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Lights and Music
Elizabeth Rose has got the power, and she knows how to use it. That voice, it's full of strength - not in the vein of a power ballad, but assertive and uapologetic. There's no indecision here; it's the vocal equivalent of doing a shot of tequila and getting back on the dancefloor. Straight up, groove on. Yet, if she sounds like a rebel, it's never without cause. What struck me hardest when chatting to the singer, songwriter and producer in the lead up to the release of her new album, Intra, was how thoughtful she is. There are large pauses between my questions and her answers, as though she is deciding exactly how to phrase them. Her responses are always considered.
Intra is similar in its focused attention to detail. The lyrics are purposeful - there are things she wants to say but not at the sacrifice of the sound, which is, in her words, "pop music - but it’s alternative. It has throwback RnB vibes to it, and it can be dark and moody, or bright and light".
While still a relatively new addition to the music scene, Rose is getting noticed by people who matter. She's leant her vocals to the Flight Facilities track I Didn't Believe, and was named Next Big Thing at the 2014 FBi Radio Smac Awards. We caught up with the Sydney-based triple threat to talk songwriting, 90s RnB and shedding tears on track.
How long has it taken to put the album together?
I think I started writing it July 2014 - so about a year and a half.
And are there any recurring themes throughout the songs?
They’re all different. The reason I called in Intra is because it’s about all the different facets of my personality. I kind of wrote about a lot of things that were introspective and reflective. Trying to work out who I am and what I believe in and my morals, and it’s very personal what I’ve written about on this album.
Did anything surprise you about what came out during the writing and production process?
No, not really. I’ve been wanting to write about these topics for quite a while now. Especially the marriage equality issue – I wanted to make a bold statement about that. There’s another song on the album (co-written with M-Phazes) and that song is about gun violence ... I wanted to make a comment about things changing and how it’s too late, once someone is shot. I’ve wanted to write about a few topics for quite a while, and this has been the perfect opportunity.
When did you start playing and writing your own music?
I started when I was a kid – I always learnt piano. And I was always singing, for as long as I can remember. I did music throughout primary school and high school, I was using Garage Band at sixteen to record myself and play demos. After high school I actually studied fashion, but on the side I was still coming home and also doing music production. I was writing and recording myself – and I sent [my music] into FBi radio and they started playing it. I uploaded myself on to Triple J Unearthed, and it just kind of progressed from there.
Who are your musical inspirations?
The Knife, Björk, Little Dragon, Claude VonStroke, and Joni Mitchell.
What decade of music inspires your song writing most?
Probably the late 90s, early 2000s, pop and RnB. It’s what I grew up listening to, it’s what I used to sing … Mariah Carey, Ciara, Brandy, Aaliyah, Monica, and Ashanti.
What do you hope people will feel after listening to the album?
Hopefully they’ll enjoy it. There are definitely moments of darkness, but there’s also lots of moments of light, and a lot of uplifting moments. The album actually ends on a love song that I wrote – it’s my favourite song on the album, the last track (Steel Hearts). I actually cry on the take, I kept it on there. You can maybe notice it; I notice it when I hear it. But it’s quite special, quite close to me. I wanted to keep it in there.
Intra launches on March 4 via Inertia.