We at Soundfiction got the chance to talk with acoustic singer-songwriter Roszo about his new EP, ‘Give It All’, his background in music and dancing plus what’s next for the him in 2017. Check out his EP on Spotify and our interview with him below.
From what I understand, you were drawn to music at a young age. Can you give us details about what type of impact music and other arts had on you while growing up?
I was definitely drawn to the creative arts at a young age. As a little kid I loved to do it all: singing, drawing, dancing, acting, writing. Those activities helped me feel connected to my inner self and to the world around me. With these connections, art became my tool of communication even at an early age.
Growing up, what were some of your biggest influences on music? What are some of your current influences?
The earliest thing I can recall listening to was a musical project called “Era” while I was still living in Ukraine. My mother had a small tape player and I was particularly fond of this group. “Era” was a 90‘s blend of New-Age music that combined Gregorian chant with rock and electronic music. When I moved to Minnesota at age 7, I was introduced to The Beatles. I like to say that they planted the seeds of my songwriting journey. Currently, my favorite influencers are Hozier, Bishop Briggs, Lana del Rey, Antony and the Johnsons, and Jeff Buckley.
For a lot of people, there is always that “Ah-ha” moment, when you realize that you’ve found something that gives you meaning or perhaps something that you want to do with your life. Was there ever a moment like that for you when you realized you wanted to be a part of the music industry?
My “Ah-ha” moment wasn’t really a single incidence, but rather a series of events that solidified my desire to focus on music. When I first started to perform several years ago, I was in a very vulnerable place, unsure of who I was and what I wanted. I would go to open mic sessions around the Cities and on a few memorable occasions, some listeners would come up to me afterwards and tell me that they liked my music. Or that they had one of my songs playing in their head the next day. All of which seem to give me meaning and purpose. It was this kind of positive reinforcement over a couple years that led me to commit to music as my career.
Has there ever been a point where you felt you were at a “dead end” with your creativity in music? If so, how did you get passed it?
When I was in college, I was going through the motions of life, trying to recover from the loss of my mother, feeling isolated and disconnected from the world. Music was the one thing in which I found solace, and so I would write songs for no one other than myself. Creatively, they were not there yet. I was not prepared to write about myself or my experiences, and those songs reflected that sense of vulnerability. Time and the support of friends helped me get passed all of that.
On your website you also state that you are a dancer. Can you tell us more about how you discovered your act for dancing? Would you say that your dancing has an influence on your music, or vice-versa?
I started to dance at age 9 after joining an ethnic Ukrainian dance group. At first, I felt obligated to join. But as I improved, I really enjoyed it, and I danced with them for more than 10 years. While I am no longer part of that troupe, it has had a lasting impact on my songwriting and performance. I have found that I am a kinesthetic learner, and when I have trouble coming up with music or performing, I focus on the actions of strumming the guitar, swaying to an internal beat, or feeling the vibrations in my throat. I still find it amazing how often it pulls me back together.
You recently released a music video for your track “Mystery.” What was the creation process of the video was like?
From the onset, I had imagined it simply as performance video, but with the help of a close friend, we were able to give it greater dimension through the use of interesting backdrops, silhouettes, and creative editing. The actual filming took only a few hours, which was surprising to me considering that it was my first attempt at a video shoot. The smoothness of the process is largely attributed to my friend’s planning and organization prior to ever stepping foot into the studio. I feel that the final product really captured the buildup of intensity that exists within the song and is a great first video to have in my collection.
You also just released your EP Give It All. What were your thoughts and feelings when you released your first EP?
The release of my debut EP left me with mixed feelings of excitement and relief. I sat on the finished product for a number of months as I completed the other elements needed in preparation for the release. I am really excited to finally be able to share my music with the world and for the work I put into it to be visible. As an artist, I can be a perfectionist sometimes and this process allowed me to let it all go. The final product is what it is meant to be. It has had a kind of spiritual or calming effect on me, now that it is all done.
Where did you draw inspiration from while writing the EP?
At the time, I was really into a local alternative radio station that helped me make stylistic decisions about how to sonically tie together very different songs. Beyond production decisions though, I believe when I was writing songs for the EP that I started to delve deeper into my own psyche as a point of inspiration. This is a writing process that I have continued to build upon this past year. Of all the songs on the EP, “Give It All” was the game changer; it pushed me to explore new territories and allowed for a range of experimentation.
Can you tell us about the recording process of Give It All? What was it like working with Will Van De Crommert?
Will Van De Crommert is a great guy and an awesome producer / composer who really goes out of his way to help the artist and make them feel comfortable. After workshopping each song, he really understood where I was trying to go and what I wanted to say. The entire recording process took about 3 months. This was a good thing, as it allowed us time to focus on each song for an extended block of time. This being my first time album, there was a bit of a learning curve, and Will helped me to get through it all. With each new song, the process became exponentially faster and smoother.
In January, you posted that you were working on some new material for your first full length LP. Can you tell us a little more about it?
I am super excited about my upcoming LP and I am already in production planning with my team. I feel like this new collection better grounds me with a clearer style. I imagine “Give It All” as dipping toes in the water, and the LP as jumping into the deep end of the pool. I anticipate a giant splash! The LP will highlight my on-going evolution as an artist and solidify my creative direction. Imagine a blend between acoustic rock and soul.
Aside from writing new material, do you have any other near-future plans for your music career?
Besides working on the LP, I am now submitting music for sync licensing. I am also focused on building a following on Spotify, and of course, I continue to perform locally. Ultimately, I would like to work with a music company or with a music management team.