Amanda Rogan is a self-taught ukulele player and singer-songwriter in indie-folk band Sweetnest, which released its first album, “Until Now,” last year. She performs as the Sweetnest duo with lead guitarist Matt Malone, and the full band includes Steve Werner, Chelsea Collins and Isabel Anderson. Rogan is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg and Marywood University, where she studied art therapy and psychology. She enjoys helping people unlock their full potential through her work as a holistic aromatherapist. She lives in Scranton.
Tell me a little about yourself and your musical background.
I grew up playing wind instruments like the clarinet. I started when I was 9 and also was in chorus since I was even younger. As I got older, singing took a front seat in my interests, and I realized I wanted to be able to write my own music and sing over an instrument. This led me to learning the ukulele, guitar and some piano.
How do your studies of art therapy and psychology influence your music?
My degree in art therapy is definitely connected to who I am as a person. I’ve always seen creativity as an outlet, and I wanted to be able to help others find a way to express themselves that way. As far as the psychology goes, it ties in considering some of my songs are about the actions of others or the thought processes of myself and others. The human mind/body connection has always been important to me and interesting enough to regularly research. In a way, creating music is a space for me to understand myself better and grow through the entire process from writing the lyrics to structuring the song. We are all just figuring it out, and for me, creating music is a way to figure things out in a concrete form that I can observe and elaborate on. There have been some art therapy settings where I’ve been able to incorporate my music as well, which has been a lot of fun. I have thought about becoming an expressive art therapist, which includes different forms of therapy such as art therapy, music therapy, movement therapy, play therapy, etc. I have worked with children with autism in the past and have been thinking about doing it again, but in the meantime I use art as therapy regularly. Whether it be painting, collage, journaling, it is all beneficial in terms of mental health.
Describe your work as a holistic aromatherapist.
In my work as a holistic aromatherapist, ultimately I am trying to understand others and possibly help them in any way I can as well as potentially guiding them to discover aspects of themselves they may not be fully aware of. My goals through my music are to potentially help people feel heard and believe that they have the ability to heal and overcome setbacks and pain. I enjoy working one-on-one with clients and talking holistically about their lives, which essentially means going into every aspect of their life: home life, work life, family life, self-esteem, confidence, any issues with guilt or anything physical, as well as pain, issues with sleeping and anxiety. I also enjoy helping people work toward their goals and playing around with affirmations.
Tell me about Sweetnest’s sound and style.
Honest, warm indie. Indie-folk. Singer/songwriter. Our guitarist, Matt Malone, calls us “dream folk.”
You are the main writer for Sweetnest’s lyrics. What topics inspire you?
Growing up as an only child, I spent most of my time alone in nature or with animals, which many of my songs are inspired by. Other topics include self exploration, relationships, peace as well as pain, and the navigation of daily life. At times, I appreciate simplicity when writing. The mind can be a hectic place, and clarity is key.
Tell me about your album “Until Now” that debuted last year.
“Until Now” was a collection of songs written over the course of 13 years of my life. They are honest songs with a singer-songwriter feel. Being in JL Studios, I was able to explore sounds that resonated with me and represented each song. To elaborate on the sounds that I’ve had fun resonating with, I enjoy a lot of dissonance and reverb, airiness and lightness and very full, warm sounds. I like each song to have its own atmosphere for the listener to experience. I also enjoy playing with the instrumental to highlight different lyrical segments throughout my music.
What about the album are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the overall production of the album and the time and effort it took to create. This meant sometimes spending 10-hour days in the studio while struggling with chronic illness. In the final months creating and working, I was leading up to a major surgery and in a great amount of pain daily. I remember packing for long studio days with, of course, my ukulele, notebook and heating pad. This album truly was a bright light in a time of personal darkness, and it gave me space to find purpose and identity outside of illness.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on an EP; our first single off of it is titled “Baby” and can be found on all streaming platforms. “Baby” is a dreamy take on moving on and letting go of old ways. The EP will be different from the last album because all of these songs are new and written from my life as it stands currently.
How do you hope to develop in your upcoming EP?
I want to be able to step out of my comfort zone and really explore different ways of writing and producing.
What other hobbies or interests do you have, or what community groups are you part of?
Oil painting is a big part of my life as well as watercolor and collage work (as seen on the Until Now cover). I sell pieces and love doing commissions on the side. Reading, writing, hiking, being around my family, friends, my partner and our dogs, makes me a pretty happy woman. A friend helped me find (my dog) Marigold at a very important time in my life. She is a rescue from Camp Papillion in the Poconos. I love to spend time by water; I do a lot of my writing outdoors and also enjoy hot yoga and kickboxing. I am also a board-certified holistic aromatherapist and work one-on-one with clients to achieve personal wellness goals (physical, mental, or spiritual).
Emma Black is a photographer and writes Up Close and Personal, which spotlights people from all walks of life in NEPA who have a unique skill, craft, talent or trade. She is a graduate of Abington Heights High School and University of Scranton, where she studied journalism and electronic media. Emma has been with Times-Shamrock Communications since 2016 and enjoys playing, coaching and following soccer; exploring international cuisine; and doing arts and crafts in her free time. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100; @emmablack_13