Art inevitably reflects its creator. A sound that is delicate, soulful, and genuine, all truthful to the stance of Rowlene. South Africa‘s very own R&B princess, she has been in the industry a while, growing and understanding herself throughout her journey, admitting that her music is telling of words held in real-life. “For me, it is being able to create honestly and allow people to see the side of me that is vulnerable and relatable to everyone.” This was achieved in her latest, long-awaited album, 11;11, gaining esteem from all corners of the industry.
The South African singer-songwriter has quietly been leaving her footprint in the industry for almost a decade now, leading her up to now.
We sat down with Rowlene to embark on this chapter in her life…
Hi! How are you keeping with everything?
Everything has been good. I am still creating so I feel like that has been keeping me sane, the fact that I can always do that is perfect. It hasn’t been harder, if anything it has been easier just because it has given me time to figure out what I really enjoy making, in terms of genre. I don’t confine myself to one genre. Just finding something I enjoy making while pushing myself at the same time. That is kind of where I am at right now.
Pushing the boundaries but still having fun.
You recently released a visual version to your album a couple of days ago, what is the creative process of making music like for you?
I loved it, I had so much fun creating. It was my first time working with a band and we rehearsed once. I feel like he understood how I wanted to execute this. It was super stripped down but also dramatic at the same time. I wanted to make people feel like they were in my space, showing them how I create and who I am, I make music from a very good space.
Your album was long-awaited, do you think you achieved everything you wanted with it?
Yes! There is still a lot more I want to do with the project, but I am happy with the entire body of work and where it is right now.
Different personalities and people with different music tastes, all gave me their feedback. And it was interesting because they all had surprising favourites or advice, so that’s why I say I can’t attach and age or anything to it because everyone’s favourite always changed. I am still learning about my audience, but it is showing me my art’s quality.
You’ve been releasing music since around 2015, how has the journey been for you?
I feel like it has been quite enlightening. Music to me is a journal, so music I made in 2015 sounds so different from anything I have released recently.
I have different inspirations now and different ways of making music, I have so many different people around me as well.
There was one song I made, and my family thought it was directed at them, I didn’t even have to say anything. But somehow it gave them a nice way of letting me go and create wherever I want to, with their permission.
Why do you think that each project you do is so different from the other?
I think it is growth and real-life experiences, emotions, and people I meet. I find inspiration in other people’s situations. There are so many things that happen that are so movie-like. so in a lot of the songs, I’ve made it more dramatic but in my head, someone out there is going through that.
In the track Piece of Heaven, you describe somewhere that you can hide from pain, offering happiness. What inspired you to do that song?
It is 100% top 2 for me, it is such a timeless song. I heard the song in 2018/19, I was in the works of creating the album and I felt like I was missing something that could really touch people’s souls differently. Tone-wise, lyrically and with emotion, you can’t always tell people how you feel even in times when you are writing, with that song I heard it and knew exactly how I was going to make it mine.
You say you never underestimate yourself, do the high expectations from other people make you nervous?
Not really, I think I am my biggest critic. I know what I can bring, I’m not lazy, but sometimes I need that little push. When I do collaborations, I am in the space of that, it comes out differently because now their energy is there. You know what their expectations are. I don’t take it as pressure, but it pushes me, and I like that.
Omari Hardwick is a big fan of yours! Do you think we will see Rowlene take over Hollywood in the future?
Definitely. It has been added to my goal list. Even if it just for a writing experience, I am a visual person so my work comes if I’m in it and can see it. I really want to do a writing camp and record my third project and get a cool writer who is out there. I want to expand.
What is your favourite song you’ve done?
Sunday morning is also one of my favourites. It was a good day writing that one. There are so many because I was a different character for every song.
For today, I will say Creeping.
Do you have a say in the creative process of music videos etc?
I actually have a lot of say, I feel like they should take that away from me a little. I get to tell them what character I want to portray or the feel I want it to have. People see me in the light of morphing into something so big and strong but also soft. So, Danger we are taking a lot of time with it, it is such a big song, so I want to get the visual right maybe some K-POP references, so we will see!
What is next for you?
I am shooting the music video for Danger! So that should be out soon. In terms of performances, unless it’s virtual you can’t really connect with people. So, I want to at least have something live for this album, so hopefully, we can do that.
There is merch! It’s coming in winter hopefully. And of course, I am always recording, so there will be music dropping from a lot of different angles.