Originally from Belgium, Romanie relocated to Melbourne a few years ago and found herself in the midst of the COVID pandemic and a number of lockdowns: events that can create anxiety and uncertainty for locals, feelings that can only be even more exaggerated if you are far from home.
Romanie’s EP, ‘Little Big Steps’ is a shimmering and deeply personal work that reflects the challenges she faced during these difficult times, and ultimately there is a sense of optimism and hope. Her vocal are velvet soft and the lyrics imbued with a veracity and honesty.
Romanie says of the EP:
‘Little Big Steps’ was born after a conversation with one of my best friends from Belgium, who was having a bad time. We had very long skype conversations about plans and dreams and one day she told me not to worry, because she would get back on her feet, “with little big steps”. I found the phrase so beautiful and comforting and thought about myself – moving countries, moving away from friends back in Belgium, starting over and finding new ways. Everything started to make sense in my head and I started to write more songs about my own journey, transition and about self reflection. I feel truly so grateful to be surrounded by so many good friends, both in Australia and back home in Belgium. It’s so important to check in on each other and just be kind. I love how it fits together in the EP because it’s part of who I am, a person moving overseas and just feeling lost and looking to find friendship in new and old places.
I think writing music definitely saved me and felt really therapeutic at that time (still feels like it) and I think a lot of artists feel the same way.
This is clearly expressed in the title track: a shimmering and reflective piece with its delicate frame and dappling guitars:
I’m as far as I can be
At the border of the world
I’m at the brink of falling down
Working my way up
At the heart of this and the EP as a whole is a deep sense of empowerment and resilience through the vicissitudes of life: affirming and powerful.
The exquisite ‘Stranger in my Skin’ is a meeting of folk and dream pop that is infused by melancholia and a sense of vulnerability. The lyrics are bleak and raw:
I don’t want to feel exhausted anymore
I’m a stranger in my skin
Romanie says of the inspirations for the track:
‘Stranger In My Skin’ is a song about feeling lost and alienated from the outside world and yourself. I wrote it during the second lockdown in Melbourne last year – a period in which I felt very alone and very far away from home (literally as well). I had some really bad days where I wouldn’t take good care of my mental health and this song was written the first time after I had picked up my guitar again. I was really angry with myself for feeling that way and let myself slip.
Her voice is velvet soft, delicate and ethereal, and the instrumentation lush and rich.
‘I’m Anything (But Myself Around You)’ is a sweet, melancholic and fragile track with an anthemic chorus that deals with the difficulties in relationships and the way we behave and see ourselves behaving when vulnerable. Romanie’s vocals tear a hole in the heart.
‘Fake Friends’ has a vibrant thrum and lilting pace as it explores the crooked path of friendships and loyalty, while ‘Changing’ ends the EP with a note of hope throughout all the bleakness as Romanie asserts herself and promises rebirth and growth in the face of adversity:
And I’ve been changing, changing, changing
I’ve been changing my old ways
I don’t want to lose this feeling
But I don’t want to go to waste
‘Little Big Steps’ is ultimately a beautiful expression of hope in the face of isolation and anxiety: a journey by Romanie through the challenges of being far from home and where her current home is a place fraught with lockdowns and apprehension. The rocky path we face in our relationships – friends, lovers, families, are viewed through this lense in an evocative and atmospheric delivery that shines with veracity.
You can download/stream the EP here.
Romanie is the work of Romanie Assez.