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Interview: Ariana and the Rose

Alt-synth-pop vocalist Ariana and the Rose has released her latest EP Retrograde, featuring four unique tracks that reflect some of the intrinsic aspects from this emotionally honest artist. Retrograde includes her latest single ‘How Does That Make You Feel’ in addition to ‘Supercool’. The New York/London based musician took a moment to talk to us about her influences, creative processes, and her unabashed love for micro-pigs. Read on and get to know more about this super cool singer.

ME: Which track are you most excited to perform off your new EP Retrograde?

Ariana: Well I really love performing ‘How Does It Make You Feel?’ that’s really fun to do live. There’s like a vibe in the room when we do it, people start feeling themselves, ‘cause it’s a sexy song. So I think I might start encouraging that a bit while we’re in the room. I’m gonna be like “Guys, this song might cause you to get involved.” I want you to feel free to do that. It’s cool to see the room shift from song to song. But that one specifically I really love doing live.

Photo by Ana Santos

ME: What is your favorite part of creating music?

Ariana: I love writing. Just sitting at a piano and writing, there’s nothing that beats that. A lot of songs that I write come from that initial impulse to have something to say and to write. It’s cool to be able to make music that can spread into a groove or dance track. But to know that it came from something that has some substance, that it meant something. There’s a place for both of those things in a song and I really like playing with that.

ME: What would you say is the most difficult aspect in creating music?

Ariana: I think just striving to write better songs all the time. You just want to write things that feel really honest, at least I do. Alanis Morissette, I love how lyrical she is, she wrote how she thought and wrote how she spoke. That’s something that I always try to do and it’s hard. For me that’s always my struggle. Not because I struggle to write, but because you always want to write as honest as you think it. It resonates with people.

ME: Having written Retrograde in three very distinct major cities (London, Los Angeles, and New York), what would you say was your biggest takeaway from that experience?

Ariana: I’m really inspired by cities. Cities really affect my mood and I can tell which track is influenced by the cities that I’m in. Whenever I’m in LA I always feel free and it always feels like a vacation even if I’m working. No matter what’s going on. I can be so busy and still say, “This place is a vacation!”

ME: Except for parking right?

Ariana: Except for parking! Which is immediately a nightmare. Basically I feel like it’s a give and take, they made a deal with the devil where he said “Deal with parallel parking and I’ll give you all the good things in life.” I learned how much cities inspire me and travel too. If I were to go and make an album I know now to take time and visit different places and people.

Photo by Ana Santos

ME: Immersing yourself in a new environment.

Ariana: Yeah! I went to Portugal this summer and after my friends left, I was by myself and went to this plaza and there were all these people there, just alive. Just living their lives and as a musician or anyone living in the city for that matter, you’ll get into this constant grind.  So you take those moments and you realize, that’s a family, there’s a couple, there are friends. Everyone is there to just live and see things. It’s really inspiring. Music is about that experience. I think you have to constantly be filling back up with those things.

ME: While doing some research I read that you have a background in theater. How do you feel that plays into your career as a musician?

Ariana: More than anything it plays into my live show. It’s definitely theatrical, it’s important to me to make something that felt like a show with a band. I wanted to be the front person with a real band. As I kept writing and performing I think a lot of my influences from theater creeped into the show and now I have landed in this place where it’s very much a female fronted band show with a theatrical component to the movement, staging. I think that there’s a real opening for that in pop and people really love that. There’s artists that are doing that people like Solange, BANKS, and Christine and the Queens. They’re down with a getting a little weird now. Which I think is exciting.

ME: As a concert enthusiast, when artists put that much more effort in their live shows you get lost in the experience. Everything that you’re thinking about get’s left behind the closed doors.

Ariana: A long time ago I saw this interesting interview with Pink, actually, and it really stuck with me. She said something like, “People take a piece of whatever their salary is for that week to buy a ticket to my show. They’ve spent their Friday night, their money their time, some of them their only time off to come see me and I’m gonna give them a show.”  That really resonated with me, I don’t take it lightly that people spend money on a ticket, spend money on a song because for some people that’s all the extra they have. If that’s the case I’m gonna give them the best thing that they could have. It’s tough out there, you just wanna dance.

ME: Your Light + Space disco party was turned into a documentary by Red Bull Music, how was that experience like for you?

Ariana: Oh my God, it was amazing! It was the first one we did so I didn’t know if it was a good idea, and Red Bull came on and filmed a documentary about it. I was like, ‘I hope this isn’t terrible and we’re documenting it!’ But it wasn’t, it was amazing. We were at capacity and it was such an amazing night. ‘Cause that idea is something that really encompasses everything I believe in as an artist, everything I’m trying to do as a musician and as a performer. So to have someone like Red Bull believe in that idea and to have people come and experience the way that I hoped they would was really amazing. It’s one of the only things that I’ve done where it’s really not about me being a musician but about you (audience). It’s cool to make a space for people to go and lose themselves. FKA Twigs has her show called ‘Congregata’ and it’s a very different show but it’s a similar thing. She’s created a world which is such a different world from me, my world is a futuristic disco-dance party, wear some DayGlo glitter. It has elements of immersive theater which sort of speaks to your original question. Had I not started in theater, I would’ve never done that show. I got to a place in my music where it really pulls from everything that kind of inspires me. So we’re gonna be bringing it to New York in the fall.

ME: How was your experience while working with Riley and Casey from RKCB on ‘Love You Lately’?

Ariana: Oh! I love them. They’re so great, such good songwriters. Casey’s voice is like butter, it’s insane. When he sings I want him to keep singing to me. They’re such good guys, they’re musicians through and through. I admire how they’re constantly making music and are about the music. Really fun to be around, they had remixed a song of mine called ‘Dirty Dancing’, I loved it. Then we got in the studio together and ‘Love You Lately’ was the first thing that we wrote. They’re super talented and it was cool to collaborate with two other artists and put the song out. It’s been really nice that people had such a warm reception to it.

ME: The video was really nice!

Ariana: Thank you so much. We shot that in the desert and it was freezing! It was December and I was in that dress saying ‘What were you thinking?!’ It looked so cool but I was on a 400 foot sand dune in this shredded dress and literally thought to myself, ‘This was your idea. You have no one to blame but you!’ The wind chill, the sand in my hair; I kept thinking ‘Just breathe, it’ll be great.’ But it’s great, people have been responding and we’re almost at a million views.

Photo by Ana Santos

ME: Any other artist that you’d like to collaborate with?

Ariana: Oh yeah, tons. I’m obsessed with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, he’s a really great producer and has his own project. Produced ‘Losing You’ by Solange, ‘Everything is Embarrassing’ by Sky Ferreira, a whole bunch of stuff on Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen, he’s amazing. I’m a Robyn fan through and through, would do anything, ANYTHING, I’ll do anything. I’ll hold the synth bass down while she dances. A lot of people I’d love to collaborate with are songwriters and other artists. That’s something that I find as I go along that I’m inspired by people that aren’t necessarily in music. For the ‘Love You Lately’ artwork and for the video I had stumbled across this artist called Maciek Jasik who did all the artwork and press shots for Retrograde. We did the whole campaign together and I just loved his work and was really inspired by him. I called him up, actually slid into his DM’s on Instagram and was like ‘Hey, so you don’t know me but I am a musician. Would you be down?’  He’s the best guy. We were in the desert together and that’s how I recently found out I like collaborating with musicians but I’m also really inspired with people who are just artists. They’re influenced by music and other things. Some of the guys in my band asked ‘What are you doing? You’re sleeping on this record, get on this record’  when I hadn’t listened to the Childish Gambino album yet. ‘Redbone’  is one of the best songs of the year. It’s just one of those things that everyone has these different influences. While in the studio Anderson Paak had done a Tiny Desk concert and Casey and Riley said “We’re about to change your life.”  I watched that and was like, “Oh my God, this man is a genius!”  He’s been around like ten years and is becoming so famous. There’s no one genre or one medium, to just limit yourself into thinking of collaborating with specific musicians or songwriters. That’s not the world we live in.

ME: When you collaborate with artists from other genres and different artists altogether, it pushes you. To improve and challenge yourself to think outside of the box.

Ariana: Yeah, totally. I wrote ‘How Does it Make You Feel’ with these two musicians who are on their own project called Me Not You. Their stuff currently is 90’s throwback guitar riffs and rock. I came in and had the melody for ‘How Does it Make You Feel’  and I knew Nikki Taylor (who is one half of the band) is influenced by jazz and she would influence these chords in a way that I wouldn’t have thought of. I wanted someone to come in and to do that sort of thing. I had a chord progression, but knowing she’d come from a different place and it’s important to know you’re gonna get a flavor that you’d normally have. It’s cool to know your strengths and what you could get from others.

ME: Aside from the people you’ve already mentioned, who do you listen to on your down time?

Photo by Ana Santos

Ariana: I listen to Solange a lot recently. It’s funny because I go back to music, I listen to a lot of singer/songwriters stuff. I listen to a lot of Carole King and older things. I sort of run the gamut on what I’m listening to. I’ll tell you who’s on my Spotify playlist. ‘Mirrors’ by Justin Timberlake, Death Cab For Cutie. They will forever be, Zooey Deschanel why did you divorce Ben Gibbard you crazy girl? I love, love Death Cab. Radiohead, The Killers, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, you know it’s a bit of a mix. 

ME: If you had to pick three songs to introduce someone to your music, which would they be?

Ariana: I would probably pick ‘How Does It Make You Feel’, ‘These Ruins’, and ‘Supercool’.

ME: Last but not least, do you have any shoutouts?

Ariana: What do you mean?

ME: Well some people give shout outs to people they’d like to give thanks to, their haters, whomever.

Adriana: I definitely don’t wanna give out shoutouts to my haters (laughs). Ahh! Who do I wanna give a shout out to? I don’t know. I would shout out to my dog but she’s no longer with us. So I can’t pour one out for my dog. Does that make me seem like a fucking weirdo?

ME: I’ve heard weirder.

Adriana: Pour one out for Izzy, my dog, my yorkie. Cutest thing in life. My dream is to get a micro-pig.

ME: GASP!

Ariana: Shout out to my future pig Wilbur that’s what we shall do.

ME: I follow this micro-pig breeder on Instagram. I love those tiny pigs.

Ariana: Tell me who they are. I’m obsessed with micro-pigs. Shoutout to my future baby. That may be the only reason I might move to LA. Every person I go on a date with I tell them, ‘If you can’t love the micro-pig, you’ll never love me. Also, why is your soul black? Why do you hate the world?’ Micro-pigs are pure. We’ll know I’ve arrived when I get papped with my pig, in Us Weekly Normal or Not and I’ll be Not Normal with my pig dressed up. That’s my goal in life. Someone asked me what my definition of success was, and I gave a really earnest answer, and I think my true answer is when I get papped with my pig in the Normal, Not Normal section. I am in the Not Normal with what I have done to the pig.

ME: Here’s the Instagram handle.

Ariana: Oink, Oink, Mini Pigs, you’ve just changed my life. We were on tour in England once and the whole band was sleeping, we passed a pig farm I was the only one awake along with my tour manager, we passed the pigs and I involuntarily screamed “PIGS!!” He swerved on like a two-lane road, the whole band woke up, and he looked at me like ‘Are you kidding me?’  I was like, ‘I’m so sorry, I couldn’t contain myself’ and then tried to convince everyone so we could pull over. Shout out to Steve he’s my British tour manager for putting up with me screaming about pigs.

ME: I volunteer to babysit your piglet!

To learn more about Ariana and the Rose make sure to visit the links below:

Official Website | Facebook | YouTube

About Nadia Pulgar

Concert lover, music fanatic. If it sounds good to me, the rest doesn't matter.

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