Ariana and the Rose – who is she?
From: New York.
Label: Pookiebird Music
Debut: ‘HeartBeat’ (November 2013)
Latest Project: ‘Night Owl’ (single)
SheBOPS: What’s your favorite 80s bop?
Ariana and the Rose: Anything by Madonna. ‘Lucky Star’ and ‘Borderline’ are two of my faves, but really it’s just every song.
Is there a quote you consider to be your life motto?
“If you build it, they will come” – I’ve always felt that if you create a strong foundation for yourself, in any aspect of your life, the right people will be drawn to you.
Do you think there are any misconceptions held by the public about life as a musician?
There are differing opinions about it; some people look at it as really glamorous and fun, and other people think of musicians as people eternally struggling to make a living and have a balanced life. I think there are versions of all of that. No one will ever really know how hard anyone works, whether they’re in music or a completely different profession. Musicians today are entrepreneurs and I think the more we’re transparent about that, the more audiences will rally behind us and be supportive.
Have you ever felt pressured to fit a certain ‘mould’ as an artist?
I’ve definitely felt pressure to know who I am as an artist. I’ve been fortunate to have really supportive people around me, who have never pushed me into trying to be anything I’m not. But I think every artist feels a pressure to be “unique” or “special.” There’s freedom in letting go of that and just making the best music you can make and letting everyone else put the labels on it.
In one of your early interviews, you stated that “pop shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure” – do you think pop is still a guilty pleasure in 2019?
No I don’t think it is anymore!! Which is so amazing. Artists like Charli XCX and Troye Sivan have definitely shifted that. Music right now is such a huge array of genres and artists, the kind of music people have defined as “pop” has definitely grown, the spectrum is much bigger now. I would class Billie Eilish as pop and Cardi B as pop, so there’s been a huge shift, which is very exciting.
You once said that moving from NYC to London helped you to find yourself as an artist – how so? Why is London so special to you?
Moving to London opened up my whole world in terms of songwriting and the kinds of artists I was exposed to. I grew up in New York, which definitely wasn’t a sheltered life but I hadn’t been apart of a live music scene the way there is in London. There are amazing bands playing every night. I was really fortunate to fall into working with a group of songwriters who really understood me as an artist and helped me grow sonically and as a writer. I definitely wouldn’t be making the music I’m making today if I hadn’t moved. London feels like a second home to me now.
When speaking about your fabulous, immersive live experience light + space, you called it a “futuristic disco” that’s inspired by the 80s club scene. What is it about that era that resonates with you so much and why do you wish it still existed?
People really went out in the late 70s and 80s. Club culture was a genuine community. People would go to the same club every Friday or Saturday and they’d have friends specifically from going out. Nightlife in those times was about a group of outcasts finding a home within each other. I think nightlife, especially in New York, is coming back around to that. The political climate is creating this need for people to find community and positivity in each other and for escapism. My goal with Light + Space is to make a place for people to lose themselves and also feel their most unique self at the same time. We strive to create an environment for people to feel included, loved and safe through music, performance and a ton of glitter.
Which part of the world would you like to take the light + space experience to next?
My goal is to tour the show all over the world! A Vegas residency would also be pretty amazing.
Your album artwork is really pretty, especially for your newest single ‘Lonely Star’. How does your album art connect with the concepts for your music?
Thank you! I always try to create visuals that look the way the music sounds. I collaborated with photographer Maciek Jasik on my artwork for my last EP and most recent singles. I saw his work and was drawn to how vivid it is. I like to partner with other artists and take a piece of what they do and a piece of what I do and see what new thing that can create.
Do you have a favorite lyric from ‘Lonely Star’?
“With your hand in mine, we’re a revolution.” – We are stronger together than we’ll ever be as individuals.
Which emotions do you hope your music conveys to the listener?
I hope my music unlocks a space in whoever is listening to it to feel however they’re feeling in that exact moment. The core of my music is about self expression and giving yourself permission to sit in whatever it is you’re feeling in the moment. I love when people send me messages and tell me that listening to my music has inspired them to go do something creative they’ve been wanting to do, that makes me feel like my music has really meant something.
Which female artists have inspired you in your life?
So many! Goldfrapp, Robyn, Madonna, Sade, Pink, Cher, Donna Summer… the list is endless.
Which female musicians would you like to collaborate with?
I would LOVE to work with Lizzo. I’m obsessed with everything she does. Her lyrics are amazing and she is just living out loud in the most amazing way. I have “Juice” on repeat.
From a female perspective, is there anything about the music industry that frustrates you?
My biggest frustration is that most record labels are still run by men. The business side of music is still predominantly a man’s world. There are definitely some badass women fighting the good fight, but not enough yet. As more female artists use their voices and become more powerful entrepreneurs, that will continue to change.
How do you feel about the representation of female musicians? Is there anything that you’d like to change?
There just aren’t as many spots for female musicians. Primavera Sound has the first equal billing between men and women on a festival ever. Country Radio has no female artists in the top 5 earners this year and country radio is notorious for having limited slots for female artists. It’s a similar story in every genre from female rappers to pop artists, all fighting for limited spots. I think the key is to stop thinking of it has having to edge another woman out to get noticed, but to come together and support each other to make even more noise. Women are making incredible music right now, it’s a very exciting time to be a woman in the music industry.
What issues do you think female musicians are facing today?
I think the issues female musicians are facing today are the same as the issues women in all industries are facing. The fight for equal pay, a safe workplace environment, equal opportunities: that’s happening in every profession. It’s important to look at the conversation as a wholistic one so we can see the patterns across many professions and come together to help create change on a wider scale.
Are there any up and coming female musicians you have your eye on?
The new Maggie Rogers record is so fantastic. Her SNL performance of ‘Falling Water’ was so beautiful. I don’t think Billie Eilish counts as up and coming anymore but I love her music as well. She is so honest with who she is in her lyrics, her concerts and in interviews, I can’t imagine being that self-possessed at 17, it’s amazing.
What purpose do you think music serves in life?
I think music serves a different purpose for everyone. Music is so connected to memories and moments in our lives. A song was playing in the background when you had your first kiss or breakup. Your dad played music in the house or the car when you were a kid. Everyone has different experiences tied to songs, which makes it mean something so unique to each person. I think that’s why it’s so important to everyone. Certain records become the soundtracks to our lives.
What do you stand for as an artist?
That’s a big question. I think that what we stand for as artists is always changing, depending on where we’re at in our lives. I always strive to lead by example. I want my artistry to be a home for creativity and inspiration. For people to listen to my songs, watch my videos, see my live shows and feel excited about the creativity that lives inside them and feel like they can let some of that out. I work to create experiences that help people set their spirits free and feel empowered to make bold choices. I try my best to do it first, to share my creatively as openly and fiercely as possible, in the hopes that it will inspire someone else to do the same.
If it were possible, what would 2018 Ariana like to say to the Head Vs. Heart Ariana of 2014?
Oh jeez. I’d tell her to relax. I’m sure 2022 me will tell 2018 me to relax too though! I’d tell her to make what she loves and play it for people and not worry about the rest. When you create what you love and believe in it, the right people find you and you’re much happier with yourself. I’d also tell her that she’s gonna have a lot of fun and wear a TON of glitter.