Singer-songwriter and guitar player, Rosie Carney, had amassed quite the loyal following before she released her debut album, Bare, back in January. She currently has over 30 million Spotify streams, and over 1.8 million monthly Spotify listeners, and counting. Her deeply personal album debut has received critical praise and has smitten fans with her heartfelt, poignant, and relatable lyrics. She currently is halfway through a 26-date tour of the U.K and Europe, with fellow singer-songwriter, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Langhorne Slim, and The Milk Carton Kids. Her full U.S. tour dates will be announced soon, and she has two upcoming US dates in Brooklyn, New York on Monday, May 13 and Wednesday, May 15. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
Carney took some time out before her tour to discuss her songwriting and performing, when she picked up the guitar and the guitar she prefers to play, and her music favorites, along with her fun guilty pleasure.
When you write and sing, is it hard to get to that place, or does it come naturally to you?
Rosie: No, it comes naturally every time. I never have to pretend. I never have to fake it. It’s always been something that’s come very naturally. I find when I’m writing, when I’m venting, it’s very therapeutic for me to write and then to perform. Usually, it depends on feeling, and every time I sing a song, I feel like a different part of me is released. It’s very much a real thing for me when I’m performing.
Your debut album, Bare, has come out recently to critical and fan acclaim…there’s always a bit of excitement and anticipation, along with nervousness when you have a debut to release. Was that what your experience was like, or was it different?
Rosie: No. The thing is, when I went into the studio to record the songs, I wasn’t planning on recording an album. I basically just wanted to record a load of songs I had written, and it was going to be an EP, and then the more the pieces were put together, the more it seemed like a really strong body of work. When I was recording it, I was like ‘this is fine.’ Some of the songs I had written years ago so, and when the album was released, it was surreal. I’m putting this whole thing out, and it’s me. It’s completely me. I’m not hiding. That’s why I called the album Bare. Because I very much exposed myself. These are very personal songs, and I was really nervous. I was excited of course, as well, but it’s just such a crazy career. You just have to allow yourself to be judged by people constantly. You have to be able to deal with criticism. When it’s a body of work that’s so personal, it can be very nerve-wracking, but it’s been amazing. It’s been really incredible.
You also play guitar. What are your earliest memories of playing guitar, and what creative expression and freedom do playing guitar bring you?
Rosie: I can remember, it’s weird. I didn’t pick up the guitar until I was about 13. I had my mom’s friends come over and give us about two lessons. I had no interest. I played the piano. That was my go-to instrument. I started writing music on the piano. I loved it so much. We always had guitars. We always had instruments around the house. My parents were very good like that. We were allowed to basically bash the guitars and piano, just so long as we were making sound.
I picked up the guitar when I was about 12 or 13. I just remember really, really wanting to write. I had started writing music on the piano, and I really wanted to be able to start expressing myself, and I wanted to take it up a level and find another way of doing that, and I found that with the guitar. I started liking it when I was about 13 or 14. I taught myself basically everything I know. I did have a couple of lessons, and I pulled up some YouTube tutorials, and I started playing, and then I discovered open tuning and my whole life changed. I was like, “Oh s***. This is wow.” Then my writing became more serious. To me, writing is fun. It always starts with the melody on the guitar.
I’ve never had something resonate with me as much as a guitar does. I’m usually sitting in a dark room when I’m writing my songs. I always pick up the guitar, and I start playing away. Even harmonics, when you play harmonics on a guitar, nothing else is like it. I love the piano; it’s just different. It’s just a different experience. It’s amazing. I love the guitar.
Since you would love a Lowden Guitar, what is the type of guitar you like to play live and/or when you record, or is it the same?
Rosie: I usually tend to use the same. I really just love a warm sounding guitar. If I can avoid that tinny sound that some guitars… I play with acoustic. I’ve played electric a couple of times, and I definitely want to play more electric because I love the electric guitar. It’s really empowering, playing an electric guitar, especially being a female.
It’s great. I have two guitars. I have my main writing guitar, which is my Cort guitar. I have this baby blue Cort guitar so that I can reach really high up on the fretboard. I can find all those gorgeous tones. The only thing with that one is that I can’t play it live. It’s just acoustic. I could buy a pick-up, but part of me just doesn’t want to do that. It’s like my little secret guitar.
I really love it. When I was on tour last summer, I was in the States and went into a guitar shop in New York. Before the tour, I’d spent a s*** load of money on a Taylor guitar. And it actually let me down. I was really sad. The live sound was not good because I just kept getting so much feedback. It was really bassy.
I got a feedback buster. I took it to a guitar guy. Still didn’t work. So I bought this little Canadian guitar. It’s like Autenisary or something like that. I‘m in love with it. It’s like a giant ukulele; like a baby model. It’s tiny, but it’s just–I feel so safe on the stage when I’m playing. Not safe like I’m not out of my comfort zone, but I feel like it’s really added to my sound. That’s my favorite guitar to play live.
You’ve toured the States before, and you’ve toured in the U.K. a lot. Is there somewhere you’ve never toured, on this particular tour, that you’re most looking forward to?
Rosie: No, actually, I’m going to all the places I’ve been.
Oh, that’s awesome. Is there anywhere in the U.S. that you want to go?
Rosie: I don’t know. Let me think. I did a huge U.S. tour last summer. I think I covered all the places. I mean we drove literally from the East Coast to the West Coast, through the middle. We went through the Rockies and then up the West coast to Portland from California. It was so beautiful.
Who has had the most musical impact on you and your singing career thus far?
Rosie: I have to say, my parents, definitely, for exposing me to such incredible music. For allowing me, as I said earlier, to basically break all the instruments in sight and make noise. They very much were a huge part of me finding my voice. My mom and dad showed me all kinds of music when I was little. Classical music, rock and roll…everything. My appreciation for music came from my parents. If it weren’t for their encouragement and pushing me to do what I loved, letting me drop out of school, then obviously I wouldn’t be on the phone to you right now.
As far as musicians go, oh god. Justin Vernon, of course. I’m sure that’s an answer you get a lot. He really has … his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, and his first EP, Blood Bank or something.
What top female guitarists would you love to collaborate with? You’ve already collaborated with Lisa Hannigan, so I’m sure that’s one of them.
Rosie: Oh yeah. Oh god she–well, yeah, she’s one of them. Uh, St. Vincent, she’s so cool. I think she’s incredible. The fact that’s she’s even released her own model of a guitar and taken it to the female form. I think she’s just an incredible guitarist. I love her.
Joni Mitchell. I don’t know if she would give me the time of day. But, still, love her. I think she’s incredible. I’ve watched old videos of her doing BBC; she’s an incredible, incredible musician. Is that three? I guess that’s three.
Someone actually who I’ve become such a big fan of–she’s an R&B artist, and I’ve watched so many of her live shows; H.E.R. I think she’s incredible. She’s amazing. I really enjoy watching her play live. I’ve actually gotten a lot of inspiration from watching her live shows. I haven’t seen her in concert yet.
I love Norah Jones. She’s incredible — really amazing musician.
Which five albums or artists, if that’s easier, would you not want to live without?
Rosie: That’s a good one, actually. That reminds me of the Desert Island Discs. Obviously, I’ve expressed my love for Justin Vernon. I think because his music is so important in my life, I wouldn’t like to be without his music. Again, Joni Mitchell, her album Blue. A big inspiration to me. Really incredible. I feel like she taught me the importance of vulnerability in songwriting.
Claude Debussy, I don’t know many of his albums, but his music is very important to me. It really evokes me — Claude Debussy’s Greatest Hits.
David Bowie. I can’t pick one album because he is incredible.
I always go back to albums and songs that I remember from my childhood because I think those are important times and things to pick up from songs and things that really resonate with you and one of these albums to me is Sweet Baby James by James Taylor.
These albums and songs are timeless. I don’t know, like modern music, it just caters to this day in age; it’s not something to me; personally, a lot of pop music is not something that I would, ten years down the line, sit down and listen to. But where it’s like Norah Jones or James Taylor or Justin Vernon, it’s timeless music to me.
I love the fact that you’re using your experiences throughout your life as somebody who’s real and can relate to people who go through that and there’s hope.
Rosie: I feel like our society, my generation, is always so caught up in this connection to social media. It’s just such a materialistic and ego-fueled society, and I feel like we’re being starved of our true selves. Always feeling the need to post our lives, and there’s so much pressure.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure? Like something that you secretly like that nobody would know about you.
Rosie: Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t think I have anything. I mean, I don’t keep anything secret. Sometimes I listen to cheesy pop music. Really cheesy pop music. But for some people, it’s because it’s so subjective for them. I don’t know if that’s a guilty pleasure, but I can’t really think of any cheesy pop songs that I’ve listened to and liked.
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. My guilty pleasure is Post Malone. There you go.