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Rosina Bullen Shares Second EP ‘Trip to Tikal’

Explore the musical memoir of Rosina Bullen on her second EP, ‘Trip to Tikal,’ characterized by confessional songwriting.

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Rosina Bullen in 2023, photo by Lucy J Toms
Rosina Bullen in 2023, photo by Lucy J Toms

Rosina Bullen is writing her musical memoir, one song at a time, on Trip to Tikal, her second EP. The U.K.born/Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter draws inspiration from the confessional songwriting of Elliott Smith and Phoebe Bridgers, the tight pop of Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush, and the forward-thinking sonic worlds created by Big Thief and Talk Talk as she shares four stories from her own life. “The thing that inspires me to write,” she explains, “is when something happens. Every song is linked to some specific event in my life.”

So, it might seem shocking when over the suspended-animation feel created by warm electric-piano and guitar chords on opener “Trip to Tikal,” Rosina enters with the line, “Scent of smoke and seeping weed, while she was kidnapped by men to be a vessel for their cruelty.” She matter-of-factly creates a setting and effectively grabs the listener’s attention. But Rosina is, in fact, sharing the story of her 2014 kidnapping while visiting Guatemala.

“I didn’t think about putting it into a song for a long time, but things come up at different points,” she explains, then casually adds, “It was less traumatic than it sounds.” While the story itself is remarkable—and she was able to escape when she says she “made a James Bond-like maneuver and ran” for help—what’s at least equally remarkable, if not more, is that by the song’s improbably uplifting chorus, Rosina is able to use this story as a platform to draw a larger conclusion that will resonate with any listener. “Scars are not there for show, not all scars are visible,” she sings. Rosina reflects on that line, “That’s about the story, but it’s also about a lot of other events—health problems, family, loss.”

Throughout the EP’s four songs, whether she’s singing about the experience of going through a memory box—as on the Nick Drake-inspired slow waltz, “Inside a Box,” in which she paints a picture with words that puts listeners next to her, brushing off the dust—the mental health struggles she recalls during “The Pillars of Life,” or a list of “wishes” for her young niece on the upbeat, Beatles-inspired “Dear Daphne,” Rosina demonstrates she has the craft to draw universal themes from autobiographical storytelling. “I felt very oversensitive as a kid and found the world pretty overwhelming,” she explains. “The way I made sense of the emotions was sitting at the piano and writing it into a song.”

Rosina is joined on Trip to Tikal by her band, which includes Nick Pennington on guitar, Rasmus Sorensen on piano/keyboards, Mathias Jensen on bass, and Angus Mason on drums/percussion—all friends who met while studying at the Manhattan School of Music. The ensemble worked with producer Hector Castillo (Philip Glass, David Bowie, John Legend), who guided and elevated the process. “Hector made us think about the absolute essentials of the songs,” Rosina recounts. “How can I build it up? What’s the story? He had us talk about what the song is about as a band.”

Through each song, the ensemble’s tight, dynamic interplay supports Rosina’s shining vocal, amplifying the emotional content of the songwriter’s stories. On Trip to Tikal, Rosina proves she’s a masterful songwriter, a nuanced, emotional vocalist, and has more stories to tell.

Rosina Bullen ‘On Trip to Tikal’ album artwork

Rosina Bullen ‘On Trip to Tikal’ album artwork

Lover of all things music, Vanessa De La Rosa has been involved in the music scene most of her life in different capacities. All genres welcome, she is a past master in the art of "nerding-out" with music, and is excited to explore that passion by sharing the stories of artists everywhere. Fan of: Festivals, gear, music production, all genres, supporting artists, concerts, and merch!

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