Rosie Carney has the voice of an angel: softly ethereal and otherworldly, as if hailing from a different universal plane. But don’t let that fool you: the 20-year-old British/Irish singer-songwriter has something to say with her music and speak she does, albeit in her own seemingly quiet and delicate way.
“I’ve been into music my whole life, really. I was brought up listening to really, really good music that (my parents) played me,” Carney explained, citing Joni Mitchell and Robert Plant as artists she admired. “I started playing the piano from when I was like four, but obviously when you’re four years old you don’t plan your life then. I did that for a few years, and then when we moved to Ireland, when I was 10, I started playing the piano again because I had stopped, and I started writing melodies. When I was 11 I started singing. I think I was 12 or 13 (when) I wrote my first song on the guitar. I was really proud of it and I played it for my mom and dad and they were like, ‘This is really good.’ I guess it was then that I was like, ‘Yeah, this is really nice, I could do this.’”
Carney moved with her family from Hampshire, England to Donegal, Ireland at the age of 10. The move impacted both her musical and personal life. The haunting, melancholy sound that is characteristic of Carney’s work is a direct consequence of growing up in Donegal.
“When I moved to Ireland and started writing songs more seriously when I was a teenager, I was really inspired by where I lived and the landscape,” Carney said. “It’s really barren and it’s really bare. There aren’t very many trees but it’s so beautiful and there are mountains…I guess that really influenced the sound of my music. It was mainly the landscape and the world around me.”
As Carney herself matured, her creative process followed suit.
“Whenever I was younger and I first started writing songs it would just be me sitting, playing the guitar, in probably a dark room. I don’t know why but I’ve always found that the lighting is an important part of my writing process. I find a very soft light (makes it) easier to get into that place,” Carney said. “But now what I do, I tend to create a melody, I create demos on GarageBand on my iPad. The last song that I wrote, I created this whole song and I recorded myself humming the melody line. I listened to it over and the words just kind of flowed.”
A constant in Carney’s musical exploration and career is the honesty she brings to her artistic pursuits. In 2017, she released her breakthrough single “Awake Me” along with a story recounting her ongoing struggle with mental health, the main theme of the song.
“I remember the day I wrote that song, it took me about 20 minutes to write. It was already there, I just had to pick up the guitar and make the effort to actually write the thing,” Carney said in regard to the release of “Awake Me.” “[Awake Me] is a song that I had written about my experience with mental health. I’ve been very open about that in the past, like I’ve shared my story. It was written about all of that, and just surviving through all. Whenever I released it, I posted my story with it, and it was a kind of a breakthrough moment for me. It was a kind of release to me, to have that song out to the world.”
Carney’s debut EP, entitled “Bare,” is set to be released on Jan. 25. However, as Carney described it, she had been working toward the album for “the past six years.” At just 15 years old, Carney was signed to Polydor Records, a major British record label.
“I spent a year and a bit in the studio trying to write songs. I didn’t release any of them,” Carney said in regard to her stint with Polydor Records. It was a trying time for her both creatively and mentally, ultimately ending with her getting dropped from the label.
“Instead of letting (being dropped) crush me, I decided to just start writing music that really was about me and my sound, and that’s very much what this album is,” Carney said about her new EP. “The process has been long. Like I said, I feel like I’ve been working towards this since I’ve been doing (music as a career). The recording process (for ‘Bare’) I did here in Ireland, at home, with a friend of mine; we kind of co-produced the album together. It’s been an amazing process and I’m really excited about it coming out.”
The “Bare” track list includes a few singles that Carney has already released, such as “Zoey” which was released last month and “Thousand,” a beautiful song featuring famed Irish singer Lisa Hannigan, which has racked up over six million streams on Spotify.
“I had an amazing time recording ‘Thousand,’ especially when I got Lisa Hannigan’s vocals for it. That was insane. I remember mixing that and just pinching myself. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy,’” Carney said.
“I love them all. They’re all very emotional for me,” Carney said in regard to the songs on “Bare.” “My song, ‘Your Love is Holy,’ it’s not actually been released yet, but recording that one, when I did the vocal take for that, was just extremely emotional. It was quite surreal recording the vocals for that. Everything kind of fell into place when recording that. I think it was the last song I recorded the vocals for, and it was kind of like a special moment for me.”
The overall theme of “Bare,” like all of Carney’s music, is honesty.
“I always try to be as honest as possible in my music. It’s (all) coming from my personal experiences,” she explained.
When asked what she wants people to take away from her music, she replied, “I guess it’s really up to the listener, what they take from my music. They could listen to it and capture a happy feeling or it could provoke a sad feeling. It’s really really up to whoever’s listening. I guess I’m just honest through my music, I’m very much expressing myself and who I am through my music.”
Through all her singles and upcoming EP, Carney proves that honesty really is the best policy.
Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.