April Rose Gabrielli is the lead singer of The Rose Monarch (formerly known as The Serotones), an alt-rock band from New York. We talked to April about the band’s name change, how to create a more inclusive music scene, and more. We’d like to thank April for taking the time to talk to us and contributing to a safer scene for everyone.
Let’s chat about The Rose Monarch. What spawned the change of direction in your music and the name change?
Growth certainly is the best word I can use to describe this shift. When you’re working with a group of people with a joint passion, these types of creative shifts sort of reveal themselves and help solidify a path in the best feasible direction. When we went back into the studio, we were prepared to experiment and heighten our sound – but we didn’t quite know what to do.
We’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some great producers in the early stages of our music and many of them gave us their blessing to head in this direction.
As artists, we are constantly reinventing ourselves. How does The Rose Monarch’s music compare to The Serotones and your solo work?
Absolutely – every project is so different, mostly because of the teams that are involved with each of them. When I am writing alone, I am focused entirely on the lyrics and the melody is just being formed around the lyrics.
My personal process is extremely different than how I often work with others. For instance, when I threw my good friend Joe Wood (Singer/Producer) into the line of fire with my songs, they took on an entirely new flavor – although still mostly created alone.
The Rose Monarch (although the same five members as The Serotones) has a much more organized songwriting process. First, myself or Jared write something on piano/guitar with just a vocal melody – solidify the melody and structure, then Jared lays down the drum rhythm. We work very hard together on this first step. Once the rhythm is locked down, Matt, Kevin & James get to add their parts to fill out the whole song – based on that main melody. Then we usually run it and decide if we’re feeling it.
With The Serotones, however – all five of us took the role of “songwriter” and it often resulted in an extremely interactive and reactive dynamic between all of the instruments and the vocal melodies/harmonies were woven into those parts. The sound was entirely different because the creative process is much different, we’ve sort of grown into a process and style that is working for us and is exciting.
As a major focus of Safer Scene’s is to raise awareness about discrimination in the music scene, have you experienced or witnessed sexism while touring?
Absolutely. It exists in every industry, so the music [industry] is certainly no exception. I started playing rock shows pretty young, so I experienced it more then unfortunately. As I’ve gotten a little older, I sort of know how to handle things and sport a different strength and awareness that I wasn’t equipped with earlier on.
However, it still happens every once in a while. If I’ve ever seen it happening around me, I’ve done something pretty quickly. Though, I’ve been pretty lucky.
Do you think there is anything specific that can help to create a safer and more inclusive music scene?
In my opinion, the worst thing you could EVER do is to ignore what is going on around you. Whether you are the target of sexism, or your bandmate is the target, it’s really important to say something when it happens and do something immediately. This is MUCH easier said than done, because I find with these encounters I always think of what I would’ve done after. It can be as simple as identifying how detrimental the remark is or asking for an apology in the moment.
The reality also is, our scene is tied to drinking and partying – demanding an apology from an aggressive or drunk person could spark something worse and more dangerous (learned from personal experience after getting pushed in the face for no reason sometime last year). So be careful, but operate with strength and with friends alongside you. That’s my best suggestion.
Are there any particular bands, musicians, and/or organizations you believe are making an effort to help the cause?
I’ve seen a couple of articles about female musicians identifying these issues on the road in some articles, but other than viral tweets – I haven’t heard much of a specific organization that is doing much in specificity to the music scene. “Hollaback!” is a really cool harassment defense campaign that I keep up with, they vow to end harassment in public spaces. Specifically in the music industry, I really appreciate TEI PRESENTS in partnership with Warped Tour.
It’s really interesting and they essentially start a community conversation about feel good stuff: passions, music, getting things started – I think TEI PRESENTS provides a very useful educational perspective in a fun, no-pressure sort of environment. While TEI doesn’t directly relate to harassment, I think it’s a great series that we could model a “safer scene” related discussion around.
What advice would you give to women who want to become a musician or start a band?
Do it, don’t hesitate, love it, don’t look back and stick with it — I don’t care if you think you’re not good enough, because there’s likely something really interesting about you that sets you apart from the rest. Find that element of yourself. Be authentic and people will love it. Oh and be my friend, I want to know you!
Are there any female alternative or rock artists you look up to in particular, and why?
Huge fans of Brittany Howard & Laura Jane Grace. These ladies personify strength, talent and raw individuality. Brittany Howard is a talent from another planet – and such an intelligent story teller. Laura Jane Grace has an incredible past, transformation and perspective as a songwriter and human.
What’s next for The Rose Monarch?
Lots of shows, records & tours!
(And a really great music video shot by Tom Flynn & Mike Watts coming out soon!)
Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you Kat for Safer Scene! If anyone reading is interested in confiding their experiences with me regarding this conversation or any other talking points, please contact me on my socials!
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