"This Is Ridiculous": Elizabeth Rose Talks Marriage Equality

Written By Zanda Wilson on 06/29/2015

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Elizabeth Rose is Australia's newest pop hope but don't expect her to be donning gold hotpants anytime soon. She's part of a new breed that are redefining what it means to make pop music. In her case, she's firmly in the drivers seat with a creative hand on the production, songwriting and visuals of all her tracks.

Her latest track Division perhaps best showcases all those things coming together. On the surface it's a crisply-produced, melodically-sweat track but behind it is a social message that's particularly pertinent given the timing. Marriage equality is the song's key notion with Rose one of many calling upon the legalisation of gay marriage in Australia - "Why hold onto something that only separates," she sings.

It's been over a year since we last spoke to Elizabeth Rose in New York. Since then, she's released tracks with Frames, worked with Chrome Sparks (Another World) and has been slowly building her debut album which she promises we'll hear more of when she takes to Splendour In The Grass in July. We caught up with Rose to talk marriage equality, new tunes and her favourite gig to date.

The music video for Division just dropped, and it’s pretty incredible. Can you tell us the story behind the track and how you got involved with Australian Marriage Equality?

So the song is written about marriage equality but I didn’t actually plan the timing of it to be so perfect. I wrote the song about a year ago and I definitely wanted it to be on an album that I’ve actually been working on. A few weeks before I was planning to release the track we contacted Australian Marriage Equality to see if they wanted to come on board and support the single. They jumped at the opportunity because they were really excited that I was an independent artist and I wanted to take a stand about this. The proceeds from the sale of the track for the first two weeks actually went straight to their organisation, and they’re just great supporters of my music now.

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The video tracks a gay couple through the ups and downs of their relationship. Tell us a bit about how the video was made and the ideas behind it...

With the video clip I worked with Red Bull, and together we found a company to create the video. We had lots of meetings and I actually had an idea initially that I wanted it to be a narrative that clearly explained, or showed a same sex couple living together and wanting to get married but their parents didn’t approve. Division even details people in Australia who are for it and aren’t for it, and with the government not liking it. It all worked out how I wanted it to.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, especially with regards to both producing and singing? What comes first, the production or the lyrics?

It changes with every song. Some songs I’ll just do the production first, I’ll write a beat in Ableton, loop that and form the song, and then I’ll come to the vocals at the last minute to kind of play off the instrumental. Other times ill just sit at the piano, write chords and sing, which is what happened with Division. It changes every time; it’s never the same process.

 Was the process very different for a track like Division where you had a specific message you wanted to get across from the start?

I didn’t really think about any pressure to say the right thing at all. It just came out. Division was a really easy song to write, for me. Just because it came from within and I was so sure of what I wanted to say. I didn’t feel any pressure in the process of writing it, should I be direct or more indirect, I didn’t think about it. Sometimes the best things happen when you don’t overthink stuff.

Where do you think did your passion for the subject of marriage equality stem from? At what point did you know you wanted to write a song about it?

I like music that is quite bold and makes a statement. A lot of The Presets stuff has undertones of political messages. I guess I don’t want to just write about relationships, I feel like I’ve got this opportunity to express other sides of me. What I really feel, what I believe, and morals, that kind of thing. It’s doing something that’s always been on my mind and I think it’s important to talk about and bring up. A lot of my close friends are in same sex relationships, and about a year ago was when all the talk started, with lots of countries coming on board to legalise it. It got me thinking this is ridiculous and I want to write something about this because it means a lot to me.

Another Earth has been a huge track this year. What was it like to work with Chrome Sparks?

He was amazing. I actually tweeted at him a few years ago. I just said that I really love your song Marijuana, so I sent him a tweet saying I’d like to work together some day and he responded. He checked out my music and then we started emailing each other. It didn’t actually happen until a year and a half later because he was quite busy on tour. Then when I was in New York, I can’t remember if it was the first or the second time, between those two times we started to throw around ideas. We had one studio session in May last year and we wrote the instrumental together in a day, we got along so well. He actually shares his studio with professional percussionists he went to college with, so we had access to marimbas and timpani’s and everything. So a lot of the sounds in that song are actually what we recorded in his studio. Then I took the instrumental back with me to Sydney and then I wrote the top line by myself, the lyrics. It was after I saw this movie called Another Earth and I loved the plot.

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[soundcloud width="1150" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/elizabethrose/anotherearth[/soundcloud]

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Who has been your favourite person you’ve ever collaborated with?

They’ve all been different in their own way. I worked really well with Dennis Dowlut who I did Division with. So Dennis is a local producer and singer, and he used to be in Electric Empire and now he produces as Deutsch Duke. Dennis has been a friend of mine for a few years, so we actually worked on my first EP together back in 2012. I wanted to bring him on board, I told him a bit about Division and he definitely was (on board). Dennis is always fun to work with.

You’re all set to be part of a huge Splendour line-up, possibly the biggest ever. What are you most excited about?

Playing new songs! I’m going to be playing new album tracks.

 Can you tell us anything more about that?

No! It’s a big secret. Otherwise it’s not going to be exciting! But I’m going to get dancers as well for Splendour.

 You’ve been going around the circuit playing festivals like Come Together, OutsideIn, and gigs all over the place. What makes a good gig; fans, venue?

It’s always, always the audience. No matter what the venue is or the sound, it’s always the audience for me. Obviously it’s really shit to play to like, 10 people. Versus playing to two thousand people who are loving it and dancing and cheering. I feed off that energy and it just makes it so much more fun.

What has been your most enjoyable gig to date?

My EP launch at Oxford Art Factory last year, that was my favourite gig to date. I did a headline EP tour and the last show was at Oxford Art Factory, and it was the first time I’d sold out that size of a room. It was so cool, I had visuals and had friends jump up on stage and do backing vocals. I had guest singers as well, the crowd were really into it and it was just a really amazing show. I wasn’t expecting it at all.

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Elizabeth Rose is Australia's newest pop hope but don't expect her to be donning gold hotpants anytime soon. She's part of a new breed that are redefining what it means to make pop music. In her case, she's firmly in the drivers seat with a creative hand on the production, songwriting and visuals of all her tracks.

Her latest track Division perhaps best showcases all those things coming together. On the surface it's a crisply-produced, melodically-sweat track but behind it is a social message that's particularly pertinent given the timing. Marriage equality is the song's key notion with Rose one of many calling upon the legalisation of gay marriage in Australia - "Why hold onto something that only separates," she sings.

It's been over a year since we last spoke to Elizabeth Rose in New York. Since then, she's released tracks with Frames, worked with Chrome Sparks (Another World) and has been slowly building her debut album which she promises we'll hear more of when she takes to Splendour In The Grass in July. We caught up with Rose to talk marriage equality, new tunes and her favourite gig to date.

The music video for Division just dropped, and it’s pretty incredible. Can you tell us the story behind the track and how you got involved with Australian Marriage Equality?

So the song is written about marriage equality but I didn’t actually plan the timing of it to be so perfect. I wrote the song about a year ago and I definitely wanted it to be on an album that I’ve actually been working on. A few weeks before I was planning to release the track we contacted Australian Marriage Equality to see if they wanted to come on board and support the single. They jumped at the opportunity because they were really excited that I was an independent artist and I wanted to take a stand about this. The proceeds from the sale of the track for the first two weeks actually went straight to their organisation, and they’re just great supporters of my music now.

The video tracks a gay couple through the ups and downs of their relationship. Tell us a bit about how the video was made and the ideas behind it...

With the video clip I worked with Red Bull, and together we found a company to create the video. We had lots of meetings and I actually had an idea initially that I wanted it to be a narrative that clearly explained, or showed a same sex couple living together and wanting to get married but their parents didn’t approve. Division even details people in Australia who are for it and aren’t for it, and with the government not liking it. It all worked out how I wanted it to.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, especially with regards to both producing and singing? What comes first, the production or the lyrics?

It changes with every song. Some songs I’ll just do the production first, I’ll write a beat in Ableton, loop that and form the song, and then I’ll come to the vocals at the last minute to kind of play off the instrumental. Other times ill just sit at the piano, write chords and sing, which is what happened with Division. It changes every time; it’s never the same process.

 Was the process very different for a track like Division where you had a specific message you wanted to get across from the start?

I didn’t really think about any pressure to say the right thing at all. It just came out. Division was a really easy song to write, for me. Just because it came from within and I was so sure of what I wanted to say. I didn’t feel any pressure in the process of writing it, should I be direct or more indirect, I didn’t think about it. Sometimes the best things happen when you don’t overthink stuff.

Where do you think did your passion for the subject of marriage equality stem from? At what point did you know you wanted to write a song about it?

I like music that is quite bold and makes a statement. A lot of The Presets stuff has undertones of political messages. I guess I don’t want to just write about relationships, I feel like I’ve got this opportunity to express other sides of me. What I really feel, what I believe, and morals, that kind of thing. It’s doing something that’s always been on my mind and I think it’s important to talk about and bring up. A lot of my close friends are in same sex relationships, and about a year ago was when all the talk started, with lots of countries coming on board to legalise it. It got me thinking this is ridiculous and I want to write something about this because it means a lot to me.

Another Earth has been a huge track this year. What was it like to work with Chrome Sparks?

He was amazing. I actually tweeted at him a few years ago. I just said that I really love your song Marijuana, so I sent him a tweet saying I’d like to work together some day and he responded. He checked out my music and then we started emailing each other. It didn’t actually happen until a year and a half later because he was quite busy on tour. Then when I was in New York, I can’t remember if it was the first or the second time, between those two times we started to throw around ideas. We had one studio session in May last year and we wrote the instrumental together in a day, we got along so well. He actually shares his studio with professional percussionists he went to college with, so we had access to marimbas and timpani’s and everything. So a lot of the sounds in that song are actually what we recorded in his studio. Then I took the instrumental back with me to Sydney and then I wrote the top line by myself, the lyrics. It was after I saw this movie called Another Earth and I loved the plot.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/elizabethrose/anotherearth[/soundcloud]

Who has been your favourite person you’ve ever collaborated with?

They’ve all been different in their own way. I worked really well with Dennis Dowlut who I did Division with. So Dennis is a local producer and singer, and he used to be in Electric Empire and now he produces as Deutsch Duke. Dennis has been a friend of mine for a few years, so we actually worked on my first EP together back in 2012. I wanted to bring him on board, I told him a bit about Division and he definitely was (on board). Dennis is always fun to work with.

You’re all set to be part of a huge Splendour line-up, possibly the biggest ever. What are you most excited about?

Playing new songs! I’m going to be playing new album tracks.

 Can you tell us anything more about that?

No! It’s a big secret. Otherwise it’s not going to be exciting! But I’m going to get dancers as well for Splendour.

 You’ve been going around the circuit playing festivals like Come Together, OutsideIn, and gigs all over the place. What makes a good gig; fans, venue?

It’s always, always the audience. No matter what the venue is or the sound, it’s always the audience for me. Obviously it’s really shit to play to like, 10 people. Versus playing to two thousand people who are loving it and dancing and cheering. I feed off that energy and it just makes it so much more fun.

What has been your most enjoyable gig to date?

My EP launch at Oxford Art Factory last year, that was my favourite gig to date. I did a headline EP tour and the last show was at Oxford Art Factory, and it was the first time I’d sold out that size of a room. It was so cool, I had visuals and had friends jump up on stage and do backing vocals. I had guest singers as well, the crowd were really into it and it was just a really amazing show. I wasn’t expecting it at all.

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