"It is hard enough to write a good pop song, but to make it sound like it is coming from a convincing emotional place, invested with thoughtfulness and artistry, well, that's a whole other kettle of fish! Musician and filmmaker Haroula Rose attacks this problem with delicate gusto on her sophomore album, Here the Blue River, creating a balanced mix of compelling storytelling and memorable melodies."
Of her debut LP These Open Roads, NO DEPRESSION said, “Haroula Rose sings with the spirit of a gypsy soul, always searching for meaning or a seed of truth in each fleeting moment. Her voice is at once intimate and solacing, its gentle inflections betraying a subtle, plaintive sway that enriches moments of guitar-driven folk with the pathos of classic country,” and LA WEEKLY claimed that the lonely ballad Lavender Moon is “a spooked love song kissed with atmospherics that would give Tom Waits the shivers.” It was produced by Andy Lemaster in his Athens, GA studio (Bright Eyes, REM, Maria Taylor), and included collaborations with Orenda Fink (Azure Ray, O+S) and John Neff (Drive By Truckers).
To date Rose has released two EP’s, an LP, several singles, and has been remixed by Hood Internet and Fool’s Gold. She has garnered much critical acclaim from the likes of KCRW, LA Times, Vice, LA Weekly, NPR, Flavorpill, American Songwriter, The Bluegrass Situation and more. She has toured internationally and had placements in TV series, commercials, and films such as Still Alice, For A Good Time, Call…, How I Met Your Mother, American Horror Story, and Underemployed, among many others. She has been a guest DJ on KXLU and music supervised or consulted for films such as Fruitvale Station, for which she was also an Associate Producer. Haroula has been compared with the likes of Allison Krauss, Mindy Smith, Emmylou Harris, Suzanne Vega, Dolly Parton, and Jessica Lea Mayfield.
Haroula Rose’s sophomore LP Here The Blue River, released with Thirty Tigers/Little Bliss on March 25th, heralds a sound that has evolved from the traditional acoustic folk of her debut These Open Roads into more developed, full arrangements. It is reminiscent of Daniel Lanois' production if he could have worked with Judee Sill or Townes Van Zandt — a couple of Rose’s main inspirations for the album. Here The Blue River is a phrase in an Emerson poem entitled The River that encapsulates the theme: nothing lasts forever. “This is definitely a relationship record. It’s about how our relationships are also about how we relate to ourselves, to nature, how we are alienated from it, how we seek to understand these mysteries that surround us….how as human beings we create and we destroy things.”
The opening track Songbird harkens back to Fleetwood Mac early days, the chorus echoing the refrain “who was gonna take care of you/who was going to care for you?” and its reprise in a haunting improvised final track are bookends, questioning how if we don’t take care of ourselves, our world, then who is? “I’m interested in the spaces between things just as much as the things themselves, so these interludes give some space to just be and to think, rather than be told a story outright all the time.”
Jim White, the southern gothic multi-hyphenate, Zac Rae (“sonic whiz” currently touring with Death Cab for Cutie, and who has collaborated with the likes of Alanis Morrisette, Gnarls Barkley, Fiona Apple, My Brightest Diamond, Sara Lov, Pedestrian and countless others), and Luke Top (Fool’s Gold, Cass McCombs) were involved in production. “This album took a while not only because I was working on films but also because I was trying to figure out what story I want to tell, what’s most important to me, and how to do that with more dynamic arrangements.”
HTBR also involves Rose’s collaboration with Bonnie Jo Campbell, the best selling novelist. While Rose immersed herself in the world of her book Once Upon A River, for which she has written the screenplay and will direct the feature film, the song Margo was born, as well as the vibe of some other tunes like The River and Walk Away. “The album is like a patchwork that in- volved many collaborators in several locations, and then all of a sudden it started to gel. It marries my film and music passions, so this record really is a true reflection of what I’m about. It’s not a fountain but more like a steady stream from several sources of inspiration.”
For her Pledge Music campaign, Rose chose Charity: water as her cause, naturally fitting with the theme as well. Here The Blue River will be released with Thirty Tigers/Little Bliss followed by nationwide touring.
As a filmmaker, Rose has either written, directed, produced or acted in a variety of short films, documentaries, and feature films. In the year 2013 alone she wrote, starred in, and wrote music for No Love Song, which co-stars Rosanna Arquette and premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival. No Love Song, now being distributed by TV4, went to festivals all around the world including Cannes the same year the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station, a film Rose associate produced and music supervised, was screened there as well. Currently Rose is developing a screenplay adaptation of the much beloved novel Once Upon A River by Bonnie Jo Campbell which Rose will direct in 2016. Rose's script was a finalist for the Nantucket Screenwriter's Colony as well as the Sundance Writer's Lab. In 2015 she was selected to be part of Time Warner’s inaugural year for their incubator, Project 150, for which she has created a TV pilot with Melonie Diaz. She wrote and directed the pilot in which she also appears as a musician. Warner Brothers selected Rose to be part of their Director’s Workshop. In the past Rose was a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain, where she taught music and drama, and she was also selected to be part of Tribeca’s All Access program.
There is an ease in Rose's directing and writing that’s intimate and effortless, as is the case in her voice and songwriting. The award-winning short film Wedding Dress, featuring Joshua Leonard, Abby Wathen, and Dominic Bogart has been compared to a country ballad or Raymond Carver short story. “Sure that feels great to hear. I like when things haunt me, and I can dig in and keep asking questions. I don’t want to be underestimated as a reader or viewer or listener. I want to tell stories that keep exploring our interconnectedness and complexity. And maybe if I’m lucky, someone feels solace in those same things too.”
Rose went to the University of Chicago for her BA and MA, and attended USC for her MFA but took a hiatus to work on music and her films. She is now part of the prestigious Warner Brothers Director’s Workshop, and creating new content for Time Warner. Rose was a Fulbright Scholar, was selected to be a part of Tribeca’s All Access program, and has guest lectured at Cal Poly Pomona, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and Sundance’s Film Forward program.