Interview: "On My Own" - Rosie Samra
“On My Own” is beautifully performed, which is a stark contrast to the painful nature of the lyrics. The song is an excellent reminder that grief and healing are not linear but often cyclical. What is the story behind this song?
Rosie: Thank you! I have this master sheet of unfinished songs that I've started writing and never actually finished, and the first verse of this song was one of them. I wrote it a year before I ever recorded the song, and then I left it alone. A year later, I was sent the beat by my lovely sound engineer Mike, and I fell in love with it, but for some reason, I couldn't write anything over it. I checked my master sheet for inspiration, and I ended up using that verse to build the entire rest of the song. I had to dig out a lot of my old emotions from the time I began writing it, but writing music is incredibly therapeutic, so it ended up giving me a lot of closure that I didn't get from my real life.
Do you find that singing and songwriting help you to relax and find balance from enduring the daunting rigors of your pursuit in Honours Science at the University of Waterloo?
Rosie: Hahaha, I like that "daunting rigors." I love the degree I'm pursuing, but you're absolutely right that it can be very stressful. I do find that music helps me relax, but sometimes it can be very difficult to make time for music because I just have so much on my plate. Sometimes I wish I was able to do it full-time because I love writing and singing so much, but because I only get to do it when I make time for it, it feels just a bit more special whenever I get to write or perform.
If you could instantly be gifted the ability to play one instrument, what would you choose and why? Which do you think best suits your musical style?
Rosie: Definitely piano, although guitar is a close second. I just love people like Alicia Keys and Adele, who only use one or two elements, like piano and their voice, and make the most incredible music. That's something I've always admired, and I would love to be able to do it myself.
You mentioned that your sister plays instruments – does she play for you on any of your songs, or do you sing for any that she may create?
Rosie: My sister plays guitar mostly, and she was actually in the studio when I was recording "On My Own." She heard the guitar loop, loved it and suggested we do some layering on the second verse. I asked her what she had in mind, and she freestyled this really cool finger-picking overtop of the original beat. It was super spontaneous, and the next session, she recorded what she came up with, and you can hear it in the second verse of "On My Own." Needless to say, that was one of my favourite moments as an artist.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences and inspirations?
Rosie: I get told I sound like Ariana Grande a lot, which is an amazing compliment because I've loved her since I was maybe 10 or 11. When I was younger, I was really into artists like her, like Demi Lovato, Beyonce, and really any strong female pop vocalists. I'm also Middle Eastern, and I absolutely adored Nancy Ajram growing up (I still do). Then as I started making my own music, I turned more towards the R&B side of Pop music, where I took a lot of inspiration from Jhene Aiko, Kehlani, H.E.R., SZA, and Summer Walker. I think you can hear some of their influence, especially in my newest song, "On My Own," where there's a lot of Pop and R&B intersecting.
If you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give them?
Rosie: When I was younger, a lot of people told me I would have to narrow down my options. I was super adamant about having multiple jobs and doing so many things, and people told me I could only have one proper job. I'm here to say as an adult that my life is absolutely packed with studying and music and about a million other things, but I've loved every second of it. You don't have to center your entire life around just one thing! That's what I wish I could tell my younger self.
Interviewed By Vanessa Siebrass