Stellar pop artist Ariana and the Rose discusses dancing, heartbreak, self-love, and everything else that went into her stellar new EP, ‘Constellations Phase 1’
Listen: Constellations Phase 1 – Ariana and the Rose
This is music that allows you to be in your feelings and get up and dance at the same time.
In a moment so rife with despair and disconnect, Ariana and the Rose is spreading a message of love, togetherness, and understanding. “The news and state of the world is so scary and disheartening. It’s hard to have hope,” the New York-based pop artist says. “I think love gives people hope, the pursuit of it, the belief that there is more love. I wanted to capture that in a song, to give people a moment of relief whenever they need it.”
Independently released July 26, the Constellations Phase 1 EP finds Ariana and the Rose journeying through one of life’s most troublesome, turbulent caverns as she confronts, struggles with, and ultimately celebrates love. “The order of the songs take you on a bit of journey from leaving someone, to feeling the repercussions of that, to reflecting on the relationship to ultimately coming to “True Love” which is about finding that happiness either with another person or within yourself,” she explains.
Constellations Phase 1 is Ariana and the Rose’s first non-single record since 2017’s debut EP Retrograde helped her establish a footing in the “indie” pop world. The past two years have been host to a slew of standalone singles releases, finding the artist – born Ariana DiLorenzo – breaking away from her initial “synthpop” sound and embracing a creative style not all that dissimilar from Carly Rae Jepsen and Ellie Goudling, with deep, meaningful lyrics supported by passionate, intimate, and danceable piano- and synth-driven instrumentations.
Constellations Phase 1 will be followed by a Constellations Phase 2 EP out in 2020, yet as a standalone record, this first set of songs further establishes Ariana and the Rose’s prominence as an up-and-comer in the pop field. Consisting of two anthems (“You Were Never My Boyfriend” and “True Love”) and two slower, ballad-y songs (“Bye Bye Bye” – yes, an *NSYNC cover – and “Honesty”), the EP creates a supportive safe space in which listeners may dwell and let their feelings fly free.
Opening with the emphatically raw jam “You Were Never My Boyfriend,” DiLorenzo also establishes a sense of self-empowerment from the get-go. “We’re definitely in a time where the “self-love” movement is very strong and being shouted about,” she shares. “I’ve always described myself as an independent person and I think it’s interesting to explore what feeling independent and empowered looks like when you’re in relationships with other people. There are so many different versions of what loving yourself looks like and I wanted to look at it from the lens of choosing what’s best for you when there’s other people’s hearts involved and on the line.”
“Honesty” and “Bye Bye Bye” showcase the artist’s ability to bring emotional depth to life. DiLorenzo’s performance in “Honesty” is absolutely heartrending as she surrenders her soul: “The truth is colder than the lie,” she laments before delivering a heart-wrenching falsetto chorus: “Oh, is honesty everything? Honestly, you’ve got the best of me…“
The EP’s second anthem, “True Love,” comes at the tail end of Ariana and the Rose’s journey through tumult and serves to reaffirm the idea that love is out there in the world. She describes it as “more of an anthem for people who believe, than [one] about finding “true” love. It’s celebrating the brave people who choose optimism and hope.” Released during Pride Month, “True Love” received major (and well-deserved) support from multiple outlets, offering the perfect jumping-off point for the EP’s release in late July.
There’s a freshness to Ariana and the Rose’s brand of empowered pop music that keeps her music energizing, exciting, and forever young. Constellations Phase 1 is truly a stellar project worthy of listeners’ time, not to mention a spectacular addition to the artist’s growing discography. With more songs on the way, Ariana and the Rose is undoubtedly an artist to watch in the months and years to come!
Atwood Magazine spoke to Ariana and the Rose about dancing, heartbreak, self-love, and everything else that went into her new EP! Dive deep into Constellations Phase 1 through our interview below.
My hope is that this EP makes you want to dance, cry it out and then feel empowered to go take on whatever may be thrown at you.
Watch: “Honesty” – Ariana and the Rose
A CONVERSATION WITH ARIANA AND THE ROSE
Atwood Magazine: Thanks for taking the time Ariana! As we get started, I’m just curious to hear: How did you come upon your artist name?
Ariana DiLorenzo: Thank YOU for taking the time! I knew I wanted the name to be a kind of moniker or a name that could represent something larger than myself. I was inspired by other female artists like Florence and the Machine and Marina and the Diamonds who are also effectively solo artists. There’s just something about it not being a singular name that gives it a bit more mystery and expansiveness. Rose is my middle name and a nod to my family; there are a lot of people in my family with the middle name Rose.
How do you describe your music to your family members? What words are sort of “key” to your sound?
Ariana: My family members just think it’s music you can dance to! I use phrases like “’80s tinged” and dance floor. Ultimately I want to make music that makes you want to move and also cry at the same time. I’ve described it as “dance music catharsis.”
I want to make music that makes you want to move and also cry at the same time.
How did you first get into making this synth pop sound?
Ariana: I started out making more singer-songwriter music. I play piano and still write and begin a lot of my songs sitting at the piano. Not 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 4 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.
It’s been over two years since you released your debut EP Retrograde: What did the process of releasing that record teach you?
Ariana: I’ve definitely learned a lot since releasing Retrograde. It was the first body of work I had ever put out. That process showed me that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And that creating a meaningful relationship with fans doesn’t happen over night, even if it seems like you come out of no where to some people. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to share my music with people and have it connect with them. Sometimes a song you put out 2 years ago is what gets discovered by a fan today. As long as people are finding the music and connecting with it, that’s what matters.
At the same time, how do those songs stand up for you now? Have your relationships to those tracks further developed in the past few years? Any new standouts?
Ariana: I still love those songs. I’m always changing and growing, as most artists will tell you. We play all of those songs in our set and it’s fun to see how the crowd reacts to them. We close our Light + Space parties with “Supercool.” It’s been fun to put out new music and see people discover the old stuff as well. I’d like to think they reference each other even if they sonically sound a bit different.
Bringing us back to the present, how do you feel you’ve developed in the past few years? What’s changed for you about your music?
Ariana: I think I’ve developed as a songwriter a lot since writing the first EP. I’ve been writing so much, which is partially what took me so long to put out the second EP. I wanted a batch of songs that reflected where I am today, lyrically, melodically and sonically. I’m really proud of this music and also feel ready to move onto writing the next batch of stuff.
How do you view your artistry? Are you beholden to a specific “pop” sound, or do you make whatever you’re feeling and shape it all together later on? How do you balance the inclination for cohesion with the desire to branch out or diversify?
Ariana: I’m not as afraid of blending genres and being eclectic in my writing as I was before. I think if you’re essence and vision as an artist is strong, getting to have variation in your music makes for a more interesting listening experience for your fans. I usually write way more than what I’ll end up putting out and then narrow it down to a collection of songs that feel like they tell a story separately and as a group.
What initially inspired the concept for your current two-EP project, Constellations?
Ariana: I wanted to put music out consistently and felt like an album would actually hinder that process. Putting out 2 Eps let’s me release music, change and grow from that process and then turn around and make new music to put out right away again. It’s the same way that rappers put out mix tapes. I think the idea of a full album cycle and having to wait for long lead times is changing. As an artist, that can either feel really daunting or you can take in on board and use it as a springboard for a different kind of creative process.
You’ve described this record as incorporating “themes of love from the perspective of self acceptance and empowerment.” Why is this perspective important to you? What personal events or special moments stand out as informing this direction?
Ariana: We’re definitely in a time where the “self-love” movement is very strong and being shouted about. I’ve always described myself as an independent person and I think it’s interesting to explore what feeling independent and empowered looks like when you’re in relationships with other people. There are so many different versions of what loving yourself looks like and I wanted to look at it from the lens of choosing what’s best for you when there’s other people’s hearts involved and on the line. Looking at that is a reflection of the relationships in my own life and in my friends lives. I’m always pulling their stories into my songs. I’m sure they love that!
Why do you open your EP with “You Were Never My Boyfriend”?
Ariana: The order of the songs take you on a bit of journey from leaving someone, to feeling the repercussions of that, to reflecting on the relationship to ultimately coming to “True love” which is about finding that happiness either with another person or within yourself. “You Were Never My Boyfriend” is one of my favorites songs I’ve ever written; it’s the first time I’ve been able to capture exactly how I was feeling, with all the attitude and sass in a song. It just felt like such a statement to open a record with it. It’s very “here I am.”
It’s the first time I’ve been able to capture exactly how I was feeling, with all the attitude and sass in a song.
What’s the significance of this song’s message?
Ariana: The song is pretty tongue in cheek, I wrote the lyrics as a kind of poem first and then wrote a ton of different melodies until one of them felt like the right attitude for the song. It’s an F U song but from the perspective of, I’m standing up for myself rather than focusing on the other person. I want the “kiss off” attitude to feel empowering.
What are some of your favorite breakup songs?
Ariana: “Since U Been Gone” is one of the best. You can yell it in your car with all the windows down and it feels like you’ve had a whole therapy session. “You’re So Vain” is a classic. “I Will Survive.” I also love “You Don’t Own Me,” the First Wives Club rendition. The three of them singing that song is my anthem.
Obviously *NSYNC are a national treasure, but why cover them? How did you set about giving “bye bye bye” your own spin?
Ariana: 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
How did boy bands influence your younger years? Did you have the posters, and a favorite backstreet boy or *NSYNC member, etc?
Ariana: I was definitely a Backstreet Boys gal. I was never into the insane fandom but I loved all of the music and was definitely invested in Britney and Justin in the early 2000s. I was positive love was dead when they broke up.
I love the intensity you bring to “Honesty”! It’s an incredibly vulnerable outpouring; what makes this song so special for you?
Ariana: Thank you! 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. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.
You ask, “is honesty everything?” in the chorus, which to me just really captures a powerful hallmark of relationships. What does it stand for, to you?
Ariana: It’s the idea that is it kinder to be brutally honest all the time or sometimes to not be? What do you value in relationships? What’s that worth to you? Some people would draw a hard line on it and say, yes, honesty is the most important thing and other people feel more ambiguously about it. It’s surprisingly a pretty polarizing topic when people start to be honest (for lack of a better word) about what they really think.
Ultimately, the EP ends with the celebratory tones of “True Love”. After exploring breakup over the first three songs, this track is such a departure: You look inward and embrace yourself, rather than looking for validation from external sources. Is this the “turning point”?
Ariana: It’s the last song I wrote of the four and is indicative of my own journey throughout the writing process. I wrote the song with Stuart Crichton, who also produced it, and Fiona Bevan. I remember going into the studio that day and saying, “I just want to write an uplifting banger.”
“We still believe in true love,” you croon in the chorus. Can you talk to me about the significance of this line for you?
Ariana: The news and state of the world is so scary and disheartening. It’s hard to have hope. I think love gives people hope, the pursuit of it, the belief that there is more love. I wanted to capture that in a song, to give people a moment of relief whenever they need it.
I love your singing and the synth grooves that melt across this song’s fast beat. Can you talk about the inspirations or just the songwriting process that brought this song to life?
Ariana: Stuart had starting building the track and had that great synth bass line. And Fiona started singing the melody that starts the chorus. It sounded like she was saying, “true love.” It phonetically just fit perfectly. So then the question became, how do we write a song about True Love that doesn’t feel cheesy or preachy? I love the lyric, “as long as we’re breathing we still believe in True Love.” It’s more of an anthem for people who believe than it is about finding “true” love. It’s celebrating the brave people who choose optimism and hope.
Do you personally believe in true love after all this self-searching and internal reflection?
Ariana: I believe that love is a choice. We choose people and they choose us. The relationships that last are the ones where two people choose each other over and over again. That concept is so beautiful to me. To wake up after 30 years of being with someone and say, I still pick you. That’s what I hope for.
I must say, hearing only four songs is such a tease. Why again, is this record split?
Ariana: People always want what’s new; as soon as something is out, it’s old already! I split it up mainly to be able to give all the songs a life and an opportunity to reach audiences. Creatively, I’ve felt really informed by putting out these songs and getting to play them live. I’ve been writing a lot, so I’m excited to get back in the studio and make Constellations Phase 2.
How would you introduce this set of songs to those listening to this EP for the very first time?
Ariana: This is music that allows you to be in your feelings and get up and dance at the same time. There is catharsis in movement. My hope is that this EP makes you want to dance, cry it out and then feel empowered to go take on whatever may be thrown at you.
My hope is that this EP makes you want to dance, cry it out and then feel empowered to go take on whatever may be thrown at you.
What’s coming up for you now that this EP is out? What are you most excited about next?
Ariana: I’ve just finished a run of shows and festivals as well at Light + Space, the immersive event I created. I’m looking forward to taking a little breather! And then getting back in the studio to finish this next batch of songs. I’ve been sitting at my piano and just writing so much recently so I’m excited to flush all these songs out and then get them out into the world.
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? © Louis Browne
Constellations Phase 1