In conversation with Romæo – Honi Soit


With lyrics that dance on the borderline between desire and obsession, a voice dripping with sweet venom and an undeniably explosive stage presence, local Sydney musician and producer Romæo elevates synthpop to high art. A week after his sold-out show at Oxford Art Factory in support of Don West, we sat down to discuss the intricacies of his work.

Talk to me through Romæo. What is the project about, how separated is it from you?

I want Romæo to embody the multiplicity in myself as an individual and as an artist. I think in pop music especially, women have to be strong and aggressive or soft and gentle. I don’t think that’s true, I think everyone is everything and nothing at the same time – Romaeo conveys it, lyrically, musically, conceptually.

A lot of my songs are quite conceptual and at the same time quite personal, so it’s hard to think that Romæo isn’t me.

Your last single, Open, was created with fellow producer from Sydney, Kalo Lasso. How did you find the collaborative process?

It was new to me. I’ve spent a lot of time scared of collaboration, but I try to embrace it more because amazing music comes out of it. Just doing it all yourself and listening to it can drive you a little crazy (laughs), so I’m excited to start my collaborative journey!

I found it difficult in that I didn’t have full control and couldn’t implement my perfectionism as much as usual – Kala Lasso was saying “ your voice sounded good here ”, and I I’m like ‘no it’s not good enough, I could do better’ – I had to let go of that control a bit.

The end product sounds great. It’s been a liberating learning opportunity to realize how cool it is to have these really high expectations, but there is a point where they shouldn’t interfere with you. This song showed me that something can be easy but still be great – I make it harder for myself than it needs to be – and it’s exciting for the potential of my future job.

How do your songs translate from your bedroom to the stage?

This process held me back for quite a while because I didn’t know how I wanted to play this music. I still don’t know how I want to play it – it’s constantly changing and I’m still experimenting, and I love it.

It’s a bit ironic – I love and produce electronic music, but the live material stresses me out! I’m not completely confident in my abilities, which I intend to overcome by acknowledging that I was still unsure of how I wanted to play Romæo. I could do it with a band but having a good band is hard man! We have had a few different line-up changes with this law.

But it’s therefore gratifying to be able to play and share music that I have worked entirely on myself. Electronic production is a bit laborious – you spend hours staring at a computer screen, and you look up and it’s dark – but with the rehearsals it goes by quickly and I feel so elated. This is the highlight of my week.

It’s also very vulnerable to perform a song live – when you just publish it online, you don’t have to think about the people listening and analyzing the lyrics and your life. You’re right there, looking people in the eye, singing songs about family members who ghost you. It’s very confronting, but the people tapping into the music are beautiful – which sounds super cheesy, because it is, but here we are.

What can we expect from you in the second half of the year?

I have a new single coming out, Mourning, about one time a family member ghosted me and I watched a therapist on Youtube – which is super lame – but she was talking about how we feel very upset when a family member, especially an older one, not playing the role they should. You kind of have to be a parent or an adult, even if you don’t want to be. The therapist explained how we have to overcome this because people will not change; what you can do is mourn the relationship you wish you had with them. Only then can you work to improve that relationship.

Apart from that, we will continue to pump the concerts! We have a few lined up. I’ve also just completed some awesome concept work that will hopefully pop up soon. I want to continue to collaborate too, I have had sessions with promising artists. I’m excited, I feel really optimistic. These are exciting times.

Romæo’s fourth single, “Mourning”, is released on June 4th.

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