With Ariana and the Rose’s upcoming EP Constellations – Phase 1 (out July 26), you can expect a couple of things: 1) Yes, there will be a Phase 2, and 2) since it’s named after a cluster of stars in the night sky, it’s bound to cover a lot of ground.
And sure enough, the latest collection of synth-pop bangers and meditations from singer-songwriter Ariana DiLorenzo is an emotionally expansive affair even at four tracks, covering everything from breakups to bliss to hard looks at the intricacies of 21st century relationships.
Or in the case of lead track “You Were Never My Boyfriend,” relationships with a big ole question mark.
“It’s this modern-day thing we’re all comfortable with, being in these pseudo relationships,” DiLorenzo says of the inspiration behind the song. “You hang out, you see each other, then they’re like, ‘oh my friend is having a birthday party,’ and then you’ve met each other’s friends. But you’ve never talked about it — are you seeing other people? Are you not seeing other people? There’s always this question mark – ‘is there something better? I don’t want to close my options.’ Which is lame, I think.”
Watch the “You Were Never My Boyfriend” lyric video below.
The song is based on a real-life situation DiLorenzo found herself in, one of those undefined romantic relationships that begin and often end nebulously. “I thought to myself, if I were to break up with him, I couldn’t — because we were never really dating. It’s crazy.”
But there’s nothing self-pitying or even angry in the tone of this understated yet reassuring dance track, which is both a bop you could put on before going out on a Friday and a song to listen to while reflecting on your own romantic worries.
“It feels like a hair flip,” she says, noting it’s more “celebratory” than sad – it’s about realizing there’s strength in ending things. As for the guy who inspired the song….
“Yes, he does know [about the song], and it was actually really funny,” she explains. “He was like ‘everyone will hate me,’ and I was like, ‘No one will know it’s you!’ But you’ll know.”
The theme of empowerment in taking control of a situation is continued on the EP with a cover that brings her back to the days of watching MTV’s Making the Video in her parents’ house: *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.”
“I wanted to put a cover on this record. I feel stylistically, doing a cover tells you a lot about an artist if you can do it right – if you can turn it around and do something different with it,” she opines.
Ariana and the Rose tackle *NSYNC’s slamming kiss-off song and slow it down, emphasizing the ache in the melody and lyrics. “The lyrics are really sad, honestly. ‘I’m leaving’; Which brings us back to the theme of ‘I’m standing up for myself, I’m taking control and leaving.'”
And while the reflective “Honesty” continues in similar emotional space, by the time the EP closes with “True Love,” there’s a sense of liberation and rebirth.
Co-written with Fiona Bevan and produced by Stuart Crichton (who also helmed “You Were Never My Boyfriend,” tracks on Kesha’s Rainbow and Backstreet Boys’ comeback “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”), “True Love” is a rarity in the world of pop – a song about being in love and happy that’s still an invigorating banger.
“I’m currently in a relationship with someone I love very much,” she says. Even so, she was cautious about putting those feelings into music. “It’s a cheesy topic to write about,” she admits, “So we were like, ‘How do we do this in a way that feels fun and doesn’t feel try-hard or preachy?'”
Well, mission accomplished. While some pop songs about domestic bliss read insular, “True Love” is a high-energy dancefloor jam that invites you to share in its exuberance, whether you identify with it or just want to move your body.
“I’m channeling my Carly Rae on that record,” DiLorenzo says. “And we shot a really cool video for it with all real couples. I’m not in the video — it’s all real couples, all different kinds of couples and ages, including one couple in their early ’70s who are still hot and heavy and into each other.” The planned release is for June, since that’s World Pride Month – “a month that’s celebrating love in general,” she notes.
And while Ariana and the Rose is focused on new music at the moment, having just spent some time writing music in L.A., New York City will see her immersive music and art happening Light + Space touch down at Brooklyn’s stunning new space 3 Dollar Bill. Plus, Ariana and the Rose will appear at Warped Tour 25th anniversary shows and Sacramento Pride.