Meet Ro, the Melbourne musician mixing indie-pop and poetry
Her second single, F**ked Up Over You, introduces us to a rising musician with a Jack River-esque charm you'll love.
Header photo by Michelle Pitiris.
With the rise of Jack River, Angie McMahon, Didirri, Tia Gostelow and more over the last 18 months, Australia's having a moment when it comes to poetic indie-pop. Sugar Mountain, Jack River's touching debut album dedicated to her late sister, is one release in particular that rode this wave with effortless ease, uniting Holly Rankin's glitzy, guitar-backed pop with heartful lyricism and emotive anecdotes which set it up nicely as one of the year's best local releases thus far. Ro, a rising Melbourne-via-Margaret River musician, is doing something similar but in her way, with her latest single in particular - F**ked Up Over You - introducing us to a musician that unites breezy guitar with incredible lyrical poetry, showcasing her story-telling side while also cementing her status as a kick-ass musician on the rise. "F**kd Up Over You is about moving on. It’s a sort of mantra about the underrated strength in nonchalance, especially after the rekindling of a destructive romance," she says on the single, which brings together her versatile vocal with a guitar-driven instrumental that is both dreamy and relaxed. "It’s also about self-affirmation and self-respect after someone has underestimated you. When people take you for granted, sometimes the best thing is to foot down and declare that you’re strong and unfazed; and not the damaged damsel anymore."
Arriving following a break-out performance at this year's BIGSOUND, it's the perfect entry point into a musician who, like the easily-comparable Jack River before her, could easily become one of the country's most celebrated songwriters when her debut album rolls around - whenever that may be. Jump on the train early and get to know Ro a little better below:
Tell us about yourself?
I’m friendly but introverted. My favourite colour is orange. I come from the rural south-west of WA, where I grew up in a folk family band. Now I’m based in Melbourne, writing and playing, experimenting with my own sound. My current overarching goal in life is to be a sponge forever. I never want to feel like I can’t soak up information or inspiration. Vive la sponges.
What’s the vibe music-wise?
My sound is art pop, indie, a bit of garage. It’s an exciting time of exploring new sounds with a bunch of random vintage / current influences. I grew up with Joni Mitchell but I currently listen to bands like St Vincent, DMA’s, Lorde. I like to have hooky accessible indie pop instrumentation, but I keep it very lyric-centric. I play a custom electric that my father made. We designed it together, it looks like the guitar an elf princess might own if she existed. I play it with a no-frills deadpan agreeableness. I’m no elf princess but I do try.
What are your production and writing processes like?
I write a lot on public transport. Places of transit are great for writing. I get off on that feeling of displacement while you’re moving past lots of different scenes. The lyrics and melody come simultaneously. Then I take the half-baked songs to my band, or to my awesome producer Dave Hammer. Each song is a story that I tell to be relatable, almost conversational. But it’s phrased in an offbeat poetic statement. I like stating the obvious, saying what I think is in people’s heads. But I dart around the topic, doing zigzags instead of straight lines. I tend to have very word playish lyrics. Like a half-told or implied joke. I find it fun to combine that delivery with the more serious sentiments of the songs.
Can you tell us about your new single, F**ked Up Over You?
I wrote this song in bed after dreaming about a troublesome old flame. I woke up remembering the pain I once felt. Such a bittersweet exhilaration when I realised how confident and steady I now feel. The theme of the song is moving on. It’s a declaration that you no longer care about something or someone that hurt you. Especially if they think that you’re still under their power. It’s a laid-back tune with attitude, growly electric guitar and stripped back beats. There’s a lot of casual ‘I don’t give a fuck’ power that builds up towards the end.
Any shows coming up?
I’m playing Civic Sounds Laneway Festival on November 18th, it’s all day event at Cherry Bar. The lineup includes Nai Palm, Regurgitator and Bec Sandridge, so I’m super keen.
What’s the rest of the year have in store for you?
I’ll be recording another single and playing a few gigs between now and January. Also planning my own east coast tour for early next year. As I’m writing this we’re actually shooting the kick-ass music video for F**ked Up Over You. We’re finishing it today at Geelong Royal Show. I’m writing this on a Ferris wheel. Brb gonna go on another ride.
Where can we find more of your music?
There’s a couple of tracks on Unearthed, Spotify, Apple Music. But if you follow my Insta / subscribe to my mailing list you’ll also get to read snippets of my fictional memoir. I’m starting a creative writing project alongside the music endeavours. I’m gonna interweave the two so they feed into each other.
Follow Ro: FACEBOOK