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Women’s History Month: Autumn Rowe

Photos: Kolin Mendez | Edited by <a href="http://grungecake.com/author/richardine" target="_blank"Richardine Bartee

Get to know Autumn Rowe.

In order to make history, you have to change the mold of what’s happening now. Autumn Rowe, the international singer-songwriter and sought after vocal coach, is on her way to being one of the most successful women in Dance. Making the seamless transition from being behind-the-scenes to being on the forefront, there’s no doubt that Rowe’s debut EP will make waves like water at the beach this Summer. Said to have a 90s House music feel, we’re guaranteed to be on the dance floor and burning all calories from the seven mojitos the nice guy at the bar bought for you, but his breathe stinks. In this interview, Rowe apprises about her beginnings, what she was doing before branching out as a singer and her single, “If I Don’t Have You.” She will also return to America’s Got Talent this June as a featured vocal coach.

Photos: Kolin Mendez | Edited by
Photos: Kolin Mendez | Edited by Richardine Bartee

Who are you and where are you from? Give us a journey on how long you’ve been making music.

I am from the South Bronx. I’ve been making music for about sixteen years. I started in high school and I was in four choirs at one point. One of the choirs that I was in was called the New York City Housing Authority. I was a venture at Island Records for a while. I was in a girl group that panned out to nothingness.

Laughing.

Then I was in a band; it was like No Doubt meets Neo-Soul. We wanted to be apart of that movement. With that band, we got signed with Swizz Beats and we worked with him for a while, but we never got a release. From there, I was always writing for my band. One day Swizz showed a song that I wrote to Estelle and she sung it. She kept my chorus and wrote verses around it. That was my first experience from co-writing with artists. I was like, “Wow! She’s famous and cool. She wants to sing or work with me?”. I found that pretty amazing. The next person that cut a song with was Eva Simmons and that was the beginning for me when it came to co-writing.

A few years later, I found a track from Deadmau5, and I wrote a song called “Happiness”. At the time I was an assistant manger at a store named Aero Soles and pretty much a store where women harass you for discounts.

Laughing.

There’s nothing else that needs to be explained. Literally, a pair of shoes could cost ten dollars and they still would want a discount. It’s unbelievable and I’ve never seen anything like that before. “The shoes were originally seventy dollars and I can’t make the shoes go lower than ten.” They would still go on to ask for a ten percent discount. For instance, if the store opened at ten, shoppers would line up at the door at 9:30 for a ten percent discount, off ten dollar shoes, and I would always say no. There was one customer that would come in and she would have a parrot. The parrot would sh-t on her shoulder without her even knowing.

Laughing.

While working there, I had so many interesting customers come in.

While working at the store, I was trying to figure out why I was working there with parrot customers and stuff. I want do music full time. I came across a book called, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and I felt like it changed my life because from then on, I started seeing life differently. I wrote the “Happiness” track and it got passed around through some people which hooked me with Stargate and that led to me co-writing a song with Alexis Jordan and that song ended up being the theme for the FIFA World Cup. That opened up massive doors for me in the music industry.

I then signed a publishing deal with EMI. Through that, I wrote a whole bunch of other songs that were highly recognizable by kids.

Laughing.

I don’t know if anybody over the age of twelve likes them. I continued to write songs and that helped me build a relationship with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music label, which led me to an audition for The X Factor in the U.K. I didn’t win that, but that audition got me a chance to be on The X Factor here in America and I got on the show. Being on that show led me to America’s Got Talent. From then on, I felt like that I did everything that I really wanted to do and decided that I should take it back to beginning by doing my own music again. That’s pretty much a summary of everything, I’m sure I left some things out.

What do you like doing more? Do you like writing or being in the forefront more?

I can’t even say that I like doing one thing more than the other. I get so much satisfaction with co-writing with an amazing artist, with an amazing voice. Then, for them to cry in a recording session after writing a song about going through an experience that they never talked about. Then, to hear it on record is an amazing feeling. I feel like that I was apart of that. It’s also a rush to work on live TV. There’s no, “Oh! We can do it tomorrow. We’re live in one hour.” If this doesn’t go well, then we’re all screwed. It’s safe to say that I’m somewhat of an adrenaline junkie. I actually like the pressure of last second situations. That’s kind of exciting.

That’s why they call us crazy.

Oh yeah. Crazy people love me. I do not like crazy people! What’s great about being your own artist is, that you have your own point of view, your own sound and your own style that may not work for anybody else. So this is my outlet for me to say those things and to do music for the sole purpose of my own enjoyment. There’s no other motive for it because I don’t have to go back to be an artist but it’s something that I wanted to do. I do feel that I am in a good place. I’ve learned so much over the past few years and I think I’ve become a better writer. It’s exciting.

Tell us about the genre that you’re taking on. Do you feel that there are certain factors that you may not like about it? Specifically being a woman, are there any uncertainties that peeve you?

The one thing about working in the music industry is that you’re constantly living in the state of uncertainty. With that, you have to except that from the beginning. I learned a long time ago, that I’m not going to be certain on anything except myself. As far as the Dance genre or the one that I’m in, I feel that it’s very DJ driven. The difference between my projects and others within the industry is that DJs are featuring artists. Whereas for me, I’m doing my own thing and I’ll feature a DJ on more of a partnership. The tricky thing about the DJ featuring the artist is, usually the artist doesn’t get in the video, they don’t get any shine, no one knows who they are, sometimes they’ll get their name out there and sometimes they don’t. I want to do the complete opposite of that. I have friends ask me why I don’t have a big DJ feature and it’s because I just don’t want to. I’m not doing this just to get famous, I’m doing this because I want to make music that I like. I’m doing what I like, so there’s no need for me to do that. I’m doing it the way I want. Plenty of DJs have approached me and gave me praise for making my own lane.

With you being an artist for some time. Do you have any advice for any emerging talent out there? What’s the most potent speck of advice you can give?

I would say don’t expect instant success and instant fame. The difference for me between now and today is that people today make a YouTube video and they’re famous. People see that and think that’s how it works. The problem is that if no one takes the time out to prepare for that opportunity, they might know how to write any songs and they might not know how to perform. They might have a limited amount of skills. The only thing that they did was sit in front of a computer and performed a cover song and that particularly may not help them stand out or last long. I say, go perform at open mics and coffee houses or join a band. I tell people all of the time, to go join a choir. I know girls and adults now and still until this day, I tell them to join a choir. It’s probably the best thing you can do. You can’t wait for things to happen either. Even if you’re on a label, I know artists that are currently proactive, before their next option ends, they’re already working on another project. You have to drive yourself.

Tell us about your new single and your new project.

The current single is called, “If I Don’t Have You” and it’s produced by ABE and remixed by Todd Terry. In the song, I’m going for the New York House sound. When I was growing up, I listened to House music and never saw it as a U.K. thing. I’m going for a moody and gritty type sound, as well as emotional. I wanted the sound to be something to move to, oppose to jump. If that makes any sense. I believe that you have the right to be sexy on the dance floor. I’m extremely fortunate to work with some talented people and I’m sure they are excited to work with me as well. I’m just excited to put out more songs.

Can you talk about your relationship with Ultra?

Ultra is an amazing label. I’ve known them ever since I started writing back in 2010. I met Patrick Moxey when I was working with Sandy Bee. Sandy and I wrote a song called “Collide”. She’s a very good girl. I met David Guetta through Patrick and we’ve always had talks about me being an artist but I felt that it wasn’t my time just yet. Ultra is super proactive compared to other labels where I have friends working and they have a week to get their stuff, like artwork done. My two gals are Valentina and Bina; they are super incredible. They’re like friends to me and not weird, cold label people. They’re human and super dope chicks. I’m happy to be working with a lot of positive women.

When you first heard the name GrungeCake, what came to your mind?

The funny thing about that is that I’m friends with T-Boz from TLC and one of those words are in her e-mail address.

Laughing.

So it looked extremely familiar to me, then I thought about cake because I want some cake.

Perfect, perfect, perfect. Is there any last things that you want to say? Are there any misconceptions that people may have about you, that you want to clear up?

I’m not from California. For some odd reason, people think I’m from California or the U.K. I am from the South Bronx. Just because I’m not walking around in Tims, doesn’t mean I’m not as Bronx as the next person. I’m as Bronx it gets and I’m tired of it.

Laughing.

Just kidding. I want to say thanks for interviewing me and having me. It’s a whole new thing, going into this lane and it’s like I’m starting over again. I’m thankful for anything and anyone that cares at all.

So, thank you. I just want people to keep trying. Whatever you want to do, just try. I came from the worst of the worst of the worst neighborhood and I didn’t stop. I don’t think I’m the most talented person at all, I just think that I didn’t give up. If you never back down, you’ll eventually get something.


Ryan White (Transcriptionist)


Autumn Rowe’s latest single “If I Don’t Have You” is available at all digital retailers and will go to radio this month. The song recently made it’s debut on Sirius XM Electro. There is also a remix compilation out for “If I Don’t Have You” and the next single is “Compromising Situations,” out April 14.


GrungeCake

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is part of the Complex Day Ones, an exclusive community to help make the Complex experiences even better.