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Johanna Rose delivers real emotion on their lo-fi masterpiece 'Postponedalone'


All December, Radio Milwaukee is paying tribute to our favorite Milwaukee releases of 2020 and speaking with the musicians who made them. This is  Milwaukee Music’s 20 of 2020, presented by Planned Parenthood and sponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library.

Raw, real and emotional is the easiest way to describe Johanna Rose's debut solo project, " Postponedalone." Raw in a sense that the pieces of this dark puzzle start from the inside out rather than the outside in. Their delivery and attention to the imperfections make this work beautifully painful, yet emotionally present. As I was listening, I could feel the words needing to be let loose.

I had the honor of chatting with Johanna about the project, how an escape to Vermont helped heal the soul and the intention for future records in 2021.

Johanna Rose | Photo by Samer Ghani
Interview with Johanna Rose

Kenny Perez: I think I'm listening to this album, “Postponedalone,” really struck emotions within me, which, you know, it's every artist's intention to, to strike feelings in the listener. And I really sat with this a few days and really loved on it, and was saddened by a lot of the songs. I'm going to read a quote here, "a series of demos, voices, memos, and songs recorded at 3 a.m., old and new, put together in a low-fi emotional outburst." And that's basically what it is. And you also said it may be occasionally have some happiness. I love this album.

Johanna Rose: Oh, thanks so much. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. I'm just here to make you cry.

KP: Talk to me about the process of making this first piece.

JR: Well, I think that if I'm correct, this came out pretty quick after quarantine started. And I think that maybe other people experienced this, too, but my life had been very, out and about. And all of a sudden I was like, "Oh my God, I'm alone. How do you be alone?" I just was kind of allowed the time to think about that. And I had always wanted to do a solo album, but had always had reasons not to do it because it wasn't polished enough or it wasn't good enough. And I decided that I was enough, and that this was enough, and it in its rawness was just what I needed to let go of. And here we are.

KP: It's definitely a raw album. I am a lover of different styles of music. It's so refreshing to hear this piece of art. There's one song that I really, really stuck with me and it's a song called "I Should Leave." The first line is, "Does anyone notice the difference in my smile?" Talk about your smile now.

JR: Well, I feel like it's present, it's here. But that line is talking about when bad things happen or hard things happen, how we can really internalize that and feel like, almost feel like we are wearing it and people can see it, you know even if they can.

KP: It's such an emotional project, at least from my vantage point, that you created here. And obviously it really struck a chord with with our listeners and with the people that chimed in and what they were listening to this year. I mean, 2020, with all the social injustice, it's not right. It's not 2020 social injustice. Hasn't just started. It's been going on for for decades for centuries. And this pandemic is what really has taken us back, was definitely a project that speaks to that speaks to feeling. So thank you so much for that. With that, I'm going to say three words, "Vermont, treehouse, outdoors." What, what has that done for you in 2020 and moving?

JR: I think it was, it's all part of the same path that I was kind of set on and that hopefully the world was kind of set on since the pandemic started, which is healing. As cheesy or, or maybe predictable as that sounds. I mean, it I really did kind of starting with this album, start going down a path of realizing what I liked about myself, what I didn't like about myself and what I needed to grow. And part of that was a real disconnect from the natural world. And I was lucky and privileged enough to have some, a space where I could build a treehouse and live in it. And it was off the grid. There was no electricity or water running water, and it was wonderful. It was what I really needed to kind of get my head in the right place for what I imagine is to come. And I think that the world is kind of doing that. We're realizing what we like about it, what we don't like about it, what we need to address, what we need to grow, what we need to let go of,

KP: I follow you on Instagram. And I can see some of the images that you posted with the treehouse and with the outdoors of Vermont. Really like breathtaking views and the trees that during this fall. Amazing, amazing stuff. One of the things that caught my attention was the the quote from R.B.G., The Notorious R.B.G., I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talents she had to do, her work to the very best of her ability. If you can tell me a little bit about that quote and what it means to you.

JR Well, R.G.B. I'm actually in a group called Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We're kind of choir, I would consider us a choir. And I always painted when I was younger before I was a musician, I grew up thinking I would be a painter. And that's one of the things that I reconnected with this summer. I painted a lot, and I painted a mural on the tree house, and I grieved through painting. And when she passed, I found that quote just to be really true. Like I believe, I believe it. I think that she definitely lived her life according accordingly. And I just wanted to honor that. So I did what I do when I want to honor anything. I pulled it and hung it in a tree with a whole bunch of flowers.

KP: What can we look forward to in the future from Johanna Rose?

JR: Well, when I was in Vermont I did get to write a lot. I think that in my younger years, I kind of felt like I needed to be in a, in distraught, or in a painful place, which is very inspiring. And you can kind of see that in "Postponedalone." And I'm not saying that I'm writing happy songs or anything, don't get me wrong. But I did get to write a lot in this kind of calmer place, more channeled maybe. And I am helping to put that collection of songs out sooner than later.

88Nine Assistant Program Director & Afternoon Drive Host | Radio Milwaukee