WORDS HUGO FERNANDES - IMAGES COURTESY OF RODES ROLLINS AT ALLEN ROAD MUSIC
Rodes Rollins is the American singer-songwriter whose western-infused sound will make you trip back all the way to a Clint Eastwood movie while keeping your heart feeling fresh and warm. Born in Boulder, Colorado, Rodes is currently based in Brooklyn, NY and from her home, she draws inspiration from experiences and emotions felt more intensively in her subconscious, yet, when these are translated into lyrics and sounds, you can't deny that her "cowgirl poetry" - as she describes - has the power to transcend time and space.
Rodes released her debut EP "Young Adult" in early 2017 and since then, it has been a mighty good journey for the young creative. After the release of her upbeat and electrifying track, 'Boom Pow', Rodes is ready to share with the world two more dazzling singles as part of her current project, 'Velvet A/B Side'. 'Mystery Man' which is soaked in her "cowgirl poetry" style while being combined with a fresh Latin vibe, and we might add, a combination that is just perfection and effortlessly engaging; and the more laid-back "let's fall in love with" track for 'Wrong Turn' which is released officially today (Friday 19th). 'Velvet A/B Side' is simply unique and captivating in all its form and gives you a perfect sense of who Rodes Rollins is a creative venturing in the wild landscapes of the music industry.
Ahead of the release of 'Wrong Turns' we had the immense pleasure and privilege of talking candidly with Rodes about her creative beginnings, her biggest influences, and her "cowgirl poetry" style.
Hugo Fernandes: Let's go back in time a little bit; can you tell us a bit about where you are from and how it was growing up there? Rodes Rollins: I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. It's a pretty idyllic place to grow up; there are beautiful mountains steps away and the climate is perfect. By the time I was 17, however, I knew I needed to get out of "idyllic" and see something new. So I packed up my bags and moved to New York.
H.F: What is the dynamic between you and your family? Are you close? R.R: I am super close with my family, we talk to each other every day and my one and only sister currently lives about 15 minutes away from me in Brooklyn.
H.F: Is she into music as well? R.R: Yes. She is also a singer, so between the two of us, we have a large musical community around us in Brooklyn. My parents are big supporters of arts and music, but we joke that my sister and I inherited a deeply recessive musical gene.
H.F: And when would you say you realised that music was your calling? R.R: I've been writing and recording songs since I was 8 years old. I've known for a long time that music was something that made me feel special and came very naturally to me. It's almost always been a part of my identity.
H.F: While growing up, what or who would you say where your biggest influences when approaching music? R.R: I think movies were my biggest inspirations. I would write songs about stories that you see in the movies like love, heartbreak, etc. I didn't have many life experiences of my own to drawn on yet when I was just 8 so I looked at other peoples' stories.
H.F: Your music style is just remarkable; there is this harmonious blend of old-school western with a contemporary freshness. What would you attribute that to? R.R: Thank you so much! I'm very inspired by looking to the west when I write. So the stories themselves are very much influenced by cowboys and desserts and mountains. I feel like this is at the heart of it for me. The contemporary stuff comes later.
H.F: Would you say that is the core of music for you? R.R: Yes. The nostalgic story is the most important part of making a song for me.
H.F: What would you say tends to inspire you the most when creating your music? R.R: I truly have no idea. It's all from the subconscious with me. This is why I try to expose myself to lots of different music and stories because that will somehow get stored in my brain and appear through my own imagination and creation once again.
H.F: How has it been for you since the release of your debut album 'Young Adult' last year? R.R: It's been both magical and tumultuous.
H.F: Oh really? Why is that? R.R: I think releasing a new project for the first time is such an exciting thing but you have to work past the excitement of being the new kid in town. And then you have to keep your head down a lot to avoid messing too much with your fragile ego. The phase I've found myself in lately is attempting to focus purely on creating music for the sake of its creation and not getting too caught up in the notion of "what is everyone expecting Rodes Rollins to do?"
H.F: And has the way you create and produce your music changed in any way since? R.R: I've continued to grow and push my limits in song-writing. My boyfriend, Ron, is an incredible jazz musician and composer who has taught me loads about how to push my sound.
H.F: Your single 'Mystery Man' is absolutely hypnotising and has that power to remove us from where we are into a new dimension. What's the story and process behind it? R.R: Thank you so very much! I'm glad it had that effect. I actually first wrote 'Mystery Man' as a short story. I then highlighted the lines I thought were interesting and musical sounding and converted it into a song. That was the first and only time I've ever written a song that way, but I think it was an interesting approach and allowed me to write something more anecdotal in nature. I definitely plan to try it again!
H.F: Is 'Velvet A/B Side' just a little taster of what is to come from Rodes Rollins? Can you tell us a bit about it? R.R: Velvet is a little Autumn teaser; yes! I am heading back in the studio in the coming weeks to make the next larger project, which will be coming out in the Spring. Like Young Adult, this new project is full of my personal stories. Not as a young girl, but as a woman trying to navigate this funny thing we call "the music industry".
H.F: That sounds so exciting. We can't wait to hear that. What is your creative process like? Where do you find yourself most creative? R.R: There is no rhyme or reason to it. If the moment strikes I'm ready to write a song. When I write a good song, it usually doesn't take me too long at all. I also usually try to write the full thing in one sitting. I was told as a young girl that these songs that just flow out are called "angel songs".
H.F: I guess you are into movies, right? Which ones would be your top three all-timers? R.R: I am! Although I could probably never answer this question. I will say though that anything Quentin Tarantino...I LOVE!
H.F: What should we be looking out for from Rodes Rollins in the months to come? R.R: I'm releasing a special project in a few months of a personal collection of my favourite demos; these are songs that have literally been handcrafted in my bedroom. I'm looking forward to sharing this very personal side of my music and I hope it helps to add to the story.
H.F: We just can't wait to hear this new special collection. Okay; let's do a quick-fire round.
H.F: The best place in the world: R.R: My home.
H.F: Something you can't live without: R.R: My voice.
H.F: Something you could totally live without: R.R: Instagram.
H.F: Complete the sentence: Music is... R.R: Essential.
H.F: Two music or film personalities (dead or alive) you'd like to dine with:
R.R: Lee Hazlewood & Ennio Morricone.
H.F: Complete the sentence: The best thing to do on a rainy day is...
R.R: Be curled up by a fire with hot apple cider in hand.
H.F: Favourite f-word: R.R: Fickle.
Listen to 'Mystery Man' and 'Wrong Turns' for Velvet A/B Side by Rodes Rollins
F WORD EXTRA: RODES' PLAYLIST
We've asked the incomparable Rodes Rollins to put together her very own PlayList with five of her top tracks of all times so we can enjoy what she enjoys and feel new and exciting things as we listen to them. Here it goes!
Twain - 'Are We In Heaven?'
Rodrigo Amarante - 'Irene'
Timber Timbre - ' Hot Dreams'
Andy Shauf - 'The Magician'