Roniit on making dark pop that appeals to her grandma and sounds like Opeth meets Britney
Would you say your music draws any inspiration from EBM bands?
I get compared to them a lot. And other '80s bands and a lot of things I've never heard of or listened to, like Switchblade Symphony. But I've never listened to those bands. I listened to a lot of Pendulum and Röyksopp. I guess somehow all the things I listened to ended up sounding like something I've never listened to in my life.
When people hear dark, kind of moody, atmospheric music, they may think "goth." Is that something you feel uncomfortable being called?
If you would have asked me when I was sixteen, I probably would have said, "Yes." You know, metalheads get kind of die-hard. "Don't call me a goth. Don't call me emo. I'm a metalhead. It's different!" But now I kind of try to embrace that. If people want to think I'm a goth, I will direct my [attention] toward goths. I've submitted my music to goth blogs and been featured. If people want to classify me that way and it's going to make some loyal fans, then sure.
But you would not describe yourself as a goth?
No. I mean, I wear black a lot. Pretty much my whole closet has black clothes. But I don't really identify with depression. Everyone gets depressed and anxious, but I don't [stay there]. I don't really feel a need to call myself anything. Does anyone? Except for high schoolers, maybe? When you get classified it makes it easier to find other bands to play with, especially when you go on tour. I have a hard time figuring out who am I going to play with. Who's going to open for me or who am I going to open for?
For your new EP, do you feel it is markedly different from your full-length album?
It feels different to me. I've had my close friends tell me it's better, but it's hard to tell. On my first album, I wasn't writing for other people. I was only writing because it was fun. I also never paid attention to lyrics when I listened to metal, so I had no idea how to write lyrics. I just wrote whatever rhymed. On this one, I tried a lot harder to be poetic. I've never been a great writer when it comes to words, but I'd like to think my lyrics are better and there's less shit going on in the songs.
I tried to make the vocals more focused because my grandma would call me and go, "I can't hear you on your album, and I want to be able to hear your voice. It's the best part." So I tried to make some songs for grandma. My old photos suck, and I'm actually paying photographers now. I have a music video, and I'm trying to move forward with everything and become more professional and sound better, too. My album took me maybe nine months to write, and this EP took me nine months to write. For my first album, I was just pumping songs out. No quality control. Even some of those were homework assignments for class that made it to the album and I still don't even like those songs.
For the EP, I would spend like two months on each song. There was a lot of anxiety that went into it. Now that I have a following online, I'm trying to impress everyone, and it's hard sometimes to think about that when you're writing music. Are people going to like this? Is this more marketable? Because, trust me, like everyone else, I don't want to work a stupid job. I want to earn my music off music. It's not all about that, but you know -- it's what I want to do. I don't want to work nine to five and work on music until two a.m. and then do it all again. It makes you really tired.
On your blog, you relatively recently wrote a bit about the status of music and being a musician now, particularly the subject of Spotify. Can you comment on that?
The thing about Spotify is that part of me loves it. Because I'm like, "This is awesome. I can listen to anyone I want and not pay anything." Well, I pay the monthly fee for the premium service. Then I sat down and crunched the numbers. I like math. I did all the math, and I realized you would have to listen to my album for eight hours straight for me to make a dollar. So I encourage people to put my album on while they sleep, so I can make a buck. That's ridiculous, I think, how little we make off that.
In that same blog entry, you talk about how it's becoming more difficult being an independent musician. Why do you feel that's true?
I think I was talking about how much money I've spent, personally. In the beginning you have to spend a lot to get started: a thousand dollars to press CDs, another thousand for shirts. I spent five thousand on my van. I didn't personally go into a studio, but I know bands that have spent ten thousand in a studio with no label support. Then you put your music on Spotify and maybe you get hundreds of people listening to it but you're barely making thirty bucks a month.
Another thing that bugs me is venue owners not being nice to artists or not giving them very much money. Look, you wouldn't exist if it weren't for us. Everyone makes money but the artist, I feel like, and they're all there because of the artist. The booking agent makes money, the labels make money, the management companies -- everyone else but the artist. It's just shitty.
Some venues are really awesome about that, and they pay out really well. Then I've played shows when there's a ton of people, and they go, "Here's thirty bucks." I know local bands here that tell me they only sell one CD a year, which is crazy. I average about a hundred plays a day on Spotify, and I don't make a living on that, and I feel like that's not a bad play count. It's not amazing like someone famous, but I'm just a person in Colorado and you would think I would make something significant off a hundred people listening to my music all day.