Born and raised in Southeast London, Florence Rose’s primary vocation was filmmaking, which she studied at Central St Martin’s. It wasn’t until a chance offer on a short film project that her private pastime of songwriting and playing was brought into the professional arena. With a new EP slated for release next year and a slew of live dates to accompany it, we’re very happy she heeded the call to start making music.
Florence recently released her new single ‘Isn’t Life Beautiful’, the follow-up to her cinematic debut single ‘I Am Your Daughter’, which was lauded by the likes of Wonderland, The Line Of Best Fit, The Forty Five, and more. The single once again encapsulates Florence’s brand of gothic alt-pop, combining her love of trip-hop, alternative, and dream pop. Florence’s inspirations span a multitude of genres, and she cites Ethel Cain, Lana Del Rey, Goldfrapp and Massive Attack as key sonic references. Alongside her blossoming music career, Florence also works as a model and filmmaker and has worked with the likes of Gucci, Gucci Beauty, Marc Jacobs, Celine, Stella McCartney, and more.
Here, she talks to whynow about the development of her own brand of gothic alt-pop, recruiting her friends to help shoot her first music video, intensely studying Goldfrapp’s music and vinyl sleeve, borrowing from Ingmar Bergman, and the primordial urge in all women to run into forests unclothed.
Good afternoon, Florence! You’ve already released two singles ahead of your upcoming EP, the first being ‘I Am Your Daughter’. What’s the message behind this track?
I wrote ‘I Am Your Daughter’ first because the way I got into writing was through pain and looking for something beyond myself. I wasn’t religious but I’ve found my own religion as something to believe in, something bigger than myself. That’s what the song’s chiefly about, but it’s also about when people take that too far, this idea of spiritual psychosis, thinking that just because you see all these signs, you’re going to be saved.
At what time in your life did you start taking a career in music seriously?
Throughout my teenage years, I was writing songs on guitar, but nothing I’d ever share. It was very, very private stuff. Then, I did a creative direction job for somebody who knew a producer who needed a singing voice for something and asked if I wanted to do it. It was during a phase of my life when I was saying yes to a lot of things, so I just went for it.
I’d never done anything like it before: all the technology, I was just so scared! But we got on really well and had very similar tastes. Before long, we were taking the tracks. We made ‘I Am Your Daughter’, the second song we made together, just over a year ago. After that, I was hooked. I thought, “Wow, I actually love doing this and I want to keep doing it.” And I was given that opportunity with Odd Numbers [her record label].
What were you doing before this? Were you at uni? What led up to you eventually getting this break?
I went to Central Saint Martins and did an Art Foundation before applying to their Performance Design course. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew it was something involving video or theatre. I did that for three years, during Covid – so it was a bit of a mess! – and then left to make films by myself alongside modelling.
What really got me into this industry was the short film I made. I put on an event for it, had people sing, including myself, and created this world of weird – young people making weird films and weird music.
There’s a strong thread of the ‘divine feminine’ coming out in your work, and you’ve alluded to this ‘call to the wild’ for women that motivates you. How do you square this impulse with living in Southeast London, far away from expansive natural spaces?
It’s more of a longing to escape the mundane daily routine of city life. Because I’ve always been here I have this dream of what it’d be like to live in nature. But because it’s all I know, city living in London, I feel like I can’t leave because I’m tied here with friends, family, and work commitments, so I put all of these dreams into my work.
I try to find ways of connecting with nature through meditation or rituals. All my friends are city people, most from Southeast London, and we all share this same longing to just escape, run into the woods naked, start a fire, and chant together.
I really want to visit more of the forests in England: the Forest of Dean in particular, and there’s an amazing place near Wales called Puzzlewood I really want to go to.
Your sound’s slightly removed from traditional folk music that normally evokes this kind of appeal to nature. What are you trying to do in your look and messaging that diverges from that?
I’m majorly inspired by Goldfrapp’s first album, Felt Mountain, which also has this natural theme, but when you first listen in, it doesn’t sound like that at all. It takes time, but deep down, you can pull that reference from it. That album has this ethereal, operatic, cinematic feel to it. The album cover’s on my wall at home. I’m staring at it now, actually. One of my favourite films is The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
What inspiration do you take from cinema?
I’ve made films and studied many of them, and it’s something that really inspires me, mostly the dark, mysterious, slightly erotic films. The perfect kind of film for me is Blue Velvet or Crash. Mirror by Tarkovsky is one of my favourite films ever. It’s so beautiful. Possession is also another favourite and invokes the raging parts of my music.
My short film was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. There’s a scene in it where I recreate the part where she’s looking from the side and the other one’s looking forward.
Why have you chosen to write about these grander concepts of mysticism and spirituality in your songs? Why not sing about subjects that are much less abstract?
Because that’s the world I live in, and it’s the people I surround myself with. We’re all big dreamers. We want to create our own safe environment where we can be delusional and dream about different things. I feel so much more connected to things outside of myself – I’m not a very grounded person in that way.
It’s the most powerful source of inspiration for me, this idea of something bigger, something holy, something outside of myself. I find much less inspiration in traditional love songwriting.
Florence Rose’s debut EP is slated for release next Spring