Following the release of her single 'Confession', we interview talented vocalist, songwriter and Creative Audio Production and Sound Engineering student Roz Yuen about her musical journey.
Rinnggg rinnggg, rinnggg rinnnggg! It’s the past calling, aren’t you gonna answer? …You don’t want to give him the opportunity to hurt you again? Fair play, he’d probably have nothing new to say anyway.
If you’ve ever had an ex-lover, you’ve likely grappled with this temptation; the illogical allure of repeating a chapter of your romantic storybook even though you know, inevitably, the ending will never change. The dulcet tones, melancholic lyrics and negative spaces within Roz Yuen’s ethereal new single ‘Confession’ dip into this very feeling like quill into ink, for a resonant sound that’s guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings.
Hailing from Melbourne, the talented vocalist, songwriter, producer and Catalyst Creative Audio Production and Sound Engineering student previously released music under her full name Rosaline Yuen. But it wasn’t just her moniker that evolved in Berlin’s experimental climate. Roz Yuen’s electronic pop is more downtempo than ever, giving even the most minimal textures a voice in the sonic conversation.
In celebration of the new release, we caught up with Rosaline to learn more about the girl behind the ‘Confession.’
“I want my music to empower my audience by offering them a space to feel, think and act”
Hey Roz, how’s it going?
Feeling great! Berlin sunshine has finally arrived.
Let’s get straight into it. What’s your musical mission statement?
I want my music to empower my audience by offering them a space to feel, think and act.
How would you describe your sound?
Downtempo electronica pop with an experimental edge.
You’re clearly super-talented – your voice is amazing. What’s your musical background?
Thanks so much. I love singing! Under the name Rosaline Yuen, I released a piano-driven jazz pop EP Garden through my own indie label thirtysixbird, which is distributed through Green/MGM. I then released an indie pop rock album Tiny Goddess, which was influenced by 1960s yé-yé and French new wave. When I moved to London for two years I got into downtempo electronica and trip hop. Then before moving to Berlin, I was back in Melbourne for a year where I was warmly welcomed into the electronic and experimental music scene.
“I was seduced by the opportunities to grow and the creative freedom, as well as the chance to connect with artists from all around the world”
ou had some of your songs featured on Australian TV. How did that come about?
A former guitar teacher told me about a Sydney-based music supervision company. I sent them Tiny Goddess and they liked what they heard, which led to some of the songs from the album being synced onto TV shows like Underbelly: The Golden Mile; Offspring and Crownies. I’d love to see more of my music being put to visuals in the future.
And you also co-founded a musical community in Australia.
Yes, it’s called Beat Collective. We’re an inclusive good vibes music community based in Melbourne, united by our love of great music. A team of my friends and I run regular live showcases, an online TV/radio show, beat cyphers and collaborative synth workshops at the Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio. We also work closely with the Ableton User Group Melbourne.
What brought you to Berlin?
Berlin has a reputation for being progressive and open-minded but also very chill. I was seduced by the opportunities to grow and the creative freedom, as well as the chance to connect with artists from all around the world. I haven’t been disappointed so far.
“I see production as telling a story as much as the lyrics and the musical content”
How has your music evolved since you’ve been here?
I’ve had the privilege of attending and volunteering at some amazing live audio-visual installations, musical performances and festivals. Since being here I’ve thought more about how my music might interact with visuals and new technologies, and I’ve also messed about with different generative music techniques and field recordings. I’d say my music is getting a bit more experimental and abstract but I still want to retain my pop sensibilities.
You’ve said that you enjoy telling stories with your lyrics. What’s the synopsis of your new single ‘Confession?’
You could describe it as a whispered conversation with an ex-lover about the emotional consequences of giving into temptation.
Relatable. How do you turn that initial concept into a song? Because you don’t only have the singing and songwriting to deal with, but the production too.
I don’t have a set workflow. For this track in particular, I started with an ambient or textural sound to create atmosphere or a mood. I had written down a stream of consciousness on the 26-hour plane journey home from London to Melbourne. Then I went back and edited them to make lyrics.
Production-wise I was listening to a lot of UK acts like FKA Twigs. I think the minimal percussion and vocal layering reflects that influence. Some listeners might consider the production a bit sparse. However, aesthetically I wanted it to feel intimate and slightly uncomfortable. The pauses were sonically meant to represent that the dialogue or conversation was met with silence. I see production as telling a story as much as the lyrics and the musical content.
It’s like being a one-woman band!
“My dreams came true when the Ian Potter Cultural Trust awarded me a grant to study Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering at Catalyst”
And you’re incorporating field recordings as well, right? What’s the most interesting field recording that you have, as you put it, “mangled and manipulated?”
A friend and I recently recorded some impulse responses and ambient sounds in the Grunewald Forest and at the Teufelsberg spy station. These field recordings are my current favourites.
Last year, you were awarded an arts grant. Judging by the awesome quality of your branding and creative output, it looks like you put it to good use! Can you tell us a bit about that?
My dreams came true when the Ian Potter Cultural Trust awarded me a grant to study Creative Audio Production and Sound Engineering at Catalyst. The trust aims to support emerging artists in Australia who show commitment, passion and promise, and to undertake international professional development opportunities. Not only did this help me financially but their recognition of me as a serious professional arts practitioner also boosted my confidence.
What is the one thing that fuels your creativity?
Haha, me too! Green tea all the way. Finally, what are you most excited about in the coming months?
In the coming months, I’ll be spending as much time as possible at the Catalyst Music studios at the Funkhaus to work on my next EP. I can’t reveal too much yet. However, I am getting various established and emerging artists from the audio-visual and experimental music field to provide me with sound samples to work with. This includes Robin Fox, a leading Australian audio-visual and cross-disciplinary artist who often performs in Berlin, and also producer and Catalyst tutor Chris Jarman, a.k.a. Kamikaze Space Programme, whose work I respect a great deal.
Amazing, we can’t wait to hear it!
Photography by Colette Pomerleau.