On February 12, Nashville Pop/R&B artist Abigail Rose released her debut EP “Million Dollar Questions.” Rose is currently in Los Angeles promoting the project, but we were able to talk with her via telephone to discuss the new music, finding balance in a hectic release cycle, her goals for 2020, and much more.
(Photo Credit: Abigail Rose)
Glasse: Hi, Abigail! Thanks for taking some time to talk to us today. How’s LA?
Abigail Rose: Hi! It’s been really great. I’m definitely happy to be missing the rain/snow in Nashville right now.
I can definitely imagine the weather is a lot nicer out there. How has life been for you post-release?
Life has been great. There’s so much build up before a release, especially a body of work that has six songs, so I feel almost more at ease and relaxed since it’s out. I’m really proud of this EP, and I’m so happy to have a body of work out in the world that I think accurately represents me as an artist and songwriter right now.
What was the hardest part of the pre-release process for you?
Honestly? Since I am doing pretty much everything on my own right now (completely independent) it can be pretty overwhelming at times, making sure you aren’t forgetting anything, especially because I am such a perfectionist and every detail matters to me. But at some point, you just have to let it go. Also, picking which songs made it onto the EP was a challenge.
How many songs missed the cut for this project? Do you have any plans to release them in the future?
Around four… I don’t want to give too much away yet, but YES. Let’s just say these other songs were a bit more suited for summer…
A scoop! (laughs) How different has this all been from a typical single release?
This project release has felt drastically different to me than any of my single releases. With singles, you’re just getting to see a small glimpse of who an artist is. But, with releasing more music, you obviously are showing more of yourself. So I feel 100% more vulnerable, in the best way.
(Photo Credit: Abigail Rose)
You just showcased some of that vulnerability in an excellent video on your YouTube channel that came out today, where you explain “Balance” — the inspiration for the project’s title — in great detail. Since the song was written in July, how has your search for balance in your life been? How have you found that balance in a time as hectic as a big release?
My search for balance is constant. Some days or weeks are better than others, but I also think that just the act of trying to live a more balanced life is something to celebrate and be proud of. So even when things fee l more hectic — like during a release or traveling — I try not to be too hard on myself. I still have certain things that constantly keep me feeling good and centered, like some type of physical activity every day, maybe yoga or just going on a walk. Obviously, there’s always going to be something going on that’s going to try and make you lose focus, so having certain routines that stay consistent throughout it all helps me stay balanced.
In the video, you also talked about your relationship with producer Galen Crew and co-writer Christen Cole. What have they meant to you both personally and professionally, and what do they bring out of you either when writing or in the studio?
So, like I mentioned in the video, I’ve known Christen for a really long time (10+ years) and I love how our personal and professional relationship has grown and changed over the years. Because of that, our friendship fees so strong and special to me. I feel like we just get each other and are very similar in how our brains work. Therefore, it’s really easy to work together, whether that be her playing with me on stage, writing together or just hanging out.
Christen Cole (Photo Credit: Abigail Rose)
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to really value GOOD people who have good hearts, and Christen is a very good person who I’m lucky to have in my life. And that point brings me to Galen Crew, who Christen introduced me to! So, of course, right from the beginning there was already so much trust between Galen and I because I was introduced to him from someone I trust so much. You obviously want to work with people who are talented, but to me it’s equally important, if not more important, to work with people who are just good people, and that is Galen. Extremely talented, but also a nice human.
Galen and I spent a ton of time together working on this project, and it always felt so natural working together. We had only written three songs when I asked him if he would be interested in producing my EP (two of which are on the EP). It just felt right, and I knew we should work together.
Christen brings out honesty in me. Because of how close we are, I always feel super comfortable opening up when we’re writing together. She also makes me want to be a better musician because she is so freaking talented at playing EVERYTHING. I think Galen brings out a better version of myself in the studio. He pushes me to be a better vocalist, write stronger melodies, and second guess myself less.
Galen Crew (Photo credit: Galen Crew)
Let’s dig into the rest of the project, starting with the opening track “Bad Luck.” What’s the story behind it, and why did you choose to kick off the EP with it?
I wrote “Bad Luck” with a producer/writer named Johnny What in Los Angeles last May. I was actually just supposed to be there to film a music video with Chris Jobe for our duet “Make It All Better.” But a mutual friend introduced me to Johnny, and it worked out for us to meet on my quick trip to LA. So we created “Bad Luck” in our first session together, which is pretty rare. Usually, it might take a few sessions getting to know someone before you create something you want to release.
I wanted “Bad Luck” to be the first song you hear on my EP because that first sound you hear in the song is my voice, which Johnny layered and made into that magical part. (Johnny is a co-producer on the track with Galen Crew). Also, even though it’s about a break-up, the vibe feels like the beginning of something, not the end. And it is — the beginning of choosing yourself.
The whole “breakup song with a positive vibe” thing is actually what made “Birthday” stand out to me when I reviewed it last month. It’s a song that, on paper, you would expect to sound sad. But when you play it, it’s catchy and upbeat. Is it important to you to leave an element of hope in your music, even when the subject matter is depressing?
Absolutely. In life, I would say I’m a very positive person, so I think that just trickles into my songwriting/music style, even if it’s about something sad. I always want to look at situations from a positive perspective, which I think gives my songs a unique angle. That being said, it’s not always possible to have the lyrics be positive, so then I balance it out by having the production a bit on the happier side. I’m legit realizing that I do this as I say this. I’m having a personal epiphany over here (laughs).
(laughs) I think that’s a really cool way to use your platform as an artist. People go to music to be uplifted all the time, and I think you’re doing that really well.
The cover art for “Birthday,” which was released as a single in January. (Photo Credit: Abigail Rose)
You’re welcome! “Real Love,” the second song on the EP, was the first non-single from the project to cross the 1,000-stream threshold on Spotify. Were you surprised at all by this, and what do you think this is attributed to?
Actually, I’m not totally surprised by this. I could feel that it was a special song, and when I shared it with friends/family before the release, I could tell it resonated with a lot of them. I also played it at a show in Nashville at the beginning of January with Breaking Sound and had quite a few people ask me about it after. My Dad also predicted that it would be the most popular, and he’s always right (laughs).
I don’t have a ton of happy love songs out in the world. Those are generally harder to write for me, and even when I do, sometimes they’re just meant for the person I’m writing about and not to be shared (laughs). So I think it’s maybe a different side of me that nobody has seen yet. It’s extremely personal, and I think people can pick up on that. Also, no pun intended, but it’s about real love, and that’s not perfect by any means. I think people can relate to it.
“Claim Your Love” has grown on me a ton the more I’ve listened to it, and it’s become one of my favorites of the entire release. I feel like it’s, perhaps, your strongest and most emotional vocal take on the EP. Where did this song come from, and what does it mean to you?
Thank you, it might be one of my favorites on the EP as well.
I actually wrote “Claim Your Love” by myself in 2018, so it’s one of the oldest songs on the EP. When Galen and I decided to work together, I sent him a file of about 30 songs because I wanted whatever additional songs we did together (besides the two we wrote together) to be ones he was excited about as well. I was so happy he said he wanted to work on “Claim Your Love.”
Yes, I wrote it from a very emotional place so I’m glad that those emotions came through in my vocals. Although I’m not still going through what I was writing about back in 2018, it’s just like when you hear a song that’s important to you and it takes you back to the exact moment you heard it or what you were doing when you heard it…
When I sing this song, it takes me back to all those emotions I felt when writing it. So this song means a lot to me. I’m also proud to have a song — well, really, two songs — make it onto my EP that I wrote totally by myself. Obviously I LOVE co-writing and collaborating with other people, but sometimes it’s nice just to write from your own heart.
(Photo Credit: Abigail Rose)
You chose to close the EP with an acoustic song, “Bob Dylan.” What prompted the change of pace, and can we expect to see more of this side of you going forward?
Yes! Although I’m a “pop artist” because I guess if I had to pick one genre, that’s what I would be closest to, I still LOVE stripping things down to the basics of just guitar and vocal since that’s how everything started for me. Also it’s important to do whatever the song calls for, especially as genres become more and more obsolete and music is becoming more mood-based. I’m always striving to be authentic with everything I do, and authentic for me meant having the EP be closed with an acoustic song (laughs). So yes, you will be seeing more of this side of me.
Which song do you think has changed the most from first draft to final mix, and can you take us on the journey of how it evolved?
Honestly a lot of the first drafts were pretty close to the finished product, and that is the beauty of working with Galen. But if I had to pick one, maybe “Bad Luck.” The track gradually builds throughout the entire song, and that’s how the process of making the song was, as well. It started off more minimalistic with the foundation that Johnny had created, and then we started adding more until it felt like a huge release or explosion at the end.
Johnny What, co-writer and co-producer of “Bad Luck” (Photo credit: johnnywhatmusic)
If you could relive one memory from the creative process of “Million Dollar Questions,” what would it be and why?
Probably when Galen started sending me the first mixes of each song and I would get them and immediately run to my car to go listen. (I always listen to first mixes in a car.) It all was so exciting hearing everything come to life how I either imagined in my head or better than I ever could have imagined.
Also, bringing my vision for the album artwork to life was SO much fun. Getting to shoot in the old gymnasium where I used to go to birthday parties at and where my photographer Jasmine Archie did gymnastics at growing up was so special.
What do you hope people take away from the EP?
Whatever it is that they need! I love creating music because it can mean one thing to me, but then it means something completely different to someone else, and that’s the beauty of it. One of my favorite quotes is from Dave Grohl when he said, “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.” I just hope I get the chance to sing in front of 85,000 people (laughs).
2020 has already been a banner year for you. What are your goals for the rest of the year, and what can we expect next from Abigail Rose?
My goals are to play more shows in Nashville, as well as other cities and maybe get a little bit of tour action? Also, to keep creating more music with people who inspire me and push me to be a better artist. My personal goal is to run a half-marathon (this has been a goal for many years so maybe if I put it in an interview it’ll motivate me to actually do it).
You can expect more music sooner than you probably think, more videos getting to know the more private me, and a face mask line.
I’m 100% kidding about the last one, but wouldn’t that be cool?
I hope to see it in the near future. Thank you for your time and for this interview.
Yes, of course, this was fun! Thanks for interviewing me.