(photo: Greg Edwards)
The first time I heard Rose Droll was on Instagram. When I saw my friend Valerie’s post, I stopped dead in my tracks. I only heard a few seconds of music, but it left an oversized impression. Last month, I had the chance to see Rose perform a set of new material at Amnesia along with her friends Travis Vick and Taylor Vick of Boy Scouts.
It’s hard to express the feeling of hearing music that simultaneously sounds like you’ve known it forever and is completely new. I remember the chills I felt when I saw Arcade Fire at their first NYC show at Arlene’s Grocery and when I saw an awkward Sufjan Stevens celebrate the release of his album Michigan at the Knitting Factory. Some music, no matter the decibel, shakes the room, vibrates the body, and stirs the soul. I felt the same thing seeing Rose perform to an intimate crowd on Valencia Street.
Rose, a California native who has called San Francisco home for several years, has spent the past decade recording beautifully crafted songs at her home but is only now emerging as a live performer. The power of Rose’s talent lies not only in her vocals but also in her songwriting itself. Rose told me it’s her appreciation of stories and fascination with everyday experiences that feed her seemingly unending flow of music. She explained, “I tend to write about whatever has the most meaning [for me], whether that has to do with religion or politics. . .but what really interests me the most is the human condition in all facets. I think it’s fascinating how layered people are, the conscious and subconscious, and just the connections and relationships between people, there's a lot to be said about that.” Rose also finds inspiration in the music she listens to. “I really like [David] Bazan and people who are really saying something meaningful in their music, even if it doesn't have lyrics. [Bands] like Sigur Rós have really meaningful, serious melodies."
Rose recently began to share a captivating EP series of previously unreleased home recordings available on a pay-what-you-want model on Bandcamp. For Rose, it’s about clearing out some of her musical memories to create space to make and release brand-new music. To that end, Rose has just released “A Little Blue,” a new song, recorded over the summer. You may have guessed by the title that this song dives into more somber territory, a chronicle of simple wishes for better feeling and the desire for a day with a bit more brightness. The track — accompanied by a playful, home movie–styled music video by Arjan Brandsma, captured while the two were on a road trip to Portland together in January 2016 — is punctuated by a haunting guitar line, the occasional drive of percussion, and Rose’s ethereal, emotionally resonant musical storytelling. Watch the video, which premiered on SF Weekly, below.
Rose will be playing Brick + Mortar on May 4 and is planning to record her debut EP later this year. In the meantime, there’s more of Rose’s music to discover on her Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and in her recent collaborations with Spooky Mansion — on the band’s new EP, Rose slays on standout track “You’re the Wave.” Take a listen here.
And if I see you at her show, do let me know if those musical chills overtake you too.Rose Droll