The rising indie-pop artist talks to us about her newest single, writing with Halsey, touring, and what’s to come…

Photography by Sophie Buckley

Photography by Sophie Buckley

Sitting down with Abby Roberts two days before the release of her new single, “Imposter Syndrome”, I can feel the anticipation and nervous excitement in the air. Written with renowned musician and “older sister” figure to Roberts, Halsey, the dreamy new track is the result of feeling out of place in spaces with established producers, writers, and artists. But from the first few minutes talking with Abby, it’s clear that she’s no imposter at all. She’s the real deal.

While she began growing a platform online from her hometown of Leeds at the young age of 11, it wasn’t until 2020 that Roberts started writing music. Used to sharing makeup videos across social channels, first YouTube, then Instagram, and later TikTok, she was no stranger to the creative industries and virality of social media, but had always perfected content and edited it with complete control. Growing tiresome and experiencing burnout by the end of her teenage years, she found a new form of escapism in music. And the rest is history.

Her debut EP, “Ashes”, was a laid-back and melancholic introduction into Roberts as a singer-songwriter, with emotional tracks and clever lyricism that touched listeners globally. One such listener was Halsey, who has since become a friend and mentor of the young artist, bringing her on tour and writing songs together. Now, with successful releases and countless live shows under her belt, and more confidence in her voice, Roberts is back and better than ever before. She is honest, experimental, and bold on alt-pop “Imposter Syndrome”, and we can’t wait for more.

Keep reading for Abby Roberts’ own words on her new release, relationship with live performances, and what’s to come.

Stream “Imposter Syndrome”…

Read the interview…

Hey! Congratulations on the upcoming release! Could you tell me a bit about your background and how you’ve gotten to this point?
I feel like I’m still very new to music. I started making it about three years ago now, but releasing only at the start of last year. And doing shows and everything, that was only the start of last year as well. So it feels like it happened very quickly, which can be quite overwhelming at times. But obviously, I was doing social media for such a long time before this — since I was 11 years old. And I felt that music was the creative release that I needed after doing the same thing for such a long time. I’m loving it.

How have you found that transition from sharing makeup videos to your own music?
I think the main difference is music feels like such a more slow-paced kind of media. With social media, you make the video and post it the day of. It’s that instant gratification. Music has been such a game of patience. A lot of the [current] stuff we’ve written a year or two years ago. So it feels like you’re sitting on this older version of yourself. And then when you release it, it’s like, you’ve already mentally processed it and gotten over it. But now it’s new for everyone else. So it’s an entirely different creative process, I think, which has been a bit of a learning curve to get used to, for sure.

Is it hard not to just share it immediately?
Yeah! I’m like, “let’s get it out now, because if I think about it for too long, I’m going to hate it.” You definitely have to go through the process of being like, “oh my god, is it terrible? I just want it out in the world to get it over with.” And, I mean, I knew it was going to be a longer process, but not quite how long. And there are hurdles and things can get in the way of a release. It’s all kind of out of my control, which is completely different from before. I was doing everything myself with my social media. So getting used to relying on other people has been quite different for me as well.

How have you found the right people to work with?
I think just having to work with a bunch of different people and find who you click with. I switched management last year, and I was really lucky with my band. We did a kind of X-Factor style audition to find who we wanted. We put these groups of little bands together and I was like, “OK, I like this person, this person.” And that was a weird process because it was kind of like you’re choosing your friends for the next God knows how many years. But we’re all besties now, so I got really lucky with them. I think I kind of fell into some really good people quite early on, so I feel really lucky for that.

How did your debut project serve as a first instalment of who you are as an artist? How did it introduce the world to your music?
When I made those songs, it was very much a creative process and I wasn’t thinking about what anyone else would think because, you know, it was the first time I was doing it. I didn’t think about how an audience would react. I was just making the songs that I wanted to make and ones that felt personal to me. I think the first one was very therapeutic and very deeply personal. But then putting that out and doing all these live shows — I toured a lot last year — and seeing how an audience reacts to the slower songs and the faster songs made me more excited to make more bangers and go a bit heavier with the music. Going forward with this next project, I’ve kind of switched up my approach. I was thinking more about, like, “what moment could I create for a live scenario?”

What was the shift like, from “performing” for fans online with TikTok and other platforms to playing live shows for big crowds?
It was terrifying. I never thought I would do a live show ever. That was something that I never wanted to do prior to doing music. And I didn’t really think about it until I got to it. And then my team’s like, “all right, go get on the stage and do the music”. And oh my God, I’m just so terrified. I feel like I’m a very shy, reserved person behind the camera. And you have full control of that version of yourself as well. You can edit everything you want, get a perfect take, redo it so many times. But live, you’ve got one chance to do it right. And if you don’t, everybody’s going to see it. So I was very stressed out about that side of it at first. But I think after doing so many shows last year, I just got so much confidence from it. And I feel like I can go a bit more with myself and not be so strict on how I’m perceived by everyone and what kind of image I’m putting out. I think there’s no way to be good at it except doing it loads. So I’m really grateful that I got the chance to do a bunch of that last year.

So how did touring with Halsey come about? How did you two get connected?
It’s weird because I think it’s something that everyone would assume was a management thing that was set up, but it totally wasn’t. Halsey had actually found me from social media, from my makeup videos. When they were releasing their makeup brand, like November 2021, she was like, “will you come over to my house and do your makeup for TikTok?” So that was how we’d originally got to hang out and we spent the whole day together and found out we had a bunch in common, in our music taste and just life in general. I had written my project at this time, but I’d not done any shows. And I was like, “when am I going to get the opportunity to get some real feedback from such an incredible musician? And I don’t really know anyone else in music. So I played my stuff. And she loved it. And I feel like she’s become my music mum. She just took me under her wing straight away. And when I was at her house that day, she was like, “I never do this, but would you like to open for my US tour?” And I was like, “are you sure? I’ve never done a show before. I might be shit.” And she was like, “OK, go do a bunch of shows.” So I went away and did a bunch under a pseudonym that were really small shows in really shit pub venues in London to get used to it. I’d done five or ten shows and then went on that US tour. And it was terrifying, going from these small venues to 20,000 every night.

My band and I didn’t even really know each other that well at the time of going on tour. But it was such a bonding experience. We had so many cursed stories from that tour. And we were doing everything on such a budget. We had this tour bus that was from the 70s and kept breaking down the whole time.

What was your favourite place that you went?
Weirdly, I really loved Louisville, Kentucky. We didn’t even have a show there. We just had an off day there, but it was so different from the culture of the UK. The culture of Southern America was crazy to me. We had some barbecue, went thrifting

Did you write “Impostor Syndrome” with Halsey while on tour? Or how did that happen?
No, we kind of just became really good friends off the back of the tour. Which I think is really nice, it’s not always that. Sometimes you’re kept really separate from the artist. But like I said, I feel like Ash just took me under her wing and wanted to help me in any way possible. And I’m just like, “thank you. I don’t know why you want to help me, but thank you.”

And we said that we should jump in a session together sometime. I don’t think we ever knew what that was going to be like, but it was just an amazing experience to get to watch someone so well versed in the studio and see that process. And it was the weirdest session ever.

I went out to LA for this writing trip last November and I’d been doing all these sessions and this was one of my last ones. I was stressed and a little burnt out. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be on this trip. I was doing these sessions with all these amazing producers who had worked with artists that I love, such as The Wallows. “Imposter Syndrome” was done with Sammy, Harry Styles’ producer. And then jumping in the session with Halsey as well, I was like, “oh my God, how did I get here? What if she thinks I’m shit?” I was so scared. But I think that was this idea of imposter syndrome in my head. So I kind of wanted to channel that idea. And me and Ash had kind of spoken about feeling that as well, because they said that they still feel it. Which was crazy. So yeah, I’d written all these ideas down before I went to the session — lyric ideas about imposter syndrome. And what was so weird was that me and Ash didn’t even speak about what we were going to write, and she came with the same idea… to write about imposter syndrome. I was like, “what the fuck?” Then we wrote the song and it just came about so quickly. It was really effortless.

She was really encouraging in the session as well. I felt really intimidated at first, but I think that so quickly went away, because there was just no judgement. If things messed up, there was no judgement. So it was just really nice to get to spend that time with her.

Do you have any other dream collaborators, either producers or artists?
I would absolutely love to work with Dan Nigro. I think he’s amazing, but he’s booked and busy right now. I love The Neighbourhood. I think my voice and their kind of mood would sit well together. But Lana Del Rey is my ultimate.

Can you tell me a bit more about your songwriting process? Do the lyrics come first?
I’m very lyrics first, and very chronically over prepared every time. I will keep a little diary in my phone on ideas and themes and whatnot, and write pages and pages of little notes before a session. Then when I get to the session, I’ll piece it together. I always have ideas that I need to write down.

How are you feeling stepping into this next chapter of your music? How does this song set the scene for a new era?
I’m just so ready for something to be out because it’s been such a long time, literally years. I’m just like, “please get it out into the world.” It’s nice to hear people’s feedback on TikTok already. I feel like I’ve been teasing a little bit and stuff and people are going crazy, which is so nice. I couldn’t hope for anything more.

I’m just excited to tour again and maybe do some headline stuff. I’ve done a lot of support stuff over the last year, so I’m ready to do some sweaty little gigs again.

Abby Roberts will be supporting Gus Dapperton on his EU/UK tour this Autumn, including a show at London’s Islington Assembly Hall on 8th November.

Sophie Wang