Rosegarden Funeral Party | Photo by: Erin Shea Devany
By David Fletcher
Leah Lane, the singer-songwriter, guitarist, frontwoman of Rosegarden Funeral Party, had to put up with a lot of naysaying to get this album out, and she counts herself among those naysayers.
Calling from a rest stop outside the US-Canada border on their tour with Lorelei K, Lane called to talk about what took the band so long to release the band’s first full-length album Martyr, and what it means for her to finally give it to their fans.
“It’s a combination of me wanting this to be perfect, lineup changes and complications with record labels,” she said noting the band’s acquisition of drummer Dylan Stamas and the departure of keyboardist Mikka Vanya Brightheart.
“It’s like a lot of red tape….yellow tape, blue tape, green tape — a lot of tapes,” she laughs.
As the band rose to prominence, being one of the most sought after and award winning acts in the Dallas music scene, behind closed doors, the band faced innumerable setbacks in the recording process and dealt with several labels who expressed interest in the band only to go silent.
“We decided that we weren’t going to work with a label who didn’t value us because we worked really hard for it,” she continues. “I felt like we deserved better than that. There was one producer in particular who was so willing to tell me that the record was trash, that it needed to be rewritten, that my structures weren’t organized, my lyrics were too complicated.”
But nothing keeps Rosegarden down.
Mixed by David Z who recorded and engineered Prince’s Purple Rain, Rosegarden will be releasing the album on digital, CD, cassette and vinyl (next year) with Dallas-based Moon Sounds Records who released their 2018 EP The Chopping Block.
Though Lane struggled to overcome her internalization of so much negativity, she ultimately found the strength to release the album for herself and for their fans.
“I think it is an opportunity to show vulnerability in releasing something that I know isn’t totally perfect,” she says. “I had been so meticulous about making sure that like it sounds exactly like it’s supposed to in order to help the most people and be and be applicable to like a wide audience.
“I think the moment that I recognized like it needs to come out was less of a moment of, ‘It’s perfect, and now that I’ve created the perfect record and now I can release it,’ and more of a moment of, ‘Holy shit, if I don’t release this record, it’s not going to mean anything at all.'”
For those who have been following Rosegarden’s trajectory for the past two years, it is no secret that their circle of fans has grown steadily with show attendees singing every word to every song, even those that have yet to reach a streaming platform.
“I hate and love the fact that people know the lyrics to ‘Gaslighting’ because that song is not released at all and everyone knows it because we’ve played it for a year and a half,” Lane says. “It’s a song that touches people and connects with people, and I just hate myself for spending so much time trying to make it perfect and not giving the song to the people who need it.”
For Lane, the contents of the album and the performance of its songs is all about a mutual catharsis between herself and the audience.
“I want to release the record while it still means something to me, and I want to be feeling the songs at the same time my fan base feels the songs,” she explains. “The longer I wait to release them, the farther removed I am from them and the harder it will be to connect with my fans who are connecting with them.”
But that desire for catharsis between artist and audience can be a double-edged sword when it comes to making song available for public consumption and scrutiny. Another factor that delayed the release of the album is far deeper and much more personal for Lane.
“The whole record is my last words to the first person I ever loved,” she says. “There’s a combination of desire to get over it and the fear to get over it. Feeling that desire and fear probably contributed to why I was such a perfectionist about it.”
Being the last words Lane will ever speak to her first love, Martyr is structured in such a way that gives the audience some insight into her fall and inevitable rise post-break up.
“If you flipped ‘Mirror’s Image’ and ‘Fade to Black’ [the album’s first two tracks], the record actually goes in chronological order of order that I wrote them,” Lane says. “You actually go through my healing process as you walked through the record. ‘Fade to Black’ is the last song that was written in that hell and coming out of the rest of it is like a Phoenix burning and rising from the ashes.”
We have watched as Rosegarden has taken every setback in stride, turning every step back into a bold step forward. The release of Martyr is their way of imploring their fans to do the same.
“I hope that this music helps people spin their pain into something beautiful that they can create with,” she says. “I hope that this music helps people manifest in themselves a new light, a new purity, in a new identity.”