DeathbyRomy on Mental Health, Practicing Magick and Getting Kicked Out of Graveyards (INTERVIEW)
DeathbyRomy is the Lydia Deetz of pop music: Everything she creates is a little strange and unusual, in the most compelling way.
The 20-year-old California-based artist spellbinds with her haunting vocals; dramatic lyrics; and decidedly dark blend of pop, rock, electronica and hip-hop, creating a deliciously distorted sound all her own. Weaving macabre visual imagery with mesmerizing sonic storytelling and pop hooks that stick, the performer draws listeners in like a beautiful black widow luring prey to her intricate web.
In DeathbyRomy's world, everything is just a little bit twisted. Even her latest single, the brooding, sweeping "Kiss Me Goodbye," comes from an unexpected perspective—that of the tormented "other woman." Inspired by the personal experience of one of the artist's close friends, the track and its evocative visual (which was partly filmed in a cemetery during quarantine) offers an emotional, yet cathartic message for anyone who's ever been toyed with romantically.
"My best friend was talking to a guy who recently broke up with another girl. He was saying crazy things to my friend like, 'I love you way more than her. I’ve never loved anyone like you,' but all the while still telling the other girl that he still loved her and had her lingering in the background," the singer shares about the story behind the single.
"So my friend stood up for herself and said, 'I'm worth more than this. I’m not gonna sit here and wait for him to figure it out,'" DeathbyRomy continues. "She was confident in herself and said, 'Peace out!' to the guy. That inspired the story for this track. I wish it was my own experience, though."
Watch "Kiss Me Goodbye," below.
Below, DeathbyRomy opens up to PopCrush about mental health, filming in graveyards and her unexpected artistic inspirations.
When you listen back to "Kiss Me Goodbye," does it give you a sense of pain or catharsis? What sort of feelings does it conjure for you?
It makes me feel good and confident in myself. It makes me feel like a badass bitch. It's definitely a self proclamation of self-love and self-worth.
Did you film the music video during quarantine? What was that experience like and how were you able to bring the emotional impact of the song to life?
When planning the shots for this video, I thought it would be really cool to show the slow progression from somber reminiscence into confident mayhem. All the shot ideas we had in mind we were luckily able to execute, which was more of a challenge during quarantine. Thankfully, my creative friends did an amazing job and we got to tell the exact story I wanted to tell—that of a strong albeit emotional woman.
You have a diverse array of influences that have impacted you aesthetically, stylistically and musically, from Bjork to Kanye to Marilyn Manson. Is there a source of inspiration for you, either recent or longstanding, that might surprise people?
I think a lot of my original fans know this about me but a lot of the earlier music I put out and created was very trap- and Memphis rap-inspired. Three 6 Mafia are one of my influences that I don't mention enough, nor enough people know influences me.
Speaking of influences, as a horror lover and someone who adores all things macabre, I noticed a lot of that influence in your aesthetics. Are you also a horror fan? How did you first get into spooky things/the macabre?
I am a huge fan of horror. Everything from horror stories to haunted locations to cemeteries (as you can see in the “Kiss Me Goodbye” video) to the possibility of ghosts!
I definitely got into it when I was in elementary school, which was when I first started reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There’s an adrenaline rush about being scared. I remember my mom telling me she loved scary movies when she was younger, so it just seemed liked a cool thing to get into and I fell into it. I'm also very into Kubrick and Japanese horror films.
As someone who practices Wicca, are there any special rituals you engage in to stir your creative energy before working on new music, or anything you do before releasing new music?
I try to do a full moon ritual with every full moon, which I think is an overall rebalancing ritual in terms of my creativity, mental space, overall love, energy and lust for life.
I don’t have a ritual that I do before I go into the studio, though I generally do a ritual before live performances which involves the burning of candles, sage and palo santo. I also regularly write out a list of affirmations.
I know mental health is a topic that is important to you and that you speak openly about. With the pandemic and stay-at-home orders impacting many folks mentally and emotionally, what have you been doing to keep yourself grounded or be kind to yourself? Do you have any advice for others?
I've been trying to check in with myself and remind myself what it is I do deserve vs. what I don’t. I’m trying to be easy on myself and where I am in my career. I’m a naturally born overachiever and I often sulk thinking about where I’m at vs. where I want to be. But I’m trying to pat myself on the back every time I accomplish something during this quarantine.
I like to remind myself that for the most part, I'm doing my best. I recommend everyone else to be easy on themselves as well and take it day by day and not hold themselves to such a fast paced life because that’s just not where we are right now
What sort of shift have you noticed, if any, in the music you're currently working on compared to the songs on your Love u — to Death EP? Has your headspace or influences changed?
I think during the time I was working on the Love u — to Death EP, I was a bit too focused on certain influences and voices who wanted me to be one thing vs. another. Not to say any of those decisions weren’t necessarily mine, they just were more up and down aesthetically than what I would’ve liked as a project.
Since then, I have completely honed in on my sound and feel more free than ever in creating the music I've been making recently. Love u — to Death was a great taste of the sound blend I've become comfortable creating and am confident in doing so.
You recently tweeted that you "got kicked out a cemetery for the sixth time." So, 1. What were you doing in a cemetery that warranted you getting kicked out and 2. Why does this seem to be a recurring theme for you?
I've retried filming and photographing myself in every cemetery in LA.. Some places don't seem to mind at all. Others make a big deal out of it and even make me delete footage in front of their eyes.
For the “Kiss Me Goodbye” shoot, we jumped the fence because the cemetery was closed that day and we got caught by security. But the security guard was actually very nice about it.
How are you navigating the challenges surrounding creating content (visuals, songs) during social distancing measures?
I’m the kind of person who can’t hear “no” so I’m going about creating things as I normally would while respecting people’s space and following guidelines.
You recently tweeted that you "wrote 6+ songs directed shot and filmed a music video, planned my next few releases and continue to work everyday this entire quarantine." What sort of themes or topics or sounds have you found yourself leaning towards?
I've been focusing on a lot of topics surrounding passion, mayhem and the more unsettling truths that people aren’t willing to talk about. I'm at a chapter of my life where I’m exploring who I am and what I want and how exactly I want to be seen. I'm focused on being more and more honest with myself and my followers. To not being afraid to admit my bizarre truths.
Are you planning on releasing an album or EP over the next few months? What can fans look forward to?
I'm currently working on a project, but I'm sure what it will be exactly yet. But I have a stack of over 200 songs to choose from and it’s all gonna depend on when I feel satisfied with a certain arrangement of them. Fans can definitely look forward to a lot of new music coming out though as I have a couple of very special releases planned for the summer!