Rodes Rollins is a 23 year-old singer and songwriter who’s amassed more songwriting credits and collaborations than most in her young life. Although she goes by Rodes Rollins, she was born Talia Taxman and has been creating music since she was a young girl. She has always considered music a hobby, until she began studying at NYU’s Gallatin School, and decided to make it a full-time gig. She decided on the name “Rodes Rollins” because “rode” is a thick rope that attaches to an anchor of a ship, and “Rollins” is from the name of a town “Rawlins” in Wyoming, and thus her name to give her character and remind her of who she is.
Having released her debut EP in 2017 and working with producer Alex Goose of Weezer and Kevin Gates, and after releasing two strong singles from the EP, she now has released her version of songs she terms “cowgirl poetry.” This year, she has released a couple of singles, “Nasty Woman” and “Boom Pow,” and collaborated with Alex Goose again and included Portugal.The Man. She’s worked with many accomplished, male collaborators in her singing career, including Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) and Major Lazer’s Jillionaire, just to name a couple. Most recently, she released her A/B Side, Velvet with producer Noah Georgeson. Find out what Rollins’ process was like recording this new avenue of work, her collaborations with male figures, what “cowgirl poetry” means to her, and much more.
What was the writing and recording process for the upcoming A/B side, Velvet?
Rodes Rollins: I recorded this material with Noah Georgeson at Seahorse Sound studios in LA. It was a really beautiful process where Noah pushed me to play a lot more on the record than I normally do. I generally write and arrange all the instrumental parts and let someone else play them – but this time around, I ended up playing a lot of them on the record! These songs are also comprised of a lot of full takes, which I think is rare to find in this genre of music. I sang ‘Wrong Turn’ in one full take at the very beginning of our week recording and I’m very proud of that!
You have collaborated with some well-known musicians, including Stella Mozgawa, Greg Rogove and Portugal. The Man, to name only a few…how did these collaborations come about, and what were those experiences like for you?
Rodes: A lot of these people are people I’ve been connected with through mutual friends. Some of them, I simply just reached out to because I wanted to work with them. I always value and push myself to work with musicians who are wiser and more experienced than me. It inspires me more and I feel teaches me a lot.
Why do you refer to your music as “cowgirl poetry” and what does that mean to you?
Rodes: Someone actually referred to my music that way once, and it just stuck! I always look to the West when I write my songs – often times, I really am thinking about cowboys/girls when I’m writing – so it felt like a fitting name.
You recently collected the stories of a dozen remarkable New York women, titled “Nasty Woman,” whom were photographed by Fake Love and The New York Times copyrighter, Emily Chang. What led you to pursue this, and what was the private gallery showcase like for you?
Rodes: With ‘Nasty Woman’ I felt compelled to do more than just release a song on my own. It felt like it needed to be more of a collective statement to really stand by the meaning of the song. I got to interview and photograph these 10 women, which was an incredible experience for me! The gallery showcase was so great too. It really encapsulated a moment of celebration for me, which I think is important to do when releasing a new piece of work – especially one with a social message.
I love that you have a degree from NYU in Cultural Iconography…what led you to music, and how does your background in this study play a part with your pursuit of music?
Yes – my degree is a bit of a mouthful! I have been writing and recording since I was 8 years old. But I knew that I didn’t want to study music. I’ve got a lot of interests and I wanted to spend my college years focusing on something that I felt was relevant to more than just my music. Essentially, I looked at a lot of psychoanalytic theory to understand what makes a person or an idea culturally iconic. I tried to understand the fan to star relationship and our fascination with ‘looking.’ Thinking about this stuff has definitely helped me to be more aware of my own image and visual portrayal of myself as an artist and individual.
Although you have collaborated mostly with men in your career because it’s an equal playground, why haven’t you collaborated with women more? Is it timing, circumstance, or based on specific need or want?
Rodes: I’m not really sure why this is the case. My musical mentors growing up were all women. I think there just happen to be a lot of men in the circles I’ve fallen into. I haven’t actively pursued working with a person because of their gender. I’ve just gone after the music and relationships that have been inspiring to me.
Five Fun Questions
What was your first concert, and do you have an overall favorite?
Rodes: My first concert was opening for Wendy Woo at the Dairy in Boulder, CO when I was 10 or 11 years old! I remember walking on stage with my guitar, sitting down and telling the audience “I have a cold, so bear with me”.
What was your first album on cassette, vinyl and/or CD?
Rodes: My first was a single called “Listen” that I released when I was 9. I sing about a relationship that’s falling apart – it’s cute and also questionable.
What five albums or artists would you not want to live without?
Rodes: Lee Hazelwood, Nancy Sinatra, Mulatu Astatke, The Beatles, Tord Gustavsen Trio
What is currently in rotation on your Spotify, Pandora or streaming platform?
Rodes: A “Boleros from the 60s” playlist!
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
Rodes: I have re-watched “Sex and the City” and “Friends” too many times to count…