On tour, French-born singer-songwriter Amelle Rose discusses taking off her EP, falling out of and in love with music, and recording her debut album.
A brick wall, a bar with a blackboard, multi-coloured lights atop wooden tables, a dominant hue of red, and a record store-like exterior; we’re at Green Note, the most typically Camden music venue imaginable.
Opposite me, putting her makeup on as she prepares for her gig, is Amelle Rose. “We’re talking about me for the next half hour,” she says in her strained voice. “Feed that ego in!”
In three years of active touring, she’s done around 300 gigs. But when she moved to London in 2015, she’d barely ever performed. “I was shitting myself every time I was on stage,” she says. “Now, I literally perform for a living. And I like being my own boss because I can’t deal with people.” Now 22, she moved to Bristol in August, finding London “too big, too busy”.
Rose has ten tattoos, the biggest one on her right leg. It’s a cat using a typewriter. “My cat Verlaine was dying, and I was sad,” she explains. “But it’s been a year-and-a-half, and he’s still not dead. Now it’s like, ‘Please don’t die, but also, I got this tattoo for you!’”
As she applies her eyeliner, I notice a Deathly Hallows tattoo on her finger. “I did a random shape to confuse people, and it’s working,” she smirks, “and I hate it! It’s a glyph — don’t judge, I was 18 — that means ‘create’.”
Rose grew up in Lille. “I’d love to say I had a standard childhood, but I didn’t,” she says. I ask her about her family. “Oh my god, do you really want to hear about my daddy issues?” Incredibly close to her mother, she shared a problematic relationship with her father, whom she’s cut ties with.
Her father played bass and Latin percussion, but listening to music with her siblings is what pushed her into the industry. “I’ve taken a lot from different genres. Artists like Daughter, RY X, Death Cab for Cutie, Hällas, and ISLAND definitely influenced me,” she says, finishing her makeup.
Her first EP, Family Tree, came out in 2018. But you can’t listen to it anymore. In January, Rose removed the record from all platforms. “I wasn’t feeling very good about my music, I was unhappy with what I was writing. And so, I kind of wanted — well, I almost quit.”
She recalls thinking: I’m complaining that nobody cares about my music, but nobody’s asked for it in the first place. Her tone has turned sombre. “It got so bad that the thing I loved the most became something I hated,” she says, continuing a little loudly as Dave Giles, the gig’s lead act, sound-checks in the background. “That’s not a great place to be in.”
It’s her turn to check sound now. The husky talking voice is gone; she’s blasting out clear, crisp vocals. She returns, sipping on her now half-full glass of water.
Rose has reinvented her sound over the past year. “I went from a very folky, acoustic sound to something more atmospheric, with big drums.” Her singles Rain and Fire are from her debut album, I Prayed for Peace, which has a recurring theme of mental health.
Releasing next year, she calls it her best work to date. “It’s not even finished, but I’m so fucking proud of it,” exclaims Rose. “I was dancing in my room like, ‘I can’t believe I fucking made this!’”
Streaming has made singles the norm now. “But my favourite songs aren’t single-worthy; they’re a bit odd,” she points out. “Listening to an album in order is one of my favourite rituals.” Her favourite tracks from her album are its title song and interlude. Another recorded single due for release is titled “The Same Sheets”.
Amelle doesn’t want to chase fame, expressing her disdain for major labels. “You need a following to get signed, then they’ll do things like signing two similar bands just to stop one from releasing music.
“For me, enjoying the process is important. If some people want to come along and enjoy it with me, that’s amazing,” she says, twirling her elastic hairband. She looks up, and smiles. “But I’m not counting on it. I can’t stop making music, because I still love it.”