Kathryn Rose
Gig Seeker Pro

Kathryn Rose

Band Rock Adult Contemporary


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Kathryn Rose Eye Magazine"

Kathryn Rose is a Renaissance woman. The Toronto Vocalist has set her voice to just about every genre of music, from pop and rock to classical and country. Her resumé includes contributions to dozens of albums, live performances, television programs, theatre productions and music videos. As an actor, she has appeared in such memorable roles as “stoned Wanda” in National Lampoon’s Senior Trip and “bad girl Joanie” In Ready or Not. In addition to her many creative endeavors, she’s also heard daily on TV ads for clients like Pizza Pockets and Lotto 6-49.
“Yeah, if this beeper goes off, I gotta run-jingle emergency,” she jokes pointing to the purple pager on her belt. Rose is a natural charmer, with a Raphaelite beauty that radiates even from beneath her wild mane of curly brown hair. The only thing standing between Rose and super-stardom is her tendency to hang in the shadows. Since the dissolution of her band Wind May Do Damage in the mid-‘90s, she has spent most of her time singing backup for everyone else in town, including Tory Cassis, Ron Sexsmith and Esthero.
This month, Rose releases a new album of her own called My Little Flame. Arriving four years after her solo debut, Every Lurid Detail, the disc showcases her smart, sassy songwriting skills, as well as the rich, flexible voice that has made rose such a hot commodity. Clearly, she has more to offer than harmonies and hip shakes, so why the delay?
“I was waiting for the spirit to move me to dive back into my own thing,” explains Rose. “In fact, I almost committed suicide to my solo career in 1997. I tried to quit, but I wouldn’t die. This time, I wanted to do bigger things. I didn’t want to rush/;”
Produced by Thomas Ryder Payne of Joy-drop, My Little Flame is a collection of confessional pop songs with dramatic flair. Rose’s warm, husky voice adopts a variety of poses, yet always retains its personality, a quality adopted from her diverse moonlighting gigs.
“There have been so many times when I’ve had to change my voice to sing with other people or to sound like someone else for jingle,” she says. “But you have to know the difference between your real voice and the things you are imitating, so in a weird way those jobs bring me back to my real voice.”
Playing with others has also given Rose an interesting insight into many aspects of the music business. From touring the world with major label act Esthero to appearing on Rita McNeil’s Christmas special, she has witnesses just about everything. It hasn’t turned her off the idea of a record contract, but it has turned her into a more private performer.
“After everything I’ve seen in the professional world, music is so personal to me,” she says. “There is so much crap and role-playing when music becomes big business, it makes me happy to call the shots. I feel very quiet about what I’m doing, which probably isn’t the best thing when you’re trying to promote a record!”
No problem. My Little Flame isn’t the kind of release that would benefit from a hyperactive marketing campaign. As an independent act, Rose has no label executive in the wings thinking she could be the next Sarah McLachlan if only she’d change this or that. There will be no cliché video for the most radio0friendly track on the disc. Instead, Rose basks in her idiosyncrasies, giving her songs complex, fanciful musical arrangements and cinematic atmospherics. She is also thrifty with her vocal gymnastics, a welcome trait in these diva- worshipping times.
“It is esoteric music,” she admits, “but it’s not done intentionally. I have to force myself to go down a well-trodden path, lyrically or musically. I did a side project last year that was super pop, just to see if I could do it. We totally nailed it, but just because you can sing like Mariah Carey, doesn’t mean you should.”
This doesn’t make My Little Flam an arty, difficult listen. Rose specializes in universal affairs of the heart, dark little moments that linger long after the thrill is gone. But her sad songs are delivered with an air of defiance and cheeky sense of humour perhaps best exemplified by a melodramatic country-styled number called “I Marries Myself.”
“I didn’t set out to write a theme song, but ‘I Married Myself’ has become mine,” she laughs. “I proposed to somebody three times and he said no, no and no, so the record is about looking for my little flame – but in the meantime I just married myself. Live, I tend to play it like I’m drunk at my own wedding. My music is pretty serious, so this is one moment of levity. Personally, I think all my songs are humorous. They may be tragic, but they’re full of little jokes for me.”
Of you’d care to get in on the joke, it might be best to arrive early for Rose’s album release bash at Clinton’s Friday. The number of friends and band mates Rose has built up in the local scene over the years could easily fill the cozy room thrice over. For the first time, Rose will be bringing her very own backup singer, Rique Franks. Other than that, the former actor promises a theatrical production with plenty of surprises.
“The stage is the place for me to exhibit reactions to things in the world I’m afraid to react to in real life,” explains Rose. “So if I’m feeling aggressive or tender-hearted, I can let that out. Or I can flip-flop back and forth. Anything goes.
- Eye Magazine

"Kathryn Rose"

Molly Johnson and Lisa Dalbello do it. So does Mary Margaret O’Hara if there’s nobody watching. And young Jazzer Emilie-Claire Barlow’s been at it since she was six.
Although they may be reluctant to talk about it, many of Toronto’s top vocalists have for years been moonlighting as advertising jingle singers.
Few people who’ve seen Kathryn Rose performing with Esthero or King Cobb Steelie are likely aware that the in-demand backing vocalist- who formerly fronted Wind May Do Damage also happens to be one of the city’s most sought-after jingle specialists. When there’s a jingle emergency, chances are its Rose’s special jingle pager that gets buzzed.
It’s her sultry voice you hear cooing I’ve Got You Under My Skin in the milk commercials, reminding you that “you’ve always got time for Tim Horton’s” and helping the cheese melt on Triscuit crackers with her seductive scatting.
Rose’s first “ooohs” for the Triscuit ad were so hot, in fact, that the client gave the track an “X” rating and asked for a less steamy version. It’s all in a day’s work for the classically trained Rose, who gave up a promising acting career to sing for her supper.
Her lucrative sideline has not only supported her more artistic endeavors as a solo song stylist (she’s just released the intoxicating My Little Flame album on her own Footlodged indoor music label) but it’s also helped to stretch her vocal cords in unusual ways and allowed her to indulge her role-playing fantasies. If there’s a credibility threat, Rose doesn’t seem terribly concerned about it.
“Believe it or not,” giggles Rose mischievously from her east-side home, “singing jingles is something I always wanted to try. I’d heard it was a difficult business to break into. You need to work very quickly, under pressure, and be able to manipulate your voice on cue. So I wanted to see if I was up for the challenge.”
On a session for country artist Julian Austin she met Danny LeBlanc, who had his own production company (Mad Music Inc.) and worked for a larger company, Pirate Radio and Television that did advertising spots.
“When I finally got to sing a jingle, I found I really liked it and immediately wanted to do more. So I kept taking more jobs and I’ve been doing it ever since. The money’s great, and it really is a lot of fun. How can singing be bad?”
Spitting a 15-second snippet of a jazz standard or dropping a tag line from a Macy Gray song doesn’t sound terribly taxing, but like acting in porno films, the job does require a certain facility that only a select few have. That’s why the majority of jingles a re voiced by a handful of busy professionals.
According to jingle top gun LeBlanc, who co-wrote the I Am Canadian bit and does the underscoring for Hockey Night In Canada, singing spots goes well beyond, err… getting it up on command, so to speak. And when the money’s on the line, Rose has proven she has those special skills that pay the bills.
“It’s not as easy a job as many singers think,” explains LeBlanc, “You have to do a lot of different things well and very fast, and Kathryn’s brilliant at it. Besides having a tonal quality that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, she’s smart, imaginative and stylistically very versatile.
“Most singers have a certain sound that they get called for again and again, but Kathryn’s not a one-trick pony. We just did this cool pop record together under the name Blume that we’re shopping in the U.S. right now. It doesn’t sound anything like her new My Little Flame record. It’s just another of Kathryn’s many sides.”
That chameleon-like knack for shifting styles that has served Rose so well in the jingle business isn’t such an asset for a rising artist still trying to establish her own identity.
There’s always a danger that a jingle singer adept at mimicking the traits of popular singers to suit advertising clients’ needs can lose her own identity in the process. Rose knows it.
“I’m able to make the distinction between my own voice and my voice for hire, even though I sometimes use my own voice to sing jingles. I’m at a point where I’m comfortable singing my own songs or whatever I’m asked.”
Rose was also confident enough in herself as an artist to release the elegantly arranged and beautifully realized My Little Flame album on her own terms. She didn’t wait around for a major-label endorsement of her considerable talent.
“The first couple of years I was in bands, it was like waiting for permission to be an artist, like someone from a label would magically appear and say, ‘OK, Kathryn, you’re ready now-here’s your record deal.’ Then time passes, nothing happens and you wonder, ‘What am I waiting for? Why not just do it myself?’ That’s what I did.
“Right now I’m struggling to reconcile my need to make a personal statement with that whole clamouring-for-attention thing.”
It’s more than a bit strange to hear someone with such a flair for the dramatic talk about being reluctant to make a spectacle of herself. This is the same woman who tosses a bouquet of flowers into the crowd after singing I Married Myself and likes brandishing a blowtorch.
“Well, I guess there’s still a little bug inside me that wants to put on a show. But I tend to forget about that; I need to force myself to get onstage. Once I’m out there, I know it’s going to be a good time. Although I quit acting a long time ago, I still love to play dress up.
- Now Magazine Cover


Kathryn Rose - Kathryn Rose
Kathryn Rose - My little Flame
Kathryn Rose - Every Lurid Detail


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Because I think I'm speaking in code in my songs, it gives me a thrill when others relate to them," Kathryn says. "I love language and I enjoy making a good story manifest musically."

From the screw-you lyrics over lilting pop of the first single "Something I Can Use," to the surprise reunion with a long-lost cousin set to a tumultuous backbeat in "Life's Luxurious", Kathryn's music sucks in the listener, then packs a punch. She likes to mess with the status quo. "I guess I could be a pretty girl singing pretty songs, but that gets dull pretty quick."

Despite being dubbed "the Dark Queen of Subtlety who can make Mary Had a Little Lamb sound like the saddest song ever" by her peers, Kathryn has another take. "Personally I find many of my songs quite funny," she says. "They're full of in-jokes to me. I'm not always 'Tormented Serious girl,' I just play her onstage and maybe sometimes around the house. In real life, I'm a goofy girl, with a latent depressed streak."

Produced by Thomas Ryder Payne (Joydrop), My Little Flame was recorded in Toronto at Lionheart Studio, and includes a special guest appearance by Ron Sexsmith as a "Beautiful Boy" in the tearjerker last cut, "Virginia". The full list of band members on the album is impressive: Paul Brennan (Chantal Kreviazuk), George Koller (Holly Cole), Kevin Fox (Sarah Harmer), Bryden Baird (One Step Beyond, Esthero), longtime Kathryn Rose band members Josh Hicks and Dennis Mohammed (Spookey Ruben, Wild Strawberries), and Thomas Ryder Payne lending his own special touch on many instruments and to the programming.

The themes on My Little Flame range from overcoming a negative force in a relationship ("Something I Can Use"), to a 'beautiful kiss on the lips on the stairs on a night for the books' ("Deserving"), to Dionysian revelry ("Life's Luxurious").

There's an ode to a well-known late rock star Kathryn came to know ("Dear The Mother Of A Dead Son"), there's a period piece that tells the true story of the hand of fate placing a young bride's life in suspended animation ("Virginia"), and there's ("I Married Myself"), her new theme song for independent women, which ended up lending some of its imagery to the artwork.

My Little Flame stimulates not just orally but visually too, and that's on purpose. "Thomas and I consider this album quite filmic, and I wanted the artwork to look like film stills and raise some questions. I'm standing in that white prom/wedding dress with
this man. 'Who is the man? What are they doing in those clothes on the train tracks, in the empty swimming pool? What's the deal with the wagon?' All I'll say by explanation is, notice I'm always looking away from him, looking for my little flame," she explains. "I'm looking for the real love. Our pose is repeated with slight variations (different locations, different time of day or night) so that we become iconographic to the album. Plus I thought it would be fun to have the credit: 'male model' in my liner notes!"

Born in Toronto, Kathryn inherited her singing talent from her mother, who forfeited her own early dream to be a jingle singer to raise a family. She developed an appreciation for singing by eavesdropping on her mom rehearsing with her madrigal trio around the house. Kathryn sang in the choir all through grade school. "I remember coming home from school one day and asking my mother, 'Why does my voice shake when I sing? The kids are making fun of me at school.' She said, 'That's not shaking. That's VIBRATO!"

Kathryn's thespian father had the family often moving around. Once settled in Toronto after spending much of her youth in Vancouver, she developed serious interests in modern dance and singing as a theatre major attending Earl Haig's Claude Watson School of the Arts. Her dad's agent started sending her out on auditions and she landed parts in commercials, sitcoms and a couple of films. "I originally thought I would be an actor," she admits, "but being in bands at the same time, I had the luxury of comparing the hurdles of both worlds. In music it's easier to make your own work and chart your own course. I've never been any good at being at anyone's mercy. My motto has become: 'where the heart lies, the stomach will follow.'"

At 17, Kathryn and two friends started up their very first band, Lazy Grace. Toronto alternative luminary Andrew Cash invited the group to play several songs in the middle of his weekly Monday night set at the now defunct Spadina Hotel. "I credit Andrew with giving me my underage start in the clubs."

Kathryn then introduced two other friends: Jane Miller and Andres Castillo Smith. Together they would form Wind May Do Damage, a Latin and jazz-influenced pop group, which she would co-head for the next five years. WMDD played hundreds of shows, toured a little bit and released two independent albums, 1992's self-titled debut and 1994's The Binds of Blood, and a video for "The Lord's Bounty."

Kathryn has been offered opport