U.K. Singer-Songwriter Rumer on Battling Depression & Bipolar 2 to Create 'Into Colour'

Kevin Westenberg


Success did not wear easy on Rumer, which resulted in a tough birth for the British singer and songwriter's upcoming third album, Into Colour.

"I lost my mind, I found my mind, that kind of stuff -- just one of those normal adventures," Rumer (real name Sarah Joyce) tells Billboard. In reality, a pair of No. 3 U.K. albums -- 2010's platinum Seasons of My Soul and the 2012 covers set Boys Don't Cry -- left her reeling as she battled depression and Bipolar 2 disorder.

Exclusive Premiere: Listen to Rumer's Gorgeous 'Reach Out'

"It was just stress. I went quite quickly from a situation where I was a waitress -- and the only people who might give me a hard time were a grumpy chef or a rude customer -- to a high-pressure, high-flying job where there was a lot of pressure, quite quickly, to be great, constantly great and constantly give all that energy, and I just to stressed out."

The answer for Rumer was to head West, young woman -- literally. She headed to America in 2013, landing in the California desert to chill out in a warmer environment. "I wanted to get away from the cold and the dark and the winter (in England) and really just start again," Rumer says.

"That's what people do when they get to America: they start again. I just wanted to turn over a new leaf and start from scratch and really find my creativity again."

She did that with help from new friends, including singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop, who co-wrote three songs on Into Colour, and producer Rob Shirakbari, Dionne Warwick's music director and a Burt Bacharach protege who helped Rumer achieve In Colour's lush pop feel, which recalls vintage Bacharach-David and Dusty in Memphis, with a nod to disco in the opening "Dangerous."

Bubbling Under: Rumer Has It With Hall & Oates Cover

"I always want the music to be easy on the ear," explains Rumer, who's currently splitting her time between the U.K. and Shirakbari's native Arkansas. "I always want the music to be smooth and mellow, but also I wanted it to be a little more groovy, slightly more upbeat this time. A bit more warmth, a bit more salt, you know?"

Into Colour, which comes out Feb. 10 in the U.S., certainly has its light moments, including the nostalgic "Play Your Guitar" and the "Pizza and Pinball," but Rumer doesn't hide from deeper emotions either. Case in point being "Reach Out," which she wrote to help Shirakbari through a tough time of his own.

"'Reach Out' is a song about depression and how to reach people when it's hard to be reached," she says. "I'm someone who suffers from clinical depression. I can go for quite long stretches of being okay, but I still know what it's like being in the hole. So 'Reach Out' is about that one person saying to a friend or someone you love that, 'I understand where you are right now, but you need to hang on to me and recognize me and who I am and that I love you, 'cause I'm gonna pull you out.' It's about compassion and friendship and how we're all gonna be down at different times, and we just have to help each other and pull each other out."

Rumer will be touring to support Into Colour during April in North America, followed by Japan. This time out, she says she's looking forward to having an expanded body of work to draw from.

"It's a great feeling of satisfaction because I like the narrative of more records," Rumer says. "You can see the artist more clearly when you pull back and you look at all the work. You can see the journey a bit more clearly. Each project is a lot of work and dedication and long hours, and it's satisfying to see it finished. I'm really enjoying (Into Colour), and I really hope people like it."