[MUSIC: Interview] Elizabeth Rose
Ready To Go
By Laurence Rosier Staines
At the age of 21, Elizabeth Rose has already been jilted by Baz Luhrmann. “His office contacted me through triple j,” she says. “He wanted me to do a DJ set at his private house party for The Great Gatsby – but I couldn’t do it! Then they wanted me to write music for the film, in the same style as my song ‘Throw Me To The Stars’, so I got to go on the set. They didn’t pursue the song, but I turned up and saw them shoot a scene in the Gatsby house. It was so cool!”
Rose took it in her stride – anyone watching the electronic pop producer would know that it’s only the first rattle from a schedule that is going to become very in-demand over the next few months. In the half-year since her sudden rise to prominence on the back of her club-bangin’ first single ‘Never Fear’ (a collaboration with Dr Don Don), she’s played at Parklife, Harvest, Peats Ridge and Field Day, and opened for Chairlift and Snakadaktal. Still working a day job in a Sydney fashion store, she’s finding it all a bit surreal. “At Harvest, I played on one of the big stages. It was early, but I didn’t care,” Rose enthuses. “Being backstage, walking past Sly & The Family Stone, and watching Portishead… It was such a good vibe.
“But Chairlift was definitely my favourite support slot,” she continues. “I’ve been a big fan for a couple of years now, and when I heard they were touring I really wanted to do it, and my booking agent made it happen somehow! You always think big bands are snobby and don’t really want anything to do with the supports, but they were so sweet and down-to-earth … and they like my music! They Tweeted back at me when I announced my headline tour.” While equally down-to-earth, Rose seems positively giddy, and is clearly ready to make the most of her increasing renown.
Rose’s career was in many ways kickstarted by triple j, who sunk their talons into her propulsive, hook-laden and eclectic sound the moment that they heard it. “I uploaded the demo ‘Electric Wind’ to Unearthed, and it somehow got a whole lot of attention, so I got excited and thought, ‘Hey, I could do some more!’ They played it on-air, I uploaded more demos, got reviews from the presenters… Yeah, a lot of good things have come to me through triple j Unearthed.” This first national tour began with Adelaide and Melbourne a few weeks back, and quickly got on track – after an inauspicious opening. “Adelaide was a bit strange, I’m not gonna lie,” she confesses. “I’ve been battling a cold for the last week and there wasn’t that good of a turnout at Adelaide … but Melbourne was good. There were people there who had seen me at the Chairlift support show, and it was so great to play again to some of the same people.”
Prior to recording her first few tracks on Ableton, Rose’s musical endeavours followed the experimental zigzag that still characterises her music. “As a kid I’d write little pop tunes on the keyboard. Quite lame. But I continued it throughout primary school and high school, played drums in a jazz band, then got onto the acoustic guitar in high school, did some gigs – got over that,” she laughs. “But I used to record myself in Garageband in high school, and that’s how I got into recording and mixing.”
These days, she finds it hard to pin down any particular influences; instead, her sound is a mélange of everything that interests her. “I do like to go for an alternative melody or lyric though,” she tells me, “something a bit unique. I listen to a lot of Björk and The Knife, and I’m obsessed with Simian Mobile Disco’s new album [Unpatterns], to give you an idea.” The irresistible vocal sample in ‘Ready’ – Rose’s high-octane new single – typifies the adventurousness of her approach. And if it seems oddly familiar, try listening to it backwards: “It’s me singing the chorus hook of ‘Lollipop’ by The Claudettes, which I reversed, pitched down and looped. When I first wrote it I used the original sample, but it was too risky to use that, so I sang it myself and sampled my own voice.”
In addition to the national tour, and plans to release her debut EP this year, she has also been busy remixing the work of others. “I really liked doing the ‘Foreign Language’ remix [for Flight Facilities],” she says. “I did it for fun, for one of the Bang Gang guys’ friends, and I sent it back to the guy and he forwarded it to the boys and they loved it! I didn’t expect it to be released. There was no pressure around that, so I tried to take it as far as I could.” As spare time inevitably becomes rarer in the next few months, which artists would she like to work with in the near future? “I’ve been speaking to Wally [De Backer, aka Gotye], and we might do a collaboration at some point. I’d really like that to happen. But in terms of less realistic… I’ve actually emailed every possible email address connected to Simian Mobile Disco,” she laughs. “They haven’t replied.”
What: ‘Ready’ is out now
Where: The Standard
When: Friday June 8