INTERVIEW: Ariana & The Rose Talks ‘Retrograde’ EP, Redefining Art, & More

As her avant-pop alter ego Ariana & The Rose, Ariana DiLorenzo invites listeners into the immersive experience of her hypnotizing sound in her brand new EP, Retrograde. What began as a side project for the former actress blossoms into an unguarded release of emotion, maintaining her roots as a performer while gliding between electronica, pop, and R&B. While Lady Gaga comparisons float around DiLorenzo due to her Italian-American heritage, her sound is more akin to that of Robyn’s otherworldly vocals.

Ironically, DiLorenzo sets herself apart in the competitive world of pop stardom by creating an inclusive community where timidity is scarce. She carries her synth-pop sound over on the Retrograde EP, daring to experiment with new genres. Named for her transformative period living between New York, London, and Los Angeles, the four-track EP gives listeners a multi-faceted approach to DiLorenzo’s artistry. 

Below, we delve into the blend of visual and performing arts that drive DiLorenzo’s work, picking her brain about the Retrograde EP which features a noteworthy collaboration with Los Angeles outlet RKCB.

OTW: You recently performed at SXSW–how was that experience? Do you have any backstage rituals to prepare before a gig?

Ariana & The Rose: It was so much fun! It was only a few days ago, but it already feels like it happened months ago because there were so many things packed into one week. Before a show, I shut my phone off and try and get to the quietest place I can about an hour before and just focus on breathing. The band and I do a huddle, and it’s always a bit different. I think it’s important to just check in with yourself and how you’re feeling on that exact day rather than have a regimented routine. I put glitter on my face before every show too and like to be alone while I do that; that’s become a bit of ritual for me, stepping into the world of the show.

OTW: Tell us about your latest single, “Love You Lately.” How was it to collaborate with RKCB?

Ariana & The Rose: The song came together really organically. RKCB had remixed one of my songs, “Dirty Dancing,” and I absolutely loved the production. We went into the studio together, and the first song we wrote was “Love You Lately.” I love being in the studio with them! We were all just vibing, and Casey [Barth] started singing the lyric, “I guess I just don’t love you lately,” and the rest of the song grew from there.

OTW: Since you’re both a visual artist and a recording artist, how would you describe your aesthetic? How does it inspire your music?

Ariana & The Rose: I’ve always loved visual art and performance art. I started in theater, and I am continually inspired by all types of live performances. Whether it’s in a proscenium space or in an immersive theater, there’s an energy in the room that feels so palpable. I’m always looking to achieve that kind of electricity at my own shows, and translate that into music videos as well. I would describe my aesthetic as a vivid dreamscape version of reality. That place between awake and sleep where you’re not completely sure what’s real and whats a dream. That’s perpetually inspiring to me.

OTW: Congratulations on the Retrograde album release! Does it follow a particular theme or message?

Ariana & The Rose: Thank you! I’m so excited to be releasing this music into the world. I called the EP Retrograde because the music came together in an unconventional way. I wasn’t planning on putting an EP out; I had been bouncing back and forth writing and performing between London, New York and Los Angeles, and I came to a place where it felt like the end of a whirlwind phase in my life that should be marked with these four songs. 

The commonality between them all is the thought process of figuring out my own perspective and where I stand on things. In a song like “Love You Lately,” it’s about choosing to leave a relationship that isn’t working. In “These Ruins,” it’s looking back and taking responsibility for a relationship that was broken. My favorite song on the EP is “How Does That Make You Feel,” which is about owning your desires while being vulnerable at the same time. Releasing this music feels like it marks the end of this phase in my life and the beginning of a new one, which is really exciting.

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OTW: You’ve supported acts like Foxes and Jack Garratt. Are there any other acts you’d like to tour with?

Ariana & The Rose: I’m so fortunate to have supported such amazing artists. Watching Jack Garratt play was so so inspiring! I’d love to tour with an artist like Robyn; I absolutely love her music and show. It’d be awesome to go out with some bands as well, bringing some female energy to the all-dude, male-fronted band circuit would be really fun.

OTW: Who is your style icon and why?

Ariana & The Rose: Cher is my ultimate. ‘70s Cher is really just an endless supply of inspiration. She was classic and completely wild at the same time, a total showstopper. I’m always striving to be more like Cher. My mother also has unbelievable style. I grew up watching her wear heels every day, no matter where she was going. She is fearless and could not care less about what anyone thinks about what she’s wearing. She also has an unbelievable shoe collection and we’re the same size, so I’m always sneaking into it!

OTW: In what ways (other than music and fashion) have you weaved art into your everyday life?

Ariana & The Rose: I think art is whatever inspires you. It doesn’t have to have a frame around it or be put up on a stage to be something that can touch you. New York is filled with art, the city itself is art, it constantly feeds me and inspires ideas for songs, visuals, and just general endurance for continuing to create new things. I feel that way about London too. I think cities themselves are art; the energy of a city effects what you create in such a profound way. I love traveling and going to new places, meeting new people and hearing their stories. At the end of the day, art is just storytelling and there are no better stories than the ones that come from people’s real lives.

OTW: How do you intend to set yourself apart from other female talented figures in the music industry?

Ariana & The Rose: I don’t have the intention of actively setting myself apart. I’m just trying to be as true to my own voice as I can possibly be. I don’t think there’s any one specific formula to figure out what resonates with people–you have to just unequivocally be yourself and make what you believe in and hope that there are people out there who will find a counterpoint in that and believe in it too. I think it’s an amazing time for female artists in all mediums–music, fashion, film, and performance. I’d much rather be a part of a conversation with those women, creating things together, using the specific skills each of us possess to make something totally new that we wouldn’t have made on our own. There’s plenty of space for talent and I’m really just grateful to be a part of the conversation.

OTW: What’s next on your list now that the album is out?

Ariana & The Rose: Playing shows! We’ll be playing in New York, Los Angeles, and London. I’m so excited to perform the music live for everyone and feel the crowd’s reaction to the music in person. We’ll also be bringing the immersive event I created, Light + Space, to New York in September. The event combines live music, theater and a party to create a futuristic disco. We did the first event last May in London in conjunction with Redbull and I can’t wait to bring it to New York in the fall!

OTW: Who is on your Ones To Watch list and why?

Ariana & The Rose: I saw Young M.A for the first time at SXSW and she was unreal. I absolutely loved her energy, and the crowd was totally insane. The way she’s flipping the conversation and speaking about things in a female voice that are not normally spoken about is so amazing to hear and to watch.

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