IN CONVERSATION WITH STELLA ROSE
Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari
Portrait photography by Yaël Temminck
New York-born Stella Rose is a rising singer and songwriter, known for her compelling voice and profound poetic style. She introduced her debut album 'Eyes of Glass' on May 19th, following two acclaimed singles: 'Muddled Man' and 'Angel'. With a stunning vocal presence, an entrancing lyrical approach, authentic charisma, and having already delivered a remarkable performance at Madison Square Garden, Stella has forged a distinctive and enthralling musical universe. We had the unique opportunity to chat with her, to the melody of the New York sirens.
Hello Stella Rose. Could you describe yourself, especially your musical style?
Describing myself, well, I live in New York, born and raised there. Writing and music have always drawn me since I was a kid. I grew up in a creative household, so it’s been an outlet for me. My musical taste is a bit all over, but I was drawn to jazz and blues when younger. Billie Holiday influenced me, shaping my voice and appreciation for expressive singing. Singing became deeper than just sound; it conveyed emotion. As I got older, I got into PJ Harvey and rock bands like Rolling Stones and The Clash. Recently, Jenny Hval’s experimental style caught my interest, like female cult-like music, mixing various sounds. That’s where I am now. I used to do photography and still do it a bit, but I’m drawn to visual aspects mixed with music. It amplifies imagination. There’s more to me, and you’ll find out as we talk.
It’s interesting how you mentioned that music was a way to express yourself, particularly due to your family’s cultural background, allowing you to communicate through music. How did this dynamic shape your relationship with your parents?
It’s been interesting. With a record out and experiencing that journey, it changed how I communicate with my parents. They see a different side of me now. As a kid, you present certain things, but your true passions might only come out around friends or in certain situations. It was a bit daunting to introduce my more mature self to them, but I’m glad it happened. It’s brought new dimensions to our relationship.
You grew up in a very artistic family, you father, Dave Gahan, is the frontman for the 1980s and ’90s electronic band Depeche Mode; and your mother, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan, is a filmmaker and the founder of the production company 18 Bleecker Films. Did you ever feel pressured by your family, considering your artistic background, to pursue a similar path in music or the arts?
Surprisingly, no. My family has never forced anything on me. The only thing I was pushed into was dance as a kid, which I initially dreaded but later appreciated. Dance taught discipline and using my body, which helps with performing. As for music, it was my own secret world until I made a record. It was personal and separate from what others knew. So, no, I didn’t feel pressured; it’s been exciting to align with my family’s interests.
We love the video clip of ‘Angel’, directed by Primordial Freaks. There are references to nostalgia, fears, in a slightly childlike universe. What were your inspirations for this video and will you continue to be involved in the creation of videos for your songs?
It’s something I definitely want to explore in the future. I’ve always created these small visual snippets or, as I mentioned earlier, taken photos and stuff like that. So, I’m not sure when exactly that will come to fruition. Maybe with the next album, I’ll delve deeper into producing music videos or even trying my hand at writing something for them. It could be pretty exciting.
You know, one of my modest aspirations is to score a film – I think that would be incredibly fascinating. Also, the idea of directing or co-directing a film really appeals to me. I can imagine it being a lot of fun. For me, music and film are tightly intertwined; they go hand in hand. The synergy between them is quite remarkable.
Could you share how you transitioned from your personal musical journey to releasing your EP? How did you make that leap from keeping music private to sharing it with the world?
During COVID, I had been working on music privately. Listening to it, I felt ready to share. I gained confidence and wanted to take the next step. I hadn’t expected to release an album, but once I began the journey, it felt natural to go with the flow. Starting to go forward was exciting, and my dad’s support played a role. Sharing my music was about sharing a personal side, which can be isolating when private. Releasing it allowed more exploration, and even if it’s not perfect, it opens doors to further growth.
From performing in bars to playing at the Madison Square Garden, sharing the stage with Depeche Mode . How did it feel to transition from intimate venues to such large-scale performances?
Transitioning from smaller to larger venues was jarring initially, like going from clubs to Madison Square Garden. My dad suggested it, and I hesitated at first, feeling unprepared. But he believed in us. Playing that big stage, sharing it with my dad, was special. We rehearsed intensely, and we aimed to have fun. The moment is short-lived, so we wanted to enjoy it. It was a unique experience, from being nervous to walking on stage, but it’s one I’ll never forget.
Your music has been associated with the heritage of Patti Smith. Could you share how this influence has helped shape your approach to performing and music? How does it feel to be comported to one of your idols?
Patti Smith’s influence stems from her bold authenticity. Growing up, I didn’t see many female artists who were as unapologetically themselves as she was. She embraced punk and rock energy like male artists did. Seeing that changed my perception of what’s possible for women in music. She shaped my understanding that you can be a superstar without fitting a mold. I’ve taken inspiration from her unfiltered self-expression and translating emotions into art, which aligns with how I approach my work.
You made your debut in the fashion industry, as part of Hedi Slimane’s ‘Dairies’ project, or by walking for Enfants Riches Deprimes at Paris Fashion Week. What role does fashion play in your personal life and career?
Fashion is a form of creative expression that sets the tone for how you want to present yourself. What you wear reflects who you are or who you want to be that day. Fashion also connects to music and film, creating a holistic artistic identity. Although I’m not pursuing fashion as a primary profession, I’m open to collaborating or exploring it in the future, especially if it complements my music and creative vision.
Could you share the inspiration behind your EP? What themes or experiences shaped its creation?
My EP is a reflection of the past few years of my life. I log my experiences and emotions, even the difficult times, through writing. Songwriting is therapeutic, helping me process feelings. The EP captures the range of emotions that come with being a young adult or adolescent, including anger, sadness, and happiness. Each track explores different feelings and experiences, honoring the diverse emotions we go through during challenging times.
Are there any exciting news or projects you’re currently working on or looking forward to?
I’m in the early stages of working on a new record, which is exciting. I’m also experimenting with a new live show that features a mix of electronic elements. Debuting this new live show in Europe is a goal, as I’ve seen a vibrant scene there. Additionally, I’m considering exploring more creative mediums, potentially scoring films or directing. My journey is about evolving creatively and authentically.
talent STELLA ROSE @stellarose_gahan
photography YAEL TEMNINCK @yaeltemminck
editor TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja
interview MARIE PAULINE CESARI @itsjustmp