Self-Portrait: Rose Bonica

Singer and producer Rose Bonica is creating her own sonic universe, unbound by regulations or rules; an authentic approach that sets her dark, celestial electronics apart from the rest.

From her home of Hout Bay in South Africa she began producing back in 2016, but listening to her creations you’d think she’d been hard at work in the studio for years. An outlet for her to ruminate on themes like love, pain, the joy of domestic cats and finding her footing in a disastrous world, she’s got three releases under her belt and is now gearing up for her newest offering, Tears for the Tear Maker, which sees Rose release on her own Roses Are Red imprint for the first time.

Alongside an interview about her approach to production she delivers a live jam of original material that moves through celestial techno and electronics that showcase Rose’s singular approach to sound design.

Tears for the Tea Maker is out on 18th September – grab your copy.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

When I was 9 my friend and I choreographed a dance to Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. We invited our friends and family over and performed our routine for them in what could be seen as my first independent live performance.

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

My family is very expressive and my parents encouraged creativity. I had access to musical instruments from a young age, I grew up singing Queen loudly in the car with my dad or blasting music at our family Sunday lunch. I was, however, far more interested in movies than music and a lot of my childhood musical experiences came though movie soundtracks.

What led you into music production?

I needed an escape from a bad relationship and a seemingly mundane job in web development. I started producing music as a way to express myself creatively using the digital skills I had already developed as the starting point of my self expression journey.

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

Internationally my inspirations are Bjork, FKA Twigs, Omar S, Sleaford Mods, Jumping Back Slash, Machine Woman (Female Band is 🔥). I recently discovered Meth Math who are really great and inspiring too!

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

Before Covid-19 my favourite studio time was making music after a long night out and very little sleep. I find I am less self critical and more free with my work when I am exhausted and have been having a lot of fun- often leading to music that feels uninhibited. The late night/early morning music has been the starting point of most of my favourite work.

Since the start of the pandemic studio time has become a far more structured process defined by deadlines or routines. I now spend an hour procrastinating by showering, watching political dribble on YouTube or planning to start internet gimmick themed side hustles.

I miss my early morning sleep deprived production rituals but I am also really enjoying the music I have been making during this global pandemic.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

Not really, I like to just start and see where it takes me. I do enjoy the uneasiness of not knowing where I’m going.

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

I try my best to perfect every track but I often find myself returning to the first version. The first take always feels more authentic and conveys emotions more effectively perhaps as the result of the unintended but inevitable happy mistakes.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

I’ll spend the first hour randomly playing notes on my Microkorg XL and then find a good loop or solo from there. If nothing comes from that I’ll make a drum rack and resample a bunch of drum patterns using a saturator and delay. I often hate whatever I’ve done at the end of the day and have to come back to it all the next day with a fresh ear.

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

Most of my material is original but I do enjoy sampling obscure clips from YouTube. I try to resample them so that they are unrecognisable. I find resampling clips until they are completely different a great way to explore and encourage my creative process.

What’s the most important bits of kit that make a Rose Bonica track?

The Microkorg XL is definitely my favourite piece of equipment. The bass is dirty and saturated, the arp is so easy to use, it is super versatile and the vocoder is just magic. I can’t think of anything else in my studio that has been more vital in my music.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Rose Bonica material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

I wanted to share the more vocal tracks from my upcoming album Tears for the Tea Maker (Roses Are Red Records), to give everyone a little taste of what’s coming and where my creative process is going. I have combined these tracks with some of the harder and dancier music I have become known for. This mix is essentially a great example of what a Rose Bonica live set looks like (all it is missing are my signature dance moves! Lol)

Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?

Yes!! My debut Album “Tears for the Tea Maker” is coming out on the 18th of September on my label Roses Are Red! I am really excited to share this work with the world, it is an intimate insight into my life and mind and quite different from anything I have done before. I’ve also got a track on a South African compilation “Frequencies and Friends” by CTEMF with some amazing local and international artists. Anyone who is interested can keep an eye on my recent releases and projects by following me.

Tears for the Tea Maker is out on 18th September – grab your copy.

Follow Roses Are Red on Bandcamp: rosesareredrecords.bandcamp.com

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