An Interview With Roxana Line
A single release from Roxana Line brings on a theatrical undertone gothic-edged alternative rock soundscape that becomes quickly engulfing and has the ability to pull you into a story within seconds flat.
"Marry Me" features an outstanding display of vibrant but edgy songwriting and performance that boasts massive hooks and more character than you can imagine.
The track has some killer time changes and a heavy-handed set of guitar riffs and sections that go along with vast and Lush vocals that all come together to create this atmosphere that makes you feel like you're watching the scene of a play.
The whole thing is very cinematic and comes through with such a unique and almost envelope-pushing approach to the genre that it's completely infectious.
You got these hints of a deeper metal feel throughout the track and these almost orchestrated sets of instruments and vocals that fill the background and create an ether for the song that enables you to fall right into everything.
They're really cool screaming sections that are just slightly hidden behind the upfront beautifully soulful melodic vocals and this helps create that gothic edginess.
This is one of the more addictive singles I've heard in alternative rock music for quite some time, and it's got an incredible radio friendliness to it that reminds me of My Chemical Romance at times but with an even more theatrical tonality.
This was beautifully done and completely well woven and intricately performed with great attention to detail and you can clearly hear an absolute love for the craft bleeding through with every second of this track.
When it's done you feel like you've just watched the scene of a movie and you almost have to reacclimate yourself back to reality again.
This is one of the best things about the song because it's such a wondrous and fantastical form of escapism that's also spun into this rock banger that is catchy as hell.
The single is one of several releases that will eventually culminate into a full album.
Each single tells its own story, and each story is part of what Roxana calls the GloomyVerse.
So, you can see, there are plenty of layers to be peeled back here, and what an interesting story this could be.
Learning about the project as a whole we absolutely had to have a sit down with the artist to find out about not only the single and where it comes from, but the album that's upcoming and the GloomyVerse as well.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Let's start with the latest single "Marry Me". This track had a lush alternative rock feel to it! Can you tell where this single came from?
Thank you so much for your kind words! “Marry Me” is one of my old songs that I wrote back in 2012 but only had an opportunity to release recently. Pretty much none of the lyrics of my songs should be taken literally, but they always have hidden bits of my personal experiences, I just dress them up in dark fairytale-like elements.
You see, I come from a small town in a country where the rock scene mostly consisted of hard-rock, heavy, power and death metal bands, and it was really hard for me to find like-minded people who were interested in playing emo music with me - I either had to agree to be part of someone else’s projects and play something vaguely resembling the music I like or be alone with my own ideas that I can write, but not necessarily perform live on stage all by myself. Plus, there was a fair bit of mockery for any newer music genres coming from the musicians who have been in the local scene for a long time. So, this song in a way was written as my personal anthem of my opposition to those ideas. It was a way for me to express my real feelings which I was suppressing for a long time. There’s also a pinch of generational conflict and my attempt to fight for the right to be myself, to be seen as an individual and be able to do what I love. The plot of the song is inspired by classical gothic novels and the 1800s literary phenomenon commonly known as “Penny Dreadfuls” with the visual aesthetics drawing inspiration from my all-time favorite bands like My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco, etc.
Buzz Slayers: I understand that this is the latest of 3 singles that are being released as chapters until your full album is out. Is that right?
Yes! Each song is kind of like a chapter or a short horror fairytale, quite similar to the format of those chilling short stories in the cheap newspapers of the Victorian era. They don’t have quite the same structure of something like novels that have the capacity to take time with various events and tell stories in acts. These are a bit more situational. In my mind, each song is like a small snow-globe world forever stuck in time showing you a snippet of a scene from a larger chain of events, taking you on a journey and still leaving you a lot of room for some detective work, imagination, and thought.
Buzz Slayers: Does each chapter (single) released connect to one and other?
Most of the art I create, be it music or anything else is usually connected to the same universe that I am slowly developing. I call it GloomyVerse™ and it’s home to ghosts, undead brides, haunted traveling circus that never seems to leave the town and, of course, my Shadow Monsters whose silhouettes you can find on the covers of all of my original songs.
Fun fact: if you listen to the very end of “That’s The Way You’re Giving Up” and then the very beginning of “Among The Dead”, you will hear how one song connects to another. :)
My next track is actually titled “GloomyVerse” and it’s going to connect the first three songs together in a way quite similar to the way musical themes are used in cinema. It’s going to be a pretty epic piece and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
Buzz Slayers: When all the chapters released do we get a vision of the whole story entailed?
Yes, and no, and also, I don’t want to spoil the actual big surprise… But I can say that these chapters are all part of a 13-track-long concept album which I am releasing piece by piece. And it connects directly into bigger context that is already happening but might not be as obvious just yet. The payoff will be worth it, I promise :)
And the whole idea of releasing a full album as singles as opposed to all-in-one go, in my opinion, makes way more sense for a small creator like me. This way I can create more content around each track - have enough time to save money and film proper story-driven music videos, make photo shoots in the matching aesthetics that would support each story, create some really cool merch that isn’t just T-Shirts and so much more. Plus, it gives us time to chat about all of these creations and get really deep into the lore with my wonderful crew of detectives in the comments section on my Instagram where I interact with my friends and the fans of this project the most.
Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist?
When I was 13, I wanted to become a singer. My parents made it very clear that they had no capacity nor interest to support this pursuit, so I didn’t have any other choice but to learn how to write, arrange and produce songs for me to sing on my own. As I was diving into songwriting, I was catching myself thinking more and more that developing big stories, conceptualizing things and working with symbolism and allegories was what I enjoy about that process the most. I love when things make sense and when storytelling is non-linear, with multiple layers that unfold in front of the audience step by step revealing its intricate design. Same goes for music, arrangement and production choices - which is why I think I was always inspired by large scale productions, rock operas and musical feature films like Sweeney Todd, Mozart L'Opéra Rock, Frozen, etc.
Eventually it just became a desire to create something truly mine, unique and dear to my heart, something I could be proud of, if I were to spend years of my life on it.
So, I started crafting my own gothic-rock musical at the age of 17. It told a story, inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tales, about a victorian automata doll escaping her creator and wishing to have a real heart of a human and a free will of her own. Needless to say, that first work was far from being perfect or anywhere on the same level as the Broadway and Hollywood productions that inspired me, but it taught me a lot and the musical theme I wrote for the living doll returned later in my original song “Paper House” forever solidifying it in canon of my GloomyVerse™ as one of the subplots of the main storyline. At this point in my career, I think I love crafting orchestral music and writing fiction the most, so now I find it rather funny that it all started with a desire of the 13-year-old me to become a singer, because singing is almost a secondary thing now. Half-seriously, I even get just ever so slightly “offended” when people choose to complement my voice and not my arrangements, haha.
Buzz Slayers: Tell us a bit about your GloomyVerse. How does that all interconnect with these releases?
I usually describe my GloomyVerse™ as a self-contained, easter-egg-filled universe of dark musical fairytales. I know in our society it’s common to judge creative works by financial success and reach as opposed to the merit and thought behind them, so this comparison might seem out of place, but really the best example I can give you is to think about it in the same way as about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Tolkien’s Middle Earth. My world has a lot of stories - long and short - that are intertwined and interconnected. Even if they don’t directly affect one another, their mere presence within the same realm provides some baseline rules fo how things might work and what is within or completely outside of the norm for this place. Plus, having this common universe makes characters feel more authentic, since they get to share common history, locations, common acquaintances, etc.
The songs I’m releasing right now are all stories of characters residing in the same spooky limbo-like town stuck between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. They are mostly ghosts, vampires and other undead creatures reliving their tragedies over and over again, incapable of letting them go. That’s why together the full 13-song album is called “60% WonderWorlds, 40% Tragedies”. I’m currently working on a detailed sketch of a map of this town that includes the haunted theater from “That’s The Way You’re Giving Up”, the mortuary and cemetery from “Among The Dead” and the church from “Marry Me”.
Shadow Monsters who appear on each of my original songs’ artworks symbolize interdimensional creatures, silent observers who always appear at the thresholds between the worlds - mirrors, picture frames, doors, curtains, windows, etc. to watch other characters in their most tragic emotional moments. Well, at least one of the 5 of them does :) My Shadow Monsters are going to be covered in more depth and detail in the book I’m currently writing, and you can bet there will be a ton of easter eggs from the songs.
Buzz Slayers: This chapter has some great styles on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
Thank you! When it comes to sound, my biggest references have always been Green Day’s “American Idiot”, My Chemical Romance’s “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge” and The Used’s “Lies for the Liars”. Among my more recent influences are Marianas Trench and Set It Off, they have a lot of fresh ideas which is not that common nowadays. My orchestral instrumental music is often being compared to Danny Elfman’s style which is a great honor to me since his scores have very much influenced my decision to start and later level up my music journey.
Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
It might already be evident that when I don’t work on music, I usually work on something else, haha. There’s definitely no such thing as "free time” for me. Lately I’ve been diving into animation and 3D modeling as well as writing the book I mentioned in the previous answers, oh and I am also drawing my original illustration for this book too. I’ve been developing and expanding my fantasy world for the last few years trying to create as much GloomyVerse™ related content as humanly possible for a small creator like myself.
Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
Right now, I’m mostly listening to film scores, I really enjoy listening to Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, Christophe Beck, John Williams. There is so much air, adventure and emotion in scores which seems to be one of the last few strongholds of the real music in this world. I’ve also been listening to Dear Evan Hansen a lot lately, humming and dancing to the songs. If I ever do a cover song again in my life, it will be my rock version of “Waving Through A Window”, there’s so much in this song that resonates with me. I’ve also been listening to Set It Off and Ice Nine Kills a lot as well as my favorite band My Chemical Romance who haven’t left my playlists for the last 15 years.
Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
Over my career, I played live for almost 10 years with my 3 bands. I’m very grateful to my bandmates for all those shows. I got a lot of experience from those. But with all of the warm feelings live shows are often very limiting with the quality of sound small venues can provide. Plus, I’ve always been leaning towards more complex music with a lot of orchestral elements which often got lost in those noisy bars and clubs. After moving to the US, I decided to begin a new chapter in my career and focus on delivering music to the audience the way I hear it in my head and my heart. If this means being mostly a recording musician, so be it. While it would be fun to do a really big live show or a theatrical performance one day, that seems still far off at the moment, plus I have a ton of projects to release right now and that’s super exciting!
Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
Mostly everything you hear in my songs either programmed or recorded by me in my bedroom. For real! But it is a combination of both.
As a producer on any project, but especially when you are self-funding everything and working on a tight budget, it’s extremely important to consider how you can spend the least amount of already scarce funds to get the best results and also to have good understanding of things you can cheat and things that have to be done right. Plus, you have to put aside your own ego and really think hard about what’s best for the final product. So, drums for my songs are always recorded in professional studios, or with session drummers that have their own setups that really hold up well in the mix.
Then with things like guitars you do benefit from having real amps, but you can get away with some of the newer modeling plugins and hardware units, what you can’t get away with is less than stellar performances, so, while I play guitar myself and always write out all of the guitar parts down to the last bend of any solo, I always work with session players to capture that final performance exactly as I imagined it. It also allows me to be more objective about what I am hearing and provide better feedback that helps me arrive to the sound I am looking for more efficiently.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
I am finishing up the 4th track of my album that will connect stories and musical themes from “That’s The Way You’re Giving Up”, “Among The Dead” and “Marry Me,” finally bring Shadow Monsters to the forefront of this storyline and provide more easter eggs and puzzles than ever for my most attentive fans to solve. I really love this puzzle-solving game we are doing in our small nerdy “detective” community and I hope that it will grow over time. I am also writing a standalone book about Shadow Monsters that should be off to publishing in not too distant future. And I am in the conceptualization stage for the animated series of short sketches about various quests and adventures Shadow Monsters might have within my GloomyVerse™.
Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Support small creators and indie artists. Putting music and art into the world has never been so easy while discovering something unique and different from the mainstream cliches has never been so hard. As an indie creator, you practically need to be able to compete with big labels for a spot in playlists, and the quality of content you offer is far from being the major factor in this game. So, I always ask people to support not only myself but all good indie musicians and artists. It does take effort to dig through the massive chaotic stream of information we are bombarded with online, but you can never know what gem you may find on the other side. Maybe this new strange artist with only a few hundreds of monthly listeners will be your next exciting discovery and a huge dose of inspiration. Maybe this person has something unique to offer with a beautiful world behind their work, who knows… and the only way to find out is to give them a chance and take a listen.