When the Times & Transcript caught up with Kate Rogers at home in Toronto last week, she cheerfully noted how she had finally gotten the upper hand on a cold that had been plaguing her.
But the Canadian singer-songwriter had another reason be cheery: she has a new record out, Repeat Repeat, and is coming to Metro Moncton for her debut show at Plan b Lounge on Wednesday evening.
Rogers was born and raised in the rural community of Kettleby, Ont. She went on to study classical voice with the Royal Conservatory of Music but didn’t necessarily harbour any desire to move into music on a full-time basis.
And then one day, at that time living in Nelson, B.C., she received an out-of-the-blue telephone call while she went about her routine day-to-day life.
“My mom is actually from Newscastle, England, and so I have family in the United Kingdom,” an amiable Rogers says. “Before we were scheduled to visit England, my cousin Mark reached out to me. At the time, he was running a record label and asked if I could contribute vocals to a song when I was going to be visiting. Then, much to my surprise, that one song mushroomed into other artists looking for me to guest on their records. I had no idea what I was in for; I had never dreamed of any such thing happening.
“For a while it felt as though I was leading to separate lives. I’d go about my quiet life in British Columbia dyeing sheep’s wool and then I’d be off to England for some crazy tour. I got the best of both worlds though.”
Rogers signed a record deal with her cousin’s record label, Grand Central, releasing two albums: 2004’s St. Eustacia and Seconds in 2005. While Rogers and her band were in the midst of recording their third record, Beauregard, Grand Central closed up shop, orphaning Kate and her band and leaving Beauregard in a pseudo-limbo state.
In speaking with Kate, you can’t help but sense that she has a terrific grasp on the often stark realities that record labels, both independent and major, are faced with in the present day:
“Grand Central had such an amazing run over 12 years but they were faced with the unfortunate decision to go deeply into debt to sustain operations or to cut their losses and they made the smart choice, in my opinion. They helped to put my career in a great position.”
Fast-forward to 2013 and the release of Kate’s dynamic new record Repeat Repeat, released in late February. Recorded in Toronto with producer Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre, Ohbijou), Kate chose to approach the making of the record in a manner that was different from her previous works. She went about it without the assistance of other songwriters.
Despite being in somewhat unfamiliar territory with respect to songwriting, Kate is fairly certain a return to Europe to promote Repeat Repeat will be in the works. With distribution and a publicist in place, Kate feels that there is no better time to venture overseas.
“Even after Beauregard was released, we toured Europe a few different times. We were fortunate that due to the history I had people were buying the record because of the history I had with the United Kingdom. We had some really amazing times.
Having spent such a significant chunk of time performing throughout Europe, we took the opportunity to ask the musician about differences between how musicians are embraced in Europe versus North America. Kate says the differences are indeed numerous.
“A recurring theme that seems to pop up in conversations that I have with other Canadian musicians who have toured Europe is just how much respect that audiences there have for people playing music,” Kate shares. “It is a completely different experience altogether.
“Even if people just happen to pop into your show, meaning they might not have explicitly set out to go see you play, the reception that you’re given is amazing. On this side of the ocean, a show will often consist of playing for a lot of blank faces; people can be so reserved. European audiences offer so much more in the way of interaction.”
Asked why she feels that Europeans seem to have a greater respect for musicians, Kate hazards a guess:
“My theory on the matter, having family from the U.K., is that the weather is to blame. In the expanse of Canada, we’ve got skiing in the winter and water sports in the summer. We are a very active country in that way. But if you take a place like Manchester where I lived for a period of time, it is a dark, industrial town and in the winter, music ends up being a bit of an escape for people. It is something for people to immerse themselves in and escape from reality for a period of time.”
And though it may sound as though Kate doesn’t have an affinity for her Canadian homeland, nothing could be further from the truth. Her upcoming tour of Eastern Canada will actually be the first time that she has found her way to Atlantic Canada to perform. It is something that she says that she has been greatly anticipating, thanks to a couple of her band members who hail from this neck of the woods.
“I have been trying to put together a tour of the East Coast for some time now,” she says. “The guys in my band have been pushing me to go east for a while now, saying people really love their music on the East Coast. I am really looking forward to finally having the chance to bring my music east.”
Article published in the March 27, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript