EXCLUSIVE: Ronnie Watts talks new single, “Sad Summer” and upcoming debut EP

Singer-songwriter Ronnie Watts is back with her latest alt-pop track, “Sad Summer.” Written mid-winter, the single lyrically takes a nostalgic look at the memories of summer. Watt’s words evoke vivid images and lead listeners through the pages of an old photo album. 

The imagery is mirrored in the accompanying music video created by Lee Gregory. Gregory creatively collages and animates photographs, creating an engaging musical visual.

“Sad Summer” is the lead single from Watt’s upcoming debut EP, I DON’T TRUST U AT ALL,  due out September 25th, 2020.

We chatted with this New York native about “Sad Summer,” her upcoming debut EP, and more. 

How did you first get interested in music? 

I’ve always loved music and I’ve known I wanted to be a performer since I was a little kid. My Dad is a musician and we have a studio in our basement, so it was really great to grow up in such a musical environment. Going to my Dad’s shows definitely had a big impact on me. Music is something I’ve always felt very connected to, I still have the songs I wrote in crayon.

How would you describe your sound? 

I would describe my sound as “heartbreak pop.” It’s pop music, but I bring elements of singer/songwriter and alternative music to it that gives it more of an edge. I’m really inspired by Lorde and The 1975. They’ve definitely influenced me lyrically and just the vibe overall.

You grew up in Rochester, New York. Did growing up there influence your music? 

Definitely! Basically everywhere you go in Rochester there’s band playing, which is really cool. We have this thing called the Jazz Fest every year where artists from all over the world come to play in a bunch of venues downtown, you just walk from building to building listening to music. It’s also nice being relatively close to New York City. Some of my best songs have come to me on those train rides there and back. 

What was the inspiration behind your latest single, “Sad Summer”?

I actually wrote “Sad Summer” in the dead of winter at like one in the morning. It’s a reflection of a summer in images. Trips to the grocery store, ice cream that was sitting in my freezer for way too long, laying in the grass. It’s the little things you hold onto and the songs are about not being able to let go of it. 

What was the writing process like? 

The writing process for all my songs comes pretty naturally. I like to be alone in my room with my guitar with my hot pink led lights on low. That was the vibe writing “Sad Summer.” I use the voice memos app to record all my ideas. I kept the song to myself for at least a month before I sent it to my manager. We eventually sent it to Harper James to produce and he turned it from a simple acoustic song to the banger it is today.

Your music feels very authentic and vulnerable. When you’re writing about something, does it give you a new perspective on the experience? 

Some of the things I write actually really surprise me. Like wow I didn’t know I was so angry about that thing, or I have stronger feelings for this person than I thought I did. Not to make you worry too much but a lot of times my first reaction when I’m writing is to start crying. It’s not even in a necessarily emotional way, I guess it’s just my body’s physical response to get me in the head space to write a song that means something. I’m fine guys, really, don’t worry.

Where did the concept for the lyric video come from? 

Lee Gregory created the lyric video for “Sad Summer.” He’s incredible. We wanted something to match the fun, summer time feel that the instrumentation gives and he worked hand-in-hand with me to really nail the feeling that I want people to have when they listen to the song. I’m really happy with how it turned out. My favorite shot is in the last scene with the flowers, it’s so pretty.

If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to “Sad Summer,” what do you imagine it looking like? 

Oooh good question. If they can’t listen to it at one of my shows, I honestly think the perfect environment would be in their room at like 10:30 at night. So they can just dance around on their bed with their dog. They need a disco ball though, that’s vital. Maybe some strobe lights. 

What can fans expect from your debut EP, ‘I DON’T TRUST U AT ALL’? 

All of my singles have told a story, but the difference with the EP is that it shows the different levels of the story I’ve been telling so far… all of those different stages of heartbreak and getting over a breach of trust. The EP represents the complexity of feelings. It has more acoustic songs like “Famous in California,” more upbeat songs like “Sad Summer,” and other sounds that no one’s heard from me yet, which I’m really excited about. My goal is that people can connect with it and take some comfort in the songs.

What was it like writing and producing this EP in Quarantine?

Since I live in Rochester, a lot of my songs are worked on remotely anyway, so it didn’t feel like a huge difference to me. But I was working on the EP with Harper James in Brooklyn when the virus first hit, which cut our time short. We have to be much more straight to the point when we’re working remotely. Unfortunately, we can’t chill and walk down the street to get pizza.

What is one quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world?

 “You are exactly where you need to be,” is a big one for me. I’m always thinking about the next best thing, and what I could be doing. It’s a work in progress but I’m working on appreciating a moment when I’m in it, and not thinking about what comes next, or if I could be doing something better. I’m getting there.

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