[PREMIERE/Q&A] Rose Hotel – Illusion Anyway (Live From An Empty Room)

It was back in the Summer of 2017 that Rose Hotel first appeared on this site, around the release of her fabulous single Honestly, a heartbroken ballad from her debut EP, Always A Good Reason. The Atlanta based project of Jordan Reynolds, Rose Hotel have come a long way since then, with the 2019 release of the critically lauded debut album, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes. Jordan hinted at new material back in the Autumn of 2020, with the gorgeous Drive Alone, which took her to music to a dreamier, end of the evening tone, with steady drums and guitars that wound like a twisting country road.

Since that release, Jordan has been working on the songs that are set to become her second album, and the good news is they’re almost ready to go! With plans to hit the studio in the coming months, Jordan recently started a Crowd-Funding campaign to allow her dreams for these songs to become a reality. Today to support the campaign Jordan is sharing a live version of a new track Illusion Anyway. Recorded, “Live From An Empty Room”, this stripped-back version, featuring just Jordan and an acoustic-guitar is already a delight, the driving open-tuned chords perfectly complimenting her soaring vocal as she questions whether life is actually reality or just our perception of it. Ultimately the song offers no concrete answer to the question, instead embracing the joys of not knowing, “all we truly can do is just keep our side of the street clean, to lean into personal growth, and allow the rest to fall away”.

Read on to check out the video, as well as my interview with Jordan where we discuss her future plans, influences and why launching a crowd-funder “was an extremely difficult decision to make”.

FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Rose Hotel?

Rose Hotel is the moniker used by songwriter Jordan Reynolds (me!). Sometimes Rose Hotel is a full band, sometimes it’s something else entirely, but it’s the home for the songs that I write. 

FTR: You’re premiering a version of your new track, Illusion Anyway. What can you tell me about the song?

This song was one of those ones that came all at once. I was experimenting with open tuning and playing around with different ideas, and it was channeled through me with ease. It always feels the most amazing when that experience happens in the writing stage. Lately I’d been getting sort of philosophical about how all of life is basically absurd in nature. It led me to this idea that what we experience is sort of a perceived reality, an illusion, that we’re constantly trying to rectify and sharpen. The conclusion I found through this particular song is this idea that all we truly can do is just keep our side of the street clean, to lean into personal growth, and allow the rest to fall away because, well…none of this shit is “real”. We can create our own illusions. 

FTR: I understand you’ve already written your new album, did you approach writing it differently compared to your debut album?

I’m still in the process of writing, but I have a good handful of songs ready to go. This has been different in the sense that instead of working on these songs with my bandmates and collaborators, I’ve been writing in pretty much complete solitude. Aside from demo-ing out a few of the tracks with drummers, these songs have been created alone and won’t really have any other minds on them until we get to the studio. It’s been a real challenge to push myself creatively without having other folks to bounce ideas off of, or get confirmation that an idea is “good” or not. That’s just the way this collection had to be made, since so many of them are about internal conflict, desire, longing for connectedness…all the things that I think about when I’m alone in a room. These ideas are ones I needed to explore in solitude. 

FTR: So one of the reasons you’re putting out this track is because you’re launching a Crowd-funder to record your new album. Was it a difficult decision to fund the recording this way?

Launching the crowd-funder was an extremely difficult decision to make for me. I’m really bad at asking for help…or admitting that I need it…so launching the indiegogo was difficult both internally and externally. It took a lot of encouraging from friends to believe that people would actually even want to help me make this — to invest in my music and songwriting. It’s a little scary because if the goal doesn’t get reached I’m going to have a harder time making the record happen, but I’m putting a lot of faith in my community and I’ve been super grateful to see that it’s already gotten a really positive response. 

FTR: What difference will it make to how you approach recording the album?

The reason I decided to launch the crowdfunding campaign was precisely so I could approach making this album the way it really deserves to be made. I have ten days booked in a studio with some awesome collaborators to help me make the best possible record I can, and it’s all going to cost a lot more than I’ve ever invested in a project. I’ve never been able to afford this much time in the studio, pay people what they deserve, and also be able to take off work from my day job in a restaurant for this period of time.  Hopefully with the funds that I raise, I’ll be able to not spare any expense in making sure I can put my entire effort into making it! 

FTR: Who are the major influences on your songwriting? What were you listening to when you wrote the new album?

I feel like Rose Hotel is a big fondue pot of everything that I love, from songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Nilsson, rock n rollers like Lou Reed/Velvet Underground and Patti Smith, and also psychedelic droney shit or shoegaze from more contemporary artists. I love Lucinda Williams. I’ve been obsessed with that Dijon record. My friend got me on Spiritualized and I’ve been listening to them a lot. My other friend showed me the Kinks recently and wow I cannot believe I hadn’t done a deeper dive earlier, but I’ve been really obsessed. “Tired of Waiting for You” feels like it could be a Rose Hotel song. I also love my friend George Pettis’ songwriting project 100 Watt Horse and can’t get his melodies out of my head.  It’s a little bit of everything! 

FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?

Suppose it’s because this is what I’ve always done…it’s what resonates the most with me physically and spiritually. I would really love to get better at film photography one day, and I’ve been meaning to learn to paint, but I’m always reaching for the guitar instead.  My inner child is always happiest when I’m singing and I’m trying to be really nice to her these days, so that’s what I’ll keep doing.

FTR: I loved your quote, “I’m constantly searching for answers to the questions I’m always asking from the universe”. Why do you think music allows you to make sense of these big themes?

I think that the way our bodies take in music through our senses…it allows our nervous system to calm and gives us access to a deeper subconscious plane. It allows us to tap into a higher sense of awareness than you might otherwise when reading something or looking at a visual piece of art. It feels more like a fully embodied experience, at least to me. That sense of embodiment is where the real magic happens…that’s when I feel like I can channel some deeper sense of knowingness. Through that sense of knowingness, I’m able to look at the questions I have, the problems I want to solve, or the feelings I want to understand and allow the answers to come through the songs themselves. I’m not “finding” the answers and then sharing them through the song…the song itself is the search for them. The conclusions are open-ended. I think everyone can relate to that search, and why those themes feel so universal…we’re all just trying to figure it out.  

FTR: It’s obviously been a difficult few years for musicians in terms of touring. Have you had to change your plans at all?

I was pretty lucky last year and was still able to play a good bit of shows, at least around the southeast where I live. Lots of outdoor shows, and post-vaccine things opened up quite a bit more as well. 2020 was for sure a bust, but 2021 wasn’t too bad. I’m hoping we continue this upward trend!

FTR: Will you be taking this record out on the road once it’s completed?

I sure hope so! Anyone got a good booking agent?!

FTR: What’s next for Rose Hotel?

Next up is getting this IndieGoGo campaign funded so I can get in the studio and bring these songs to life! Recording the album in June, and from there, time will tell. 

For more information and to support Jordan’s crowdfunder visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rose-hotel-s-sophomore-album/x/28929110#/ and for more information on Rose Hotel visit https://www.rosehotelmusic.com/.

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