Naarm/Melbourne-based Rowena Wise (fka Ro) has a burgeoning reputation as a live performer, delivering songs that have a newfound sense of honesty, holding space for all of life’s beauty and messiness. Hailed as a “lyrical assassin” by the Australian triple j community, Rowena’s storytelling is like a close friend, offering heady ruminations on love, loss and alienation while giving gentle echoes of courage and empowerment. Inspired by the strong storytelling sensibilities of 60s folk icons, Rowena is a sharp lyricist who finds truths in fiction, sketched over a sound that is best filed as indie rock, garage pop and alt-folk.
Growing up in the small surf town of Margaret River, Western Australia, Rowena was surrounded by music from an early age. Her father, a luthier, built her custom acoustic and electric guitars, while her mother, a folk musician from Chicago, instilled in her a love of music that would shape her career. Rowena travelled and performed from a young age as part of a family band, before moving to Melbourne at the age of 18 to pursue her own music.
Rowena's music defies easy categorization, with elements of indie rock, garage pop, and alt-folk all present in her sound. Her lyrics explore themes of love, alienation, and self-empowerment, delivered with a candid, understated power. A lover of poetry and melancholic wordplay, Rowena's performances are marked by a depth and relatability that has earned her a devoted fanbase and critical acclaim.
Since bursting onto the scene in 2018 with her debut single 'Diary', Rowena has amassed over 2 million streams and gained airplay on major Australian radio stations such as triple j, double j, and Unearthed. Her subsequent releases, including 'F**ked Up Over You' and 'To Pretend', have cemented her status as one of the most exciting new voices in indie music. She has also collaborated with fellow Australian artist Didirri on the hauntingly beautiful 'Tea Stains'.
As a performer Rowena is centre stage, playing with a candid power and vulnerability that quickly draws an audience in. Her soaring melodies are combined with “breezy guitar with incredible lyrical poetry, showcasing her storytelling side while also cementing her status as a kick-ass musician on the rise” - Pilerats. Rowena has supported the likes of G Flip, Didirri, Kira Puru, Little May, Bernard Fanning and Paul Dempsey. She has played festivals such as Woodford Folk Festival, BIGSOUND and Party in the Paddock. In late 2019 - early 2020 she completed her first headline East Coast Tours and sold out her Melbourne shows.
Amidst the last few years spent travelling and writing, Rowena recently finished recording her debut album, ‘Senseless Acts of Beauty’. Produced by Robert Muinos (Didirri, Julia Jacklin) and engineered at the Rat Shack (Melbourne), a live recorded studio band gives it a punchy, organic production, reflecting the raw energy of the Rowena’s performance. With its profound themes and genuine expression, ‘Senseless Acts of Beauty' is expected to leave a lasting impact upon its release, firmly establishing Rowena Wise as a compelling voice in the indie music scene and beyond.