Almost a year ago, singer/songwriter ROSIE was quarantining in her New York bedroom, lamenting over a lost love. In an effort to come to terms with a tumultuous break-up, ROSIE took it upon herself to do what she does best: write about it. For months, the rising artist spent nearly 6-10 hours a day coping with her grief by documenting her feelings via song, trying to make sense of a break-up while living in complete isolation.
In an effort to track her writing progress in real time, the singer/songwriter began posting verses of her original songs on TikTok. After only five days of posting her music on the video-sharing app, ROSIE went viral and became a TikTok sensation.
Flash forward to nine months later: the singer/songwriter has acquired tens of millions of views on her TikTok videos, thousands of followers on Instagram, 2 major label/publishing deals and one remarkable story.
Read the full interview below to see how ROSIE plans to use her newfound platform as a catalyst to spearhead a lifetime of success.
SAMANTHA: You found success via TikTok after posting a video of the chorus of your song, “Never the 1.” Had you always known this song was special / were you expecting to find so much success with the track?
ROSIE: I had no idea that this song was anything special. My manager, Matteo, and I had gone back and forth about the song because we both agreed that it was a little too complicated lyrically, melodically, rhythmically–in so many ways, it just felt overcomplicated. I really only posted “Never the 1” because it was part of a challenge that I was doing on TikTok to share my original music. I posted the chorus of this song on Day 5. I never thought that I would find so much success on only my fifth day of posting, and absolutely had no idea that this song would be the reason.
SAMANTHA: How do you think TikTok revolutionized your career?
ROSIE: I am a firm believer that everything happens the way it should. I don’t think I would be where I am today without TikTok, but I think that without the platform I would hopefully still have been able to reach this level of success. What TikTok did is it acted as a catalyst for me: it took me from 0 to 10 very quickly–essentially overnight. I had been working at this for years, but getting the exposure seemed to happen in less than 24 hours.
SAMANTHA: Were you keen on using TikTok prior to experiencing success with your videos? How do you think TikTok has revolutionized the music industry as a whole?
ROSIE: No, I was not keen on using TikTok because I always thought it was a “younger person’s” social media. I was definitely hesitant, but my manager, Matteo, was the one who convinced me to get on the app. But, I am so grateful he did, because a lot of my friends and collaborators I have recently met are via TikTok discoveries. I think that the app is completely revolutionizing the late Gen Z way of life, for sure.
SAMANTHA: I see you abide by the mantra, “No filters, no facetune, no VSCO, no make up, no bullshit.” In other words, your image and branding is completely and authentically you. How do you think you apply these same ideas to your music?
ROSIE: That’s a really good question. So, I try to live my life by the mantra: “do what scares you,” which is kind of ironic because I am the biggest overthinker, most fearful human. But, when it comes to my craft and my image, I try to put fear aside. Am I sometimes afraid to put a photo out there that doesn’t hit my best angle? Yes, of course. I don’t wake up and think: wow! I get to post a picture of my tired baggy eyes and my breakout! But, I do it because of the bigger message. It’s the same with my music. I don’t wake up and want to write about the fact that someone totally took advantage of me and broke my heart and left me one quarter of a human: I don’t think that. But, I do it because it forces me to own up to my own feelings. So, a lot of what I do is motivated by me wanting to push myself and grow.
SAMANTHA: Do you think that is why so many people connect with your music?
ROSIE: I think that is definitely part of it. I also think, though, that the time I found success was completely not a coincidence. I went viral in a pandemic where everyone was sad, and I think a lot of people’s relationships were getting ruined. So, I think I spoke to a bigger crowd than I had expected to. I thought I was alone in my break-up, but I really think that everyone kind of had a “Never the 1” moment during the pandemic. I mean, how could you not? You’re losing so much.
SAMANTHA: Wow. That’s so profound. And I’m sure lots of people were also experiencing the same kind of grief that you were, which you also used to inspire the concept of your next project.
ROSIE: Yes, so the EP is a concept album built around the five stages of grief.
SAMANTHA: What a cool way to construct a project. So, that makes me ask: where does your upcoming single, “To Get Over You,” fall in this process?
ROSIE: Well, I chose to create a concept album based around the five stages of grief because it was very honest. As I was living through the five stages, I was writing about them in real time. For me, where “To Get Over You” falls under the five stages is bargaining: the whole concept of the song is: “to get over you, I do this” / “to get over you, I do that.” Even the verses talk about the juxtaposition of still feeling sad while you’re lying in bed, but knowing that it is eventually going to get better. So, when you listen to the lyrics, you can hear that so much of the song is based around this push and pull. Even melodically and sonically, you can tell that there is a clear juxtaposition between the verse and the chorus. It’s all about the push and pull, so it falls under bargaining.
SAMANTHA: If you are allowed to tell me, where do the other tracks fall in terms of the five stages?
ROSIE: Well, I don’t want to give away too much. But I can tell you that “Never the 1” falls under acceptance: the entire song is basically me accepting the fact that I just wasn’t “the one” for someone, and that’s okay.
SAMANTHA: You mentioned earlier that it was easy for you to create this concept album because you were actually experiencing each stage of grief and documenting your emotions in real time. Did you find yourself writing each song chronologically and in tandem with each respective stage of grief, or did you put the puzzle pieces together afterwards?
ROSIE: I wasn’t conscious of the fact that this was going to be the concept of the album. But, I pretty much consistently–from the day everything went down–was writing everyday. I have two high risk parents, and my brother is high risk, so what that meant for me was not even seeing my best friend. So, I would just spend 6 hours, 10 hours, everyday in my room processing. There was no opportunity to rebound, to go out and meet new people. The universe was really just like: “Rosie, you’re going to sit in this and you’re going to go through it.” So, I found that during that time, I really was going through each stage. It wasn’t until Matteo and I listened back to every song that we realized that it really was real, me going through each stage. And it became so evident in the music. It was all there.
SAMANTHA: You clearly have both a wicked pen and a wicked ear for melodies. I am curious, what is your songwriting process like? What do you think you bring to the table as a writer that separates you from the rest?
ROSIE: It’s interesting you bring that up, because I have recently been asking myself these same questions because I am so new and just signed my first publishing deal. First and foremost, what I think I contribute is just an open space. It’s harder than you think, especially during zoom sessions, to create a space where people think they can open up. If you don’t build that initial trust, I think that the well-being of the song and the caliber of the song actually suffer. I just like to create a space through music where I can be a friend to someone.
In terms of what I provide in a musical sense, I think I am most confident in my lyrics. I constantly get people asking me how I write my lyrics or how I form my songs, and my answer is: I just say what I’m thinking. And sometimes, it’s really exactly what I’m thinking.
I think in terms of being a writer, however, I truly want to be a chameleon and even out wherever another artist may feel they lack. I try to just add wherever I can.
SAMANTHA: Well, I think that you do a really great job of balancing a conversationalist style with clever nuance, and I think that’s a very hard thing to do. But, you do it brilliantly. It’s so human, yet so poetic.
ROSIE: Ha! Thank you. Well, you should know…I am the biggest word nerd. Even before I became a songwriter, I was always fascinated by phonetics, alliteration, and rhyming. I would actually consider myself to be a hardcore word nerd. And what’s pretty ironic, is I’m dyslexic. I’m pretty challenged when it comes to learning, especially visually. So, the fact that I have a career in words is pretty ironic.
SAMANTHA: That’s so interesting. That makes me feel like you probably have some sort of sixth sense, though, especially when it comes to words.
ROSIE: Well, there is this really cool phenomenon called “twice exceptional” where if one part of someone’s brain is lacking in some way, another part of the brain is going to overcompensate. So, I think, where I lack in terms of learning and my visual processing, I think my brain overcompensates in terms of my auditory senses…the way I hear things and the way I feel things.
SAMANTHA: Wow! I had no idea there was a term for that.
ROSIE: There is. And I think a lot of musicians actually are probably products of this phenomenon.
SAMANTHA: That wouldn’t surprise me at all, especially when you think about all of the really advanced musicians out there who are at genius levels.
SAMANTHA: Ok, I have a special question for you.
ROSIE: Oh, let’s hear it.
SAMANTHA: Throughout your music, you aim to tell raw, honest tales of the female experience. I’m curious, what has your experience been as a female in the music industry?
ROSIE: I feel that there are two corners of the industry: there is the really nice corner, where women are respected, honored and completely treated as equals. And then there is the really not nice corner, where women are treated the opposite. It’s interesting that this question is coming up now, because recently I have been thrown into the not so nice corner–and I do know that it has to do with the fact that I am a young woman who is a writer, artist, and aspiring producer. I wear a lot of hats, and I think that intimidates a lot of men. So, recently I have been struggling with finding that sense of equality in the industry. But that being said, I have had many positive experiences in the nice corner. For example, my lawyer Gillian Bar is absolutely amazing: she is just the epitome of a badass female lawyer. Having her on my side through all of this has been really, really amazing.
SAMANTHA: That’s amazing that you have her on your side. And in terms of the not so nice corner, I imagine that you are kind of seen as this triple target: you’re new, you’re young, you’re a female. And then you have these older–excuse me–f***ing assholes, who have had the ability to stomp all over women for years because they are the ones who get to call the shots, who are trying to assert their dominance. And that’s just so not fair. I’m sorry you’ve had to experience that firsthand, that’s really disheartening.
ROSIE: Thank you. You know, it is what it is. I’ve learned by having Gillian on my side that I can be kind and badass at the same time.
SAMANTHA: I love that, and I couldn’t agree more. I have two more questions for you: what can listeners expect from you this next year?
ROSIE: In this next year, listeners can expect that I will be settling into my sound and settling into my look, and really growing steadily. I plan on sticking to who I am as an artist, as a musician and as a writer, but just taking it to the next level.
SAMANTHA: Now, what about in the next ten years? What can listeners expect from you a decade from now?
ROSIE: Ideally, in ten years I will be at a place where I have a big enough musical platform to be able to use it for good to help causes I am passionate about outside of music such as climate change, environmentalism, sustainability, ethical fashion, upcycling, recycling, etc.
SAMANTHA: Well, I have no doubt that you will do that.
ROSIE: Ah, thank you. I appreciate it. It’s definitely a lot you know, being in this industry. When you’re competing for Top 40, there are really only 40 spots for…millions.
SAMANTHA: It’s true, but I think you have a lot of power. And it comes from that idea you brought up earlier about being kind and badass at the same time, you really embody that.
ROSIE: Thank you. I think that’s just part of who I am. I’ll always be kind, but I will also always be a fighter.
Keep an eye out for ROSIE’s newest single, “To Get Over You,” which was released today all streaming platforms.