Karen Kosowski

Karen Kosowski

BandAlternative

Piano-driven, cinematic pop/rock.

Biography

Toronto singer-pianist Karen Kosowski’s new album, Meeting The Future At Full Speed, is a bold, sweeping, sophisticated pop recording that comes from a better place than her previous release, the critically acclaimed Out Here At Sea.

“It’s a lot more positive and upbeat. The record in 2005 was very introspective and dark. This one is like, ‘Hey, I’m happier. I worked out some sh*t and I still have insecurities but I’m dealing with them,’” Karen laughs. “It’s about identity and getting comfortable with who you are.”

Meeting The Future At Full Speed is a reminder that time is ticking and one must jump in feet first, do it all, don’t hesitate, but take time for yourself and the people you love. Self-produced at her home studio and at Canterbury Music, the 10 songs range from the dreamy “Stars In Our Eyes” to the percussive “Land On Your Feet” and the empowering title track.

While she wrote most of the songs herself, “Can’t Fall Anymore” is a co-write with her husband, Marc Rogers of the award-winning soul-pop group The Philosopher Kings, who also plays bass and does programming on the album. His bandmates, drummer Denton Whited and guitarist James Bryan, also lend their talents. Karen plays everything else, keyboards, programming, tambourine and some acoustic guitar.

She funded the recording herself, but her ever-growing and supportive fan-base also stepped up. “I sent out an email to my mailing list asking for people to sponsor the string session; in return they would be able to attend the recording session and receive a thank you in the liner notes,” she explains. “The response was great and I was able to raise the money to hire the players and do the session.”

The string quartet, assembled by noted Toronto cellist Kevin Fox (Chantal Kreviazuk, Tom Cochrane, Shaye), breathes deeper emotion into the songs “Life Is Short Enough,” “Can’t Fall Anymore” “More Than A Sign” and “Faded Souvenirs.”

This piano-driven, cinematic sound is exactly the direction Karen has been working towards in recent years. “The progression from the record in 2005 to this record makes a lot more sense in comparison to some of my previous work,” she says.

Born in Winnipeg, Karen was put into piano lessons at the Yamaha Music School at age 4. The one time she complained about practicing, her mother said she could quit if she liked. That forced her decision not to and she never looked back.

Always interested in composing, the classical-trained musician wrote her first song, for Remembrance Day, when she was in the ninth grade and actually included parts for the flute and two-part harmonies. Later, she says, “I went through that ‘Oh, I want to be Tori Amos,’ when I was 16.” By 18, she bought a guitar and wrote songs on that as well. She even fronted a band called Eve. “We were wanting to be XTC — but it was really bad,” she laughs.
At the University of Manitoba, not surprisingly, she was enrolled in the music program, but by then she was interested in much more than classical composition and decided to drop out. “It wasn’t in line with what I wanted to do,” she says. “It was more of a ‘safe’ kind of decision thing.”

Just before moving to Toronto in 2001, she was exploring a rootsy, guitar-based direction and released a more rock-oriented disc entitled Optimist Party in 2002. In 2005, she switched it up to the more piano/synth-based Out Here At Sea, which she promoted on book store tours, as well as in the clubs. As months passed, she found she didn’t play much guitar anymore and wrote entirely on piano.

While touring behind Out Here At Sea, she test drove some of the new songs and found they all stood up well solo. “I can perform them on different levels: as a duo with my brother on a full drum kit; or with full instrumentation (with bass, additional keyboards and synths)… but in the end you can’t make a good record if you don’t have a song that can be played solo and still retain its identity,” Karen says. “From there, the songs that ended up on this new record are the ones that I had the most fun playing live.”

“Can’t Fail Anymore” was actually written with Marc for the synth project they co-founded called National Sound, but Karen felt it best suited her solo direction. “Your Day Will Come” was originally written and recorded for National Sound as well, then reclaimed by Karen and rerecorded with a different treatment for her own project.

The ones she wrote for herself from the outset include “Land On Your Feet,” an encouraging lyric about turning a bad strategy around; “Life Is Short Enough,” her first-ever happy love song about a guy who gets his girl to stop and smell the roses; and “Stars In Your Eyes,” which can be interpreted in a positive or negative light.

Karen, who is active online with her own web site, as well as her MySpace and Facebook pages, is more interested in promoting Meeting The Future At Full Speed online and creating a viral buzz by word of ‘net. “The way

Lyrics

Love & Bandaids

Written By: Karen Kosowski

you're gone again
cuz you can't be the one to fall
you leave when you're feeling small
you've gone before;
you're the first one out the door
quoting some strange metaphor

and i'm not standing in your way, little darlin
cuz most of life works out that way

but if you don't go back
then you won't know that,
and if you don't know that
then you can't fight back...

i'm not heading for decay, though you found me
on one of my darker days

and i'm not surprised
these days anything will work
you always did put yourself first
and it's no big thing
i guess i sort of understand...
just please let go my hand

it's been three years ago today; you remind me
that nothing's bad from far away

i'm goin' ahead
goin' ahead
goin' ahead...

and i'm not heading for decay; love & bandaids
have made me who i am today

Important

Written By: Karen Kosowski

i wanna be close to you so i've been watching you
day after day i'm still wondering
the things that you think about, even the things you doubt
honestly you could say anything

seeing you lock it out brings out the worst in me
but there isn't anything that i could say
i'm watching your colours fade, blue eyes becoming grey
it was your fault but you turned away

and you left her with nothing; no there was nothing you would say
it wasn't important, it wasn't important
so there was nothing you would say

now isn't it coming clear, wanting to disappear
tell me how long will you keep this up?
and didn't you wonder when no one could comprehend
cuz everyone knows you just turn away

and you left them with nothing; no there was nothing you would say
it wasn't important, it wasn't important
and you didn't trust them anyway

now is there a consequence to this ambivilance?
i hope to god there will come a day
when you can't avoid the facts, we'll finally interact
father to daughter it's not too late

so please leave me with something; there's gotta be something you can say
i think it's important, i think it's important
there's gotta be something you can say

Your Day Will Come

Written By: Karen Kosowski

When all that you fear is gone
and you see that you belong
and you finally can move on
you'll want to let it go

So before you even try
to give me the reasons why
you don't have the wings to fly
i doubt you - cuz i know

I know your day will come
Your moment in the sun
I know your day will come along

Everyone has a choice
to lower or raise their voice
And I hope you'll make some noise
you'll want to, I know

I know your day will come
Your moment in the sun
I know your day will come along...

(baby, baby i know)

I know your day will come
Your moment in the sun
I know your day will come along

Baby, don't hesitate
remember it's not too late
and all of the time you wait is wasted

Land On Your Feet

Written By: Karen Kosowski

Maybe your strategy was wrong
Maybe you waited, waited way to long
But now you're praying for a magic spell
You wanted heaven, but everything is hell

There's no need to be frantic and hurried
There's no need to be anxious or worried
I still believe you'll land on your feet
Do you think you're alone in this feeling?
Look around is the ground disappearing
I still believe you'll land on your feet

Now you're watching everything you say
In each decision you're scared of a mistake
It's like you're waiting for life to shoot you down
Like you're preparing for when you hit the ground

There's no need to be frantic and hurried
There's no need to be anxious or worried
I still believe you'll land on your feet
Do you think you're alone in this feeling?
Look around is the ground disappearing
I still believe you'll land on your feet

There's no need to expect any trouble
You'll rise up from the ash and the rubble
I still believe you'll land on your feet

Stars In Our Eyes

Written By: Karen Kosowski

when the world goes dark
you close your eyes and listen
to the silence whispering

you think the time is now
if only you were braver
if only you had wings

you feel it in your breath
you're echoing the rhythm
the patterns interlink

and you hear it in your thoughts
increasing with precision
and you can't help but think

that oh maybe our time has arrived
but oh that's life
and oh now we have stars in our eyes
we don't know how we get by till we do
that oh maybe our time has arrived
but oh that's life
and oh now we have stars in our eyes
we don't know how we get by till we do

so when the world goes dark
you close your eyes and listen
to the silence whispering

Meeting The Future At Full Speed

Written By: Karen Kosowski

When the world goes dark
You close your eyes and listen
To the silence whispering
You think the time is now
If only you were braver
If only you had wings

You feel it in your breath;
You're echoing a rhythm
The patterns interlink
And you hear it in your thoughts;
Increasing with precision
And you can't help but think

That oh, maybe our time has arrived
But oh, that's life
And oh, now we have stars in our eyes
We don't know how we get by till we do
And oh, maybe our time has arrived
But oh, that's life
And oh, now we have stars in our eyes
We don't know how we get by till we do

So when the world goes dark
You close your eyes and listen
To the silence whispering

Oh, maybe our time has arrived
But oh, that's life
And oh, now we have stars in our eyes
We don't know how we get by till we do
And oh, maybe our time has arrived
But oh, that's life
And oh, now we have stars in our eyes
We don't know how we get by till we do

Fall Apart

Written By: Karen Kosowski, Emma-Lee

standing in the dark with you
i thank my lucky stars
that all those movies scenes aren't just wishful thinking
if you believe that it can happen to you

i can feel your eyes on me
i've got no place to hide
if it were brighter you could see my cheeks turn red
oh it's so quiet i can hear my heartbeat in my head

but when he takes you by the hand
ya gotta listen to your heart
don't try to understand
just fall apart
cuz the story isn't told
you're only at the start
forget everything you know
and just fall apart

i don't have a role, right now i'm playing myself
there's no camera or director standing by
what do i do, i keep forgetting all my stupid lines!

when he takes you by the hand
ya gotta listen to your heart
don't try to understand
just fall apart
cuz the story isn't told
you're only at the start
forget everything you know
and just fall apart

remember when Spiderman kissed Mary Jane upside down in the rain?
she didn't need to know their fate, she couldn't even see his face

so when he takes you by the hand
ya gotta listen to your heart
don't try to understand
just fall apart
cuz the story isn't told
you're only at the start
forget everything you know
and just fall apart

Discography

Meeting The Future At Full Speed (coming 03.29.08)
Wish On A Star (2006)
Out Here At Sea (2005)
Live at the B-Side (live EP, 2004)
Optimist Party (LP, 2002)
Planet (EP, 1999)
Live at Rogue's Gallery (LP, 1999)

Set List

Original Material for one feature set (1 hour +)

In-Store Performances: 2 hours of original material and a few covers.

Cover Songs:

New York Minute (Don Henley)
Manic Depression (Jimi Hendrix)
Don't Dream It's Over (Crowded House)
Karma Police (Radiohead)
Lover, You Should've Come Over (Jeff Buckley)