Ariana DiLorenzo, creator of Ariana and the Rose, is best known for her pop songs and immersive performance experience Light + Space. If you haven’t been to one of her shows, then during the pandemic, you’ve probably seen one of Ariana’s viral TikToks. She creates content about her personal experiences and a large audience has been attracted to her vulnerability and feminist passion.
Carrie Morrissey, the mastermind designer behind ISLYNYC, has been a fan of Ariana’s music since seeing her perform at House of Yes back in 2017. These two artists took some time to chat about Ariana’s upcoming projects, being a woman in the music industry, and going viral on TikTok.
A: I think we actually touched on this the last time we talked.
LG: I have it right here. It says patriarchy and then I drew a flame next to it.
A: Well, great. So, we started there. I mean this was something that I found only later into doing music. It took me a really long time to find other female musicians that were also songwriters, also having their own artist projects, also having their own shows, also running. And I found those friends several years into making music. I didn’t even realize how alone I felt until I had those kinds of relationships. I always have had female friends, I would consider myself a girl’s girl, but they were doing other things, they were lawyers and screenwriters and all other things. And to become friends with women that were on both sides of the table, friends with people that were running something on the business side in music and also having an artist project or being a super successful songwriter and also having an artist project or starting a podcast. All of a sudden, the conversation around all of that and what the deals were, what happened to them, how their things were structured, having a glass of wine, being like, holy fuck, my publishing company is reupping my deal for six years. That’s not what I want. I can’t even get out of it. Or having those conversations…It changes how you approach your own thing, because it’s what you were talking about before, when women are pitted against each other, you don’t know what the deals are. You don’t know what the business is like or what those things are.
LG: Exactly, exactly.
A: But as soon as you start talking to each other, all of a sudden, you’re like, “oh, wait a second. That’s what you’re getting, OK?” And you really start to become a strength in each other and it has been…
LG: It’s reiterating your value.
A: Yeah, and it’s been one of the gifts in my career that I don’t even think I realized I needed to have other female friends inside of making music, which it was so rare. I do not think it is anymore. I think once women started seeing that as an option at all, all girls were like, yes, please, I don’t want to be against another girl… That’s such a horrible place to feel.
LG: Yeah, for sure. And I feel like for so long we’ve been told that there’s only a spot for a woman, you know, like you’re going to have a bunch of dudes and then there’s the chick spot, you know, and if you have more than that, then it’s like men aren’t going to want to go see them. And there’s all this stuff that has to be a theme. And no, believe it or not, there’s multiple types of women out there.
A: I mean could you believe? Who could imagine 50 percent of the population has all sorts of layered, complex…
LG: Nuances! We are so nuanced.
A: And the thing is, if you’re going to look at it from a business perspective, women are consumers, like women spend, you know, what do you mean?
LG: Women love to shop!
A: Women love to shop. So, what? Like what? I don’t even understand why you wouldn’t play into that. It just doesn’t make any sense. But I mean, touching on…What we talked about, the tiktok that I made.
LG: Yes. Yes. Yeah. You went viral, when you had like seven million views, something…
A: Like eighty point, something 80.2
LG: Amazing, and it’s… I highly recommend going and watching this tiktok because it is fabulous.
A: Thank you. I mean, once I made them, they resonated pretty quickly. But the original ones I was making were focused on dating specifically. And I identify as straight. So, they were about guys and then somewhere along the lines off the cuff, because I was just like having my own spiral of life, I started just talking more about my own personal experiences. And I noticed immediately that it was resonating with women specifically. And that video went viral because of women like me, too. And I wasn’t even really trying to make some huge statement. I mean, I certainly was speaking to the expectations put on women, but it was more just me reflecting back my own expectations. And in the video, I’m like, if she’s taking care of herself and she’s cooking and she’s staying hydrated and she’s… this one said…
LG: Well, the first time I watched it, I was just like, “oh, my God, where are we going with this?” There’s this dread of performance anxiety. You know? It’s too much, it’s all these requirements.
A: But it’s so true, though, right. And the video was made as a response to all these other videos I was seeing on tiktok. Which I love these videos and I appreciate these women, but it’s these videos of the girl, whatever the audio is, it’s like when you start aligning with yourself and your expectations are for you. And it’s like she wakes up at five thirty a.m. and then she journals and then she makes her matcha and then she stretches and I’m like, who the fuck is doing this. Like what?
A: So that video was made sort of as a response to that, and I’m like, this is so much pressure. Like I can’t do this and then put on biker shorts and a blazer and look cute for the day. I can’t do all of it. It’s too much.
LG: So, I actually do believe in the bike shorts and the blazer. I think if you put it on it looks spectacular like if that is an easy go to outfit.
A: Agreed, agreed. It’s a staple. If you’re having a struggle, biker shorts or leggings, and you’re instantly adorable. I agree with you. I just yeah. I…it was made as a response to that. And I didn’t realize when I did it, obviously, that it was going to resonate. But what it showed me and then I have shifted is to speak to women in a very real way, obviously with some humor in it.
LG: Right. Right.
A: About the experience and the expectations that we all sort of have on us. You have this body positivity movement and the self-love movement. And then even that becomes commercialized.
LG: And consumer. Yeah, absolutely.
A: And we all have to be thriving and we all have to be working on ourselves. So, we all have to be like manifesting. And I’m like, Fuck! It’s a lot!
LG: It’s a lot of requirements. Yeah.
A: Listen, I’m just trying to not eat shit, you know what I mean, and be good to people and like maybe do something fun.
LG: Check, check, check.
A: And that’s obviously hyperbole. But it’s a large expectation on people. And I think I touched on something without realizing it. And that audience was really women. And before then, the LGBTQ community has been like an incredible home for my music and my shows and the club scene and all of that.
LG: We love the queer community. In New York, it’s just such a beautiful place and they just feel so at home.
A: …They know a lot about like what’s cool and what’s not cool. And it has it’s own niche of things, of course. But I mean, those were the first festivals I ever played, were Prides. The first shows I ever played were clubs…
LG: And you’ve always worked with a lot of people in the queer community too. So, your choreographer, dancers and…
A: Everybody. And I started in theater in New York, so I went to a performing arts high school. My personal life is filled with people in the queer community who I as a person have been so influenced by what it is seeing people live authentically in the face of people not accepting that from when you’re like 13 or younger. And so, that infuses who you are.
LG: Absolutely of the fearless. Oh, my God! This need, you know, where you can’t even live any other way. It’s impossible.
A: One hundred percent. I mean, the first time I ever went to it, like whenever it was 15, 16 was a gay club. And then I would go to the straight club and I’m like, the music is not as good.
LG: Oh, oh my God.
A: I’m not playing…the music is just not good. But it’s been interesting because my artistry has always been really accepted by that community and then sort of like finding this other voice on tiktok and social media…
LG: Wow, fascinating yeah.
A: It’s been new for me and that’s who I am as a person. Like if you meet me, I’m always somebody who’s championing women and cares about that. But it just wasn’t where my music found a space. And so, to have this other piece now and see the marriage of that and then seeing them discover the music…
LG: You bring in the piano as well. So, you do have some connection between.
A: One hundred percent. I mean, you can tell I’m obviously a musician.
LG: And I love that you’re sitting at this piano because there’s something really sophisticated about it and loungy and you kind of just like want to show up with a martini and slide up to the side of you.
A: Very cabaret. Yeah, I’ve always gotten a lot of comparisons to like, well, I had very short hair at the time. So, like Eliza Minneli or like Lady Gaga sort of phase. And I think that just speaks to…
LG: You. I swear to God, when I saw you perform at Three Dollar Bill, you were Lady Gaga, it was it was amazing. I was just like…what you were dancing. You started off on the stage and then you went into the into the crowd and you had other dancers around you. I think you were wearing a white blazer or something.
A: Oh, yeah. Good memory.
LG: Yes. I’m so visual. I’m so, so visual. And the vibrations that you brought down… it was thick, it was delicious. And there were multiple people who were at that show who had no idea what to expect. And I fully heard them say, like, oh, she’s good. Like really. It’s like that.
A: Yeah. That’s my that’s always my favorite response at a show. My best friend’s boyfriend, now his husband…At the time he came to the show and they had been dating for not very long, maybe a month or so. And I can I can appreciate this. You say to someone that you don’t know, oh yeah, my best friend is a singer with whatever she’s doing the show. And everyone almost immediately has like the fear of second-hand embarrassment for you because they’re afraid you’re bad, right? And they don’t want you to be bad. So, my favorite thing is people coming in and his response, I guess I was into my second song or something, and he looks at my friend and he’s like, “oh, she’s like, good.” It’s not, because she’s your friend. Like, she’s just regular good.
LG: She’s a musician like, oh!
A: And you just know what he’s talking about too, where it’s like there was “good” because you love them and they’re your friend and then there’s just good.
LG: Yeah. And you want to support them and you’re showing up for them. Yeah.
A: For me, I think as a performer it’s always about putting an audience at ease because there’s nothing worse as an audience member than watching somebody on stage and you’re worried for them and it is the performer’s job to be like I’ve got you. You can relax because…
LG: You’re in good hands, baby, and you are going to have a good time.
A: 100% it’s an inexplicable transfer of energy. But I always feel that way. And I think we talked about this the last time too, the first show we ever did, the first night in space I ever did at House of Yes. You’re making the whole thing, you’re dreaming it up. You sell that, you put it on sale, you sell out…
LG: There was lot of people!
A: It was sold out. 600 people or whatever. Nobody knew who I was and I remember getting into that center platform where we start the show and looking around at everybody. And it was only then because there’s a good hour and a half before I perform that’s totally timed and scheduled, there’s performers everywhere. Someone said to me, when you got to the last song were you like, we did it. And I was like, no, when we got to the first song we did it because I knew we were at my part. So, I was like, cool, I’ve got it now. We’re good, we’ve done it. And it was such a it was such a cool feeling because I was looking at everybody and they were so present. Yeah. It wasn’t just about filling the room. We talked a lot about…How do we want people to feel? That’s how I mapped that show.
A: I want people to feel like this here. Then we’re going to swing them around… then you map everybody sort of on this roller coaster and it’s the only way to harness a room like that. And it’s a weird, sort of esoteric, intangible way to talk about making things. But I work with a really amazing group of people and they speak that language. And I think you can feel that at that show.
LG: You absolutely could. It was a magical evening.
A: Thank you. I’m very excited. I don’t know when we’ll do it again, but I’m excited.
LG: Yeah. Yeah. Well, House of Yes is opening up on Friday. So excited.
A: Absolutely. And it was really fun. I mean Kaye and Anya who run House of Yes have been really amazing to me. They gave me a home for a show that didn’t exist. I didn’t know them. And I was like, hey, you don’t know me, but I have this show idea. And they were they were doing outside events, but they were I mean, this was twenty seventeen. They were really just sort of, I think starting to figure that out.
LG: Do you feel like this is kind of practice for a Vegas residency kind of a thing? Do you feel like you see that for…
A: It’s my dream.
LG: Yeah. Yeah I’m seeing that absolutely. One hundred percent.
A: I would love that. A Vegas residency, it’s my goal for that show. And I think that what’s cool about the format is that it’s very flexible and old. It can hold a lot of things and you do not have to know who Ariana and the Rose is.
LG: You absolutely do not. And to have literally the best night of your life.
A: And I have thought about this, it’s like, OK, well, what does the show look like? If it’s the format and I’m not in it, does that stick the same way? I don’t know, if it’s about me as a performer at the center of it? Is it about the structure? I mean, I’m sort of not worrying about it right now.
LG: This is the thing that I will say from an outside perspective is that the show itself and all the performers are amazing. But when you come out, you bring this pinnacle, this point, like you finish the sentence and you literally bring it all together. And then everyone is doing choreographed dances with you. And then afterwards you’re like, was there an aerialist at one point? Everything just gets so overwhelming and it builds. And so, you are one thousand percent an integral part of the focus, but you’re strong enough that you’re able to have really strong performers all around you doing things that…
A: That’s really my mission statement and making that song and making this album, I really took the ethos of what that show is and the energy of what that show is and really looked at what was working in my career. And I was like, why aren’t I making music for this? Why aren’t I making the three minute and 30 second version of light and space? Why am I not? I wasn’t sure quite how to do that. And you’re sort of like, OK, well, what does that mean and what is the message of that? And that really is what this music is. It’s the exploration of, OK, we’ve like physically made a space for people. We physically have said, OK, for me as an artist, creating a space for people is what is important to me so that it doesn’t matter who you are or how you identify how you got there when you were there, you feel safe and you feel like you can be uninhibited to be whoever you want to be and whether that’s yourself or somebody else, it’s like…and catharsis, whatever your needing. And so how do you do that in music? And that was really what this album was. You know, I want people to be able to put this album on in the car, I feel they’re having the same sort of feeling from the show…
LG: I need that.
A: We need all of the uplifting, positive healing.
LG: And we have to remember this. This is still here, too. And it’s not even just that it’s valid because obviously it is valid, but also that it really is here and that the whole world isn’t just falling apart like a fucking shit ton of it is. But there are good people and we have to hold on to that over everything.
A: Well, I think that joy is a form of rebellion.
LG: Yes, I agree.
A: I am choosing joy in the face of hate and adversity and close mindedness, choosing joy in who you are and your community and authenticity is a form of resistance. And so for me, that’s sort of where me and my music and my art are living, it’s saying, “hey, we’re going to we’re going to take up space and as a as a white woman with the privilege I have for that.” I want to create space. I feel thats an important thing to be doing, or at least it feels…I don’t even want to say it’s important in terms of like I’m not saying I’m important in that way. I just mean that, for me coming out of the pandemic, of everything, it was like, what are you doing here? Why? Why should anybody care and just answering that question for myself became very important to be able to move forward.
LG: Yeah, absolutely. And really just recognizing the goddess within you.
A: One hundred percent, which, again, it feels so stupid to be like, “these Tik Tok videos”, but it’s been really incredible…
LG: You’re fucking successful, bad ass bitch. OK, please continue.
A: But I mean, those videos are a reflection of all the work I’ve done on myself and all of this time I took in Covid to really go inside and I’m like, OK, I was coming out of a bad breakup. I was dealing with family stuff and we were all dealing with our own shit,
LG: Oh my god, just layers and layers and layers.
A: And we all just like it to sit quietly by ourselves. If I want to ultimately make the kind of music and art and things I want to make, I’ve got to deal with this stuff head on. Otherwise, you’re just going to keep coming up against something. And what I ended up chatting about in these videos was just my own findings from my own healing, from finding my own value. And it’s been really cool to have women messaging me. I’ve never had this where people are messaging me being like, I love your account. I look at your videos. It’s an overarching message of everything. One thing going back and looking through. And it’s an overall message as a person, not just one specific thing. And that’s felt special. It felt like social media is a weird place and it’s very self-promoting. It can be you know, you’re sort of sitting there within this weird cyclical validation shit. And, you know before what was I doing? I was putting up videos, photos of me or promoting a show or promoting a video or promoting a picture. I was like, I think I look hot or whatever it is. Right? And I always felt like I don’t know how to get behind this. And making the videos feels like a different thing. It feels like an exchange rather than moving out…That feels much nicer or that feels like something I can sustain. If I’m going to be putting things on the Internet that feels like something worth doing. If my video comes across a woman’s feed where I’m talking about being a goddess or you got through the week or whatever real thing is, and someone needs to see that, that’s something that I feel like is worth putting your energy into.
LG: I absolutely agree. Yeah. That you should feel proud. That’s awesome. We just need people to keep talking about things and keep actually finding words and spreading the information, because that’s the way that we have real enlightenment is if we can start understanding larger pieces of information about equality, about personal power, empowerment, unity, all of these things. And we start to define them in even just like mental health and actually articulate them, especially what you’re doing is you’re finding these succinct ways of articulating them. And your delivery is really calm and like inviting and it feels very safe.
A: Thank you.
LG: But also fun. Like also you’re like, you know, I would have fun with her, you know…
A: Nobody wants to be preached to, right?. And I think it’s not about being like, well, I found enlightenment so let me just…nobody wants to hear that. I’m on the phone with my mom this morning, being like, “I’M SO STRESSED OUT!” She was just like “why are you yelling at me?”and I was like, “I’m not yelling at you, I’m just yelling!” And I think that being human, being very human in a way that you, like, allow people to see is hard to do.
A: It’s so hard to write, and that’s a frustrating thing, especially in music people, I hate these things on Tik Tok or whatever, where people are like, how do you make it in the music industry whenever they’re like, just be authentic. And I’m like okay…I think we talk about this last time.
LG: Yes, I actually do. I wrote down for this create things you “creating things you like to do…”
A: Oh yes. Yes, I know what you’re referring. And then be a genius.
LG: …and then be a genius. Right.
A: …A friend of mine did say, when you’re starting to do Tik Tok and social media stuff, make shit that you like doing. Make shit that you feel like is doable for you. Because I was like, I’m going to put like a piano in a field and he was like, what are you talking about? Like you live in New York. Where are you going to be in a field?
LG: With what budget?
A: But even so, he was like, “where are fields?”
LG: Exactly, exactly like, how are you going to make multiple Tik Toks in a field?
A: But yeah, and then it’s right and then it’s be a genius. And it’s like I have perspective and say something in a way no one said it before, but that’s in everything. That’s an art that’s in the music and
LG: It’s so oversaturated is all these markets that are so oversaturated right now.
A: And the music and the industry…they’re like, do all that, build your own audience, sell your own tickets, be authentic, find who you are, have a sound no one’s had before. And then once you’ve done all those things and you’ve had millions of streams and everything then we’ll sign you to a record and you’re like,
LG: …OK, but then why would I need you at that point?
A: Just I mean, listen, unless you’re going to give me, like, so much money, which is also an advance you have to get people back. People will think about that.
A: I mean, I’m like, OK, maybe and I’m not against any label person who potentially reaches. I’m certainly not against a record deal. But for me, shifting the goal, again there’s a validation to that. Right. Everyone says it’s about the deal. It’s not. It’s for musicians, you’re trained from the time you’re like, I want to pursue this that like getting a record deal is the ultimate success. Some people get signed and you never hear of them again. Exactly. Because the label fucks it up or doesn’t give it money or your stuck in your deals. I mean, this is the trend of twenty, twenty one. So I think, again, it’s this training that we do with people to need some outside validation to come in. And it’s yes, it’s also about money. But just because you get signed to a label doesn’t mean that they give you a bunch of money. So, I think that for me at least, going into the pandemic and making this music was really about releasing myself, of any of those things that I think even though I had said I didn’t really want, I was always angling towards. And it’s just been a really interesting shift in terms of actually building something that feels meaningful, that feels like it connects. And then also it becomes like a financially viable business.
LG: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, because that is a real part of it is that it’s sustainable. And because you’re if you’re going to do a show performance that was the size of , I’m sorry. Tell me the name of the performance.
A: Light and Space.
LG: Light and Space. That I mean that’s a lot of jobs.
A: It’s a lot of jobs, and I and I was able I was very fortunate, I’ve had songs in TV and film and things like that, it’s been an incredible way for me to be able to make a show like that. And now it’s different. Now the show’s up and running.
LG: yeah. Yeah, exactly. Sure, sure.
A: Even that was scary. I was taking the lead and reinvesting it in this.
LG: Absolutely. Because you’re proving you’re your business too, you know. But you did. You were able to. Proof of concept, exactly.
A: And I had labels come down and be like, well we don’t understand because the music is Indier but the show is more like this, and it’s like, [is] ‘girl who no one knows sells six hundred tickets over and over and over’ not enough for proof of concept that maybe this is worth looking into? Because the streams aren’t high enough or this isn’t high enough. And you know, even at the time, I wasn’t even at that point, I really wasn’t focused on it. I was focused on filling rooms with real people that’s how I get to be a musician forever. But like I said, I was compartmentalizing, and my show was one thing and then the music, I was still sort of stuck in this… and [in] making this music I released myself of that. I was like, I’m going to make music for those people.
LG: Right? Uh huh. So, do you feel like this album’s dancier?
A: Definitely. It’s definitely for the club. I mean…Tons of bops. We love a bop. And it has, it definitely Ah, the album itself runs the gamut, the singles, the majority of the record, I would call it a club record. A crying in the club album. There are some, there are some like mid tempos and ballads and there’s a song called Did I Tell You on it that has like an electronic soundscape to it and it goes with the album. But I wrote it wholly on piano and it’s all about speaking toward self-improvement and all the rest of it. It’s sort of how you’re in a relationship with someone, you’re planning a whole life with somebody and then obviously things fall apart. Or not, obviously, but in this instance, things fall apart and you’re like, I don’t… All these plans, we made. And what is it when you sort of had this view of your life, becoming this better version of yourself or whatever you thought you’re going to do together? Do you just abandon that when you lose the other person or do you continue on the journey that you meant? You just do it alone. And it looks super different, but you don’t abandon all these things that you wanted just because maybe the person you thought you were going to get to do them with isn’t ultimately that person. And that was my experience. And I kind of woke up halfway through the pandemic and all these things. I had wanted to renovate my apartment. I had wanted to travel, I mean, I wasn’t traveling the pandemic, but, you know, all these kinds of kinds of things. And so, the song was sort of borne out of that. And it’s one of my favorite songs. And the chorus, I sort of list all of these things in the verse I did. I tell you, I finally painted my apartment. I saw the Taj Mahal set down all my baggage. I’m writing an album. I patched things up with my mom, like all these different things you do as you grow. And then the chorus says, I didn’t want to, I wanted to do it all with you. And it’s this idea that I wasn’t trying to do without you. But I have to I have to move on.
A: So, a lot of the lyrics and the lyrical content of the of the album is ultimately about your self journey through all these things, different things, or setting you free a lyric as I give it all back to you. Every word that you threw at me that I thought was true. I finally found release because forgiving you is really about setting me free.
A: It’s really about like all of that. I mean, and that’s set to like…
LG: I love that, I love that message.
A: …giving you, like, Ray of Light Madonna, but the lyrics and everything come from a much more singer/songwriter personal place. And then we sent them all to these kind of dancing club beats. The escape or the release or the catharsis kind of depending on what you want.
LG: I love it.
A: So that’s the capsule of what the record is. I’m excited…I’m about to go on tour and that’s another show. But to be able to tour Light and Space eventually. Again, I’m excited to see what that is when the music really marries…
LG: Yeah, that would be amazing.
LG: Yeah. So cute. Great. I love you Arianna. I think you are a magical human being.
A: Thank you.
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Photos / @chaineley
Story / @themorrisee of @islynyc