New York artist Ariana and the Rose is back with new tunes. We at Saint Audio had the opportunity to ask the New York-based artist about the recent debut of her EP, Constellations Phase 1.
What got you thinking about doing a darker version of *NSYNC’s classic hit “Bye Bye Bye,” and how did you be sure to honor the original?
The song came on the radio at some point and I just immediately heard a slowed down, melancholy version in my head. I was listening to the lyrics and thought “these are just so sad.” If you pull all the production away, it’s this really amazing anthem about taking your power back. I wanted to put that into a female perspective and let the words really shine through.
Your “light + space” immersive music events seem to have a lot happening in one place. How do you ensure the experience is cohesive for attendees? How do you do about collaborations for these events?
The show is planned from the very first moment people enter the space all the way through to the last person walking out. It’s seemingly organized chaos but very seamless on the back end. My vision for the event is that the audience gets to feel like they’re attending a really fabulous party and things feel spontaneous and constantly in motion. The cast and crew have a detailed schedule and have rehearsed all of that so nothing ever stops and starts. I think what makes the show special is that you never see the seems. That’s what makes it feel like magic, you never see something being set up or taken down, it just flows on thing into the next. I want our audience to be able to lose themselves and in order for that to happen they need to give us their trust. Everything we do is put in place to make people feel like they can set their worries down for a night because we’re taking care of them.
How would you describe your EP Constellations Phase 1?
This group of songs is definitely about empowering yourself and standing up for yourself in the context of relationships. I wanted the lyrics on these songs to really reflect the way I speak, so it could feel as vulnerable and relatable as possible. My hope is that people get to know me better with this music. In the past I’ve been focused on the overall sound of the record, this time I wanted every note and lyric to represent my personality and who I am.
How do you feel about being hailed NYC’s “synth pop purveyor” and what does that title mean to you? How important is New York to your music and how do you aim to grow beyond the city?
It’s such a wonderful compliment! I was born and raised in New York, so as you can imagine I have a lot of New York pride. The city has shaped who I am and I love being from here. There’s an energy to New York that just fuels me and refills me up, every time I’m a way for a long time, I come home and feel like I can breathe again. I know a lot of people hate how fast the city is and feel it can be overwhelming but when you grow up in it, it definitely has the opposite effect. I lived in London for four years and have been very fortunate to tour so I don’t worry about being stuck in New York. It always blows my mind when I get messages from people in Buenos Aires, Sweden, the Philippines. That’s the power of the internet. It helps you reach places you never would have been able to before. I love chatted with people from all corners of the globe, its very special to me.
Can you describe your creative process?
I play piano and like to write and begin a lot of my songs sitting at the piano. No matter what kind of instrumentation is around something, it starts with a good song. If you don’t have an amazing melody and lyrics, no production will save that. I fell in love with synths when I moved to the UK. I spent four years there in studios with producers who had tons of analogue equipment that I’d just spend hours playing on. It opened up my songwriting and gave me another way into my creative process. It was the first time I started with a soundscape and the song grew out of sounds we were making. Now, it depends which mood I’m in when I go into the studio. I start from all different directions.
“Night Owl” is an upbeat dance track, while “Bye Bye Bye” is dark and pensive. What do you feel is the connective thread between work that spans such different emotions?
I’d like to think that my voice and the artistry behind each track is what connects them. An artist’s perspective is what makes them, my hope is that I bring my own point of view to everything I write or any song I cover, so even if the production and instrumentation is different, the place I’m coming from with everything and the heart that is poured into it connects all of the music.
Can you talk about the production of “Honesty”? How involved were you in the choreography? How do you feel the dance and setting complement the themes in the track?
I wrote the song with two amazing Swedish writers, Märten Fohlen and Marcus Borrman. We were all just talking about relationships and the idea of the taboo things that people don’t ever really say and I think lying is a big one. It’s this moral grey area that everyone has dealt with in one way or another but never wants to admit to. The song is an exploration of that, which felt so vulnerable and freeing to write. The video was inspired by the conversation things being taboo. We wanted a visual that represented something that you don’t get to see often which is women enjoying women. Sage, the dancer in the video is so amazingly talented. She improved every take, we just let her do her thing. Her performance made us cry in the room, it’s her art, she poured her soul into those takes and it really comes through. The video is filled with so many layers of lust, femininity, sexuality and straight up female empowerment. It was made by an all female creative team, I’m very proud of what we’ve made.
Unity and equality seem like key themes in your work, particularly in “True Love” and “Lonely Star.” How important do you feel it is as an artist to highlight social issues?
The LGBTQ+ community have been so unbelievably supportive of me and created a welcoming space for me to explore my artistry. Getting to now create a space for them and to unify people regardless of how they identify with my shows and my songs is very important to me. We’re in an insanely volatile and divided time. If I can provide relief for 3:30 to one person to hears my music, than I feel like I’m contributing in a way that feels important. Every artist has to write about what they know and what’s important to them. I write music about what I’m passionate about and hope that it finds other people who feel the same way.
Can you talk about being a female artist in the industry? What advice would you give to girls with musical aspirations?
Being a female in any industry is hard. Things have been set up to pit women against each other. The best advice I have is go find other amazing women to work with. Team up. Don’t create enemies, create allies. We are far stronger working together than trying to hoard the one spot given to us. Things will only change when we change first. We don’t need to be intimidated by other talented women, we need to embrace each other and show the next generation that coming together is what makes us unstoppable.
What are you most excited about in the next year? What can fans look forward to?
Constellations Phase 2! I’m going back in the studio to finish the next EP and I plan on expanding “light + space” and playing more shows. I feel so grateful for the response to the EP, this year has been filled with a lot of amazing moments, I’m excited to start the next chapter.
Follow Ariana and the Rose on Spotify.