#MusicMonday: Meet Queer Vocal & Songwriting Powerhouse April Rose Gabrielli of The Rose Monarch
by Ryan Cassata
The Rose Monarch is a rock band from the Long Island-New York City area. They frequently release music and play live shows, often touring around the tri-state area and sometimes even going beyond. Their concerts are filled with energy and excitement and they have built a solid fan base throughout the country.
Their latest release is the single “Luna.” With a slow and intimate start, April’s vocals shine on top of atmospheric sounding instrumentation. The band comes in soon after for the catchy chorus section of the song. “Luna” is filled with harmonies and background vocals that add to the beauty of this unforgettable track. By the middle of the song April makes her talent clear to the listener. She confidently belts high notes without holding back, sending chills down the listeners spine. The song is made complete with an epic guitar solo and pounding stadium-filling drums. “Luna” is a track that I will definitely keep in my playlists for a long time. The songwriting is unique and maintains the listeners attention throughout its 4 minute and 10 second run.
I had the opportunity to chat with the lead vocalist April Rose Gabrielli about her experience fronting a rock band, being in the LGBTQ community, and the heartbreaking inspiration behind the incredible song “Luna.” Check out the single Luna on Spotify and catch our interview below:
Ryan: Hi April! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. How do you identify in the LGBTQ community and what pronouns do you use?
April: — I identity as Queer & use She/Her :)
Ryan: Luna is such a gorgeous song. Can you tell us the inspiration behind the songwriting and lyrics?
April: Thank you so much! It came to me while I was deeply depressed over the loss of someone that was in my life on and off for about ten years at that point, both romantically, a soul connection and just simply put a childhood friend. This time it felt different though, it was final. It felt so final. It was the last time either of us decided to jump ship and call it quits. We knew it was also. We both had very toxic qualities that we weren’t aware of and didn’t have the agency or mental strength to correct for many years, I am still working on many things that made our time together difficult. It still makes me sad but I believe it is better this way for us both.
At the time of creation, I was in bed, thinking and reflecting at the end of the night after work, sitting up with the light on trying to make sense of what had happened over the course of ten years. The feeling was slow and sobering, this small melody came out of my mouth as a whisper, the way that you hear it on the recording, “I used to call you Luna..” It began as a plea for her or a last letter to her, in essence. I wrote the whole first verse and chorus completely a cappella just by singing it out loud and as it came to me.
The name and and legacy of the “Luna” character dates back as far as 2010, as I used to journal throughout high school and as one of my journals was sitting on top of my books in the cafeteria a girl I barely knew opened it up and started to look through it. Because I was journaling about my secret love affair with a girl at my school and got harassed about it in most settings of my young life, I decided to make up code names out of fear. She became the moon during Spanish class one day when I learned of the word “Luna,” had a similarity to her actual name (fun fact: our guitarist James Humphreys was likely sitting behind me at that very moment because that’s where we met having been seated in alphabetical order by last name)
I have written many songs about “Luna,” but this is special because it is officially the last time I wrote about our time together and I feel that it captured our experience in all of its dramatic and beautiful glory. I have nothing but gratitude for all of the insanity and music this connection afforded me.
Ryan: Your vocals are off the charts. How many takes did you do the vocals in? Is this one of the works you are most proud of?
April: Thank you! Our amazing bassist/engineer, Matt Cusano could probably give you an exact number… but it was a lot. Close to a months worth of coming in, feeling like I failed, crying, leaving, trying it again next time. I often like to track things in as little takes as possible and little to no “punch-ins” because I like the fluidity of the long vocal lines and natural breaths.
I was unfortunately not taking care of my body, my lungs or my breathing at the time of recording and that contributed largely to the delay in being able to sing properly. I am happy to report this instance encouraged my commitment to total sobriety and a new physical fitness routine.
I am very proud of many things I make, I feel lucky that I am able to do this at all. However, I have a special place in my heart for these “self-produced & engineered” songs that myself and the boys have done. They scream us, and they scream growth, and even if someone else doesn’t like the way it sounds — I know we do and that feels really cool to have your personal stamp on almost all aspects of your final product.
Ryan: How do you like performing solo versus with a full band?
April: They both have their pros and cons, but they can also not be compared.
When I am solo, I love to chat with the audience and I tend to be very talkative and informative about the tunes, but there is more pressure to get it all right AND it gets lonely up there sometimes when you’re responsible for holding all of the energy.
With the band, it just feels like I am entering the stage with a fully armed troop & we are ready to attack. It feels far more composed & far more serious. It’s fun to be up there with your good friends, remember what had to happen to get you all there and seeing your handsome little brother knocking away on the drums.
Ryan: What’s next for you musically? Can we expect another LP or EP from The Rose Monarch sometime soon?
April: I personally have so many things in the works! New TRM, new music with KULICK & I am working on a whole new batch of solo music that I am dying to release when the time is right and the exhibition is proper! There may or may not be a TRM concept LP on the horizon for 2020.
Ryan: What is your favorite part of being an artist?
April: I love my life, my abilities and my job. I love being able to educate, I love being able to be vulnerable and start conversations, I love being able to explain to people how incredible it is to tour and play for thousands of people. I love being able to have that intimate one on one connection with myself, I love to continue to strengthen it as it relates to my identity and all that happens around me. I love that I have the freedom to be loud. I feel eternally lucky.
Ryan: What is one thing you want the world to know about your art?
April: As long as I live, it’ll always keep flowing.
About the Author:
Ryan Cassata is an award winning singer-songwriter, actor, performer, writer and LGBTQ activist & motivational speaker based in Los Angeles. With features in Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Daily News, Ryan has made the most of his young career, which started when he was just 13.
As a musician with over 550 performances touring across the United States and internationally, including dates on the Van’s Warped Tour, SXSW and at the worlds biggest pride festivals, Ryan has been praised by The Advocate saying he’s a “Transgender singing sensation”, Paper Magazine put him on the “50 LGBTQ Musicians You Should Prioritize” list, LOGO put him on the “9 Trans Musicians You Need To Get Into” list and Billboard put him on the “11 Transgender & Non-Binary Musicians You Need to Know” list and premiered his most recent music video for “Daughter.” He has also been heard on Sirius XM Radio, BBC Radio 4 and other radio stations around the world. MORE INFO AT: http://www.ryancassata.com/