Bobbyisms: One-on-one with Katie Rox
To be honest, I try to avoid describing situations as ironic because irony has a weirdly specific definition and I'm afraid I'm going to be wrong. I'm thinking about irony because I'm thinking about talking to Katie Rox, a former rocker turned chanteuse who grew up in rural Alberta and rose to fame in Canada as the lyricist and frontwoman of Jakalope, the industrial pop band from the west coast.
But in 2008, Rox struck out on her own and returned to a sound truer to her upbringing and sense of self. Since then, she's released a trio of EPs that document her growth and strength as an independent DIY artist, as well as her love for doing so.
"There's really nothing to hide behind," Rox said of her solo sound. "And it's not that I was hiding before, it's just that when you're in a band you've got so many things happening that I feel like a song becomes more of the group as a whole trying to say something, as four or five or whatever people becoming one."
"In this case the one is just one, there's just me," laughed Rox.
Yet despite the contrast in musical atmosphere, Rox said the change happened organically, but not without consideration.
"I love writing songs, and I love writing all kinds of different genres, so sometimes I am trying to figure out what type of record I want this to sound like," she explained. "Am I going country? Am I going pop? I think about it."
"With this record, I told myself, 'Just start writing any song you want, without any inhibition, and if you end up with the countriest, twangiest record, then so be it. Just go write what you really want to write.' And I tried to do it without any preconceptions, like, 'What if it's too country? What if it's not country enough?' I just wanted to write whatever it would be."
And what it has become is Pony Up, Rox's third record and a collection of seven of the warmest songs bound to be released all year, featuring an excited group of Canadian music veterans and talents.
"I like the idea of releasing more music more often," said Rox of her choice of releasing EPs. "People are always looking for something new, and so rather than putting out 10 or 12 songs because that's what you're supposed to do, I decided to put out the seven best songs, or the seven that I want to put out right now, and just always make them EPs."
"So if in six more months I want to release seven more songs, then I can, and keep everything fresh to where I'm going. Actually, with Pony Up we recorded 15 songs, so I still have a bunch more; they weren't left off the record because I didn't think they were good, it's just that I still have them for something down the road."
But if that's the case, one would hope it would fare better than the sessions for Pony Up, which Rox said were unfortunately interrupted when she suffered a vocal cord haemorrhage and couldn't sing for a month. Determined to press on, Rox sat in her spare room studio and tried to convey the parts by whistling them.
"Paul (Forgues, producer) and Jesse (Tucker, recording artist) were so patient, I basically fell apart, it seemed," Rox laughed. "They understood that I still wanted to keep going, so I'll never forget that; as I was whistling the parts, I was just looking at Jesse trying to feed my thoughts to him in my mind."
Now finished, the work was worth it. Rox and Toronto singer/songwriter Lesley Pike are on tour on version two of their Gentlemen Prefer Blondes tour, and travelling to the ends of Ontario. The two are stopping here at Fanshawe to perform on Thursday, October 20 in Forwell Hall. The show is free and just another great show brought to you by the Fanshawe Student Union.
For more information on Katie Rox or her tour, visit her online at ktrox.com or follow her on Twitter @katieroxmusic. For more of the latest music news, views and streams, consider following me on Twitter @fsu_bobbyisms or on Tumblr at bobbyisms.com. You can find even more new music by checking out the Music Recommendations thread in our FSU social network.
So I'm not sure about irony, but at least we got to talk. And how about this — I've got so much to say, yet I'm out of words.