First off, the name: Roscoe & Etta are a pair of antique guitars played by singer-songwriters Maia Sharp and Anna Schulze and subsequently appropriated as noms de plume for their eponymous recording and joint performing project. They didn’t use their own first names because, as Sharp suggests, “We didn’t want to sound like two folk singers wearing dresses in a meadow.”
After meeting at The Hotel Café in Hollywood, Sharp and Schulze set up a co-writing session. The first song they wrote together, “Play On” (also the first song on their self-titled collection) was instigated with Schulze’s beat-box loop. With the song completed, the two stepped back to analyze what to do with it. Says Sharp, “Was it something we can pitch to another artist? Was it for either one of us as an artist? Is it for sync? Is it for Nashville? I hate that shit, but it has to be on your mind.”
As Roscoe & Etta, the duo projects a powerful artistic aura through their impeccably crafted songs, intuitively paired harmonies and complementary production skills. On stage in North Hollywood, CA at the Federal Bar, for music supervisor and radio host Gary Calamar’s Sunday Mimosa series, Roscoe & Etta filled the space with electric and acoustic guitars, matched and measured vocals, loops, and the rhythmic kick of a Porchboard Stomp Box to provide a low-end percussive pulse that anchors the sound.
This is an intriguing pairing on many levels, including a double-digit age difference between the pair. Maia Sharp has recorded a series of seven solo releases, written for platinum artists like The Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Lisa Loeb and Trisha Yearwood and has produced projects with Edwin McCain and Art Garfunkel, with whom she collaborated as a featured artist. In addition, she tours extensively both as a headliner, and on bills with artists like Bonnie Raitt, Patty Griffin and Keb’ Mo’.
Anna Schulze, originally from Minnesota, has released five solo projects, placed songs in the Oscar-winning documentary Icarus and the MTV series Awkward, and been featured in the digital magazine This is Melo. She learned her studio craft under the auspices of producers Glen Ballard and Justin Meldal-Johnsen. “I started in the studio world as a fly on the wall, and a runner at Sunset Sound,” says Schulze.
As a student at USC, Schulze’s mentor was legendary hitmaker Glen Ballard. And after learning new technology, she realized she could record at home. “What is there to keep me from embodying everything that I’ve learned for my projects or my friends projects?”
Sharp, a veteran producer who is an expert at live recording and comping, stresses that while the production is integral, “Songwriting is our first love. That’s where Anna and I saw eye to eye.” Sharp says that she can view the big picture early in the song. “And when it needs to pull out to the wide angle. I see the whole story.” Schulze says that her strength as a writer depends on the situation. “Being able to fit what the room calls for. Sometimes I am the scrutinizer. I love visualizing the tracks and where they are going to go to inform the writing process.”
In 2019, Sharp will be relocating to Nashville where she spends about one week a month now, and since Schulze visits for writing sessions, Roscoe & Etta will have multiple homes.
With the release of the album, the two have hit the road on an ambitious release tour, traveling from Maine to Tennessee and from North Carolina into the heartland of Wisconsin and Minnesota. While they have promotional and publicity support, on tour it’s essentially the two of them burning down the highway. Schulze refers to their shows as “The exhale.” Concludes Sharp, “Sharing the work is great, but I also realized that sharing the spotlight is fun too.”
Meeting audience members, Anna Schulze says, is the most valuable reward. “You realize the connection. That’s why we are first and foremost songwriters. You get this opportunity to make people feel something that they wouldn’t otherwise give themselves permission to feel.”
Visit roscoeandetta.com. Contact Lellie Capwell at LPC Media, [email protected], 818-384-1180