New Zealand-based musician Alba Rose has just released her much-anticipated, self-produced EP Silhouette – a wonderfully reflective collection of jazz-infused indie tracks. This follows on from two single drops earlier this year; contemporary, jazz-edged debut Eve, as well as the sultry and soulful Holding On, released in October.
Silhouette is Alba Rose’s first full body of work under her solo artistic identity. The four-song EP seamlessly fuses the genres of neo/indie-soul, pop and jazz, alt and contemporary, capturing a vibe that brings to mind classic Amy Winehouse Frank in places.
Embracing re-occurring themes of learning to let go, accepting what is and moving forward, the EP’s title is used as a metaphor for perspective; thinking of a time and place of life that once was, yet is no longer. Written in Wellington during NZ’s lockdown, Silhouette speaks to the reflections and thoughts of this time, made even more vivid through reconfiguring means of observation and history.
The gentle pace, softly soaring vocals and rainy-day keys on opening track Eve set a strong tone; the song’s late-night jazz club vibes and bittersweet lyrics freely intertwine. The delicately melodic Butterfly Kisses is equally, satisfyingly soulful. The softness of Holding On encompasses the highs and lows of relationship withdrawal – lyrically exploring the difficult nature of letting someone go before you’re ready: “I’m mourning someone I shouldn’t be.” Influenced by indie-pop, jazz and soul, the song provides a perfect transition into summer’s sultrier months. The EP’s mesmerizing closer, Serendipity, ends as strongly as the journey begins – strong yet soft – a fitting finale.
Three of the four tracks were mixed by London-based Jim Macrae (Jordan Rakei, Leifur James, Arjuna Oaks), with final track, Serendipity mixed by Wellington-based Serebii. Performing on all tracks are Wellington-based musicians: Rory Johns (keys), Elijah Mulheron (double bass), Rafe Swan (drums) and Alba Rose (guitar).
Grateful at the chance to get an audience with the artist herself today, Alba Rose answered our thought-provoking questions. We talk exotic yelling, supportive bandmates and playing to magical, spring sunsets:
BM: You’re originally from the UK but moved to New Zealand at the age of 4. What were your earliest memories of being influenced by music?
AR: Although I was born in the UK and grew up there for my first 4 years of life, my family spent a lot of time in Spain, where we have many relatives. It’s there that my earliest musical memories lie. My Spanish family is always singing and dancing and making a lot of noise. Nothing too technical or professional, more like exotic yelling, enthusiastic clapping, singing with big smiles. I used to spend a lot of time with my grandma in those early years and she would always be singing. Around the house, cleaning, cooking, walking on the streets. I think it’s really from her that I picked up my love for singing and music and my musical ear.
BM: You studied Psychology at uni, but also played with pop/rock band Corduroy for 4 years… does Psychology still feature as a career back-up plan, or will you now focus on your music 100%?
AR: Good question haha. I do really love psychology and learning about the different aspects of the brain, and why and how we think the way we do, especially from the sociological perspective (which was my other major), but for now I’m really loving honing in on music, using the more creative spaces of my brain. Even though we’re potentially living in the most difficult and confusing age to be in the industry, I can’t help gravitating towards doing it all the time, so it feels best for now and I plan to keep creating for the foreseeable future. But who knows, maybe in 10 years time I’ll feel differently. We never know what tomorrow brings.
BM: How does it feel for you to branch out on your own now, as a solo artist?
AR: It’s definitely different. I feel like going solo takes a lot more emotional energy, and self-motivation. You really put your heart and soul into everything you do, and there’s less turn taking to steer the ship, which can be a little overwhelming at times. So you have to really prioritise balance, and allow time and space to relax and reflect. In saying that, I have been really loving the whole process of navigating who I am as an artist through having that creative freedom and unpacking a more personal creative sound and vision. I do play, practice and sometimes write music with my band of amazing dudes who have been so unbelievably supportive throughout the whole process. I don’t think I’d even be doing this right now without my keys player Rory who really helped heaps at the beginning and gave me the confidence push I needed. So even though Alba Rose is a solo artistic identity, there’s still a team supporting me, which I feel super grateful for.
BM: Tell us a little more about ‘Alba Rose’. The name ‘Alba’ (also your middle name) derives from your Spanish heritage and means ‘sunrise’- what made you decide to use this as your artist identity?
AR: Oooo, well firstly, I love the name Alba, and it was my Spanish singing grandma who gifted me the name which means ‘first light of the early dawn’. I think a lot of emotion and opportunity comes in the earliest hours of the day, it’s such a beautiful time and has so much vibrancy and energy. I love the word’s meaning and I feel there’s a lot of playing on words you can do with the word Alba, then my first name is Rosie, so that’s where the Rose came from. I like Rose coming after the word Alba to again emphasise the sun/light rising.
BM: You’re no stranger to performing, and have in the past played to sold-out shows. What has been your favourite performance experience over the years?
AR: The first one that came to mind was a show just over a year ago and it was my first show playing my original music with keys and bass, and me on the guitar. I was so flippen nervous haha. It was for a radio show called GoodWillRadioClub where they film live sets and stream them online across New Zealand. It was at sunset on this Greek looking balcony, and heaps of people were perched up on the roof just watching the sun go down on the fine spring evening. It was just such a mesmerising moment, and felt so cool to be playing these bedroom indie songs for the first time. Got me hooked, that’s for sure. So, not a sold out show for this one but a very cool, special moment.
BM: We wish you much success with the EP! We already love singles ‘Eve’ and ‘Holding On’. If you could capture the meaning of the album in just a few words, what would they be?
AR: With the dark there is always light. Accept both to help growth.
Alba Rose has been heavily involved in the NZ music scene for the past five years, having toured previously with band indie-pop, alt-rock band Corduroy. The group enjoyed sold-out shows, as well as playing on some of the country’s leading summer festival stages including Rhythm & Vines, Bay Dreams and TSB Festival of lights. Charting in the New Zealand Top 20 and playing support to such names as The Great Gable, Spacey Jane and Mako Road, Alba is now somewhat an expert at playing to varied crowds and supporting international artists.
Originally from the UK, 22-year-old Alba Rose moved to New Zealand at the tender age of four and grew up around the mountains of Wanaka. The name ‘Alba’ (meaning ‘sunrise’) is derived from her Spanish heritage and translates to ‘first light of the early dawn’ in English.
Alba has made waves nationally across multiple underground scenes since building on her newly established Alba Rose artist identity. With solo material that infuses a range of R&B, Jazz, soul and indie-pop, she has already played in support of Muroki, Harper Finn and LA Women, as well as at the Festival of Colour alongside The Chills, Mel Parsons, Julia Deans and Estere. The next 12 months look set to be even bigger for the rising artist, with dates already booked for indie summer festivals Le Currents and Tora Bombora.
On the back of the album release is a 3-stop North Island tour planned to include Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.
Silhouhette is available for your listening pleasure on usual platforms NOW
Follow Alba Rose: https://linktr.ee/albarosee