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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Troubadour Rose's Bryony Afferson has a big week

"In my mind there are all these instruments playing"

There are several things you should know about Bryony Afferson.

Firstly, she sings, plays and writes the songs for a band called Troubadour Rose, of which you may have heard because they've been gigging for about four years and will shortly be releasing their first album.

Secondly, she is on BBC One rather a lot this week: on three separate occasions, no less - one episode of Father Brown during the day on Monday and two episodes of Silent Witness on Thursday and Friday evenings, for she is an actress by training.

And thirdly, her partner in life is Jack Day, who had an album released himself by Proper on Monday.

"What I've been doing this week, though, is filming a kids' drama called House of Anubis for Nickelodeon," said Afferson.

It sounds as if things are going well? Lots of work?

"It started off kind of slow last year and then picked up, which was great because the year before was really slow. I just hope that the ball keeps rolling now. Father Brown was shot back in July" (watch it this week on iPlayer here) "and I play a character who is sleeping with a really unpleasant man in order to protect her husband. Her husband finds out and thinks she's having an affair and then the unpleasant man is found dead and she assumes her husband has done it."

In other words, Afferson plays the character around whom the entire plot revolves. Not that she mentioned this, being modest by nature.

"Father Brown is based on a GK Chesterton character and the show has got Mark Williams and Hugo Speer in it, who are two actors you don't usually see on daytime TV. The rumour on set was that if the show does well they want to bring it back in an evening slot."

In fact, a piece in the Evening Standard media diary yesterday said that it pulled in two million viewers, which is almost unheard of during the daytime, since most people are at work (or maybe not, these days). Then there's iPlayer...

"In Silent Witness I play a scientist who's been forced to work for the baddies. She's being held captive and getting tortured along the way... Unfortunately I do end up on the slab by the end of it. I'm the silent witness.

"But there is a great scene - at least the director said it looks great - when I'm running through a cornfield gagged and bound. But when we filmed it the corn was slashing against my legs. By the end of the day we'd done four or five takes and I came out in hives. I had the make-up lady throwing water on my legs and then the first-aider put witch hazel on them and tried to talk me into going to hospital. But it struck me as interesting that I spent most of the day acting broken and then got genuinely broken."

Obviously the BBC has it in for Bryony this week. Still, it's good to work...

So where does Troubador Rose fit in?

"I've always loved music and acting. I considered applying to music school but realised I'd have more chance of finding work as an actor if I went to drama school and kept working on the music by myself. I went to a college called East 15 out in Loughton and graduated from there in 2004. And while I was there they had open mic evenings where I got to do some music as well.

"Troubadour Rose has got a few festivals lined up for this summer and we've got an album coming out called Tell Me, which is our first. But it feels as if it's been a very difficult process, getting the funds together, going into a studio to record it and doing justice to the songs. In my mind there are all these instruments playing but we've have to scale things back in reality.

"In a fantastic piece of luck there is a friend of Gary - who plays violin - who's offered to mix the album for us. He's a professional so it would cost thousands to pay him the going rate. We're not worrying about finding a label - the chances of that happening seem to be extremely slim these days. But the album's completely ready and it's getting pressed at the moment."

Hasn't Jack also got an album out? I met the two of them a few months ago down at the 12 Bar near Tottenham Court Road, which was fun, and he later sent me a copy.

"Yes! Jack's album The First Ten was officially released yesterday - Monday - by Proper."

Will that count for anything when it comes to releasing Tell Me?

"I'm not sure. Jack got the Proper distribution deal as a result of being on Bucket Full of Brains, which is Nick West's label. It's much easier to get distribution if you're on a label of some kind. Nick's also released stuff by Benjamin Folke-Thomas and John Murray."

So how does Nick West feel about Troubadour Rose?

"I don't know. I wouldn't describe Troubadour Rose as girly music but I don't know if it would fit into his roster."

Is it all men being moody?


But Bryony has other things going for her. She seems to have a gift for getting on with people and, for instance, landed a commission to do the soundtrack of a film called Strawberry Fields last year after meeting the director during a day's acting work. The film starred Emun Elliot who has since appeared in Ridley Scott's Prometheus and as Moray in the BBC's hugely successful drama The Paradise.

... all of which is pretty impressive.

"Thanks. It's felt like a constant battle but when you take the time to sit back and think about the past year and what you've achieved, it's pretty all right. You have to just keep focusing your attention on the thing directly in front of you."

So are there any plans for you and Jack to work together?

"Well, we're a couple and we both play guitar so it's nice to play music together. But we certainly haven't gigged anything. We've been together for about a year and a half - we met at The Lantern Society though I'm a bit fuzzy on the details. I remember watching him play for the first time and being really impressed but Lizzy" also of Troubadour Rose "says I turned to her and said 'Who's that?'

"So now we live together in East Finchley, which is like a different world to Hackney, where we were at first. People there grow roses and everything smells nice."

I grew up there for a while and think it must have changed a lot. I mainly remember greasy Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes. Even so, I'm tempted to say something about everything coming up roses for the two of them because I'm a fool for that kind of wordplay. I won't, though, because that would be tempting fate.

* Listen to some more Troubadour Rose here.

* And some Jack Day here.

*Troubadour Rose will be playing on February 7 at Powers Bar in Kilburn, as part of an evening organised by Club House Records. Buy tickets here.

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