Ariana & The Rose are determined to bring some fantasy back into pop music. Fusing dramatic vocals with dense, operatic synths and ever-shifting melodies, frontwoman Ariana DiLorenzo and her band craft sounds influenced by rock, jazz and electronic music and yet oriented firmly in the charts’ direction. These fusions have seen her gain comparisons to the likes of Lady Gaga and other pre-Swift pop women yet unlike Gaga and co, her Ariana’s music doesn’t hide behind its experimentation with pop but instead appeals to the listener directly. Ariana’s music is not seeking to confuse, it’s trying to inspire.
Take a first listen to the RKCB remix of ‘Dirty Dancing’ below.
Ariana’s earnestness is at the cornerstone of her music and with fans including Gaga herself and Paul McCartney, it’s clearly appealing to pop’s prestige. Latest singles ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ serve as a back to back confirmation of Ariana’s foot-stomping, heart-on-sleeve wielding pop after some time away following the success of her 2014 single ‘HeartBeat.’
On Friday she’s set to mark the singles’ release with her ‘Light + Space: A Disco Dream’ themed party, which promises to showcase Ariana’s immersive songwriting at its height. We caught up with Ariana to chat about the tracks’ release, her move from New York to London and tomorrow’s Light + Space party in Shoreditch.
Notion:Where does your name ‘Ariana & the Rose’ come from?
When I started the band, I knew I wanted a name that was more than just my first name. I wanted the name to represent something that felt a bit bigger than just one person. Rose is a name in my family that spans across several generations from my grandmother through to my younger cousins, so it felt right to incorporate. The name is an extension of the project as a whole, which is really about being inclusive, so most literally it references the band who play with me but it also encompasses all the amazing people I get to creatively collaborate with and most importantly, the audience.
How involved are your band in writing the music?
The band came together through meeting in the studio. About a year ago I went into the studio with one producer to really hone in on a sound. I had been doing co-writes and focusing more on top lines, and this was the first time I began to start with the arrangements and grooves as opposed to the melody. Each track comes together in a different way. Overall I write and co-write tracks with other writers and collaborate with a producer, the band then comes in and plays, depending on what kind of track it is. There’s such an amazing flexibility in playing electronic music with live players because we get to explore the arrangements live and make sure their exciting for an audience.
What attracted you to dance and disco music?
Someone once described our music as “dance music you play with your fingers,” which I love since there are so many live elements in what we do. We have live drums and bass as well as pulsing synths. I set out to make music you could move to as opposed to dance music specifically. Ultimately I think music is about connecting with people and I think that style is just what I personally love, so that’s what I believe in putting out into the world, hoping people will connect with it as well.
You just released two singles ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ both of which are a little higher octane than your previous work. What inspired the tracks?
Each track was inspired by very different things. I had been working with Tom Fuller, who produced the tracks for a while and we both were in the mood to create something a bit more ethereal, which was how ‘Survival of the Fittest’ came about. That song really started with the sounds and the vibe and then the melody and lyric grew out of all of that. I could write a million songs about the hustle of working for your dreams and goals, which is what that song is about. The lyrics runs like a laundry list of how to keep moving forward.
‘Dirty Dancing came out of a break up I was going through at the time. I also happened to be obsessed with disco images and was coming into the studio everyday talking about these photos I had been collecting and it just felt like this amazing theme and visual to incorporate into a song.
Who are your electronic icons?
I have so so many. Goldfrapp would be my ultimate, I am so inspired by everything she does, her music feels so current even though it was made over 10 years ago. Her visuals are also so visceral; I love that her videos are playful and strange yet full of substance all at once. Robyn is also a huge icon for me. I just wish I wrote ‘Call Your Girlfriend’, everything about it is just perfect; the lyric the sounds, I just have it on eternal repeat.
Has your move from New York to London influenced your music in anyway?
Yes, absolutely. The reason I ended up spending more time in England is because I felt like I found collaborators who really understood the music I wanted to make. I also think there’s a musical diversity on Radio 1 that isn’t as prevalent in the states. Audiences are exposed to different genres, so the scale of what is considered ‘pop’ has a much broader spectrum and people are just really open to new artists here which is so amazing. Overall, I think London happened to be where I found amazing people to make music with and ultimately grow as an artist.
You take a lot of care in the visual element of your work as well, why is that so important to you?
Audiences take things in in so many different mediums now. Every forum is another opportunity to flush out to the world what you’re trying to create, so I feel it’s important to visually create something that enhances someone’s listening experience. All of my favourite artists, people like David Bowie and Kate Bush, they all created these amazing worlds for audiences to step into and be apart of rather than just only listen. There are so many things people can be doing with their 3:20 seconds or their Friday night, so if someone is going to take the time to watch my music video or come to my show then I want to really make that experience worth their while.
What can you tell us about your upcoming ‘Light + Space’ night?
I am so excited to finally be putting this idea and party out into the world!! I feel like I’ve had it in my head for forever and it feels a little surreal to actually see it come to fruition. The event is a melding of immersive theatre, a live music show and a party. I wanted to build a world that people could come into and lose themselves to just a really amazingly good time. All of the visuals are extensions from the Ariana and the Rose universe and we’ve created an event that plays on the cosmos and feeling like there are otherworldly things going on around you while you’re having the best time at the disco. It’s going to be a really fun night.
What inspired it?
I’m really inspired by 70’s disco New York and the club scene that was happening when artists like Madonna and Grace Jones were coming up. I work with an amazing stylist and creative director, Johnny Blue Eyes and we were talking about how the club scene in both New York and London is really dying out and how there’s no where that just has a community. We wanted to create a space that feels inclusive and opposite to the kind of aloof ethos of typical club culture. I have a background in theatre and was apart of and really influenced by the devised theatre scene in New York, so this party is a combination of a nod to the past freedom of the disco scene while looking to the future of how people are wanting to be immersed in an experience that feels unique to them.
The ‘Light + Space’ immersive party will be held in a secret location in Shoreditch on Friday 27th May.