Indie Mixtape 20: Half Waif Dreams About German Gnocchi

On Half Waif‘s new album The Caretaker, Nandi Rose does a bit of a character study. The protagonist of the album’s narrative is “someone who has been entrusted with taking care of this estate, taking care of the land, and she’s not doing a very good job.” The record serves as a reminder to be vigilant about your role within the world around you. ‘ Sonically, The Caretaker utilizes synths and expressive percussion to propel the story forward, making for an engaging — and at times overwhelming — listen.

In anticipation of the new album, Rose sat down to talk London, Lorde, and Clueless in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

A Lot Of Feelings.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

As an honest, earnest depiction of one woman boomeranging herself at the world in the hopes that some part comes back, better for its journeying.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

I love performing in London. I studied abroad there in 2010 and in a lot of ways did some of my most important growing up there. So it always feels profound to return and wave to my younger self, with her short hair and black tights, sitting alone at the symphony, so clearly trying to figure herself out in the world. That city gave me so much.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Joni Mitchell is the artistic pioneer I return to again and again. Musically, she inspires me for her lyrical poetry, her playful melodies, her vocal range, and adventurous chord progressions. More spiritually, she represents the kind of person and artist I want to be in the world. She was maligned for her vulnerable outpouring, told to “save some for herself,” and then turned something that was thought to be uncool into something that broke open the world. And you get the impression that she didn’t do it for anybody but herself.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

I still dream about the gnocchi (and wine) at Facciola in Berlin.

What album do you know every word to?

Melodrama by Lorde.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

There have been so many memorable ones, but one that sticks out is The Knife at Terminal 5. It was just such a crazy combination of sound, choreography, community. Bjork was in the audience wearing bright yellow tights.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Something strong yet soft, with movement – a pseudo-costume that makes me feel like the best version of myself. Half me, half superhero.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

Patti Smith is the most soothing Instagram presence – gracious and curious, just like she is in her books (which I cherish). I also really enjoy following my childhood best friend’s mom, Deb Burns, who just posts about nature, like the color of the sky in her backyard, wildlife visitors, signs of spring. I love when social media actually acts as a reminder to disengage with social media and get out in the world.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

I don’t listen to that much music when I’m on tour. I usually put on podcasts when I’m driving, or else sit in silence.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

The artwork of Odilon Redon. I came across one of his paintings in a book at Rodgers Book Barn, an incredible used book treasure trove near my house. Everything there feels like old magic, so when I saw this painting of his and it stopped me in my tracks, it felt like a sign. I needed to know more.

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Metals by Feist. It’s one of my all time favorite records. Gifting music is hard because it might not always be someone’s cup of tea, but if you love something so much, and you love someone so much, there will inevitably be some level of understanding in the exchange.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

An airstream in a stranger’s backyard in rural North Carolina.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

My first tattoo is a circle on my inner wrist, a matching tattoo I got with my college roommate (of all four years) Abby. A symbol of unity, an unbroken bond. We like to think it’s also a portal connecting us all the time, even though we no longer share a bedroom (or even live in the same place).

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

I don’t really listen to the radio, but if I did and caught any pop songs from the late 1990s or early 2000s – when I listened constantly to the radio – I would start beaming and belting loudly.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

For my birthday one year, my partner (now husband) secretly undertook a crowdfunding campaign amongst my family and closest friends to buy me a Nord keyboard. I had been wanting one for so long and knew it was an important part of my growth as an artist, but those things are expensive! It feels so special that this instrument I play now is the product of so much love.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Don’t do it for anyone else.

What’s the last show you went to?

Andy Shauf at Public Records in Brooklyn.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?


What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?

I would not invite Kanye to my house for dinner.

The Caretaker is out 3/27 on ANTI-. Pre-order it here.