A Welsh woman and a Scottish man walk into their university’s busking society. It sounds like the start of a joke your dad will tell a thousand times, and you’ll get sick of hearing. But this is actually the start of a story; where two musical gifts come together and so do two people.
Rosie Lewis grew up in south Wales, where she learned to play the recorder at primary school, like many of us did. But, unlike most of us, her musical journey was not set to start and end at ‘Hot Cross Buns’. She joined a school folk group, learned to play the mandolin, tried the flute (and hated it), and swapped those lessons for singing ones. At eighteen she came to the University of Winchester to study English and Drama and found herself drawn to the busking society.
Rory Blincow is a Scotsman raised in the heat of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and just like Rosie, was involved with music from a young age. As a teenager his love for music grew, and soon he was a fifteen-year-old recording covers of his favourite bands in his bedroom and slowly, but surely, experimenting with writing his own lyrical masterpieces as well. As chance would have it, he too found himself moving hundreds (if not thousands) of miles, to the small city of Winchester, which would become his new home. He also joined the busking society, and that is where Rosie met Rory.
The two, whilst both musically gifted, had incredibly different views as to what they wanted to do with their talent. Rosie was happy to sing as part of a group, knowing she had a nice voice but also had others to hide behind. Rory was a little more confident; he loved performing with his fellow buskers, but wasn’t averse to going it alone either. A friendship formed between them, which has eventually grown into a three- year relationship.
Throughout this time Rosie’s confidence has grown, with the undoubted help of Rory telling her not to be so silly whenever she thinks she’s not good enough. Around a year and a half ago Rosie and Rory decided that two should become one, and they began to perform together, as a duo. The two recount, almost fondly, the numerous times where they would start a song over and over until Rosie felt brave enough to actually sing it. They began by singing covers, with Rory encouraging her to sing just that little bit louder. Then it was Rory’s original songs which they’d re-work a little so they worked for both of them. More recently they’ve turned their attentions to writing together to produce songs. It’s a difficult process; Rosie’s into her folk music, Rory’s more into his rock, but they find a happy medium- they describe themselves as ‘Frank Turner, meets Slow Club, with a sprinkle of Jack Johnson.’
But, how did Rosie and Rory, go from being Rosie and Rory to being the Britons? The moment happened at Green Man festival, in the rain, huddled under an umbrella. Ideas were tossed around; RoRo was a possibility, but that sounded too much like a children’s TV presenter, R and R was considered but wouldn’t really fit their music style. Then, Rory remembered the name of a teenage band he’d kind of, sort of been in once when he was much younger, and The Britons were born. The name holds cultural and historical significance to the pair as well, Scotland and Wales were where the original Britons came from, as in the people from the island of Briton a few thousand years ago. The name felt like it suited them, and their style, as well as taking them back to their ancient Celtic roots.
Since forming their duo, the two have performed multiple times at different venues around Winchester, as well as at the university. However, not being satisfied with just this, the pair have big dreams for the future of their music. They’ve already set up a performing arts company; ‘Storm Cloud Arts and Theatre’ which, although small at the moment, they intend to grow over the coming years. The theatre company covers two main aspects of performing arts: music, and theatre , through which they want to bring together performers and other talented people. Their aim is to build people’s confidence, like Rory did with Rosie. In their own words they want to be ‘a little protective shield to hide behind, a see-through shield.’ They want to enable the members of Storm Cloud Arts and Theatre to do whatever they want with their talent; to make videos to put online, to act in shows, or to perform gigs.
Rosie and Rory hope to, one day, make a living out of this company and are currently looking for a permanent space in Winchester which will become a place to rehearse, to workshop and to record music. These two are certainly not the freshers they were when they met, and with their collective determination, I think we should all be on the lookout for what The Britons are up to next.