Photos by Mary Tio
It is the morning of Camp Flog Gnaw day one and I am more excited than a little kid going to Disneyland for the first time. My partner in crime, Ria, and I rallied early in the morning to arrive at the festival for the grand opening of Dodger Stadium’s gates. As a first-timer in festival coverage, I experience mixed feelings of imposter syndrome and the slightest tinge of anxiety. However, the sheer thrill that I was chosen to be here completely overshadows any self-doubt. We kicked off the day on a high note by catching Grammy-nominated Baby Rose’s opening set at the Gnaw stage, a perfect way to dance off any nerves. The crowd is packed with big grins, swaying shoulders, and echoes of voices singing along, despite all of us basking in the hot sun. Living in this moment with fellow fans helps mentally prepare me for my upcoming interview with Baby Rose following her set. Having seen her before on her Through The Soul tour with Q at the EchoPlex this past June, I had an inclination that our time together would flow organically, as we are simply two people with a fundamental love for music. Jasmine Rose Wilson, an independent singer and producer with a talent for playing the piano, is inspiring to see achieve so much in just her early 20s. With a deep melodic contralto voice and lyrics that reveal emotions we often have trouble describing ourselves, how could someone so unique and relatable not draw the attention of millions to their music? I was already an admirer of Baby Rose prior to this weekend, but after being introduced to her and her team, who welcomed me with hugs and warm smiles, I knew for certain that I was supporting someone authentic. Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to be given the time to connect with Baby Rose, my final manifestation before diving into my questions was to be present and revel in this moment.
[Note: this interview was conducted Saturday, November 11, 2023 at Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles and has been edited for clarity and brevity purposes]
Mary: Welcome to UCLA radio! My name is Mary and I’m joined by…
Baby Rose: Baby Rose!
Mary: We’re so happy to have you here. Last time I saw you it was actually with Q at the EchoPlex!
Baby Rose: That was so fun!
Mary: It was such an amazing show.
Baby Rose: Yeah, I had a good time. That was beautiful.
Mary: Well, I saw you at the EchoPlex, and now I’m seeing you at Flog Gnaw! You just finished your set a couple of hours ago. What was your experience like performing on that stage?
Baby Rose: It was so beautiful seeing the sea of people out there and getting to sing with everyone. There’s the anxiety and all of that beforehand building up, but then when I started, it was beautiful to see so many people come and participate. We were singing together. We were dancing together. It was a dream come true.
Mary: From the crowd’s point of view, it was a really good time. I don’t think I saw even one person standing still or not enjoying themselves. There was so much warmth and community felt throughout that set, and we’re so glad to have shared that moment with you. Going more into who you are and your backstory as a growing artist, your voice is beautiful, and your range is amazing. I can imagine, though, that having such a unique sound must’ve exposed you to some level of adversity. What was it like overcoming that as a young performer in such a transformative stage of your life?
Baby Rose: I was always given advice to mold myself in a way that didn’t feel real to me, like lifting my voice up when I speak and sing. As a kid, I fell in love with music really early on. Being told all those things by adults as a kid gave me the perception that was the way to make it until I was old enough to be out the door and do everything I wanted to do. I had listened to them and done that for so long that it took me time to unlearn all of it and just be gentle with myself. You have to be true to yourself because you’re the one that’s on that stage when push comes to shove. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but at the end of the day, what separates a great artist from the standard is the willingness to take a risk, bet on yourself, and really push to the edge of who you can be. Don’t worry so much about climbing a ladder as much as seeing how far you can go on your own potential. That’s what inspired me to use the depth of my voice to openly talk about topics that are more taboo like depression, paranoia, love, or empathy for the world. It’s about the things we don’t hear enough about but that can really touch somebody else because that is what has really helped me. I’m very grateful for this lane I’m in that’s very much forged by honesty, vulnerability, and love.
Mary: That’s beautifully put. Would you say being true to yourself was the ‘aha’ moment that helped you recognize your inner beauty and the power of your voice? Or was it something or someone else that helped flip that switch in your head?
Baby Rose: The moment I started to trust myself, lean into everything that I love, lean into my own taste, and not feel like ‘Oh, I don’t know anything…they probably know more than me’ because they have this, that, and the third to back them up led me to start listening to myself, and that’s when things started to work. We exist in a generation where people can really tell the real from the fake. Even though fake may have its moment, things that are real are built to last and surpass trends.
Mary: Well said. I don’t think I or anyone else could have phrased that better than you just did. You mentioned that you’ve been making music from a really young age. What was it like navigating a career during your adolescence? Was it good? Bad? Both?
Baby Rose: It was fun at first because I was going into the studio with songs that I wrote on the piano, and they were very real to me at the time. It started shifting a bit, though, the more people started to listen and tell me I needed to make music for kids. I would like to look at it as the glass half full and say that it stretched my imagination. I experimented with so many different genres just out of curiosity, but that catalog will never see the light of day. It was a lot of trial and error since I wasn’t getting in my own way. But you know, the other side of that was feeling like I wasn’t good enough and my own original idea wasn’t strong enough. Then again, I had to unlearn that, which was a process in itself. It took a moment in time where I absolutely felt like my back was against a wall, and I just had to bet on myself. The people that God wanted to help me through this were already aligned. Ultimately, it was up to me to choose whether I was going to be scared and stick to what I was comfortable with or be very real and honest. By choosing the latter, it catapulted my career, so I’m very grateful.
Mary: That’s very insightful. Thank you so much for being so honest.
Baby Rose: Of course.
Mary: Do you have a dream collaboration you envision doing with another artist? What is it about their artistry that draws you to wanting to create with them?
Baby Rose: There are so many people I love listening to, and one of them is Destin Conrad! He is funny, cool, amazing, and a myriad of qualities that give his persona depth. You can especially hear it in the music he releases. He’s very honest, and I relate to that. We actually have a song coming out on Wednesday, November 15th, and I’m very excited for that! It’s the kind of bop that I like to play when I’m getting ready, at a pregame, or some type of festivity like that. The song is called “Closer,” and I’m so happy to share this little gem at the end of the year to celebrate how beautiful it’s been. He’s doing amazing right now, and we’ve always supported each other, so it just feels really real.
Mary: What was your collaborative process like when creating this new song together?
Baby Rose: I actually had this song done for about a year, and it was a bop by myself. I added somebody else, but it didn’t feel all the way right. Then I had the brilliant idea to add Destin, and he slid. He’s great at saying everything we think about in the back of our minds, and I love how he’s so direct with his words. I tend to be more metaphorical and around the spectrum, whereas he’s more ‘this is what it is,’ and I love it.
Mary: I’m excited! I believe it’ll strike a great balance between both of your styles. Now, for a fun question! It’s only day one, and it’s not even sunset yet, so what sets are you looking forward to between today and tomorrow?
Baby Rose: Oh my gosh… BADBADNOTGOOD, Ravyn Lenae, Kali Uchis, the Hillbillies, SZA, Turnstile. I’m so all over the place since there are so many people here! You know the taste, THE TASTE, you really can get a little bit of everything. I want to discover and be put on! I want to stumble across something that catches my attention and delve into that because there are a lot of artists that I gotta be put on to. I loved watching Liv.e do her thing, Fana Hues, just everybody is beautiful. Oh, and of course, Tyler, DUH. *more duhs echo from everyone else*
Mary: Of course, he is basically the father of this whole festival!
Baby Rose: I’m so proud of him. This is so inspirational and such a beautiful creation. I came here in 2016 and was so wide-eyed and just teary-eyed to see him accomplish such a feat. It made me think, ‘Oh, you got to dream bigger, think bigger, because you’re thinking small,’ you know what I’m saying? Just seeing him continue to do this and how the people sold this out without even knowing what the lineup is… that’s how much you know they trust the taste level. You know what I’m saying? This isn’t like other festivals because you’re going to get rock, R&B, rap, alternative, jazz, and just overall really rich music from across all the genres. When you turn up here, you’re totally immersed in the music and can transcend. I love that for me and everybody else performing because now I’m going to keep enjoying this weekend.
Mary: I’m a veteran of Camp Flog Gnaw as well, and this is my third year attending, especially under these circumstances, which has truly been an honor. But I definitely resonate with your idea of community being present here. You see that community between artists and also between artists and their audience, which really translates to what you’re saying.
Baby Rose: Facts. I agree.
Mary: I hope to run into you again this weekend, but regardless, have the most amazing time!
Baby Rose: Thank you, I appreciate you!
Mary: We appreciate you too!
In a world full of beauty, creativity, and raw talent, supporting those who showcase mind-blowing music becomes crucial for fostering an environment where artistic expression thrives. If you haven’t added Baby Rose to your playlists yet, be sure to check out her latest album, “Through and Through,” and follow her on Instagram (@babyrosemusic) to stay updated on new releases!