Rising star Stella Rose made her debut in a memorable way, forgoing all concerns about accessibility and charging straight into harsh, industrial soundscapes for her first single, "Muddled Man." With the metal scrapes still ringing in our ears, the New York-based multi-hyphenate slows it down — and induces auditory whiplash in the process — with her elegant new single, "Angel."
Invoking the same religious imagery as some of the work of her legendary father, Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, Stella ponders the existence of an angel as a tool for support, healing and redemption, marveling at its "black pools" for eyes. Her warm, folksy croon swells into a room-filling climax, reminiscent of an impassioned prayer or sermon.
"Angel" is accompanied by a simple video that unlocks either childhood nostalgia or fear. Like the hypnotic and tragic perpetuity at which a jewelry box figure is forced to spin, Stella takes the stage in a makeshift angel costume. As she spins, shots of her twirling in the vast, sunny expanse of the desert fade in along with the nerve-wracking show prep in the mirror. A mysterious old man keeps a watchful eye from his post at the piano as Stella's show goes on.
Stella is gearing up to release her debut effort under KRO Records, the multi-genre label founded by Lawrence and Yves Rothman (Yves Tumor, Miya Folick, Aly & AJ). Yves helped produce and co-write her forthcoming album with a relationship kickstarted by her lo-fi voice note poetry that eventually expanded into the gorgeous and haunting soundscapes of "Muddled Man," "Angel" and much more.
With so much being said in just two songs, Stella Rose sits down with PAPER to discuss "Angel."
The visual accompaniment for "Angel" is absolutely stunning. Tell me about the concept.
I was very drawn to the idea of creating imagery of an angel from biblical stories and folklore. In these stories, the angel is unattainable to what is understood as possible. Terrifyingly beautiful figments of the imagination. The video is directed by Primordial Freaks. When creating the concept together, it was mentioned how some of the angels from these stories were depicted to have several heads. Primordial Freaks so gracefully interpreted that idea with broken mirrored glass and warped reflections. We seemed to be in a sort of twilight zone.
"Muddled Man" and "Angel" are two drastically different sides of the same coin. What was behind your approach in releasing these two singles first?
They are the yin and yang to each other, yet they perfectly intertwine. There is not one without the other. "Muddled Man" is the eye to the storm, and "Angel" is the will to surrender. These songs represent balance.
As a fellow Nick Cave fan, I can really see his influence in your work as he also balanced that elegant, dream-like delicateness with the more abrasive parts of his catalog. What other influences can we expect on this forthcoming record?
To name a few: Pj Harvey, Bauhaus, Lana Del Rey…
KRO Records has a fantastic roster and Yves Rothman's touch can really be felt and seen. How did you two get together?
Yves Rothman is an absouloute mentor to me. He had heard a collection of my voice note poetry demos — somehow, somewhere, he understood them, and the rest is known between studio walls.
Your father is also preparing to release a record of his own. What is it like to be working on something at the same time?
Below, watch the PAPER premiere of "Angel" by Stella Rose.
Photo courtesy of Chiara Gabellini