At just 22, Australia's own Elizabeth Rose is as audacious as they come. Making her headline debut in New York, she took to the stage at the Mercury Lounge, just down the road to the iconic Katz's Deli. Unlike the mammoth pastrami sandwiches Katz's is so famous for, Rose is a petite performer. Petite, however, is no description of her show.
Playing in front of a small but highly receptive crowd, Rose was a valiant performer. Working her way through songs from the EP, she had the crowd dancing in seconds. At just 2 EPs, it's a testament to the young artist that she was able to hold the attention of a crowd largely unbeknownst to her music.
The triple hit of Sensibility, her cover of Rhythm of the Night and The Good Life, proved the strength of her back catalogue. The best part about watching her is it looks like she knows it too. She often moves away from her keyboard to face the crowd front-on and throws some dance moves Solange would be proud of.
While her stage demeanour is confident, off-stage Elizabeth Rose presents a different side. She's softly-spoken and polite yet talks knowledgeably about modern RnB and the sound she's channelling.
the interns sat down with Rose in a dodgy Mexican cafe in the Lower East Side just before her New York headline to chat Lady Gaga comparisons, YouTube comments and the impending album.
I saw that you were working with Sinden and TokiMonsta. How did those sessions go?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah they went well. That was in LA last week. The session with TokiMonsta was really good. I met up with her last time. She recently did a remix for me for my single Sensibility. The session with Sinden went well as well. It's still very early stages.
Is the album starting to take shape?
Yeah. I've written about 3/5 of it. I know what sound I want.
Are you finding its a different process from writing the two EPs?
Yeah definitely. It's a lot more rushed, doing it all while the EPs still doing well. This time around I'm focussing on getting melody and chord progression down rather than worrying too much about details of production. It's kind of helping- we get through the demos quicker. It's hard because I usually do the instrumentation first- I do the whole song and then I do the bass-line and then I come back and write the melody and lyrics. But it's been really refreshing to do it the other way.
Have you found after the good life did so well that you were surprised and thought, oh wow, now I have to get back to work?
Yeah it was really surprising. I was really shocked at how well received The Good Life was. Mostly from Triple J. They really supported it. It's been great. Since that single everything's just been gradually building.
How did you find the Australian tour last month?
Yeah the tour was really good. It sold out in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. I've never done that before so it's really exciting. Now it's this next phase where I think ok I've gotta buckle down and put some hard work in for this album.
Did you enjoy the response to your cover of Rhythm of the Night?
It was really cool. I was worried because so many people say the nastiest things on YouTube. If they don't like it they'll rip it apart. But yeah most of it has been positive. The only negative comment was that I need to get more sun.
Do you read most of those comments?
Yeah. I'm sensitive. But someone wrote as a reply to that person, "it's called a studio tan you arsehole" [laughs]
How was the show in LA?
Yeah it was good. We had a few technical problems but the crowd was into it. People were calling out for me to play Sensibility which was really cool. I thought no one would know that song at the show but it was a really good turn-out. I'm looking forward to tonight [in New York].
Seeing youre now in a huge music hub, What's your classic New York song?
I'd say something by Frank Sinatra.
What sort of expectation do you have when you play a show overseas?
I think when I'm overseas that nobody will turn up. It's starting all over again, you feel like you're all the way back at the bottom but it's good to be surprised.
Did it seem like the road of starting out in Australia to selling-out venues was slow or quick?
Yeah it was slow. Slow and gradual. I'm happy that it took time thought because a lot has happened over the last few years- experiencing playing a festival for the first time, releasing an EP for the first time. It felt like the right pace for me. I feel quite comfortable with the way everything's panned out. If it was happening too quickly i think I'd be quite anxious about it.
How did recording and writing change between the two EPs?
It changed quite drastically. I was in a totally different headspace for my first EP. It wasn't really me having a solid concept it was more "here's a bunch of songs I wrote, I wanna release something, let's do this". That one sounds a lot different to the second one because I didn't really put much thought into it. With the second EP, I had a sound and a concept for it, so it felt like this one had a stronger feel to it. But also my writing has developed as well. Constantly writing has really strengthened that muscle. I've found the sound that I like now.
What about the live shows, do you enjoy having more material to play with?
Yeah, I love playing gigs now. I'm going to try and start playing some new new stuff soon so I'm really excited about that. Hopefully when I get back maybe I'll play some shows with new songs, maybe if I get them ready in time. It's really exciting to play new stuff and go "what do you think of this?"
Is there anything that's influenced the direction you've gone in with your new material?
Nothing really new. It's a progression on from the EP where I've taken on a bit more RnB. I always am inspired by the music I've grown up to like Brandy and Missy Elliot and all those really cool RnB artists. That's always going to stay with me. Recently, I've been listening to some more experimental electronic music, some minimal techno.
I've noticed FKA twigs as well. Are you trying to find your own niche inside the RnB genre?
Yeah. I'm not consciously striving for it. I don't really try and write anything, it's just what I would like to listen to. I don't have a sound in mind that I want to make it sound like. It's just if it sounds good to me in the studio, I'll go with.
Have you had any songs that you love in the studio and then listen to it with a collection of others and think it doesn't fit?
Yeah that happened recently with a demo I wrote. It kind of has more of that '90s pop feel with melody. It reminds me of that song by Olive. I was like, "shit, I've written something that doesn't fit".
How was your last trip to America?
It was good. I played six shows. It was a bit rushed and hit n miss every show. The venues were just like one fold-back speaker. But I got good feedback from it. I did a club show at the end which was great. I feel like I fit a club scene rather than a live band venue. This time around it's going to be different. That time was really to get the word out about my music and this time I have the single out and plenty of remixes have been done which helps spread the word.
Have you found that international blogs have helped you overseas?
Definitely. I can't believe this little trail that you leave. The internet is weird.
Do you like releasing a song and seeing how it's received and where it's taken?
Yeah. The TokiMonsta remix of Sensibility actually helped a lot. It's created a lot of hype.
Do you ever read a review of somebody writing about your music that says it sounds like something that you disagree with?
Everybody compares everything to anything these days. Like Spotify says listen to this, if you like that. I've read things in the past where Lady Gaga was mentioned and I was like "I don't think so, you were at the wrong show".
Are you writing with any Australian producers for the album?
I'd like to and I have a lot of people I can think of but nothing's locked down yet.
Do you have a release date in mind?
I don't know yet. I'd say sometime next year.
Do you have any writing sessions set for London?
Yeah. I'm trying to get in contact with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
What's the thought process behind choosing to go overseas?
I don't feel like this year would be appropriate to move overseas but I've already started to think about next year. You can only do so much in Australia. After coming back from America last year, to see how big the market is and how many radio stations there are, it's just so much bigger. I'm sure in Europe I'll find that too. You've got to go where the music is buzzing, you can't stay at home when there's stuff happening overseas. I want to be there to be in it. Collaborations are so much easier overseas.
After America, Elizabeth Rose heads to Canada and then onwards to Europe. For all the details, click here.