From Makeup to Music: Getting to Know Abby Roberts

From Makeup to Music: Getting to Know Abby Roberts

From Makeup to Music: Getting to Know Abby Roberts

From breaking the TikTok algorithm with her insane makeup looks, to having over 60,000 videos made with the sound to her new song, Roberts takes a deeper look into her new found freedom in music.

From breaking the TikTok algorithm with her insane makeup looks, to having over 60,000 videos made with the sound to her new song, Roberts takes a deeper look into her new found freedom in music.

Text: Stevie Rowley

The first time Abby Roberts set up her camera to record a TikTok, she couldn't have predicted where it would take her. As a teen who wanted to share her passion for makeup with the world, no one could have predicted that she would gain over 17 million followers and be one of the top beauty creators on the app. Now, Roberts is trading in the makeup brush for a microphone as she embarks on a new journey into music. V Magazine sits down with the makeup mogul and upcoming indie star to discuss her transition and learn more about her new songs. 

SR: You were really big, and still really big on TikTok for makeup, and then I saw that you were doing music. Can you just tell me a little bit about how that started?

AR: I've always had a real passion for music, kinda always like sang around the house and stuff. My parents kind of always really encouraged me to do but I was like, no, I'm shy, stop it. I didn't really know anyone growing up, who knew much about how to produce or could teach me any sort of instrument or anything. The most I had was, my dad was in a brass band, and that was about it. I always really wanted to do it, but I just never knew how to get into the industry, and then because of TikTok I got really distracted with doing makeup for a long, long time. I've always just been quite a creative person and done lots of different artistic things, and having the platform that I did on TikTok allowed me to make some friends in music who taught me lots of things, and I've been having a lot of fun making my songs.

SR: What made you want to start doing music at this point in your in your career? Was there any specific thing or was it just kind of something that happened naturally? 

AR: I think pre-pandemic, I was so caught up in just really focusing on whatever I was doing at the time. I was so busy and didn't really have the free time to start anything new or focus on any other passions of mine. TikTok really took so much of my free time. My makeup looks I used to do, the crazy ones used to take me like 14 hours. During the pandemic, I realized makeup is not my whole life, and I kind of want to do other things. I experienced like a bit of creative burnout as well with makeup. I was like I've done everything I can possibly think of doing and putting on my face, and it wasn't challenging me anymore. I wanted to pursue music, so I started learning the guitar in lockdown, and I was really enjoying that. Then thought I'd have a go at writing my own songs, and I always kept notes on my phone of song ideas and stuff. So I thought I would try and like put some little things together, and then a friend of mine who knew a producer happened to reach out and was like, “Oh would you be interested in working with my friend who's a producer?” And I was like, oh my god, I'm shy, but okay. I like, go in and I sang in the studio for the first time, and it was like my first time singing in front of anyone ever, so it was really terrifying. I was just so shy in the beginning, and I still am a little bit shy, but like, yeah, it was more a confidence thing than anything. 

SR: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely nerve-wracking, especially if it's your first time singing in front of people in a studio like this is what I have to offer. So when you started playing the guitar and writing songs, was there a specific sound that you were going for, or were you just playing around for fun in the beginning? 

AR: I think I was playing around for fun, but I’ve always had a very specific music taste, and I kind of always aim for things like that. But you don't ever want to copy anyone else, so it took me a little while to find my own style and see what worked. There was definitely a lot of songs that I wrote in the beginning that were to pop and will never see the light of day. I think it's all a matter of like finding who you click with working-wise as well. I worked with a lot of different people before I found someone that I really clicked with. As far as inspirations go, I’ve always been a massive Lana Del Rey fan, and a massive Arctic Monkeys fan. Then over lockdown I rediscovered some 90s artists, like Mazzy Star, and I listen to a lot of Nirvana and stuff, so they're definitely inspirations as well. 

SR: Lana Del Rey's a great one!

AR: I love her so much!

SR: Mazzy Star doesn't get nearly as much recognition as she deserves either. She's amazing!

AR: Literally. Honestly, I love Mazzy Star so much and her really stripped-back sound was a big inspiration to some of the songs on the EP. 

SR: Yeah. You've got obviously a big following on TikTok for makeup, and now you're doing music. How do those two come together? 

AR: I think they are quite similar as much as they are different. The process of like finding inspiration and creating something from scratch is very similar to like how I would go about making a painting or putting makeup on my face and coming up with a look idea and a concept. There are always people that I'm inspired by visually, I think the same thing happens musically like whatever I'm listening to all the time. I listen to all sorts of different things, so I could just hear a lyric that I really like and that will inspire me, and it'll come from nowhere, and just everything around me really. 

SR: So “Paramaniac” blew up when it came out, and now you've just put out “Pink Champagne” and it's blowing up at the same time. What was that process like to go from “Paramaniac”, which is more self-reflective, to “Pink Champagne”, which is like a not-so-lovey love song? 

AR: Yeah, I think the process to me it was, it's interesting seeing people's different reactions online to the two songs. “Paramaniac” obviously has quite a deep meaning to me, and it's very much more lyrics-driven. I think people are really connected with that. Whereas “Pink Champagne” is quite a chilled out song. I just wanted to make it for the vibes more than anything, and it's not so deep. I expected people to like “Pink Champagne” more because it's more poppy, but surprisingly, people seem to favor the more indie one. But who knows, maybe “Pink Champagne” might start blowing up in a little while like with “Paramaniac”. It's such a different process on social media as well, like when we released “Paramaniac” it didn't blow up so instantly. Like we were in process of being like "Oh when's it going to pick up, when's it going to pick up?" and I'm like refreshing the Spotify every single day. But the same thing's kind of happening with “Pink Champagne” now. I'm waiting to see if people like it. 

SR: So can you talk to me a little bit about this story behind “Pink Champagne”? 

AR: When I wrote the song I had just broken up with this person, and I was very much in the mindset of like, still feeling all the emotions that happened in the relationship and you know, recounting these experiences and feelings, and like all of the intricate parts of the relationship that you remember. I wanted to put that like breakup feeling into relationships. I wanted to make a love song but not like lovey-dovey and like "Oh I love you" cause it was you know, it was a breakup, there's still a little bit of saltiness. I wanted people to feel this whole vibe of driving to the city by yourself with your thoughts. I think that was what I managed to achieve with the music video, and I was happy to bring my vision to life.

SR: You co-directed the video for “Pink Champagne”. What was that process like? 

AR: Really fun. I love being super involved in all my visuals. Obviously, it's such an important part to me and I've already got this experience with doing it on a smaller scale for Tik Tok. Like making my own sets, props, and videos like is a mini music video in a way, so I felt like I was just doing that on a bigger scale, obviously with the help of a lot of people to bring my vision to life. I couldn't be more happy with the “Pink Champagne” video to be honest, I think it turned out so well. The lighting was just so Euphoria vibes; it was beautiful!

SR: It's a very cool concept! The part where you're standing out the roof of a taxi reminds me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

AR: Yes! That was my inspiration! 

SR: What was the of inspiration behind the idea for the video? 

AR: For all my concepts and stuff, it's usually me, my sister, Charlotte, who I'm very close with, and my best friend Sophie. We sit and just have these brainstorming sessions for creative ideas. We'll write down what does this part of the video make you feel? What do you visualize here? We all kind of really bounce off of each other, so I think it was important to us to have little easter eggs and references, like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and there was the Love Actually reference with the cards and everything. We just thought it was a really fun idea. I was very set on the driving around the city vibe as well, so that was my idea. But yeah, I think it's nice to be able to work with creatives who you're so close with, like my family and my best friends to just really get the vision. 

SR: They know your vision, maybe not as well as you, but they know what you're trying to go for. It's definitely nice to be able to talk to people that get it and have been through those experiences with you. 

AR: Exactly, yeah. 

SR: So I don't know whether you're telling people about this yet, but you said earlier that you're releasing an EP. 

AR: Yeah, I am, yeah.  

SR: What can you tell me about it?  

AR: There are six tracks coming out on the EP. I think the songs that you've had so far are probably the most upbeat ones from the track; it gets a little dark. But yeah, some of the songs are even more self-reflective and very therapeutic. I think, for me it was a difficult process to write, but it definitely helped me overcome some things that I've spoke about in EP. There are some darker things to come that I hope people can really relate to.

SR: I'm sure everyone's looking forward to it, and you've got some exciting things coming up! You're playing at The Great Escape festival. You're playing at London's Community Festival, and you're also opening for Halsey. 

AR: I know, I'm a busy girl! 

SR Yeah! But it's also so exciting! What are you most looking forward to about being on stage? 

AR: Honestly, it's difficult. I don't know what to expect cause I've never done anything of that scale before, especially like the Halsey tour. I'm so nervous, but excited. Ash has been such a great coach with helping me prepare for it, and, you know, she really believes that I will be able to get to that performance point by the time it comes around. I've got a bunch of UK stuff coming up over the next few months to get me ready for that. I've only done three shows so far. I've got my next one in London next week, which is going to be my first one that I announced online and told everyone to come to so, yeah. It was crazy, last time I did a show I announced it an hour before just to see if anyone would come up. Like 10 people showed up and they're like, “oh my god, we traveled an hour to get here.” They knew all the words to “Paramaniac” and they were singing along through the whole show. It was such like an emotional feeling, like I didn't expect people to know that.  I think it's gonna be crazy when it gets to the point that like, it's a bigger crowd of people sing the words that I wrote back to me.I think that's gonna feel really strange, and I'm really looking forward to that potentially happening.

SR: I mean, it must be such a crazy thing to experience even if it's only with 10 people. It's the fact that 10 people like have listened to this song and I can imagine how overwhelming that's going to be on such a big scale.  

AR: Literally I don't know what to expect.  

SR: Okay, so my last question that I have for you is what are you looking forward to coming in the future? Obviously, you've got like this EP, and you know these shows, but just in general, what are you looking forward to about this new venture in your life? 

AR: I think it's reinspired me creatively. It felt like for so long with makeup that I was just doing the same thing, and now it's something new and exciting. I feel really out of my depths, which is uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in a good way. I feel like if you're not putting yourself in an uncomfortable position,  you're never gonna grow and I became way too comfortable in doing the same thing and having the same TikTok routine every single day. So I'm happy to be able to break out of that and do something that I don't know where it's gonna end up.

Credits: All Images Taken By Dan Sullivan

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