A self-proclaimed shapeshifter, singer-songwriter and producer Rose Windeler, aka Hybrid Rose, has refined and redefined her sound over the past seven years and five albums, taking a turn for the dark and twisty with new single Hugs N Kisses. The single is a brash and bombastic piece of electro-pop-rock with suitably in-your-face lyrics about obsession as she tells Nur Lajunen-Tal. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.
“Hugs N Kisses is a song about being so obsessed with someone that it makes you feel a little crazy,” explains Rose Windeler. “I wanted to exaggerate that idea a bit, and make it a bit campy and high energy. There wasn’t really any inspiration. It was just an idea that came to mind, and while I was writing the idea down in my phone initially to keep the idea in mind, it just sort of expanded as I was writing.”
Moving from initial conception to the finished production took an impressively quick time.
“I just had this effortless flow of writing the song. I wrote it in one day, and then I just recorded it the day after, and after that it was a very quick mixing and mastering process. From the point of it being an idea to it being finished was maybe like 48 hours. I started with the lyrics and then I built the production around it. I had the chords in mind, and then I just built the song around that.”
Directed and produced, respectively, by Karin Yamasaki and Keria Paterson of K(Squared) Productions the dark and intentionally disturbing music video perfectly complements the Hybrid Rose track. Windeler says she worked on the video with them for two to three months before the song came out.
“So it was a very long process, but it was very very cool. It’s inspired by this psychotic bimbo who’s waiting for someone to text her back, and she’s a bit quirky and a bit silly!”
In terms of sound and aesthetics, Hugs N Kisses couldn’t be more of a contrast with her last album, 2022’s ‘HyperKunt.’ It gives the feel of Taylor Swift’s transition from ‘Reputation’ to ‘Lover,’ only in reverse.
“I think with the last album, everything was quite bubbly and pink and cute and exciting. And then this is a bit more dark and rock inspired, and a bit more edgy. It’s a whole new approach. I’ve always wanted to do this sound in this way, and I’ve always tried to in the past. I think for years I was trying different things and it wasn’t necessarily working, but I think now I got it right. Well, I don’t think I got it, I know I got it right, and I feel confident in it!”
Listeners may notice some similarities between Hugs N Kisses and ‘HyperKunt,’ which explains why Windeler chose it as the lead single for her sixth album.
“I wanted to start the new era with this cos it feels a little more familiar to my previous work, so people will definitely catch on. This song feels like a bridge between the two projects. If you liked the last album, you’re probably gonna like this one, and if you like this one sonically, you’re definitely gonna like the next album.”
Making dramatic changes between albums is something Windeler has done since the beginning, and plans to continue.
“I try to switch things up every project. I don’t like having music that sounds too much the same to each other, cos I think if you’re not trying to switch things up or elevate your sound every project, then you’re not really doing too much. You’re not interesting!” she laughs. “I think it’s cool that artists can be shapeshifters in the sense where you can still have a certain idea or sound or style, but it can always be elevated or turned into something new.”
After being completely independent for her career to date, Hugs N Kisses is Windeler’s first release signed to Unstable Records, an imprint of Sony Music. This development excites Windeler.
“I’ve always wanted to join a label. It’s a very competitive nature, and I think a lot of the experiences I’ve had with major labels in NZ have been quite cutthroat. It’s also funny, because I’ve never had a team behind me either. I’ve done everything completely by myself unless it’s a music collaboration, like a creative collaboration. I’ve never had a manager or a booking manager, or someone behind me helping me out with my choices.”
The support of a label has helped Hybrid Rose reach new heights with her own self-expression.
“They encourage me to always be ambitious and to be creatively expressive, and not just make music to make music, but to make music to share messages with the world that I probably wouldn’t in a statement. I think some people are better at sharing their life through vlogging or blogs, or social media posts, or Instagram stories, or Tiktoks. I’ve learned that I actually quite enjoy sharing my life through music.”