Photo Credit: Joe Nuñez
What do tostadas, Britpop, and Reiki all have in common? Well, they all came up when diving into ‘What Remains,’ the latest from The Rosie Varela Project, inspirations, and more with this talent out of Texas.
Kendra: What genres did you find yourself being inspired by when your mind first started to go from music listener to wanting to be a music creator? I’m picking up big 90s college alt-rock, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage vibes a little…
The Rosie Varela Project: I’ve always identified with certain kinds of music that really became popular in the 90s, but could also be found in the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s – the layering and sub-melodies in ‘60s Psych Rock, those undefinable artists like Peter Gabriel, ELO, and Kate Bush that took a lot of risks and explored unusual themes. But the ‘90s stick with me because it was a time of exploration for me personally. The catchy melodies of Britpop, the rawness of Grunge, and the advent of female singer-songwriters a la Lilith Fair really inspires me. Add to this mix, my bandmates’ influences and that’s when things get really interesting.
Kendra: So The Rosie Varela Project came about because you’ve noted the music wasn’t quite what your band, EEP, would be releasing. Was there a conversation about switching up styles in the band before going out on your own limb?
The Rosie Varela Project: The idea of a solo project was pretty much on the table from the beginning because of the emotional intimacy of the songs. Some of these songs come from places of pain and lessons I’ve learned in life. And in processing those times, musically it felt like I needed to be brave enough to use my own voice a little more.
Kendra: Being from Texas, a place renowned for its impeccable food culture, I’d love to know if you were to play ‘What Remains’ at a party, what classic Texan dishes would you serve to fit the record’s vibe?
The Rosie Varela Project: I love this question! I’m a big foodie, so I’m going to get a little self-indulgent here. I think if I had a listening/supper party, I would start with some tostada appetizers – some with ceviche and avocado and some with a meat dish that we call salpicon, which is shredded beef, marinated with pickled onions and vegetables. The starting cocktail would be margaritas, of course. I’d follow with a red chili posole (pork stew with hominy), topped with shredded cabbage and radishes. Then, I’d serve an assortment of chile rellenos and stuffed jalapeños, wrapped in bacon, with ice-cold Modelo beer. Followed by green enchiladas, stuffed with creamy chicken, Suiza-style. I’d end with a concoction known in my area as a Chocoflan, which is a chocolate Tres Leches cake atop a flan, which is incredibly decadent. Many different flavors, just like the record. Now I’m hungry!
Kendra: Perhaps something straightforward because that’s what I got when listening to the likes of “Leave Me Alone.” I appreciated how blunt it was. Do you feel that’s how people should approach people in most situations?
The Rosie Varela Project: Women leave so much unsaid because it often is not safe to say what’s really on our minds. So, while it would be wonderful for us to be direct and get the real truth from people when we meet them, unfortunately, we live in a society where sometimes you have to find out about people’s real intentions a little too late. Some of the lyrics of “Leave Me Alone” were an overheard conversation in a ladies’ restroom. Specifically, “I told him I don’t have time for little boys.” And it made me happy to see that young women do speak up more for themselves than in previous generations.
Kendra: On the flip side, I really adored the inspired words of “Surrender,” especially the line, “Birth what hasn’t been born.” Music and songwriting are clearly things you’re accomplished in but do you have anything you want to do in life that you’ve yet to birth, so to speak?
The Rosie Varela Project: I went through my “To Be Or Not To Be” moment in my early thirties and after the breakdown and the recovery, I began exploring everything that my soul longed to experience. Not everything was successful, but man, there’s some crazy stories that came out of that and some good times.
I’ve been in film, Reiki, and education. I’m a partner in a studio and a label, I’m learning from my studio partners to be an audio engineer, and now I’m exploring having a radio show that combines guided meditation and music for relaxation and wellbeing. I suffer from chronic health conditions and am very interested in studying functional nutrition in order to improve my health and help others. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being curious or ever stop learning. I think that’s what life is really about – experiencing the fullness of what it is to be human.
Kendra: Time for a side note – with it being summer, I’d love to know your go-to summer anthem? Like what song must you listen to when the weather is perfect and the sun is out?
The Rosie Varela Project: If I were to list only one song that represented summer to me, it would have to be the song that I’ve loved since I was a child. That’s Billy Stewart’s cover of “Summertime.” Just the way he begins the song with his rhythmic vocalization – “brrrrrr…Summertime!” – makes me ready to be in the sun, sipping lemonade from a straw in a sweaty glass, my toes in a kiddie pool, not worrying about a damn thing.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘What Remains’ out now, what are your plans moving forward? Is there a possible tour in the works?
The Rosie Varela Project: The Rosie Varela Project is strictly a studio project. We’re excited about a series of singles we’re producing alongside some musicians I’ve been curious to collaborate with. These collaborations encompass different genres so the results may be very unexpected, but hopefully, listeners find them refreshing.