With her new album Raise Your Voice, December Rose is tapping into the catharsis offered by music. Drawing on personal challenges, she works through emotions and struggles that many of us can relate to. With an uplifting message woven into the tracks, she fills listeners with the strength to carry on and face the challenges that life has to throw at them. We had the chance to chat with December Rose about her new album, positive paths forward, evolving sounds, her docu-series and much more!
OSR: Was there an experience or moment when you realised that you wanted to make music?
Rose: I was a pretty shy kid growing up, especially when it came to music. I loved music but always felt self-conscious about singing, mostly because I wanted to be the best at everything I did. So, the fear of messing up and being judged was a hindrance. This was until I watched the movie ‘A Walk To Remember’ with Mandy Moore. The turning point for me was the scene where she sang ‘Only Hope’ in a silk blue dress. I guess I felt I identified with her shyness, but that despite it, she still performed and excelled. That’s when I found the courage to keep trying and challenging myself to perform even if I was afraid.
OSR: You have a degree in Classical Voice Performance and are a self-taught songwriter, how do you feel these differently structured experiences affect your music?
Rose: Both structures lead you to figuring yourself out and both are equally difficult for different reasons. Being trained often involves a period of unlearning to find your own voice. The advantage is you’re taught good and healthy habits from the start. When you’re self-taught, it can be frustrating to figure things out on your own, and sometimes with incomplete or false information. After years of training and ‘self-educating’, I’d say both led me to finding my own way of saying things in the songs I make. Consistency in both helped me refine and shape my sound.
OSR: Your new album Raise Your Voice offers a positive path forward through some of the darkest moments of life. What was the driving force behind this album’s creation?
Rose: I reached a point in life that I felt everything was already so bad, I had nothing left to lose. It really felt like rock bottom. I had so many people in my ears telling me I didn’t have a story, or that who I was wasn’t coming through, etc, that I realized I was listening to everyone else but not myself. So I asked myself, ‘What do I have to say, and what am I contributing to the industry?’. That was the catalyst for the record.
I wasn’t making an album to prove anything or to ‘try and get famous’, or anything like that. The only thing I could really share was my life story and my testimony of recovery to offer others hope. I knew that getting personal was something vulnerable, but also something I was good at. I created a record that I was looking for during my darkest moments, and I hope it can help people along in theirs.
OSR: The album uses your own experiences as a foundation. How difficult was it to open up about your experiences through your music?
Rose: It took me a while to come around to it. At first, I was embarrassed, but then I struggled with a lot of self-doubt about whether it would be misconstrued as a cry for attention instead of as an act of healing and encouragement. The more I plunged into the creation, the more it felt natural and therapeutic, so opening up about my experiences was extremely liberating.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with the idea behind it or was there a single track that came first?
Rose: Funny enough, I didn’t grow up really listening to albums cover to cover. I had no real concept of how to create a full record. In 2019, I released the single ‘Raise Your Voice’, and I’d say that really spearheaded the album. I had most of the album songs written, only they weren’t produced nor considered for a body of work. However, that helped me realize the power of sharing my experiences. It gave me the confidence to put the series of songs together, sharing the summary of my life so far.
OSR: While the album touches on trauma and grief, there is an overall positive feeling to the tracks. Was this something you actively tried to achieve or did it evolve organically as you created the songs?
Rose: This absolutely evolved during the creation. As I mentioned, I found sharing my stories very therapeutic and liberating. As the production and creation unfolded, I found myself becoming increasingly more at peace with everything. I think the positive feeling people might get from listening is the relief that was captured at that moment.
OSR: How do you feel this release compares to what you have previously released?
Rose: Doesn’t compare at all. I feel releases prior to this album were me trying to figure myself out, but also ‘wetting my feet’ with the idea of sharing my life stories. I was scared, ashamed and deeply sad. I lacked the grace and confidence to sing to people from a place of health. Although healing is always a work in progress, I’m in a way healthier place. I hope my project feel like a hug filling people with good stuff. (laughs)
OSR: If people could listen to only one track from the album, which would you recommend?
Rose: That’s a tough one! I think I would pick ‘When We Were Young’. It’s a feel-good track that brings people back to simpler times. I wanted to walk people through reflection so they could find the heart in themselves again.
OSR: Along with the album, you have released a six-part docu-series ‘December Rose – Up Close and Personal Documentary’. What made you decide to do this?
Rose: The album is very personal. The intention for the docu-series was to create transparency with my listeners. There’s no facade or alter-ego. Just a raw story around abuse and mental health. My hope with the project was to connect with listeners through this very real and human circumstance. To be a testimony that better awaits victims once they make the choice to have a better life.
OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to take away from listening to your album?
Rose: Strength. I would like people to feel empowered by the end of the album. To be reminded that no matter where they came from and no matter what they’ve been through, they can take charge of their life again to create the life they want.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Rose: I will be promoting this project for the next few months, however, I have several EPs already in the works and will be releasing new music in 2022.