Esther Watrous – Anchor Contributor
Rhode Island College graduate, Roz Raskin, began a solo project in 2017 called “Nova One” and released the EP “Secret Princess” in June 2018. You might have seen Raskin’s iconic hot pink hair in the local Providence band, Roz and the Rice Cakes. During a decade of touring and recording music, Raskin graduated from RIC in 2016 with a degree in gender and women’s studies.
The Anchor: You started Roz and the Rice Cakes in 2008 and Nova One in 2017. How do you think the music industry and scene has changed in the past decade?
Roz Raskin: I think things have changed a lot. I would say, you know, I feel like it’s such a cliché at this point to say the internet changed things, but it definitely was MySpace, PureVolume, all that sort of communication and type of interaction on the internet when I was first playing music. A lot of my connection to the scene was through social media stuff. When I first started, I felt like I wasn’t sure how to move in the community. A lot of the music was super cisgender white dude dominated stuff. So it was very challenging to feel like I had a place to go with my music. My band and I decided that since it felt that nobody wanted to play with us, we needed to dig out our own scene and our own community of people who didn’t feel welcome in certain spaces.
The Anchor: What inspired you to begin a new project with a different style of music?
Roz Raskin: If you can imagine writing music when I was 17, and then being 28 and 29 and singing songs that I wrote when I was 17, it felt like I was in a transition in my life and I needed to move forward with my art in a different way. A lot of people called it a “band break-up,” but I would always try to correct people and say, well it’s really a hiatus, it’s just, right now, this doesn’t feel like the right thing to be making. I had some extra material that didn’t feel like it fit with the Rice Cakes and it felt like it was becoming its own thing. So when I made the record, it was one of the highlights of my life in the last ten years.
The Anchor: What was your idea behind the pink wigs and the black uniforms?
Roz Raskin: So for this music video I made for a song called “Your Girl,” the vision of that was to be me dancing with two other versions of myself. The original idea was to have people look like me. The wig thing is kinda funny because I had ordered another wig and it didn’t come on time because they ran out, but they had this other wig. I wanted a pink wig but this was a peachy kind of wig.
The Anchor: So the peach wigs were an accident?
Roz Raskin: It was an accident. When it came, I fell in love with it and I thought, this is the one. I really had a strong vision for a black silhouette and it seemed easy and that all sizes could fit into this big black tee shirt. The vibe of Nova One really exists in Nova One. It feels like Drag when I perform in it. It’s this hyper feminine version of myself.
The Anchor: What’s something new that you’ve learned about yourself and your music through creating Nova One?
Roz Raskin: I think that probably one of the larger movements of my life, in a really positive way, was acknowledging that I’m a non-binary person. Putting on this costume in this particular performative way, there was something that was super therapeutic about it. A lot of what I was going through at that time was analyzing how I really felt about myself, my sexuality and my gender. So I think Nova One was a vessel for a lot of that thought.
The Anchor: Are you planning anything new in the upcoming year?
Roz Raskin: Yes. I’m starting to make a new record, February first, and I’m going to be doing a tour in March.
The Anchor: You were a student here at Rhode Island College. How did school affect your career as an artist?
Roz Raskin: Going to RIC was a very important step for me because it made me realize how much I wanted to stay in Rhode Island, specifically stay in Providence, and cultivate a career and community here.
The Anchor: Do you have any advice for current students who’d like to go into music while they’re in school, but don’t know where to start?Roz Raskin: There are so many ways to approach music these days. Some people record songs and put them on YouTube and that’s it. Some people want to tour. Some people want to go to local shows and meet local bands. The most important thing is for people to go to shows. That’s the way I started, I’d go to shows and talk to bands afterwards. So much of it is really just going and putting yourself out there.