Abby Roberts unveils ‘obscura’ EP: A dive into her musical evolution and artistic vision

"Lately I’ve been taking the approach of just being more myself and less of this persona that people expect me to be"
24 May 2024
Photo by Sophie Buckley

Indie pop sensation Abby Roberts returns with her latest EP, obscura, following her acclaimed 2022 release Ashes. Featuring tracks like lose myself in you ft. re6ce, volatile, and Imposter Syndrome, Abby’s highly anticipated EP is eagerly awaited by her 18-million-strong online fanbase. Since receiving praise from ​halsey, who invited Abby to support them on tour, her career has skyrocketed.

Originally gaining fame as a makeup artist on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, Leeds native Abby Roberts transitioned to music in 2020, collaborating with producers Tim Woodcock and Noah Terefe. Citing Lana Del Rey, Mazzy Star, Nirvana, Radiohead, and Arctic Monkeys as her main influences, Abby’s obscura EP reflects her personal growth and musical journey.

Abby has also performed alongside halsey, beabadoobe, Pale Waves, The Marias, Gus Dapperton, and graced stages at Romania’s Summer In The City 2023, Brighton’s Great Escape Festival, and Reading & Leeds Festival.

The EP explores themes of self-discovery, notably in Imposter Syndrome, delving into Abby’s feelings of inadequacy despite her success. Embracing her transition from makeup artist to pop rock musician, Abby seamlessly integrates her artistic background into her music, emphasizing visuals and aesthetics.

Photo by Sophie Buckley

As she gears up for upcoming festival appearances, fans can expect electrifying performances characterized by hair flips, sexy guitar solos, and bold fashion choices. Abby aims to create an inclusive space for her diverse fanbase, inviting everyone to join the party.

I’ve always been an artistic kid & I think visuals are so so important to me, I love creating in any capacity and to me it’s not so much a transition from one career to the other but rather just an extension of the world I’m building.

How has the journey leading to your EP obscura shaped you both as an artist and an individual over the past four years?

I think ​I’ve definitely matured a lot throughout the writing process of obscura, some of the tracks i wrote when ​I was like 19/20 years old and i feel like so many experiences happened in this time to shape me into the (kind of) adult I am today and i think if ​I’d written some of these now I would go about it so differently! Some of the songs (like volatile) have these slightly juvenile and bratty lyrics but I think that’s the beauty of this project, it really has captured me growing up and all my late teen & early 20s angst lol! I feel like it gives an insight into how I’ve navigated this whole coming of age process we go through in all its messy glory.

You mentioned that obscura evolved alongside you. Can you share insights into how your creative process has evolved during this time?

I feel like I’ve become SO much more confident with my writing since working on my first project, most times I’ll go into the studio with the whole song lyrics all figured out & ready to record whereas before I wouldn’t always have a fully formed idea & would work more collaboratively on lyrics with producers in sessions, which isn’t a bad thing! I still love to work both ways & it’s great to bounce ideas off of people in that way but I just have a lot more confidence in the message I’m trying to convey in my music these days.

Could you delve into the inspiration behind Imposter Syndrome from your new EP and its significance within the album’s context?

Imposter Syndrome was based on this feeling that I’ve always had & could never quite put into words. I’d spoken to Halsey about this a few months prior to writing the track & was baffled that she felt the same way?! How could someone so incredibly talented and successful as her still have these doubts? I guess it’s this innate feeling that some people struggle with, and some don’t have it at all, but for me it’s always been this sense that I don’t belong or deserve any of the success I’ve had in any of my work in any sort of industry ​I’ve been in. I feel like a fraud & that everyone can see straight through it.

This feeling was amplified by x100 when I went on my first songwriting trip to LA in November 2022 – I was in these crazy rooms with producers & writers & artists I could’ve never dreamed of working with!! (including halsey herself). In a weird and wonderful synergy me and ash both had imposter syndrome on our minds that day we wrote it & both pulled up to the session with ideas around this concept without even mentioning to each other before, I feel like it was fate for that song to happen & it’s one of my proudest creations – I feel so incredibly lucky to have worked with ash in that way, and learnt so much from them in doing so!

Photo by Sophie Buckley

Your transition from makeup artist to pop rock musician is quite unique. How has your background influenced your music and artistic vision?

I’ve always been an artistic kid & I think visuals are so so important to me, I love creating in any capacity and to me it’s not so much a transition from one career to the other but rather just an extension of the world I’m building. I think makeup & visuals inspire my music and vice versa. With music videos & social content being such a huge part of promoting the music I think my background in social media has only helped me! i can be my own makeup artist for all these sorts of things, I’ve never had a makeup artist on set with me for a single red carpet/photoshoot i’ve ever done, and me and my best friend soph shoot all our own music videos at home and i love that – I can be my own team in that way! Sometimes I’ll go into a session with a certain visual mood in mind & try to write a track envisioning how it would pair up with a music video for example. I think that’s such a fun way to approach writing, we definitely did that with imposter syndrome.

Artists like Lana Del Rey, Mazzy Star, and Nirvana influence your music. How do these influences shape your sound, and what other elements contribute to your distinctive style?

​L​ana​ would say is my biggest inspiration lyrically, ​I’ve idolised her since ​I was 12 years old and I admire so much how she’s able to paint the most beautiful picture with her lyrics – she’s a very visual & poetic artist and i love how her music can really strike you emotionally, ​I aspire to do that with my lyrics always. ​Mazzy ​Star​, I love the dreamy quality of ​Hope ​Sandovals vocal delivery and that has inspired me a lot in the way ​I​ deliver a lot of my breathy vocals, and the 90s guitars are always major inspo to me too, love a good shoegaze band as well. ​

Nirvana I take inspiration in some of my heavier tracks like protocol & even sleepwalking from my first ep ashes – ​I love being more experimental with chord progressions and melodies and i think they’re such a great example of that, as well as just making an incredible chorus that just hits so hard. I feel like some key elements in my music are definitely the contrast of a soft breathy dreamy vocal delivery with a grungy/shoegazey guitar, and often a more pop melody, i love merging all these worlds of all my favourite things to listen to.

Photo by Sophie Buckley

With a significant online following, how do you balance your online persona with your identity as a musician?

It’s hard. Identity is something I struggle with a lot and I’ve tried to balance the two in the most palatable way for a long time but I think that very easily becomes no fun. Lately I’ve been taking the approach of just being more myself and less of this persona that people expect me to be, I’m experimental with my fashion, and my makeup, and hair, and i love to create things of all kinds including music, and art, and everything else and if that isn’t for some people then so be it! I don’t want to be confined to one expectation of myself.

What has excited you most in music over the past 12 months?

​Honestly ​I’m so excited for the new ​Billie ​Eilish record I’m a biggg fan

What do you consider the most important qualities of a great song?

​Melody ​I feel like is number one it’s the first thing you hear & can’t really get away with it being not good, if it doesn’t hit it doesn’t hit there’s no saving the song haha. lyrics I feel like are suuuper important too, you can definitely have a song that is a vibe melody & production wise without it being the most profound lyrics in the world, but to be a real artist you need to be saying something & communicate your message to the world and i think that’s what sets apart a great artist.

Can you share your guilty pleasure in music?

​I absolutely love a dirty little slutpop track, and ​I’m not even guilty about it – ​I blast ​Charli ​X​CX, ​Kim ​Petras, ​Gaga, slayyyter every day of the week. lol. Nothing makes you feel like a badder bitch than having that in your ears on the tube.

What can fans expect from your live performances, considering your headline show in London and upcoming festival appearances? How do you engage with your audience on stage?

​A show for the girls, gays & theys. ​There will be hair flips, sexy guitar solos, hair dye, FASHION, looks, makeup, hot merch, the best crowds & so much fun hehe