then two friends of mine made the video clip for ‘Fake Friends’ which is so fitting because they were already friends of mine. Yeah, I love all three of them, and I feel like every time we went a bit deeper into a story and it’s nice to put visuals to music because I do think that songwriters are some sort of word painters, which is really nice, and you cannot really see the two from each other. I want to embed that a little bit more in lives sets as well and have that visual aspect of it.

The videos for ‘Fake Friends’ and ‘I’m Anything (But Myself Around You)’ are filmed in beautiful garden settings and then ‘Stranger In My Skin’ is more theatrical - what was it like to film them?

I actually used to play theatre in Belgium, so the acting part has always been a kind of part of my life. The ‘Fake Friends’ video was actually filmed in a period where I had lost a friend, so I was acting sad, but I wasn’t really acting. That all happened all at once and it was nice to do it all with friends. Every person that you see in the video that is sort of like ignoring me in that story, they’re all friends. So, that was just a really nice evening in the city, and it started raining and we were all soaking wet. It was a really nice wholesome day and I think that comes across in the video, even though it comes across as sad, you can feel that the vibe was all about friendship.
Head to to grab a copy of Little Big Steps on limited 10" vinyl. Romanie is launching the EP this Thursday at the Brunswick Artist's Bar - head here to book a spot.