Rosie Wilby – How (Not) To Make It In Britpop

First published in Comedy by

Most readers will not have heard of Britpop band Wilby. But that’s the point of the musician-turned-comedienne’s latest show.

Rosie Wilby led the band as they chased a deal and failed.

At the time she penned a column, Rosie’s Pop Diary, for 1990s music magazine, Making Music.

When she was clearing out some things a couple of years ago, she found the old columns tracing the best and the worst of times and back came the memories of Camden.

First she mined the columns for material that came together for Rosie’s Pop Diary.

The follow-up, How (Not) To Make It In Britpop, reworked with director Anthony Shrubsall, takes the stories and songs (she will even perform some Wilby numbers) and packages them up into a show, which she says is for anyone who is nostalgic for the power of music to get you through.

“I had various A&R scouts and nothing ever came about. I had a manager who claimed he was going to get us fame and fortune but then there were lots of shady characters around at that time.

“It was the time towards the end of 1990s when people were starting to release on their own label and I thought ‘I’m not going to chase a deal anymore, I’ll do it myself’, so it wasn’t until 2000 that the album came out.”

She was so inspired by David Gray’s success that she remortgaged her house to get Precious Hours out.

“I put my own label together to get the album out and got some radio play. I made a professional living as a musician for a while. I see that as success.”

Things did not go well with the first attempt at a release.

At the time Wilby shared a flat with her ex-girlfriend, Donna, who had been crowbarred into the band to play shaker and to sing backing vocals.

“We had a terrible house fire before the big album launch gig where we were headlining Saturday night at Camden Monarch.

“Me and Donna went on stage in clothes her friend had lent us.”

Wilby’s self-deprecating set of highlights include a support slot with Tony Hadley and getting clamped outside a venue while supporting Bob Geldof.

“We did a gig in a Spiegeltent on Highbury Fields as part of Islington Festival.

“I remember Tony Hadley came along to do a sound-check and he had us all evacuated.”

Since then Rosie has appeared as a roving reporter on BBC Radio 5 Live and as a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek, Loose Ends and Woman’s Hour, LBC and BBC London.

Her main employment is stand-up comedy. As well as appearances in the Funny Women Final at The Comedy Store, she has written science-themed comedy shows, partly inspired by the fact she studied engineering, including the Science Of Sex at Brighton Science Festival 2013.

How (Not) To Make It In Britpop features old photos, fan letters, reviews and extracts from the columns.

“The mid 1990s was an optimistic time and it is a good period to be nostalgic about.”

  • Rosie Wilby – How (Not) To Make It In Britpop is at The Marlborough Theatre, Prince's Street, Brighton, on Friday, March 1. Starts 8pm, tickets £7/£5. Call 01273 273870

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