Interview with Rose Cora Perry

“When one initially writes a song, generally the inspiration stems from a personal experience and so the act of writing the song is a form of catharsis: a way of dealing with one’s own emotions/feelings on the given subject matter.”

Rose Cora Perry

Having found each other on Twitter, I was instantly inspired by Rose Cora Perry’s devotion to helping people with her music and with her non-profit work. I was overwhelmed with excitment when she asked me to interview her about her work and upcoming album Onto the Floor.

The following interview illustrates Rose’s work, inspirations, ambitions, and words of wisdom. Enjoy!

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Who is in your band?

We’re a powerhouse rock trio 🙂 Joining me on Drums is Tyler Randall and on Bass and Backing Vox, Jeremy Sieberer. I handle Lead Vox, Guitar and Songwriting.

How did you and your band meet?

The Truth Untold is actually a brand new project that was formed for the purposes of touring in conjunction with the release of my sophomore solo album. So in other words, book us!!!

The more I worked on my new album in the studio, the more I realized there was no way I’d be able to pull off the songs live with just me and an acoustic guitar. So, I recruited both Tyler (“Sticks”, as we like to call him) and J (“The Swiss Army Knife”) via online classified ads.

I auditioned them both at the same time (in fact they were the first fellas I tried out for the group, in general) and we instantly gelled. There may have been an incident involving a bad mic cable being told to take a time out in the corner that sealed the deal.

I LOVE working with them both as we all draw from diverse musical backgrounds and it’s been really fun creating live “rock” arrangements for each of my songs.

Credit: Mystery Man Photography
Credit: Mystery Man Photography

Where are you and your band from?

We all hail from London, Ontario, CANADA!

Thinking back to early childhood, what was your first experience with music? What was the first song that you ever sang?

I began classical vocal training when I was VERY young so my first experiences with music were learning proper conservatory technique and theory, as well as performing at recitals.

My first ever live performance was when I was four years old: I sang “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Misérables.

What type of music did you hear growing up? Is it different from what you listen to now?

Growing up, because of my classical training, I listened to A LOT of broadway showtunes as well as artists like Sarah Brightman and Loreena McKennitt as I wanted to learn how to emulate their technique and tonality.

My dad was a rocker so I also heard a lot of classic rock bands like Steppenwolf, Aerosmith, Jovi, and Hendrix and the Experience. In fact, the first song I recall distinctly listening to as a child is “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple.

My mom, on the other hand, was all about The Beatles and because of her occupation as a Fitness Trainer, I heard a lot of dance/techno music because it was the perfect tempo for choreographing aerobic routines. I may or may not know the lyrics to 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This.” LOL!

My older brother is actually responsible, in a BIG way, for introducing me to grunge and punk. Thanks to him I discovered the greatness that is The Offspring and Chris Cornell.

When I went to college too, I took several courses on music history/music evolution which further opened up my ears to new sounds, new genres and new bands. Who would’ve ever thought I’d fall in love with Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and Ella Fitzgerald?

And of course, movie soundtracks played (and continue to play) a MAJOR role in my discovery of new music. Truly, if it weren’t for “Wayne’s World”, I would have never discovered Queen. If “Bohemian Rhapsody” weren’t already a musical masterpiece, the scene in the “Mirthmobile” certainly takes it to a whole new level of epicness.

Suffice it to say, even at a young age, I listened to a great number of styles and a great number of artists. While as an adult, I’ve certainly developed my personal preferences – in particular, I have a thing for strong female-fronted bands (for what I hope are obvious reasons) – I like to keep an open mind musically as I feel it makes for better songwriting. With that said, there are two exceptions: heck no to country or rap.

Does anyone in particular influence you?

As mentioned earlier, I have a vast array of influences because of my diverse musical upbringing. BUT above all, my three biggest influences are Steven Tyler (as a band frontperson), Alanis Morissette (vocals/songwriting) & Veruca Salt (because everything they do is epically awesome. They can quote me on that! Love you Nina and Louise.).

What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I’m not sure I made a definitive decision to pursue it so much as music found me and wouldn’t take no for an answer! It’s funny – I really had no interest initially in being in either of my former rock bands (HER and Anti- Hero), but I discovered quite quickly that apparently there’s a punk rock frontwoman inside me who wants to be heard and seen.

I learned a lot about the music business in both of those projects as in addition to acting as the Lead Singer/Rhythm Guitarist/Songwriter, I was responsible for doing the bookings, general management and publicity.

I’d like to think that as a solo artist and now a solo artist with a live backing band, I’ve been able to take all the lessons I learned from those past band experiences and apply them to moving my career forward. I’m hopeful that my new album will resonate with people. I truly believe it’s my best work yet.

How did you become involved in the type of music you play now?

The music I’m writing now, I think, really combines the best of all of my influences. My classical background has pushed me to write challenging vocal melodies while my former punk/grunge frontwoman days have brought out my love for distorted guitars. But, my brief foray with “Off Of the Pages” (my debut solo experimental acoustic record) as a Singer/Songwriter has kept me grounded in keeping things simple, yet dynamic.

I think my new album, “Onto the Floor” brings things full circle for me as an artist: both musically and lyrically, it reflects where I’ve been and where I’m going.

How would you describe your music for those who have never heard you before?

Ah genre! That’s always a contentious issue with me as I’m kinda a rule breaker. I like challenging convention and just writing organically. I don’t try to restraint myself artistically and aim to write perfect 2 minute 30 second songs that are primed for radio single status. However my songs come out, they come out.

BUT if I REALLY had to nail down a genre, I suppose I’d say I’m an “acoustic alternative artist”, and by that I mean, my songs are primarily driven by an “acoustic” sensibility but a sensibility that involves “rock” tendencies which makes it “alternative” to the typical folk stylings of a Singer/Songwriter. A bit convoluted perhaps as far as a genre definition, but I think it’s accurate.

Would you rather play live performances or be in the studio?

Hands down, I’m ALL about the energy of live shows. Being in the studio is fun because you get to experiment with sounds and harmonies that you can’t necessarily reproduce live (ie: I sometimes write upwards of seven layered vocal lines), but NOTHING beats playing in front of a live audience and having them get into your music with you. Being on stage is where I truly come alive. It’s a feeling of euphoria for me – nothing can match it.

Have you ever entered any contests to enhance your career?

I’ve sadly found that many supposed “career-enhancing” contests are rigged or worse, moneygrabs (and us artist types, typically don’t have a lot of money to spare!). That’s not to say that’s the case for all of them, but I tend to be wary of such things.

Have you been involved in any benefit concerts?

YES several! In addition to playing fundraisers and concerts that raise awareness for causes that are near and dear to my heart like mental health, I also regularly lend my time as an Emcee to non-for-profit/community events.

I think it’s important to be active in one’s community and give back any way one can. I’ve been blessed with many gifts and opportunities in life and I’m happy to be able to lend my time in an effort to help others.

What do you think your greatest accomplishment has been so far?

I think the aim of any true artist is to touch others with their work. So while I’ve been blessed with many amazing opportunities, I think my greatest accomplishment is simply knowing that my music has made a difference in the lives of my fans. It’s helped them get through hard times and celebrate good times.

What are your songs about and what themes do they address?

I think music is a very powerful medium through which one can address social and political issues as well as write songs that deal with universal emotions, truths and experiences. I try to do both; the end goal always being: to write something that resonates with others.

I’ve written songs on very serious and heavy subjects like spousal abuse, societal corruption and struggling with mental illness, BUT I’ve also written songs about celebrating love and overcoming adversity.

When one initially writes a song, generally the inspiration stems from a personal experience and so the act of writing the song is a form of catharsis: a way of dealing with one’s own emotions/feelings on the given subject matter.

But when that song is shared with others, it takes on new meanings and interpretations. They each hear something different and it strikes them in different ways which is why music is so powerful and so universal.

Even if you don’t understand the words, the melody alone could affect you emotionally. That, in my books, is a pretty phenomenal thing.

Why do you choose to focus on these themes?

Again it’s not so much a “choice” as it is that I simply allow myself to be inspired by whatever is on my mind at that time. I’ve never been one who can just sit down and say to myself, “Okay I’m going to write a song.” I have to wait for the song to find me. I have to wait til I have something I really need to write about.

Admittedly, a lot of my songs stem from my darker emotions (sadness and anger) because for many years those were the emotions I was the most familiar with (ie: my struggle with depression). However, getting those feelings out of my system through songwriting was a key part of my road to recovery and I know too that by writing openly and honestly about my struggles, it’s helped my listeners who are going through/have been through similar dilemmas in their own lives.

What has been your motivation to continue performing?

The live music scene has actually changed considerably even between now and when I released “Off Of the Pages” in 2010. I can’t say I’m a fan of a lot of what I’m seeing: bookings being contingent, for example, on having a massive social media following or being able to sell tickets in a region in which you’ve never played before!

In my humble opinion, such a notion is a bit absurd because just because someone has a million followers on Twitter or Facebook in no way dictates that they’re playing to sizable crowds every night.

I guess I’m old-school in the fact that I think bookings should be based on the fact that the music and performance is simply good. Yes I understand the music business is a business like any other, but I feel like it’s gotten way too caught up on “hype” over substance. End rant.

So, with all of that said, my motivation comes exclusively from wanting to share my music with new ears – hoping it’ll make a difference in their lives. Being a working musician requires, well, a heck of a lot of “work”.

There’s very little about it that is truly glamourous and because of the nature of the industry, in truth, most working musicians spend probably 10% of their time performing/rehearsing/writing songs with the other 90% devoted to marketing, booking, publicity, social media, merchandising, general administration, the list goes on…

What are your immediate music career goals?

To hopefully have a successful album release and associated tour 🙂 I truly hope “Onto the Floor” resonates with people. I’m really proud of this album and how I pushed myself to try new things artistically with it.

What has been the biggest challenge for you or the group?

That remains to be seen. I’m really excited to be working with both Jeremy and Tyler and I’m excited to perform with them both live. They are both incredibly talented and I’m truly grateful to have their talents bringing new life to my songs.

What kind of a fan base do you have?

Ooh tough question. I think people follow my career for different reasons and so my fanbase is hard to pin down as a result. Some people may have heard about me through my non-for-profit Emcee work or my columns, while others know me from my former bands, yet others know me through my involvement with the local vegan community, and yet still others know me from hosting two TV shows on Rogers or the modelling work I’ve done. As a result, my fanbase ranges – young and old, male and female.

I would say however that from a songwriting stance, I think my music would perhaps resonate the most with women within my age bracket because I’m writing about experiences they have probably faced themselves or are currently facing, and well of course, because I’m writing from a female aesthetic.

With that said however, I guess it depends on why one listens to the music they do: the guys in my band, for example, are rhythm guys and so they dig my tunes because of the random guitar palm-muting breakdowns and instrumental dynamics. That’s not to say that they can’t necessarily relate to the lyrics, but they’re paying more attention to the music as it were.

Do you have any advice for the youth of today?

I surely do:

Don’t let others dictate to you who you should be or what’s right for you. You need to find your own path and yes it’ll likely involve some bumps along the way. BUT instead of seeing those bumps as times of struggle, re- interpret them as learning experiences and opportunities for personal development. Always be open to learning, growing and maturing. Always stay true to yourself.

AND… stay clean. Drugs at best numb/cover up your symptoms, at worst they change your life and NOT in a good way. If you’re struggling with something, reach out to others or find a positive outlet but please don’t think that substance abuse is a good way of coping. It’s not.

Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with readers?

As mentioned, I greatly enjoy public speaking/emceeing worthy causes, I’m a prolific writer (I’ve created four column series) and when the mood strikes me, I enjoy getting glammed up and posing in front of a camera. I also have mad archery skills and may or may not be a trained martial artist 😉

What do you do with your freetime?

I work A LOT. But I also enjoy spending time with my friends, my hubby and my wonderful feline furbabies. I live a pretty low-key life. I’m only badass when I’m on stage 😉

As an artist, is there anything special you hope to accomplish?

I have three missions: to inspire, to relate and to provoke thought. Music has changed my life. I hope to do the same for others with my own.

Final thoughts and comments.

If you’d like to learn more about me, please visit my official website at www.rosecoraperry.com or connect with me on social media: www.facebook.com/rosecoraperryofficial or www.twitter.com/rosecoraperry I love hearing from fellow artists and music listeners alike.

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Author: Samantha Stevens

I am a retired Canadian sailor turned writer, journalist, and academic. Currently completing my MA in journalism, and keeping my writing skills sharp through freelance work. The Littlest Voice is my baby.