Local Mic: Mae Krell and April Rose
BY BLENDED STAFF
LOCAL MIC IS A BLENDED SERIES DEDICATED TO HIGHLIGHTING BUDDING ARTISTS IN THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE.
Born and raised in the heart of Manhattan, 19-year-old Mae Krell is an up and coming singer-songwriter. They released their first single in 2016 and have been noted for writing emotionally packed songs. Krell and their overwhelming lyrical talent have dominated the local scene and expanded as they just completed a cross-country tour with April Rose. April Rose is the front woman of The Rose Monarch, a band based in New York City's “seventh” borough, Long Island. Rose's powerful vocals and The Rose Monarch's distinct, grandiose rock sound have garnered the attention of many local New Yorkers. Blended had the opportunity to sit down with both Krell and Rose to talk about their musical pursuits, their tour, and what's next.
Tell me a little about your EP, Anabasis.
M: So it came out in February. It's a four-track and it has been in the works for a really long time so I was super excited to get it out. I guess, in short, Anabasis is like a resurrection or a rebirth and so the tracks are built to, or in order to, represent that rebirth within myself and my own kind of being into a better place. Which, hopefully, the next record will encompass a little better.
Your songs touch on very personal and raw issues, how do you find the courage to write about these topics?
M: Well, I think I write about them regardless. The courage comes in giving them to other people after. You know, because when you release something although it's still your song, it kind of becomes a being in everybody else's things. You know, like it's this peron's song for this or for that. And that courage piece for me came more in releasing the EP and being like "now this is yours." It's kind of like giving away all of those raw issues that are so personal to me and being like "here, it's yours to have."
What urged you to pursue music after immersing yourself in photography? Has photography impacted your music by any means?
M: I had a moment when I was younger where I was kind of like I wanna make music, I wanna play. And I actually did not start taking photos then. But, I never had the confidence in myself thinking maybe I could try this, maybe I could do this. Until I was like "ok what's a way for me to be close to music in the meantime." Then I realized I could take photos of it. I started shooting shows and then just the more I got to know the people that I was working with and the closer I got to the touring circuit I was like I need to do that. I knew I wasn't going to be able to stay in the front taking photos of someone else doing it and be okay with myself.
How have your New York City roots influenced you as an artist?
M: I think the sense of urgency of New York City… I grew up in Midtown and Hell's Kitchen so there was always this feeling of needing to do more and thus needing to be more. I think a lot of my music and the issues I personally deal with are kind of interconnected to the New York mindset. At the same time, I don't have any thought in my mind of giving up which comes from New York so it's definitely a dual piece.
You identify as non-binary, do you want to use your platform as a voice for others who identify the same as you?
M: I'm a musician, but a person first. I would love to be respected by my pronouns when people write about me, that's always great. But I've had people tell me that just seeing someone who identifies that way and pushes to be referred to correctly alone is enough for them to see. I think there's obviously an "activist" piece I'd love to do but I'm going to make music first and if me being the way that I am helps other people, then that's great. But it's definitely my first priority to exist.
Now that the tour is one stop away from coming to an end, what can we expect next from you?
M: Getting home, taking a little time to see my family and stuff like that. I'm working on a new record which I’m really really excited about.
A: It's good, it's good. Some of the best stuff from Krellington you'll hear yet.
M: Which is a big compliment considering we know how April feels about singer-songwriter stuff...
A: I don't like that kind of music. But I like the new stuff a lot.
M: So yeah, there's a new record I'm working on, planning all the technicals and synapses. It's almost like a concept album with all the colors and the videos. It's another one of those, but a lot more heightened and there will be a lot more planning involved which I'm super stoked for. We filmed some live videos in Montana, we've got a live video coming out for "Monsters," we've got a cover together and April has one too of "Shake You," which is a bop. I think I'm going to hibernate show-wise and only do more important things. Maybe more weekenders, we'll see if April's sick of me yet.
Has your band, The Rose Monarch, been on tour with you for the whole ride?
A: So, no. I've toured with them on the East Coast before. We released our first record last summer and we toured. But given the opportunity to go to the West Coast which I, nor my band, have never been before even though people out there do listen to our music -- I had to take the opportunity to go out there alone and get some face time out there with bands and see where everyone is and kind of feel out the different areas to play. Even just to see if I like the West Coast. So many of my friends are coast to coast from L.A. to New York so I was very curious about the kind of experience there. But yeah, [The Rose Monarch] have not been on tour with me it's just been me, Mae, and Casey. We did one-week run with Ryan Cassata on the West Coast which was really great.
The Rose Monarch dropped their own EP Echoes from the End last summer, what was that like after having just formed the summer prior?
A: Yeah, July 28th 2017 was the date of our debut record. I've been playing with guys in my band for many years but I've only become the front woman of our project and we've been going under The Rose Monarch for about two years. So it's a pretty new project. But my brother, my drummer, we've been playing together since we were 12. I went to high school with the other three so I've known them for quite a bit. It's a little confusing because some people call me for The Rose Monarch, but I'm only the front woman. I like to refer to The Rose Monarch as my entire unit.
Where did you and the band get your inspiration for the new EP?
A: It was quite a process. My brother and I wrote a lot of it as far as thematically. But we were kind of just trying to explore the theme of mortality because we both have had really big heartbreaks in the last year or so. After that, you sort of reassess who you are and where you're at as far as life and death goes. It sounds like a big thing, but there's always this middle ground of what happens after everything's over. Whether it's a relationship, school, friendship, you name it: there's always this weird echo. It sounds cliché, but there's this weird echo that comes after the ending of everything you do and it's like how do you work with that. We were writing songs within that theme and came up with the name in response to the songs we heard that the band was vibing with.
What is your favorite song to perform from Echoes from the End?
A: Oh wow. I'd say solo, I love to play "Breathe In" and then with the band I like to play "The Funeral."
Can you describe the sound of The Rose Monarch?
A: It's big. It's like bombastic, dramatic, alternative rock. The name we basically created based on the sound -- we like to keep it lush, but strong.
As frontwoman of the band, what do you hope your audience gains from your music and performance?
A: I just always want people to feel stronger after they see us perform. I know it really makes me excited and feel grounded to be performing and it's always such a spiritual experience for me. I hope that people can take away their own strength and their own reevaluation of whatever it may be in their lives.
What has been your favorite experience on this tour?
A: I loved doing Musicians on Call. I'd say that was seriously uplifting for us. It was great. We literally just sang to a patient with about five or six of her nurses. We had a couple of really touching experiences at open mics around various little pockets of the country that were really spiritual, odd, and interesting.
Now that the tour is one stop away from coming to an end, what can we expect next from you and The Rose Monarch?
M: Don't give away too much!
A: I know, I'm always scheming. Basically, we're hoping to push out a bunch of new live videos for the record. In lew of this tour, people have been wanting to see the songs a little bit more stripped down as well as more visual content from us. I think that will be a great first step as a result of hearing that information. We're writing a new record currently. It's a concept record, hopefully, about 10 songs split between two records. So with that there will be a lot of different visuals and stories.
I'm hoping to put out a single of my own in the near future just because it doesn't fit in with the thing that we as a band have been doing. Hopefully, I'll put out more of my own songs and do a lot more collaborations. As far as the band goes, we're really excited to just dive in. Our listeners have been really cool and interactive with us so we just want to give them something that they're going to like even more.
A: If ur debating going on tour or pursuing music in a way that you aren't already, just do it. Make sure you have positive influences around you to lift you up when it's not going so well, but all in all, do it. If it fails, you try again.
M: Make sure you plan things out. Remember the world is bigger than your bubble. I mean I grew up in New York City, so my bubble isn't very small. But the main thing I learned on this tour is that there is beautiful, kind people everywhere you go. A lot of times you don't see that. But if you look and if you ask, people are always going to want to help and come with open arms. Nobody does anything alone.
Make sure to check out Mae Krell's EP Anabasis and The Rose Monarch, April Rose's main project, with the band's newest EP Echoes from the End. As always, support local artists.
Lead Image Credit: Maya Georgi / BLENDED