Q&A: Rosey’s Been Singin’ and It Feels Damn Good
Nancy Kaye Hill is a songwriter, artist, producer, and engineer. Rosey is Hill’s alter ego and musical vehicle to extend her own brand of positivity. They both found their musical voice on a two week trip from New York to Los Angeles by playing a beat up 50s Kay Guitar on the streets to see if “anyone cared”. It turned out that they did. After years signed to a major label in the throws of the discord found in pockets of the music industry in LA, she made a decision to move to Georgia.
An epiphany in a field of wheatgrass told her that this was the place that she needed to be in order to bring happiness to her life. Nancy married a fellow musician, producer, and engineer Aaron Hill. Together, they built The Green House Atlanta, a recording studio with an open and inspiring atmosphere. The two have focused on engineering and producing ground-breaking records for artists like Midnight Larks, Sailing to Denver, and Wade Sapp. First and foremost, Nancy is an artist and she was seeking balance. It was time for a new Rosey record. I Heard You Been Singin’ is due out in January, and I visited with Nancy at The Green House Atlanta to learn more about it.
PM: Tell me about a visceral musical experience that changed your perspective.
NKH: One of my favorite songs is a David Bowie song called Letter to Hermione. It was about his girlfriend, and there is something about that song that is so intimate. He’s explaining these feelings he had for this person who is no longer in his life. It’s such a simple song and not many musical elements to it. For some reason, the vibration of the song is so intense to me that I want to cry. The day that David Bowie died, I put that record on and I found all of these weird things that were happening around the house that blew me away. They were in sync with the lyrics. Then I put on Hunky Dory, and I went to go water the plants. As I pulled back the curtain in the front window, he sings check the cactus by the window. I realized that there is never any reason to fear because your heroes are always right there with you in this beautiful music they created.
PM: How do you balance being a producer, engineer, songwriter and artist?
NKH: I've thought so many times like maybe I can just be a producer and an engineer and not make my own music. But then I just can't stop. I'm an artist. That's what I do. I make art and if I don't do that, I don't feel happy in my life. So I've got to keep doing it. And, if I keep my intentions in the right place, I feel like everything will just work out.
PM: What is the Rosey mindset and how did it come about?
NKH: I always fight with these voices in my head and they're not my voice. They are other people who have tried to warn me in the music industry. “You've got to write songs about sex, drugs and rock and roll.” And I tell them I like to write spiritual, positive music that's going to make people love themselves. They say, “Yeah, good luck with that” or “you might want to rethink that if you want to make any money”. But I’m not really into exploiting my own misery. If I can lead by example, maybe I can help lift up some other people. Then I'm doing my job on the planet.
PM: You’ve released Little Star and King of The World off of your upcoming record I Heard You Been Singin’. The full record is slated for January, right?
NKH: I always take like a month or two off in my year to just focus on my own stuff, and it's never enough time. It's okay because if you spend too much time just focusing on your own art, you could really destroy it by overthinking. It can be a little dangerous having too much perspective on a piece of art. I think we just have one more song to finish mixing and then the record is officially done.
PM: Tell me about this amazing sound that you’ve put together.
NKH: It's kind of like a psychedelic funk thing, which is really a band album. I, like most artists, always dream of this amazing band that comes together almost like a family … like Sly and the Family Stone where it's not just about me being this front person. It's about all of us creating together.
PM: If you could stack your own bill for a show, who would be on it?
NKH: I always want to bring together women. I don't know why it seems hard to get a bunch of women on a bill together, but I’d love to play with Chelsea Shag & Ruby Velle. They’re my favorite local artists. I feel like we’re all kind of making music that has something in common. It's not the same, but the funk brings us all together with the soul and that feels damn good!
I left my conversation with Nancy Kaye Hill inspired and thinking about the lasting effects of meaningful interactions with positive people. There are those that talk about doing things and those that actually do them. Nancy delivers on her promise to make great art while extending positive energy into the world. Check out the videos for King of The World and Little Star at Rosey Music, and you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Stay tuned for the release of I Heard You Been Singin’ in late January.