The art pop solo performer NOVA ONE pulls back the curtains on their starry-eyed image and pensive debut album lovable.
NOVA ONE is the musical project of Providence-based artist Roz Raskin, who has spiraled upwards in recent years with the liberation of their gorgeously delicate bedroom-infused art pop. Following the disbandment of their longtime experimental pop band Roz and the Rice Cakes, Raskin took a significant step by expanding upon their fuzzy lo-fi sensibilities. From the gleamy confessions on 2018's secret princess EP to the stellar haze on last year's debut album lovable, Raskin presents contrasting intimate and expressive charismatics over the undercurrents of their past musical ventures. Raskin's expressive stage persona and iconic costuming materializes the enchanting and charming personality of their solo project.
Through reflective and retro-tinted soundscapes, their dream-like melodies divulge into deep-rooted conversions about gender, femininity and queerness, which is greatly explored on lovable. The debut album wanders deep into their vivid and heartfelt songwriting that reiterates the inventiveness from its predecessor. Growing in personality and external expression, Raskin conjures a deep mood that rides over their full-blown '60s pop tones, sending listeners into a euphoria.
With the hopes of absorbing more about their colorful image and formulation of lovable, we
caught up with Raskin on the evolution of their shining musical journey.
What was your vision when starting out as a solo performer?
Roz Raskin: I've been a solo performer on and off for years and the original feeling was that I just wanted to play shows. With my project NOVA ONE, the first secret princess tunes were recorded within a few months of the last Rice Cakes recordings. Those songs were hanging out in my brain but felt like they needed a new place to exist outside of my original solo work and the Rice Cakes.
What is the personal significance of the name NOVA ONE?
My mom has a sweet little Chihuahua mix named Nova who I helped raise. I thought NOVA ONE sounded like a dope spaceship, inspired by a cute dog.
When performing live, your band dresses similarly to you, especially with your signature pink wig. What were the inspirations for this portrayal of NOVA ONE and what do you think it adds to the shows?
Originally, I designed the costumes for the "your girl" music video I made with my buds Rich Ferri and Jarrett Blinkhorn. The idea was to have three different versions of me dancing together, all with pink hair like mine since my everyday hair, outside of the wig, is bright pink. The wigs I ordered were out of stock and the wig company sent me an email offering a pastel option. I was hesitant about the color but when they came in, I knew I wanted to involve the costumes while playing live.
Your hometown, Providence, Rhode Island, is cited many times when it comes to your inspiration. How does the town impact your music and creative outlook?
I love Providence so much. I learned to love music through living here. I'm constantly inspired by musicians and artists around me and the rich musical history of the state. We have such a cool scene here.
In what ways did you gain more creative control after leaving your previous band Roz and the Rice Cakes? Were there any challenges when you first began your solo project?
Secret princess was all my arrangements and songwriting whereas the Rice Cakes definitely became much more of a collective effort over the year with my bandmates Casey Belisle and Justin Foster. When i first started NOVA ONE, it was definitely strange to not have immediate bandmates to bounce big ideas off with, but it was also a great learning experience in trusting myself and my own vision.
Your music sparkles with introspective lyricism and tender balladry that ventures in the territory of '60s girl groups and what some call "cosmic pop." If somebody asked you on the street to describe your style and sound, what would you tell them?
I would maybe say dreamy cosmic pop with a dark edge. I was saying dreamo earlier this year meaning dreamy emo haha.
From the time after recording the secret princess EP to the release of your full-length debut lovable, how have you grown as a solo artist?
Lovable was in a lot of ways a captured moment in time in that I wrote all of those songs within six months and recorded them immediately. The secret princess EP was a mixture of songs I'd written over ten years before that EP was recorded. I think the timing has a lot to do with the evolution between those two bodies of work.
Lovable examines queerness, femininity, and gender through a gorgeously moody '60s pop lens. Take me through the recording process of your debut LP.
I wrote those songs between December 2018 and May 2019 and recorded all the tunes at Big Nice Studio with Bradford Krieger and Chaimes Parker as co-producers and engineers. We tried to build the instrumentals tastefully around the vocals and make the songs as dynamic as possible. Casey from the Rice Cakes also came in to play some drums on a couple of tunes.
Moments on the album such as "Feeling Ugly” and “Somebody” are confessional and convey motions of intimacy. Did life experiences and events play more of a part in songwriting as you grew more comfortable in the craft?
I think life experiences have always informed my writing. Somebody was written out of disillusionment with love. Feeling ugly is something we've all felt I think.
Lastly, what's next for NOVA ONE? Any shows or new music in the works?
At the moment, I'm focusing all my efforts on new music. I'm currently working on a new record at the same studio with my dear friends and co-producers once again. Excited to share more about that sooner than later.
Lovable is out now via Community Records.
Stream the album below.