Halifax singer-songwriter Rose Cousins is set to release her first full length recording at the Dunn Theatre in her hometown on September 6th. A Canadian tour will follow through the fall. Soul Shine's Stephen Clare spoke with her this week about her new CD.
SC: What inspired you to write and record If You Were for Me?
RC: This is a collection of songs that I've been performing for a while now with the exception of a couple of the tunes so I'm happy they now have a permanent home in a sense; the songs are drawn from my own journey and from the space around it.
SC: What are some of the themes on the album?
RC: Generally I think one might say it's got a bit of a lonesome feelÖI like the romantic, old timey feel of the word "lonesome" as opposed to lonely, which doesn't describe the theme as well. They are love songsÖsome sadÖsome less so... most songs written in the world come from the trials of the heart I think.
SC: How much of the work was drawn from your own experiences?
RC: There are pieces of me in all of the songs I'd say. I'm not one to divulge my whole detailed story in a songÖI like to leave enough room for it to be someone else's story but yes, I am there somewhere.
SC: What was the most rewarding part of the experience?
RC: I am rewarded by the opportunity given to me by Glenn Meisner & Karl Falkenham at CBC Radio Halifax. I am rewarded having had the support of a professional studio with incredibly talented, seasoned musicians and expert advice. I feel like have an album that represents where I am and in the direction I want to go.
SC: What did you learn during the process?
RC: I learned that recording is extremely hard workÖexhausting...but equal parts worth every second toiled. I play most often as a solo performer so I learned to work with other musicians and how songs take shape from a vision...it is a sensitive and amazing process.
SC: How have you changed as an artists/player since the last record?
RC: I'm more matureÖI think that is reflected in comparing this project to my last record (Miles to Go). I have been settling into my playing & singing in the years between...developed a style and relaxed in performing.
SC: What happens now?
RC: I'm learning as I goÖI'm new to the business, almost a year on my own now and a lot of that has been preparing for this record. I don't have an exact road map of all to comeÖ.that wouldn't be any fun, but for now I'm going to tour the record pretty steadily in as many markets as I can reach, networking with other Canadian and US musicians and forming valuable relationships.
SC: What made you want to be a musician?
RC: I think if people really listen to their guts or hearts, whichever you call it, then they know what they are to doÖmy heart has probably known it was music for a while but it really wasn't ready to take the two foot leap till a year ago and I haven't regretted a single dayÖI am so very lucky to call this my job.
SC: What artists and works have most influenced your life?
RC: So manyÖas a youngster I listened to pop radio and CBC radio, Folk, Christian and country but as I was developing my taste for songwriting I was influenced by Shawn Colvin, John Gorka, Patty GriffinÖhad the usually stint early on with Joni Mitchell. I've actually since met and played with John Gorka which was a true dream come true. I am inspired by listening and learning and listening again and learning something else.
SC: If you could to choose, which musician would you consider a mentor?
RC: Patty Griffin and John Gorka. I know that's two but these two are respected songwriters and performersÖ.genuine, sincere, real, and great storytellers. I admire the longevity in their careers and hope for the same for myself. They do not compromise.
SC: How do your family and/or friends feel about your venture as a
RC: Being an unconventional career choice my parents did the usual worrying about how it would all go but it didn't take long for them to get on board and I've had the greatest cheering section in them sinceÖ.my friends have been an amazing support and team of encouragersÖI am very lucky.
SC: How has the internet helped / hurt the industry and the nature of music?
RC: How did we ever survive?...myspace and websites and everything electronic has helped expedite the process of spreading of the word virtually so much more information is exchanged every day because of all this but there is still something romantic about going to a record store and buying a cd you've been wanting or taking a chance on something new...in the same breath the internet is one of our most valuable tools.
SC: What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian music?
RC: As far as talent, it's chalk full of goodnessÖmyspace has introduced me to SO many more Canadian musicians as well as I've just had my first summer of festivals and that is a great way to find new Canadian musicÖ.I am happy to be constantly impressed with someone...locally in Halifax & the Maritimes there is so much talent and across the country as wellÖI'm proud to be a part of the team.
SC: Who are your favorite Canadian artists?
RC: I'm a big Joel Plaskett fan I love that he's a real Halifax patriotÖ.locally there are so many I could mentionÖ.I'm a fan of several well known Canadians in Harmer & Sexsmith but there is so much moreÖBrooke Miller, Jill Barber, Tyler Messick, Inflight Safety, Luke Doucet,Matt Mays, Amelia Curran, so so many.
SC: Why do you think that Atlantic Canadians have such a vibrant musical culture?
RC: Maybe it's because there has always been a lot of music in this part of the country and we are brought up on it in some form or anotherÖthe cycle feeds itself and it's also fed by amazing people who move to the region from everywhere around the worldÖ.I think Halifax is known for being a hub of Canadian music and I'm proud to be a part of this rich, collaborative, supportive community.
Please visit www.rosecousins.com.
Writer: Stephen Clare