Rose McGowan has officially entered the music biz. Earlier this week, she released her first song and music video under her own name. Called “RM486,” it’s an eerie portrayal of different versions of McGowan. “All are pieces that make up my whole – an artist, a public figure, and most importantly, as a person,” she said in a statement.
Directed by music video legend Jonas Åkerlund with fashion direction by B. Åkerlund, it’s a dramatic way to enter a new creative field. But for McGowan, who has had a tremendous year slamming sexism in Hollywood and releasing her directorial debut at Sundance, it’s all about getting back to her roots as an artist. EW caught up with McGowan to talk about plans for her music career, naming the song after an abortion pill, and having control of her life.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you decide you wanted to put out music under your name?
I actually do a lot of photography, and I shot this band Punishment for their album cover. Then I said, you know, I fiddle around with music too. They thought that was great and I went to Paris and did a song. I wanted a song I could drive in my car to at night. I wanted something very galactic. So I did that. I recorded it in Paris in between fashion shows and I wrote it in the car on the way there.
How long had you been sitting on the song?
We recorded it about six or seven months ago and the video was about two or three months ago.
How did you hook up with Jonas Åkerlund, who directed the vid?
I met B. Åkerlund a long time ago and she found out I was doing music and she said they were looking for collaborations to do, and I showed them my song. They fell in love with it. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I know I love music and I love singing and I love writing. I want to put art out into the world. That’s about it.
That’s the best place to start.
It’s definitely earnest emotion. The lyrics are really positive and strong. I have a lot to say.
What is the overall message of the song and video?
For me, it’s really about not being afraid to be a free human being and I want people to know that it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to be weird and it’s okay to be awesome. It’s all okay. I think there’s a real push, especially in Hollywood, to not be individuals and I want to bring that to the forefront. The way I grew up was to be completely an individual and mostly try to stay that way. I got lost a couple times, but mostly stayed on my own path. I never really talked much before and all of a sudden I seem to be doing a lot of talking, but I like doing it through lyrics.
I always thought it was going to be me somehow that was going to wind up having to say something. I think I was waiting for someone else to do it. When I never saw that happening, I was like, “Okay fine I’ll do it.” I have been an activist since about age 3. I’ve been handcuffed to courthouse stairs more times than I can count. I’ve always been an aware person, and when you do press, promoting a movie, they’re pretty much asking me stupid questions about somebody else’s work. What kind of thoughts are you really going to have getting out at that time? I really just kind of gave up for a long time. Then I realized, “Wait, I can say whatever I want…” Because I can, because we all can.
Is music the way for you to say what you actually want?
Absolutely. It’s my voice, literally, and also my work. I don’t know anyone in music, so hopefully this will open doors for me to collaborate with some other great musicians. I would be really down for that.
Who’s your dream collaboration?
That’s my problem. I like everyone that’s dead. I’ll have to start thinking about it, actually. I could go along in life and prepare and then the right thing is there at the right time, in my own bumbling way. Everything’s accidentally on-purpose.
You said the song was named after the abortion pill, RU486. Seems like a funny timing coincidence to release the song just after the House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which you’ve been outspoken against.
We were just trying to find a date that we agreed on, that worked out. I wanted the title to be pretty astral and reflective of the alien robot person, and at the same time I want everything to have double meaning but be meaningful at the same time. I knew titling it this way would be an entree to speak about women’s rights. I think people on the whole could be a lot smarter about things and shouldn’t be afraid when they’re public figures to have a conversation with people and to start a conversation to create public discourse. I think we’re mostly used to being shouted at by politicians instead of having a dialogue about things.
The kind of art you’re making is a good way to start the conversation.
I would love to never talk about this stuff again. I think we all would. When people pay for funding to go down, that’s when it gets insane. That’s when I just go into this diffferent mode of, “No. This can’t keep happening. It’s absurd. Not on my watch.”
When you played the woman with her mouth taped shut in the video, what exactly were you trying to say?
I have the hard time watching that one. She’s the one I like the least, but not because of what she looks like, but of what she represents. It hits a primal spot in me. I didn’t realize while we were filming it, she’s the most agitated. Jonas knew all that. He captured it perfectly. I grew up with artists and it’s time to be amongst them again.
Do you have concrete plans for a music career?
I think it’s going to be about finding people to make music with. I’m going to put it out in the world and see what happens. It’s all a social experiment, really.
Do you want to put an album out?
Maybe, if I have time. If I feel like it. I worked really hard to get to a place where I have some control over my life, and some control over my art, and that’s where I’m at. It’s a pretty cool place to be.