20mg of Happiness presents an unfiltered look at ROSIE, the artist and person. Chronicling love and loss in deeply person detail, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter bares her soul to the world. And while it is a sentiment that has been explored time and time again in music, ROSIE's minimalistic, no bullshit approach is nothing short of refreshing.
Whether it's on the viral breakout hit "Never the 1" or the anthemic EP closer "Sad Sad Sad," the rising artist shares every ounce of herself for the world to see and find a piece of themselves in. Equal parts sonic therapy and emotional catharsis, 20mg of Happiness is an exercise in processing grief, not in some idealized fashion but allowing yourself the time and space to move through every stage of it all.
We had the rare opportunity to invite ROSIE to walk us through her beautiful and heart-rending debut EP, track by track.
"Screaming Underwater" represents the first stage of grief, denial, when you know the relationship is over but it's still too hard to admit. I wrote it alone in my bedroom, the day before my breakup and it was the first record I ever wrote on piano. During the time that this song was written, I really resonated with this concept of screaming so loud, but feeling like nobody could hear me. I think, unfortunately, this is an experience that most people feel, so I hope this song provides a sense of understanding and empathy for others feeling that way. Sonically, there is a distinct difference between the verses and the chorus which further emphasizes the tumultuous ups and downs that come with a breakup.
"Retail Therapy" represents a transition from denial into the second stage of grief: anger. Despite all efforts, there is nothing that can make a loved one come back if they've already moved on. I started writing this song in Boston and it originally had a completely different chorus. By the time I finished it in New York, the song had totally transformed.
As a woman, I think it's been ingrained in me to silence my anger. For so long I felt like if I wasn't 100% poised and level-headed I would be considered less feminine. But, when creating "Retail Therapy," I realized the true essence of being a woman is expressing our feelings that are so often held in. This song encapsulates desperation, rage, longing, inner fire, and heartbreak - I'm proud to have expressed those emotions and processed them through writing this song.
“All my favorite songs”
"All my favorite songs" also represents anger, when every song is associated with a memory and every lyric stings like a wound sterilized with alcohol.
This anger is more of a melancholic, agonizing fury. It is a grieving song - it's a farewell to every record I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to for at least a year and every movie I knew would be stained permanently by someone I wanted to forget. I picture this portion of my EP as "the withdrawal." I was holding onto memories and frustration because that was all that I had left of him and I wasn't ready to let it go. "All my favorite songs" is by far my favorite song I've ever written.
A fun fact about this song: in the chorus, the third line is "I know I shouldn't let you get to me, but I do and it's exhausting" but the original line I wrote was actually "all the clothes I love fit wrong on me, and my room always feels empty."
“to get over you”
"to get over you" represents the third stage of grief: bargaining. The song navigates the extremes of missing someone and wishing there was a way to trade anything in exchange to move forward, move on, and let go of the heartache. I always pictured this song as a full-on ballad with strings, pads, and grand piano, but when I walked into my producer's studio for the first time he said, "I kinda picture this son being a banger" and he was right. Noah Conrad was the true visionary on this one.
This song is about the "give and take" that comes with starting a new chapter without the person you thought would be in your life forever. Similar to "Screaming Underwater," there is a sonic polarity between the verses and the chorus, emphasizing the massive push and pull of healing. Because this song is more upbeat and pop-oriented, it was a huge departure from the rest of my released music and I am so glad I got to introduce this side of ROSIE to the world. You can expect a lot more of her in the future!
"Idk you at all"
"Idk you at all" represents depression, the fourth stage of grief, when it finally becomes clear that maybe the relationship was never what it seemed to be, and the loved one was never who they appeared to be, and the sadness begins to set in. I've never written a song as fast as I wrote this one, so the deeper meaning to me is: the depression was a long time coming and maybe I was just putting it off for as long as I could.
I came up with the concept for this song while I was out walking around Boston. I couldn't even wait to get home to start writing, so I actually wrote the entire chorus while walking about Back Bay.
This record was inspired by the ballad geniuses of our generation like Adele, Sam Smith, and Bruno Mars. I wanted a full-on sappy, rom-com, standing in the rain moment, and this was it. Live instrumentation is my weakness when it comes to production but, with the help of my producer, we were able to track live piano, trumpet, and saxophone. This is definitely the saddest song on the EP.
“Never the 1"
"Never the 1" represents the fifth stage of grief, acceptance. Despite all the promises made and months shared together, the relationship was never meant to be. This song means so much to me because it put me on the map as an artist and songwriter, and it acted as a catalyst in providing me the future I had always dreamed of, years before I even expected it. Writing this record was extremely painful for me, not just because acceptance can hurt on the deepest of levels, but because successfully counting backwards from 10-1 in a chorus, in 23 seconds, was extremely grueling! I like to think of this song as a puzzle and I just happen to fit all the pieces to make it work; once my puzzle came together, I had reached acceptance.
"Sad Sad Sad”
"Sad Sad Sad" also represents acceptance. After a full year of healing and growing, sadness still creeps in. This feeling is a reminder that sometimes there are certain scars that never go away and when sadness is accepted it can serve as a lesson to never repeat the same mistake twice. Upon first listen, this song so obviously fits into the "depression" stage, however, it wasn't until I reflected on the creation of this record that I realized it actually truly represents acceptance. For so many months I wrote all of my songs alone, in my bedroom, self-isolating and heartbroken, but I had the privilege of writing "Sad Sad Sad" with two of my favorite collaborators, Matteo Scher, and Florio. Part of accepting sadness is also accepting help, and opening up and confiding in my co-writers was exactly the help I needed in that moment.
The journey of this EP and the five stages of grief has been a painful one, with so many ups and downs, but I am grateful for every moment of it. Each song and experience is a lesson learned.