At first glance, synth-pop artist Ariana and the Rose is otherworldly. Her discography presents as such, bearing names like Retrograde and now, for her forthcoming EP: Constellations - Phase 1. In her visuals, she's known to don bright, punchy outfits and her face shimmers with glitter and rhinestones. But with the first single off of the upcoming July 26 release, "You Were Never My Boyfriend," the singer-songwriter, née Ariana DiLorenzo, feels somehow pulled back down to Earth, telling a story of undefined love that many today are all too familiar with.
This is the kaleidoscope that is DiLorenzo — she's honest and can be stripped bare one moment, but isn't afraid to go big, to experiment, and feel glam in the other. And just as she is a spectrum herself, so are the four songs that make up Constellations - Phase 1, one of which will be released each month leading up to July. They run the gamut of modern relationships, from the most precious, intimate moments to those that leave us aching. Ariana and the Rose is making music that she loves, with people she loves, that inspires and speaks to her — and hopes that it can do the same for all who listen.
Following the release of her lead single, the singer opened up to EARMILK about her new music, inspirations, the magic of space, and how she aims to recreate it for her fans.
EARMILK: What was the inspiration for "You Were Never My Boyfriend"?
Ariana and the Rose: "I just felt like it was an epidemic that was happening. I was seeing somebody and we were going back and forth for a year over this sort of 'we are, we aren't' kind of thing. But it wasn't even the classic high school thing where you break up and you get back together. That idea was so 2000, right? This is a whole new thing — where you never even officially go through the motions of breaking up in the hallway.
Funny enough, a lot of times, especially when you're a female artist, your co-writers are guys. It's very rare that I'm in a room with a female producer and another female writer. So you're sitting here writing this song called 'You Were Never My Boyfriend' with a dude. So it took me a minute to find the right co-writer. But I really wanted to write the song with someone else, because really interesting checks and balances happen when you write music with other people, so I'm so glad I ended up writing with the amazing Ollie Green and Stuart Crichton."
EM: What was the initial iteration like?
"It wasn't bad. I just remember listening back and saying, 'no, this isn't it.' The instrumentation and the song that I had written — it had no wink in it. It was totally serious. So it just took me a couple times to figure it out, but we sort of struck a cool balance with the way that it ended up, and I loved it. It's really, really low-fi — the vocal on the finished track is the demo vocal. But I felt really adamant about how it should be, because if you're going to put a song called 'You Were Never My Boyfriend' out, you better make sure that you're clear about what you're talking about and that you stand behind it."
EM: Why did you want this to be the lead single?
"I haven't put out an EP since 2017, and I just wanted to come out the gate with a statement. It's very much a reflection — not even necessarily where I am in my life, because that was definitely a while ago — of who I am, I think, in my life right now. I really feel like I have found the way in which I like to say things, and I feel like I can speak my mind now, and I'm not as afraid to do that. So the song felt like a musical way of conveying that."
Em: What changed?
"I really just went to the people that make the process really, really fun. And that changed everything.. Because there's such positivity and it's made with so many people having so much support for everything, that when you put it out into the world, of course, you want things to be successful, but there's just the pride in the fact that you made something with people you care about."
The EP itself is really eclectic. And I've definitely gotten that feedback. That word used to really scare me as an artist, because you think you wanna have a defined sound. And I realized that you can still have a certain sound and make things that feel eclectic. So I'm excited that that's kind of where the music is sitting."
EM: You have a kind of retro feel with a modern spin in your aesthetic and music. What kind of inspirations do you draw on?
"I love Robyn and Amanda Blank, and people like Imogen Heap, who use electronic music in a vulnerable way, which I think is really cool. The retro feel is something that comes from just loving '80s-style music. But I'm not looking to sound like a throwback. And there's a lot of bands that do that in a really amazing way. There's a band called The Midnight, which has the most amazing kind of throwback sound that still feels futuristic. But like M83 — the way that band has this dreamscape music, this very cinematic kind of lush soundscape. Those were all the things that have influenced me.
But when someone would want to use your style to explain something else, that's how you know you've made something that has its own vibe. I've kind of been trying to do that forever — maybe unsuccessfully in the beginning, but hopefully I'm starting to get it right."
EM: Speaking of influences, you have a cover on your EP of *NSYNC's "Bye, Bye, Bye." Pop music (and boy/girl band music) used to not be seen as worthy of critical analysis, but now is being taken more seriously. What is your take?
"People don't understand how much power is in pop fandom. Especially now, because of the way that things have changed, more female musicians are speaking up and banding together. I mean joke's on [those who doubt young people and pop fandom]. Ariana Grande's putting a voting booth at her concerts, for example, and mobilizing an entire age group. That's an amazing thing to do. When you're a teen, you look up to the pop stars that you love. And if those cultural figures are to finally use their voice to make a difference, that's tapping into a power that I really feel is underestimated and is an unbelievable force."
EM: And most of those people are underestimated because they're young women.
"Absolutely. I think that has fed into this notion that female pop artists shouldn't be respected, which is changing now. But for a very, very long time people really wrote you off when you, as a female artist, would say, 'I make pop music.' You had to prove yourself. It's hard for women across all genres, certainly, but pop especially. This idea that you were trivialized, which is crazy. There's so much integrity in making pop music."
EM: The EP is called Constellations - Phase 1 and you have a space theme running through your work. What is the significance of space to you?
"I think that there's just something really hopeful about space. We don't know that much about it, really. But more than anything, I think that when you go to live concerts, there's this sense of magic. You're screaming at the top of your lungs, and you're dancing. And there's this unifying quality to music and to live performance. I think that that's one of the closest experiences to real-world magic that we have. I'm just always looking to create an experience for people that are listening to my music, or watching the music video, or coming to a show. So they feel like they get to step outside of their world for a second and lose themselves in something else."
EM: And now you have an immersive show, "light + space."
"There's just something about it — I've seen people at the shows. They come dressed up, and we have glitter bars at our shows, and people put glitter on their faces. And I see people change. I literally am on stage and I watch somebody go from carrying whatever the weight of their day was, and then literally watching either them choosing to set it down or someone dancing near them is kicking that weight off of them. It's not something that is frivolous. Especially with everything going on in the world today, I think it's important to make those spaces for people."
EM: How does it feel to see that happening at your show?
"It's the best feeling. Being a musician is such a selfish endeavor, you know? You're constantly saying, 'listen to my song, come to my show.' But I finally figured out how to do something where I get to share my music, but it's not about me. It's about a community. It's about something bigger than you. You get to be a sort of portal for people. And that is what I fell in love with, which I really tried to bring into the Constellations EP and everything around it."
Ariana and the Rose is currently working on new music (a Phase 2), and is prepping for light + space, which will take place at Brooklyn's 3 Dollar Bill. She will also appear at Warped Tour 25th anniversary shows and Sacramento Pride later this year.