Abby Roberts talks messy eras, beating burnout, and new music

Abby Roberts talks messy eras, beating burnout, and new music

by Robyn Pullen
8 min

Messy, relatable, and most importantly, real, Abby Roberts’ latest EP “obscura” is an insight into the past four years of the singer-songwriters’ life. From going on Hinge dates to working with music icon Halsey, Abby’s upcoming EP (dropping May 24th) is a culmination of a ton of different experiences that have shaped her, both good and bad. We caught up with Abby to talk music inspirations, messy nights out, live shows, handling burnout, and “obscura”’s pending drop. Here’s what went down.

We’re catching up just ahead of your upcoming EP “obscura”’s release, coming on May 24th. How are you feeling about the pending drop?

I wasn’t feeling nervous up until this week, and then I was like “oh God, I’m actually a bit scared!” It’s because I’ve got the EP [coming out] and we’re also doing a show next week, so there’s a lot of things to get ready for, but I’m very excited for it all as well. 

Where did the name “obscura” come from?

The name is always the last thing I get to! I remember I was in the same situation with the first EP I did; I wrote all the songs and the name was the very last thing. [This time round] I got a few of my best friends over and we were all brainstorming – we’d made this big mindmap of what each song represents and come up with so many words off the back of that – but it was actually my best mate Sophie who said: “what about obscura?”

@abbyroberts by @indiaashmorephy ©

She’s a photographer, so she’s quite familiar with the concept of “obscura” [in photography]. I was saying that I wanted the name to be something that represented looking back on a certain time. The whole EP is symbolic of a very “coming of age” type experience, but I didn’t want to be so blunt with the name… a little more obscure, I guess! [But that’s why “obscura” makes sense] because it’s about like, looking back on this inverted image of how things happened. 

If you had to sum up your new EP in three words, what would they be?

Retrospective, growth, and naive. 

We know you previously worked on your single “Imposter Syndrome” with Halsey. Who’s another music icon you’d love to collaborate with?

I would really love to work with Jesse Rutherford from The Neighborhood. They’re one of my favourite bands and I just think he’s super talented. Everything he does, production-wise and writing-wise, even outside of his own projects is always really good. 

You’re super into fashion as well as music, attending Fashion Week shows for Diesel, Alexander McQueen, Richard Quinn, Masha Popova, and Chet Lo. Which designer or brand would you choose to design a fit for your next music video? Extra points if you can tell us which track it would be for.

I’m really loving Dilara Fındıkoğlu right now. I’m absolutely obsessed with everything she does, so I’d die to work with her! And maybe [the track] “Idea of You” would be a good vibe. 

@abbyroberts by @sophbuckleyy ©

A lot of your music comes from your real, personal experiences, and you said yourself that “obscura” is “a reflection of … events that shaped me into the person I am today.” Can you tell us about one experience in particular that made it onto the EP?

I wrote “Lose Myself In You” when I was like, in my “hoe era” and I was going on all these Hinge dates, just being really messy. I was kind of doing it as a distraction because I was feeling really overwhelmed in my personal life, but in actuality it made the whole situation a whole lot more messy and I ended up feeling like I was having a bit of an identity crisis!

I think, with the first EP, I was going through some really tough sh*t, so [writing music] was super therapeutic at the time. This time around, whilst it’s definitely still an outlet, it’s a lot more fun. There’s been a few more lighthearted experiences that I’ve channelled into this one. 

What’s your personal favourite track on “obscura”?

“Imposter Syndrome”

You’re putting on a headline show at London’s Colours Hoxton next week, on May 22, and you’re playing at All Things Go Music Festival in September. What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of performing live?

My favourite part is getting to see everyone! Especially now that I’m starting to recognise some of the same people who’ll return to multiple shows – it’s always nice to see familiar faces. It makes me feel super comfortable and at home when I’m on stage. 

For my least favourite: I just feel like I’m quite an anxious person so, the whole day leading up to a show, I physically can’t do anything because I’m just anticipating it. The anticipation is the worst part. But I have my pre-show playlist, I get my bangers on and try to get myself hyped up. I listen to a bit of Paramore and upbeat music that I can sing with my friends.

@abbyroberts ©

A certain viral music video starring a ton of fashion, music, and movie It-girls just dropped (you know the one). If you could enlist some of the world’s It-girls and boys to join you in a music video for an “obscura” track, who would you pick?

I feel Charli already [included] everyone – like, I can’t think who’s left! [Although] I would just die to see like Gemma Collins or Jedward in a music video. I’d love that, I think they’re all iconic. 

What’s a song lyric that really resonates with you?

The one I’ve got tattooed on me! I have “judge me like a picture book,” from Lana del Rey’s Brooklyn Baby [on my arm]. I just think it’s so pretty; it’s my favourite song. 

You’ve said before that you’ve experienced burnout in other creative parts of your life before music. What are some ways you try to combat getting burnt out now?

I try to spend more time with my friends and more time in the real world than I used to. When I was experiencing burnout before it was because I was on social media all day everyday, whereas now I’m doing other things, and I think music really gets me out of my head in that way as well. I’m less chronically online now! 

@abbyroberts by @sophbuckleyy ©

In your opinion, what’s about to be the song of the summer? 

I just listened to the new Billie Eilish album this morning, and I’ve gotta say “LUNCH” on that album is so good. 

Lastly, can you share anything exciting that’s on the horizon for you in 2024?

I may or may or not have more shows coming up that haven’t been announced yet, and in places that I haven’t played yet so that’s gonna be really fun. But till then, go stream “obscura”!

Featured image via @abbyroberts x @sophiasinot ©

More on Culted

See: Chi talks rat boyfriends, new music, and lizard people

See: Movie soundtracks picked by the Culted team

in other news