Yesterday, Ariana DiLorenzo, better known for her musical project Ariana and the Rose, released Retrograde. The EP was helmed by single “Supercool,” a sheen indie pop track accompanied by a chic video featuring roller-skating club Moxie Girls. The video conveys every single visual pre-occupation DiLorenzo has: inspired by visual artists and her acting background, she seeks to create worlds through her music, always keeping the visual in mind to accompany the glitzy sonic landscapes she crafts.
We sat down with her on the last night of SXSW, minutes before her last showcase, to talk about her upcoming plans for a light and sound disco revival party, the aesthetic of the “Supercool” video, and the insanity of her first time at the festival.
ARIANA AND THE ROSE INTERVIEW
E.R. (HIGHLARK): Tell me about the lifestyle of the musician as you’ve lived it.
ARIANA AND THE ROSE: I think it’s about being holistic and seeing a vision from start to finish. As I write a song, I can see the visuals and what that would start to look like. Then once you do the visuals, you see how that would translate to a live show, and then you do a live show and you get inspiration for new songs. It’s like one thing leads to another leads to another and another; you’re on playing a song onstage, which is a version of the video which is a version of the songs you made, which is a version of the shows you played, you know? It’s kind of like a cyclical thing. I think if you’re in a good zone and you’re doing it well, that’s what happens. I saw Future Islands at the Pandora stage here, and I feel as a band they do that so well.
E.R.: They’re huge.
ARIANA: He looks like the music, which, if you see their videos… I just love them.
E.R.: It’s interesting that you focus so much on visuals, because the first Ariana and the Rose-related experience I remember having was seeing the “Supercool” video and admiring the red bomber jacket you wore.
ARIANA: Yay! I think I just generally like visuals; I like visual artists.
E.R.: Who’s your favorite?
ARIANA: A lot of the stuff I do is pulled from James Turrell. If you’ve seen the “Hotline Bling” video, you’ve seen James Turrell [Laugh]. He started this light and space movement of art and light installations in the 70s, and I just love the whole world of it. There’s this crazy exhibit at LACMA where you walk in the room and it’s all this crazy light, and it’s just a cool experience.
E.R.: How did you craft the aesthetic of the video?
When I was making that video, I wanted to represent women in a way that wasn’t in any way a stereotype or a cliché, and wasn’t making them video girls. That was hard because I felt like no matter what I was doing, I was turning them into video girls. Whether they looked pretty or I was pushing against a stereotype, it was like everything was a statement. Then I saw this video of The Moxi Girls skating, and I was like “that has to be the girls, they have to be in it.”
I wanted women that looked powerful and strong and in their element, women who were good at one specific thing. I think oftentimes when you try to tell a very specific story, it becomes a stake in the ground for a much larger statement rather than trying to whitewash a large statement of female empowerment or something like that. I just wanted to represent these kind of incredible women on skates, these kinds of old gymnasts in skate parks going around New York City. I’m from New York and haven’t done a video there yet, and I thought it was about time we represent the city.
E.R.: I was watching your video and remembering late night adventures in Brooklyn.
ARIANA: Yeah, I mean, I think that amazing night you have when you go out and it’s like “we started at this place, and now we’re at this place, and now we’re in a lockout at 2 AM with these strangers that we met at this bar” and, you know, I wanted the video to have that kind of energy to it. The main lyric , which is “She’s super super cool,” I think that’s the main thing you get from the song, so I felt I had to find a way to embody that. I tried to find all these things that I think represented that amazing feeling, and New York is one of them, those girls are one of them. I think roller-skating in general is a pretty feel good thing to look at!
E.R.: All of that, just the whole aesthetic is super cool… no pun intended.
ARIANA: [Laugh] Now that the song is named that, it ruins the word. I can never use it in a normal way.
E.R.: Is this your first SXSW?
ARIANA: It is! I’ve never been to Austin either, this is my first time in Austin. This is my last showcase.
E.R.: How are you feeling at the end of the whole experience?
ARIANA: Good, it’s been really fun. It’s been a crazy week but it’s really fun. I can’t believe we’ve been here almost a week.
E.R.: I’m so exhausted.
ARIANA: I’m really tired too, but it was nice because I got to see some good music and play and do promo. I got to see some really cool bands.
ARIANA: I saw Lana, she was amazing. I saw Flint Eastwood, who was pretty unreal; she went apeshit on people, like whipping her hair. I saw Young M.A; that girl has a lot of amazing things to say. I saw Tei Shi; her voice is so cool. I missed Lil Yachty; I couldn’t stay up, which makes me sound lame, but went on like at 1 AM.
E.R.: What’s next for you after this? Are you already fermenting any new projects?
ARIANA: I’m putting out an EP March 24 called Retrograde, I’m playing a show in New York on March 21. I’m working on a project called Light + Space, which is an immersive event that I created in London. We did the first one with Red Bull, and we’re gonna do some more of them in the fall. It’s a party that combines live music and immersive theater, so the whole thing is based off of the 80s disco scene and recreating Danceteria and Paradise Garage when Madonna was coming up, but instead of doing it as a throwback, it’s a futuristic disco.
E.R.: You’re just dipping your toes everywhere.
ARIANA: [Laugh] Yeah, I guess so. Like you said, I’m obsessed with visuals and making a world for people. I just wanna be able to do that as much as I can through music, and making an event just seemed like the most expansive way to let people step inside of that.