An interview with rising pop artist Rosie Darling
March 13, 2023
By Madaleine Cutone
This month in the LA music scene, up and coming pop artist Rosie Darling released her new single “Lost On You” – her first drop following her 2022 EP, Golden Age. SoS spoke with Darling last week about the song and what it hints at regarding her next collection of work. Just coming off of a tour, there was a lot to discuss about her cross-country adventures, past and potential collaborations, and much, much more.
SOUNDS OF SAVING (SoS): So first off I was wondering about your new single, “Lost On You.” Is it going to be a part of a larger body of work?
ROSIE DARLING: It’s all still coming together, but I’m working on an album. “Lost On You” was the first out of that whole new era for me.
SoS: Yeah, I loved “Lost On You.” I also really enjoyed Golden Age. I’ve been listening to that all week. What are your favorites off that EP?
DARLING: I think the whole Golden Age EP was a different kind of sound for me, specifically with that one [song] “Golden Age.” It was a way to experiment with some more upbeat production that I wasn't always super excited about. I like my ballads and my slow songs, but then you had “Always Almost,” which was still a ballad, and it was really emotional. So I kind of got to do everything that I wanted to, and also experiment more upbeat things, which are really fun. Like, when I'm singing live, sometimes you need an upbeat song like “Golden Age” to get the vibes going. But I also love “Say Less.” It's similar to “Lost On You.” It's a shorter, not fully normal structured song, but it seems to be relatable, and I think it hits hard because it's short. The lyrics are just a stream of consciousness. I love that one. I love how people have still grabbed on to it, even though I kind of didn't follow the rules.
SoS: I feel like it loops into itself really well. I didn't even realize it and I was listening to it over and over again.
DARLING: Yeah, it already felt special when we first made it, and my goal with it was to not go back and write on it a second time. It's already so nice, and I feel like the lyrics are potent. So I didn't want to just throw another verse on there that maybe wasn't going to have the same effect that it was already having. It does have a repeat factor. I feel like people listen to it on loop because it’s seamless.
SoS: Very seamless. How was Golden Age designed to be thematically perceived by your listeners? What was the message that you wanted to get across with that collection?
DARLING: It was all during COVID. So I was thinking, where's my golden age? Where are all the fun things that I'm supposed to be doing in my 20s? It was kind of like a snapshot of a moment in time. Just all of the different things that were going on in that two year period or so. That song specifically, I feel like it's still lyrically similar to how I write and there's some more emotional, sad lyrics if you really listen to it, but the whole thing is upbeat. It was a way to address that time period without being super depressing about it.
SoS: Wow, it didn't even make me think of COVID as I’ve been listening to it, but now that you explain it that way it totally makes sense.
DARLING: That's good, because it shows that it's timeless. It can still apply regardless of my specific intention behind it. I feel like it's still relatable even now that we're out of that time period.
SoS: Sort of out of the woods. I know you just got off of tour. I've always been curious about this, I feel like with touring there are probably a lot of challenges, both mentally and just generally, and I was wondering how you managed the obstacles that you come across?
DARLING: I definitely try to take time for myself and rest a lot in between stops. I honestly try to lay low in between shows, because it's a lot of moving around. You get to a new city, and you're just sometimes like, I feel like I didn't even see any of the cities that I was in. I just showed up and did my show and then left. I had a great time though. It was so cool to get out there and actually sing the songs live for people. I don't think I was too exhausted for any of them. So many good things are happening and staying present can be hard even when things are good, you know what I mean? In Nashville, it was my birthday. My best friend was at the show, and it was the halfway point on the tour. I was just a little overwhelmed. I had a little mini cry before I went onstage, and then I had the best show ever. So I think just taking time for myself, and then taking care of myself. But also, if I needed to cry, or needed to release my exhaustion or whatever, I just do it. Don't hold it in, you know, because it's just gonna build up. It’s good to just let everything flow, and that helps keep everything moving, I think.
SoS: I relate to that for sure. I used to dance, and whenever I had a mental breakdown before going on stage it would be one of the best performances I would have. Funny how that works.
DARLING: Totally, there's no point in holding it in. I don't think everybody expects you to. I think that's another thing too, even if it's not the best show of your life, it's still ten times better than anything anyone in the audience could probably think of you doing. They're not all musicians, you know what I mean? You're your own worst critic, and to think that you are gonna do a great job just because of the amount of time you've put in to rehearse, and how well you know the songs and what makes them special… you can get that across to the audience, even if you miss one note or whatever. They want to be there, and I think the mistakes humanize you. The crowd is always so much more forgiving than you think. You think, Oh no, they're gonna be so mad if I mess up, but it actually makes the whole thing feel more real. You just laugh with them. We had a technical difficulty one night, and we just took thirty seconds to reset one thing and we sang happy birthday to someone in the audience. There are things you can do to keep it fun. Some stuff is just out of your control. I think learning to just be honest about something if you need to, that's always a good way to go.
SoS: I feel like stuff like that can make it special, like it gives things character.
DARLING: Yeah, it's more vulnerable. I think the crowd likes to see what happens when something goes wrong, and how you deal with it. It’s part of the experience. You definitely don't want to mess up like every show, but every once in a while it can be fun.
SoS: I feel like your music helps with your mental health. It kind of came through to me as I was listening that this is a good outlet for you for that type of stuff.
DARLING: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've always been a singer, but the writing part is something I've developed over the years. Depending on what's going on in my brain, sometimes I feel like it's hard for me to stay on one emotion when I’m writing because I want to talk about all the different things I'm feeling at the same time. I think writing makes you stay in one lane at a time. It’ll be like, Okay, we're writing a song about this, so stay on that emotion and stick with it for the whole song. It's just a nice container for each emotion. And it's definitely helped me process certain things or something that feels overwhelming to talk about. It’s great to be able to talk about it in a more creative way where it's relatable and not super specific. It's like, Oh, this thing happened, this is what it made me feel, and whoever's listening has their own experience that makes them feel like they can relate. The “Lost On You” song, that's a pretty vulnerable song for me and it was super healing to write. But I opened my phone and I had some DMs. People are telling me that they really like it, and it’s healing for them. I feel like I've always been really excited about songs that I've put out, and I’m really excited about this one, but I'm also a little scared of it because it's still kind of fresh. I didn't write it that long ago, probably five months ago, which is kind of a quick turnaround for a release. But then when people relate to it, it makes it like, Whoa, okay, that's so special.
SoS: Yeah, having people connect with your art.
DARLING: That song is not a perfectly crafted breakup song. It's this one thing that just keeps going. It just builds and builds and builds. It's like a journey. So I'm like, if you sat there and listened to it, and stayed with that feeling for the two minutes and thirty seconds, like, Okay, thank you.
SoS: It definitely took me to a specific place and made me sit with the feelings it brought up, especially with the way that the song builds, like you said. My thoughts definitely stayed on that one thing as I was listening to it.
DARLING: Yeah, that’s what I wanted. It’s like quality over quantity. It’s kind of similar to the “Say Less” song, like I just didn't need that song to be three minutes. I mean, maybe at some point I would release a longer version of it but it doesn't need it. These are the lyrics they want you to think about and focus on, so I'm not gonna drown them out by doing too much.
SoS: Yeah, for sure. I like that, it feels kind of like a meditation when you're able to sit on one thought.
DARLING: Yeah. The rest of my songs are full songs. But I had to do a couple like that just because it felt right.
SoS: What role did music play in your life before you decided to pursue a career as a musician? Is there anything that you miss from before you chose this as a career?
DARLING: No, there's nothing that I miss. I've always been doing music. I've always been a singer. I wasn't writing like, good songs, but I was writing songs when I was in middle school. This was my childhood dream, which is so funny. It's so cool to think about. I’ve just always been doing it, so I think it feels really right. There wasn't really a ‘life before music,’ I guess. It just was always there in some capacity.
SoS: Have you had any personal highs and lows in your career so far? How did you handle the challenges that came with them?
DARLING: The music industry is definitely an interesting place these days. I definitely think moving to a new city where you don't know anyone, and everyone here is trying to do something successful with their art, is intimidating. When I first got here, I kind of had to network a bit and find producers who were on board with the sound that I wanted to make. Aside from all of that, which I think everybody experiences when they move to LA, I think that the way social media has changed in the last five years has brought some challenges. Sometimes I feel… not like, discouraged, but I mean, I feel like we all participate in it. I think TikTok and all that stuff is a really great tool. It’s something that I have seen success with, but before all of that, I didn't know all the other artists that were trying to make it. I wasn't seeing all of their songs on a daily basis. You didn't hear about new artists just by picking up your phone, and I feel like it took more time for that to cut through. It's just fast now, how someone can pop off. More often than not they are super talented, but it is an interesting way.
SoS: Sometimes it can be luck too.
DARLING: Yeah, I'm not that strategic. I don't know why but something just feels weird about it on social media. There's just a lot of hype, and it makes it hard to tell what is actually having a moment or not. [There’s a] psychological component of social media in the music industry, like not getting discouraged if a video doesn't get a million views or not comparing yourself to somebody that you have similar writing styles with when they're popping off and you're not. Your music isn't going to be for everybody, and that's okay. I feel really confident in that, because every time I do put music out, it finds the people that it's supposed to. So it's not the end-all-be-all if you're not a social media person, but I definitely think it's helpful in some ways. There's just a lot of emphasis on it. Even if that's the new way of finding new artists and blowing them up, I don't think it’s always authentic. I just value that authenticity more than trying to force my music down people's throats. It’s cool, it definitely is helpful in a lot of ways. I'm just aware of it. I’m trying to make sure that I'm not selling my soul.
SoS: Who are your favorite past creative collaborators? It could be a producer and artists, really anybody. And then also, going forward, who is your dream collaboration?
DARLING: I grew up obsessed with Taylor Swift. I know everyone's obsessed with her now, but like, I was a die hard Taylor Swift fan when I was in middle school. She's why I learned how to play guitar. As a kid, I was into Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and it was like, ‘Whoa, they're so cool.’ I love The 1975, and I love some newer artists like Gracie Abrams. It's all kind of sad music, but I love all of them. And then in the future, I’m open to collabs. So if anyone wants to contact me, I'm here. But I feel like I've gotten to collab with people that I’ve wanted to, like, I have a song with NGHTMRE and he's awesome. He took one of my songs and just made it amazing. I've gotten to collaborate with people that are really special. In the future, dream collabs are all probably the same people that I grew up listening to, like Taylor Swift.
SoS: We have a project called the song that found me at the right time. What was a song that found you at the right time? Set the scene. Why was it that song? And what was the effect?
DARLING: Okay, a new song that I just started listening to and I've had it on repeat is on the Gracie Abrams album, it's called “Right Now.” It's a six minute long song. It’s very introspective and it's pretty slow. It's a long song, but it feels like you can just listen to it for hours. Every time you listen to it, you understand a lyric in a different way. She ends the song by just repeating, “I feel like myself right now.” It's kind of like “Lost On You,” where it just builds and I'm just repeating that one line and you're like, ‘Okay, like, when is this part over?’ And it just never ends. But when she's singing “I feel like myself right now” in the beginning of the build, it just feels like a thought. It slowly transforms into a stronger statement. Feeling that switch happen when she's singing it… I don't know. I just love it. I’m definitely inspired by her. It's the last song in the album too, so it's the way that she ends it. I feel like myself right now. It's just such a cool statement to end this whole journey with.
SoS: Lastly, do you have any advice for young artists who are starting out in their career, and want to go down a similar path?
DARLING: Yeah, I think you’ve just gotta keep writing. That's like the biggest thing I've learned. It’s a skill, I had to develop it as if it was a muscle. You have to keep doing it in order to eventually know right away if it's a cool line or not. So I think, just practice, because with writing, not every song is going to come out. But every song you write, even if no one hears it, it's helping you get to the one that is going to come out. Again, it's like a muscle, you have to practice. You're not just gonna wake up and write an amazing song. Sometimes you have to think about it for a long time and go back to it. So do that, you know, whenever you have free time, I don't think it'll ever hurt.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.