Music

How LA Singer-Songwriter Rosie Tucker Crafted A Wryly Observant, Stunningly Empathetic Label Debut

Shabnam Ferdowsi

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Rosie Tucker describes themself as a “non-sequiteur equestrian.” It’s a fun phrase, and a pretty accurate way of describing their loose, playful style of songwriting. On their label debut, Never Not Never Not Never Not, Tucker oscillates between wry humor and stark honesty, often in the same song. They jump in and out their own head and other people’s, dipping into the landscapes around them and giving life to every little moment with their pen and guitar.

You could compare Tucker’s observational style to Courtney Barnett and their frankness to Mitski or any other members of that cohort of young singer-songwriters. But drawing too many comparisons distracts from Tucker’s unique songwriting and vocals. Their guitar can be fuzzy or plaintive, and their voice is a chameleon fitting the emotional shape of every song they sing. Never Not Never Not Never Not isn’t Tucker’s first collection of music — they released an independent album in 2015, and a record with the LA indie band Gypsum, along with several other side projects.

Never Not Never Not Never Not has gotten quite a bit of attention leading up to its March 8 release via New Professor, and deservedly so. The record’s first single, “Gay Bar,” immediately establishes Tucker’s voice as an artist. Heaven is a place on Earth, not just in San Junipero — “Gay Bar” is an ode to a California cowboy dive bar and the wonderful, joyful weirdos who frequent it. It’s the kind of beautifully observed song where every detail has a story behind it — and further listening reveals the whole album has a story behind it. I spoke with Tucker ahead of their album release, discussing this new record and touching on everything from California landscapes to Hollywood’s hidden queer history. Read a condensed and edited version of our conversation below.

Can you talk a little bit about your process for writing and composing the songs on the album?

These songs were written over the course of a couple of years, just kind of collecting. I set out to record a six-song EP with all the pals that I play with. We had this tight little recording crew going on. I put together this six-song EP and I sent it to my friend Greg [Katz of New Professor], and he said, ‘I’d love to put this out, but as a full-length!’ And we went, ‘Oh no! Okay,’ and got back to the drawing board. I wrote a couple new things, dug up a couple old things, and we got something together.

Which were the new ones?

“Real House Music” we were writing the parts that we play as we were recording them, quite literally. “Call It Awful,” the really really short one, was brand new. “Pablo Neruda” was a song that I wrote ages ago, and sort of decided wasn’t a good song, and then I played it for someone, and they said, ‘That’s a pretty good song,’ so we threw that one on, too.

When I first heard “Gay Bar” I was struck by how it, like, immediately sets you apart as an artist and sets this great thematic tone for the rest of the album. I love the Dusty Springfield quote in the outro and how it kind of places your music in this legacy of queer artists throughout music history. Could you talk a little about that?

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