Alt-R&B artist ROSA displays courage in his painfully raw single “BLOW” and accompanying music video. The track unearths and sets free some deeply buried demons surrounding ROSA’s personal battle with depression and drug abuse. Living with depression from an early age, ROSA quickly learned to adapt, to suppress his emotions, and instead forced himself to think clinically. While clever, this approach only prevented him from actually confronting his issues. It was his crafty thinking that allowed his severe cocaine addiction to fly under the radar for years without his friends or family noticing. Written, composed, produced, and arranged by ROSA alongside Joveek Murphy and Axe Hessel, the title “BLOW” refers both to cocaine, but also to what happens when you fail to deal with your emotions. The track is not only about someone coming to terms with their drug problem, but also with the root of the problem: depression. It is the second of a trio of singles that will be released before ROSA’s anticipated debut EP FEMALE. This EP will deal with female empowerment but also tackles issues of male emotional vulnerability. ROSA aims to challenge the stereotypes that surround masculinity by exposing some dark parts of himself. In the interest of honesty, “BLOW” speaks frankly, eschewing metaphors and symbolism to avoid romanticizing the matters of drug use in the track. By doing so, ROSA hopes to offer an alternative to the glamourized portrayal of drug use in pop culture.
The music video was directed by ROSA himself and illustrates his experience, from the initial ecstasy of cocaine to the inevitable deterioration as the high wears off. To show this, we first see shots of pleasant images: green trees and manicured bushes, women in dresses, bright blue lipstick, and deep red and white cloths. But each of these images are a double-edged sword. The groomed shrubbery and vivid colours seem out of context against muted colours and barren landscapes in the background. The faces of the women are void of expression. As the video progresses, we start to notice certain unsettling subtleties in the initial shots– the expression of pain on someone’s face with their mouth duct-taped shut, the fact that the fabrics are stretched over the people’s face. Eventually, you see that these people are struggling, even screaming through their restraints. Towards the end, fuzzy, black and white shots are interspersed among the others, before the harrowing final ten seconds arrive.
While ROSA’s alternative R&B and pop sound fits in somewhere near Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, and Dev Hynes, his sound also has distinct touches that make his music his own. In “BLOW”, the music follows the same path of decay as the video, beginning with a smooth bassline and vocals, but finishing with stuttering words and haphazardous pauses before stopping suddenly, holding its breath for the final shot in the video. When the grainy black and white shots appear, some grungy guitar fills out the music, and shortly after ghostly harmonies chill you to the bone. The most impact, however, comes from the inserted spoken lines. Used sparingly, these lines directly get the message across, and uphold ROSA’s goal to show authentic emotions in a straightforward way.
Watch the striking video here, and look out for the third FEMALE single and the EP itself in the future.
Continuing to cement himself as an artist to watch in 2020, self-taught singer, songwriter, producer, and composer ROSA reveals his newest single, “Phone”. This track follows his debut single “Drunk Girl” released back in 2017.
“Phone” is a hip-hop infused left-pop track that tackles our ongoing fascination and dependency sought after on our cellphones. Nowadays, these hand-held devices connect us to a world far beyond our reach. “Phone” dives into what that means and its impact on our lives.
With musical influences ranging from Phil Collins and Snoop Dogg, ROSA is able to channel an array of sounds and ideas into his music.
In the coming year ROSA is set to showcase his music ability with his debut EP FEMALE. The EP centers around female empowerment and the need for men emotional maturity. FEMALE resembles an auditory diary for ROSA to bare his vulnerability on his personal battles
With “Phone”, ROSA kicks off the theme of expressing vulnerability by welcoming listeners to break masculine barriers and own their your own quirkiness. ROSA is able to powerfully combine undeniable melodies with infectious beats and create music that provokes danceability and deep thought.
Los Angeles-based dream pop trio Ròsa released new track “Stranger” today, a glittering pop anthem perfect for a fiery autumn romance. As the electric guitar wanes in the background, the lightweight vocals take over and create an ambiance of beauty that takes over your eardrums – and your surroundings – from the first few chords of the track.
In honor of the new single, we got a few minutes with the guys to talk about a little bit of inspiration, texture, and trust. Check it out below!
What is the first album/song you remember hearing, and who introduced it to you?
I (Will) grew up with The Beatles playing all the time. So hearing them is literally my earliest memory. As far as consciously listening to an album, the first was either Led Zeppelin IV or Madman Across the Water by Elton John. My father did right by me in this department.
What is the origin story of RÒSA? (Be honest… was it a meet cute?)
The way we met was super cute of course. We met at a religious conference and became best friends or something. We realized we all wanted to do the same thing and went for it. So, Jesus Christ brought us together.
Your single “Stranger” is about feeling discomfort with modern romance. If you could have it your way, how would things be different?
I’m not too sure I know enough or have enough of a perspective on modern romance to suggest how things ought to change. The song is more of an existential concern than a cultural critique. That being said, I think it’s all too much of a self-interested game. I think honesty and vulnerability ought to be the norm from the very beginning. The rules for this game we have created establishes the potential for increased dishonesty and self-centeredness. We all treat each other as means to an end, rather than as ends in themselves. I am speaking to a part of myself as well. I don’t see myself separated from this pathology.
What was the production process like for the track?
“Stranger” began on an acoustic guitar, which is actually very rare for me now. This particular song came to the guys (Tay and Mike) a bit more completed and mapped out as well. There wasn’t much fighting between us with Stranger. It all came very naturally. We never really fight when writing but have discovered that Taylor is harder to please and sometimes will think a part is bullshit that we are okay with. We really trust each other though and any differences are talked through super rationally. Good vibes only in the studio, ya know?
How do you imagine people listening to “Stranger”?
I prefer people listen to Stranger doing nothing but focusing on every sound and texture that we worked so hard to create, because I’m a narcissist. However, if it had to be a soundtrack to our lives I’d want it to be the background music at some swanky/cultured get together in that neighborhood that has been recently gentrified where no one feels emotionally safe. The kind of gathering people go to in order to feel a sense of social worth. The kind of gathering where everyone is looking for someone to fuck. That’s a thing right? Idk. The chorus of Stranger is a question for those people, ya know? I don’t imagine our music is incredibly challenging on the surface but I’d like it to challenge people as much as it could.
Let’s keep it in the realm of romance. Celebrity crush… go!
I don’t trust celebrities. I think the whole concept is fucked up. That being said, Ellen. I know there exists some complications with my choice but the heart wants what it wants.
Touché. Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for talking with me. We’re here for a good time not a long time, ya know? Idk, I feel like that shit’s important.