ROE: The ‘My Way’ Interview
Leading her own creative path with music, ROE has blossomed into her work since songwriting for a plethora of artists including Teyana Taylor, Usher, and Normani. Crafting chilled melodies that take inspiration from classic R&B with modern production, ROE’s rich, mellifluous vocals allow her to carve out a unique space within the genre.
This past week, ROE unveiled her eagerly-awaited debut project, My Way. The 7-track offering paints a portrait of one of the most radiant songwriters in Venice. “This project is literally my vision, my songs, how I wanted to do the videos, what I wanted to wear, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to say,” she tells us. With standout cuts like “I Like” and “Tension,” ROE makes a marvelous entrance into a new era of her artistry.
We had the opportunity to chat with ROE about finding her voice, her new EP, and finding inspiration amid the pandemic to name a few topics. Read the full interview below!
Congratulations on your upcoming EP! What prompted you to title it My Way?
The way that it came together. I’m a writer for a lot of other major artists and I was always working n this EP. Whenever I would have my free time, I was always figuring out what my voice was and I feel like my process has been really unorthodox. My label, UMPG, is already accustomed to my voice and one day my A&R James came to me one day and said, “Hey, what do you think about doing your own EP.” I replied, “my EP’s already done!” My producer and I were just going to put music out and it was like preparation meets opportunity literally.
It’s kind of unheard of for a publishing company to team up with a writer to put out a project. This project is literally my vision, my songs, how I wanted to do the videos, what I wanted to wear, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to say. Another thing that added to the title is people had strong opinions about my work and I just stuck to what felt good to me. The response that we got was really overwhelming and it’s like I’m doing this my way, period.
Through this project, what message do you hope to deliver to your fans?
What I want to deliver to them is just to trust yourself. Never give up, follow your vision. It’s like we’re all taking our best shot and what feels right for us so if you’re honest and you’re following that 100% then you cannot go wrong. With my music, I hope that I’m giving off love and that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to have fun. Those times when your amidst a relationship, it’s okay to go through those emotions.
How do some of the songs on this EP compare to the previous releases in your catalog?
People always ask me do I ever give away a song that I should’ve kept and it’s very easy for me to say no because when I go in to write for someone else, I’m always tapping into them. I’m not the type of person to just submit records. I like to be in with the artist so that it’s always personalized.
When I’m doing records for me, I just go in the booth and freestyle then kind of fill in where it needs to be filled in. Those are the two different processes I take when I’m working with someone else versus when I’m working on songs of my own.
Are there any new things you’ve learned about yourself while putting it together?
I learned that there were things in me that I didn’t know was there. For example, “Fool 4 U,” that song practically wrote itself. The words were literally spilling out onto the paper and I didn’t understand what it was until I put it out. I was like oh wow, this is something that needed to come out of me that I didn’t know. I’m basically having therapy sessions with myself and not even knowing it.
Beyond your project, where or what do you turn to for creativity and inspiration these days?
Honestly, two of my favorite things to do is I’ll drive through Beverly Hills for like an hour. First of all, that’s my designed location and I’m big on manifestation. I’ll drive through for like an hour and soak up the energy, soak up the nature. My second is just going to the beach and laying out for a few hours, meditate, and have conversations with my friends. There will honestly be three months where I do not write at all until I feel like I have to get it out. So my process is really organic, I’m not trying to force it and I just do it when it feels right.
There’s no doubt you have a powerful voice. At what point did you discover your talent?
I think my mom discovered my talent when I was like four. She has this video of me singing “Stomp” by Kirk Franklin and she saw it and cultivated. She kept putting me in different things like plays, I was singing at a very early age. In my own mind, I think I was like in 7th grade when I was like “yeah, this is what I do.”
Since then, what ways have you evolved both as an artist and person?
When I was 15, I was signed to Macy Gray through Interscope and I was not a writer at that time. This is something that fell upon me so I was kind of just singing songs that were submitted. It ended up not working out because I didn’t know who I was and they didn’t know what to do with me sonically.
Over the course of time, five-six years later, I know who I am now. I’ve lived, been in rooms, sung all types of records, and I know what resonates with me. I’m a woman now, I know what I want to say and I don’t question it anymore. That’s the thing that gives me confidence in my artistry now.
For young women looking to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
I would say if you have a gift and this honestly goes for anybody, don’t allow any outside influences to pull you away from that. I’ve had people tell me to just write and I would always tell them, “you’re never going to talk me out of this.” Just do what feels good to you and more on the business side, guard your reputation with your life. Number three: confidence; whatever you do, do it confidently and 100% true to you.
If you enjoyed our conversation with ROE, check out our interview with Mikey Dam!