Kicking off a new era, Abby Roberts chats new music, imposter syndrome, and the stigma surrounding her less-than-traditional route into the industry.

When pop producer Tim Woodcock first suggested a foray into making music, Abby Roberts was all in. Since she’d begun her makeup career at the eensy age of 11, she’d made over Yungblud and Zara Larsson, launched a collab with Morphe, and amassed nearly 20 million followers in the process. Then, when lockdown struck, she was faced with entertaining millions of home-bound followers with her innovative TikTok makeup clips. Posting the same content – or thereabouts, day in and day out, the beauty world had taken its toll and she was left feeling sapped. 


Last month she released her latest single, ‘Imposter Syndrome’, a year on from her first-ever live performance and debut EP, Ashes. The past twelve months have been a whirlwind ride for Abby: she’s gone from playing gigs under a fake name to supporting Halsey on tour – although that progression probably took much less time than you’d have thought. Instead of the generally slow-paced ascent of new artists, Abby was invited to join Halsey – or, as she refers to her, Ash – on tour before her debut EP was ever even out.

The rush to early stardom didn’t come without its challenges, though. As the burgeoning musician explains when we speak, the stigma that came with her beauty-influencer-to-pop-rock-musician arc wasn’t something she could simply brush past. “People say ‘Oh, your music’s actually good’,  like they’re expecting it to be a cash grab,” she explains. Another setback? Imposter syndrome: something she felt so strongly that it ended up being the focus of her Halsey co-written new release, the aptly titled ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Channelling darker themes and ‘80s-inspired rock via acts like The Cure, we see Abby step into herself with this new release as she opens up on feeling out of her depth. To celebrate, we caught up with the artist to discuss the record, as well as her love for Lana Del Rey and the Barbie soundtrack. 

Let’s kick off with ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Could you talk me through the tracks and the themes? Or the personal meaning behind that?

I wrote ‘Imposter Syndrome’ when I was out in LA on one of my first writing trips late last year. And I just felt so out of my depth, like, “Oh my God, I’m in these rooms with all these amazing producers that have worked with people like Harry Styles”. I just felt like I didn’t deserve to be there – and that feeling wasn’t new to me, either. A lot of the events and situations that I’m in, it feels as though I haven’t earned the right to be in that situation. I was talking to Ash (Halsey) about it – because we became quite good friends after our tour last year – and she explained that the feeling was imposter syndrome. I’d never heard of it before, but she said she even feels it at her level.

Looking at ‘Imposter Syndrome’ next to some of your earlier singles and debut EP, how do you think this release marks a change or evolution? 

There were a lot more slow songs on that first EP, and, being on tour, I got to see how an audience reacted to my music for the first time. When I was writing that first EP, it wasn’t something that I’d considered; that people were going to react to it in a live way. Obviously when you’re playing heavier rock bangers and stuff live, it goes off in a different way: the crowd is loving it, everyone’s moving and jumping. That was how I wanted to make music going forward. I wanted to make something that’d feel really amazing to run across a stage singing. ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is definitely more of a vibe than the bedroom pop stuff in my first EP.

Moving onto your beauty influencer to musician arc, what made you realise you wanted to start creating music? 

I’d always loved singing and listening to music when I was younger – not that I’d ever played an instrument or anything. I was so young when I first started on social media and I got so deep into the makeup side that I didn’t have any spare time to be doing anything else, like learning an instrument. When the suggestion to make music came about, I decided to pick up the guitar. I felt burnt out from doing the same stuff on social media every day, especially with TikTok being so intense during lockdown, I was creating like four videos a day. Music was more of a creative release, it’s something that felt way more therapeutic than the makeup I’d always done.

Are there any plans to keep the beauty avenue alive? 

Only in the capacity that it fuels my music. I’m still doing a ‘Get Ready With Me’ video for every show. I love expressing myself through my makeup and in music videos and creating looks: that’s the direction I see my beauty work going in. But it’s always going to be there. 

You’ve spoken a bit about the stigma of social media personalities doing music. What was that like for you?

With the first EP, it was a big change for people. Everyone was under the impression that it was this TikToker to musician thing – like I’d never done music before. But I’d been writing music for two years before I even released anything. Just because I’d not been throwing stuff on my social media about it, it didn’t mean that it wasn’t a part of me. It’s something I love. From the past year and getting to do live shows, I know the passion is real: it’s not just something I’m gonna do for a couple months and then give up. Music is 100% my focus and priority. But this time around, with teasing ‘Imposter Syndrome’, everyone seems really excited and the stigma has died down a little. I’m feeling really positive about it.

Performance-wise, one of your major career moments was supporting Halsey on tour. Having gone from never stepping foot on stage to opening for thousands of people, how did you prepare for that moment?

I was absolutely terrified, I’m not gonna lie. I’d never done a live show, let alone an arena show. I knew I just had to step up and learn really quick, because I’m quite a shy person away from the camera. I’d never envisioned myself on stage, but I went away and did maybe five shows in shit pubs around London. I did them under a different name so nobody would come and expect anything off me – especially people off social media. I’m glad I had that time to practise, but nothing could prepare me for 20,000 people. That was a lot.

How would you describe those moments on stage, and what were the key takeaways?

The first three or five shows were very scary. I remember the first night, I was so anxious. I was throwing up and couldn’t sleep, just got myself so ill with overthinking it. But then I did the first show and realised it wasn’t that different from the shows with way less people. It’s almost easier because it’s way easier to get a big crowd moving. The third show was Hollywood Bowl – I was terrified for that one, but once I got it out of the way, I learnt to enjoy it and the rest was so much fun. I lived 10 lives on that tour.


[Halsey] gave me this really sweet note on the last day, saying ‘I know you’ve been really nervous for this tour. But the only thing that will make you great is if you believe that you are’. Like, even if you don’t fully believe it, trick yourself into believing it, and it will happen. I think I’ve followed that and kept up this delusion that I’m great and everything will be great.  

How is it that you want audiences to react to your live performances? 

I love to get people moving. I love audience interaction and having fun with people and seeing people physically having a good time. 

And, in a dream world, what would be the perfect performance for you? Are there any bucket list venues or dreams of sharing the stage with anyone in particular?

The Manchester Arena because that was always the one I would go to growing up to see the bigger artists I loved. It feels quite close to home. And perform with Lana [Del Rey]! That’s my queen.

Do you have any early musical memories or anything that sticks in your mind from childhood?

My dad introduced me to Lana when I was maybe 10. I remember he played her debut album to me in the car one time. And I was like, “God, I love this woman”. So I feel like she’s kind of been stuck with me ever since. I’ve always idolised her.

Other than Lana Del Rey, were there any artists you admired growing up that have shaped your sound today? 

I mean, Arctic Monkeys. They were always playing at house parties and stuff growing up. I love ‘90s music as well, Mazzy Star is a big inspiration. The Neighbourhood. I really love moody alternative music.

You’re a Yorkshire girl, right? Did you find much inspiration musically from the rich music scene there, or was it more the internet that you gravitated to? 

Honestly, it was definitely more the internet. I don’t think I discovered my personal taste in music until my late teens, to be honest. And discovering new music through TikTok – as cringy as that sounds, that’s definitely the common experience these days. I find so much new music through TikTok.

What’s exciting you right now, whether that’s beauty-related, music, fashion? Is there anything outside of what you’re doing right now that’s giving you inspiration?

I’m really excited about Olivia Rodrigo’s new stuff. I’ve been obsessed with ‘bad idea, right?’. It’s so early ’00s movie makeover scene. Billie Eilish I’m always loving. And the Barbie soundtrack. Charli XCX.

Last up, what’s the big plan? What’s this year consisting of, and where are you hoping to end up?

Right now, I just want to do more headline tour stuff. I did loads of supports my first year, and now I want to work on my headline stuff and figure out my visuals in a live setting. That’s what I’m really excited for. But, to be honest, I’m really impulsive and I don’t plan super far in the future.

Listen to 'Imposter Syndrome':