What the world needs more of is Frankie Rose, and it needs her immediately. Its inhabitants haven’t heard utterly authentic music that affects every aspect of one’s being until they’ve listened to her ambrosial and cinematic, yet sensible melodies. Despite the nonexistent mainstream merits, Rose exhibits more proficiency than the word actually represents; as a key contributor to Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and more recently, Beverly, Rose set herself apart since she began pursuing it, proving that she could be more than just a part of a whole, from a drummer to a guitarist to a lead singer and front-woman extraordinaire. With three solo albums released to date, in addition to her impressive and diverse background, why Rose hasn’t been on the cover of Rolling Stone or at least some reputable indie publication is as mind-boggling as the lack of credit received that she ultimately deserves. However, Rose, much like the actual flower, is sacred, and such sacrosanctity should be preserved just as much as exposed. For Rose, being exposed to music at a young age was the gateway to her destiny.
“I’ve always been musical,” she admits. “My dad played guitar, and I used to sing along to movie musicals when I was tiny, tiny, tiny, so I knew I always wanted to sing and play instruments. I think around middle school, I tried to start a band with my friends, but it didn’t quite work out; we just didn’t get it together. I really didn’t start playing music in the way that I do now until my early twenties, and it was punk, meaning [having] the freedom to be able to fuck up and just not know what you’re doing, but still have people accept you, and that was what I did for a really long time.”
Despite Rose’s longevity and commitment, there’s still a sense of cloud nine lingering.
“I never thought it’d be a career,” she says. “I still don’t really think it’s a career; I think it’s great that I’ve been able to do it for a while and sustain my life. I don’t know if it’s really a career for anyone—a few people—Bono, maybe. I’m really grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had for sure, and I never thought I would get to do any of the things I get to do, like go on tour. I think it’s only like, one percent of bands who actually get to do that, so it’s been good.”
One of the most compelling facets Rose offers beyond her music is her genuine modesty, particularly the height it reaches, despite her own equally peaking ascension in the industry. Utterly refreshing and radiating amongst the waterlogged, ego-clogged artist soundscapes, she is a source of hope when it’s needed most, even if she has claimed that she’s cool, but also “deeply uncool.” And while it may not seem as readily obvious to others, Rose has another association with her posted under the bios on every one of her social media platforms that weighs in on coolness, too, and that is the phrase “chaotic neutral,” or an alignment affiliated with the fantasy, role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Associated with individualism, free-spiritedness and following one’s heart, as well as eschewing rules and traditions, disliking others’ suffering and having an unpredictable or muddled method in achieving goals, Rose claims, “It’s always been my alignment of choice.”
One could argue that this unveiling just makes her all the more cooler…but that’s a different story for a different day. What’s important to note, though, is that even with her largely noticeable skill-level, she still treats herself as an amateur.
“It’s funny, because I feel like there are people who are musicians—like, they are really great at playing their instruments; they are ‘a drummer,’ or they are ‘a violinist,’ or they play the saxophone—I don’t really think that I’ve ever learned to play anything properly,” she confesses. “I’m not a good guitar player. I think there was a moment where I was ‘a drummer,’ when I was with Crystal Stilts, where I was really working every day, but if you had to ask me what my strongpoint is, it’s just knowing what I think sounds good on a recording. I started as a drummer, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m a musician in the proper sense of the word.”
When one is graced with Rose’s material, though, it becomes readily apparent that there is, in fact, true craftsmanship and distinction not only in instrumentation, but structure, as well. There are certainly “catchy” songs, but then there are Rose’s, which arrestingly ring and radiate instantaneously. Lyrically simple, yet contextually complex and still imagistic, there’s also a gritty honesty present, which coincides much with Rose’s character and the acumen of really knowing herself. After exerting herself continuously for years in recording and performing, she recognized the need to slow down and put her music on pause, even with her rising reputation. That pause, however, resulted in an inertia of its own, specifically a move cross-country from New York to Los Angeles over the summer.
“New York is really changing right now and in this way that I was not liking very much,” Rose admits. “I was ready for sunshine; I was ready for a big place to work in. My family is also from the West Coast; essentially, it was like coming home for me. I think I needed and continue to need right now this mental space from other human beings in a way—because in New York, you’re just right on top of one other, and it’s something that really started bothering me. And also just the loudness of that city started getting to me, like the subway breaks and the horn-honking. I was like, ‘I’ve gotta get out of here!’ I was there for almost a decade, but there were just sort of all signs pointing to go back to LA, and it’s been great.”
Since her relocation, Rose has been working with a production company called Grinning Man Media Group and given free rein to make music for whatever projects ensue.
“We’re small, but we’re going to be making a couple feature movies here soon,” Rose reveals. “Basically, I’m allowed to pick my role as far as whether I want to music supervise or actually make the music, and that’s sort of a dream job for me; you can still make music, but on your terms.”
Nonetheless, Rose is continuing to adjust.
“LA is notoriously tricky—it’s hard there—and I don’t know why it is,” she says. “I feel like people from LA would challenge me on this, but New York is—you’re all just jammed there together—you don’t have to drive anywhere to see your friends, people practice in the same spaces, and it’s easier to play shows. LA is so big and sprawling; you have to make plans to see your friends, and I feel like it’s the same way with music: there are these insular music blobs, and then there’s the whole Burger Records, which is its own thing. I don’t think I’ve been there long enough to really feel it out and feel like I’m part of a community, but I’m working on it.”
Working has never posed a problem for Rose, and she happily accepts the alteration.
“It’s a welcome change, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it is when I do start being creative again, what’s going to come out,” she states. “It was a really weird, sort of kismet happening—I was offered this job, I was offered a house, my landlord wanted to buy me out of my apartment in New York—I was living in Bushwick in a two-bedroom for like, no money, and it was just super cheap rent. The universe was just like, ‘Go to LA!’, so I did!”
When Rose first moved, she was living in the iconic house (turned museum) from the popularly acclaimed series Charmed, but realized soon after that there were, lo and behold, more charming places to reside.
“It was a little too grandiose—it was charmed for a minute,” Rose reflects with a laugh. “The water bill was expensive; like, a third of the rent was water. There was a huge lawn that got watered [all the time], and the landlord was a total weirdo; he lived across the street, but he’d come into the house, and if people taking pictures outside, he’d be like, ‘Come in!,’ which is super crazy. We lived upstairs, but the kitchen was downstairs as part of the museum, so we could be in our underwear cooking pancakes and then here comes the landlord, Murray Burns—totally fake pseudonym—with six European tourists with cameras. It was really bizarre.”
Perhaps such a memorable experience will trigger Rose’s next hit single, but at any rate, there’s most certainly more creativity along the way, no matter how long it may take. Inevitably, it will be her best work to come and anticipated highly by her continually growing fan-base.
*All photos featured belong to their respective owners.