Rose Dorn on Los Angeles DIY & Power of Friendship

Three years ago, I was at The Bourgeois Pig in Los Angeles, waiting for a coffee date with sisters Lucy and Scarlet. I had met Lucy a few times during a previous trip to LA and was meeting Scarlet for the first time. She was still in high school, and little did we know, was about to meet her future best friend, with whom she would eventually form Rose Dorn

Fast forward to 2020 and the three of us (all Sagittariuses btw) are sitting in Lucy’s apartment, taking photos and chatting about how far Rose Dorn has come. From the time of that first coffee date, Rose Dorn has released two EPs; Speak Now and Call Her followed with their most recent album, Days You Were Leaving, via Bar/None Records.

Here’s our conversation about Rose Dorn, the DIY music scene in Los Angeles, and the power of friendship.

Photo of Scarlet by Malaika Astorga

When I met you, you hadn’t started Rose Dorn yet, but you were about to. I remember we were at your dad’s house, sitting in your room, and you were playing the guitar. You were so excited about making music, but you were still shy to show anyone else.

That was three years ago. Let’s talk about how you got into music and what inspired you to start.

Scarlet: It’s so crazy that it’s been that long. In general, my friends and the people in my life inspire my music. The bands I listened to at that time also inspired what I was doing. I thought, if they’re doing it, I can probably do it too. It was easy to get started; I just had to do it and not talk about it. Once I played my first show, music became addictive.

You played guitar and sang on your Instagram stories, sometimes sending me the lyrics. It’s been amazing to see those lyrics transform into full albums. 

S: Yeah! I sent you Champ when I had just finished the demo. 

What’s it like breaking into the DIY scene in L.A.?

S: It’s helpful to be in LA, and to have resources, like our music scene, that are here already. I don’t feel competitive energy, but people do come here with a purpose. I feel lucky to be a part of a community that’s so aspirational. 

How did Rose Dorn first meet?

S: We met at Lucy’s surprise birthday party.

Lucy: Thank YOU. Joey and Jamie wanted to play music, and Scarlet wanted to be in a band. 

S: I got their numbers that night, and we promised to do it for real. I FaceTimed them the next morning. I meant to call them, but I accidentally FaceTimed them at 8 am. Oops. I felt like I had found my people, and the music flowed so well. There’s never been an argument, there’s never been a dull moment. We laugh and cry together. 

When did you start going to shows?

S: Lucy started taking me to shows when I was… 13. Wow, that’s so weird. We would see Wavves, Tijuana Panthers, bands like that.

Ok, so the Burger Records era of LA. Now it seems like the scene leans more towards shoegaze as well as heavier, emotional lyrics. How have you seen the scene change from Wavves to what it sounds like today?

S: It’s definitely changed from the Burger Records sound. That era of music was fast-paced, and often the songs were quite complicated sonically. I feel like the music now is much simpler lyric and chord-wise, at least. Everything seems to have slowed down, with more emotional and serious energy put into the music, instead of just party all the time. 

Who do you listen to now?

S: As a friend, and as a songwriter, Brendan (MILLY) inspires me. I admire his songwriting and his ability to change styles without being cheesy. I also listen to a lot of Drake, DIIV (the new music), Big Thief, October Tooth, Lil Peep, Connor Oberst, and Bright Eyes. Every time I feel weird, sad, or bored, there’s never a dull moment when I’m listening to a Drake song. All Drake, every Drake. 

Photo of Scarlet by Malaika Astorga

Where did the name Rose Dorn come from?

S: It’s from Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright. Rose Dorn is the name of the girl that the main character has a crush on.

It’s been a wild ride, seeing all the progress that you and the band have made. You’ve released Speak Now and Call Her, and then I think the last time I was here, you had just gotten the offer from Bar/None. I remember Lucy telling you to take your time with it because Mercury was in retrograde. 

S: And now you’re here this time, and we just got our apartment! That’s crazy timing. Isn’t that weird, sis?

Lucy: That’s so funny I didn’t realize you guys were interviewing, and I was thinking that you should ask Malaika a question because you had been talking for a long time.

*laughs*

What are your plans for the new year?

S: We’re going on tour! We’ll be playing with Winter, Justus Proffit, Wished Bone, Sean Henry, Waveform*, Anna Burch, Long Beard, and Outer Spaces.

Tour Dates

March 17-22 SXSW

March 24 – Athens, GA 

March 25 – Atlanta, GA 

March 26 – Nashville, TN

March 27 – Asheville, NC 

March 28 Durham, NC 

March 29 Richmond, VA

March 31 DC 

April 3 New York, NY

April 4 West Haven, CT 

April 6 Boston, MA

April 1 Philadelphia, PA 

April 10 Pittsburgh, PA

April 11 Cleveland, OH

April 12 Columbus, OH

April 13 Athens, OH

April 15 Chicago, IL

Rose Dorn

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