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9 Mar 2015

"Its like Elton John songs are not something we discovered, it is music we have always known". The Katy Rose Day

When I was thinking about this interview, I was looking for someone who knew so much Kim Bullard, including from a personal point of view, and also someone who could excited my honored guest. So I thought about the fabulous Katy Rose, his daughter. She is someone who could be so interesting for you, eltonites. Born on 27th January, 1987, Kathryn Rosemary Bullard was born to a night club and back-up singer, Cecelia Gisiger, and, as I said, musician father, Kim Bullard. The music has been always present in her life: "My grandmother, his (Kim's) mother, was always very musically inclined. She was a harp dealer and made sure each one of her kids made music a top priority", said Katy to allsongslist in 2009.

Katy is one of those singers who doesn't leave you indifferent. Her music styles vary from indie rock, electro pop, grunge, pop, lounge music and even techno, and also, she's an actress. Kim Bullard was precisely the producer and engineer of Katy's debut 2004 album "Because I can", a collection of songs about a teenage wasteland. Sometimes funny, sometimes sarcastic, "I am such an open book" she explained. The album was a huge success not only in the States, but the rest of the world, entering in music charts from France, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand. We find there treasures like "Lemon", "Overdrive" of course; but also "Catch my fall", with lines like: "I'll cry just a little bit longer / And I'll stay two seconds more / And I'll try to be stronger / And I'll see if you catch my fall or " or "I keep on dreamin because I can even though my eyes don't close / I keep on trippin because its free to a place I only know", from "Because I Can". Eltonites, Billy Trudel was backing vocalist there, along with Timothy B. Schmit. Her second album, "Candy Eyed", 2007, it was released more than three years after her debut album, and on an independent record label River Jones Music. Katy also appeared on two successful movie soundtracks: Mean Girls ("Overdrive") and Thirteen ("Lemon").  "My career has been crazy and he has been with me every step of the way" argumented Katy. Some tried to compare with Avril Lavigne, but she's Katy Rose in big letters, without comparison.So, today is dedicated to her, to the greatest Katy Rose.

Katy, welcome to the week of Kim Bullard. And also welcome to the Katy Rose Day, your day. Well, let's start. I've always love to began asking for my guest childhood. Everybody likes to explain a bit about their childhood and it's nice to do. In your case, how it was to grow up in California and how hard was the experience of being always on the road, for your parents jobs?

Hello, Miguel! Oh, wow, good question…where do i begin? Well, when you’re a child, you really don’t know anything is different about your life or family because you haven’t yet had the chance to cultivate that point of reference. I don’t think it’s really until you become a young teenager that you start to compare yourself to others. I definitely never felt cooler or more special than my friends and classmates.  I missed my parents tremendously when they were on the road and I was in school, but I did get to travel extensively because of their jobs, and because they believed in travel as education.  Growing up in Los Angeles,  a family like mine was completely normal.  To me, because of the way I grew up and where, celebrities and artists were just normal people. For example, my best friends growing up were best friends with the Olsen Twins.  I used to come home from school and find people like Alanis Morissette, Eddie Money, Olivia Newton John and Weird Al Yankovik in my kitchen. I mean, I didn’t have the experience of growing up anywhere but Los Angeles, or with a different family… so it was very normal to me! I feel very lucky to have grown up around creative people and to have had parents that nurtured us in an artistic environment. Many creative people don’t give themselves permission to be artists because they never had the kind of support my sister and I have had.  

Since you brought it up,  looking back with a more rounded perspective, I can see that my childhood was unusual. While most kids in America were going to the lake or the beach on vacation, I was going on the road with The Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, and Nash on their stadium tour.  One of the ways I got to play as a kid was to get on stage and sing “Teach Your Children” with Graham Nash and sing “Feeling Groovy” with Art Garfunkel.  If I had to sum it up, I would say we had a normal childhood… but  with some very different experiences!

I read one of your childhood dreams was being a ballerina and because of an accident, you injured your leg in three parts, you had to quit. That led you into depression. Some dark lyrics of "Because I Can" shows that experience. "I Like", from the album, demonstrates this point, as the simplistic opening line of "I wanna live before I die". Where do you found the energy to go ahead?

Yes. That’s true. My dream always was to be a ballerina. Now my sister is actually a beautiful dancer, though! I don’t think the fact that I have absolutely struggled with depression should be a secret. Far too many people suffer in silence and are ashamed. I’ve been fortunate in that I have always had music as an outlet for the darker times. Even so, I still had to go through them. I do hope, though, that in taking risks with honesty through my lyric writing, I have become the type of artist people can relate to. The only thing that makes art ART is the action of evoking emotion in someone else. Even if through my lyrics I have helped one person be honest with themselves and not be ashamed by their dark parts, then I have done my job. We all have light and dark. I don’t think that it’s healthy to deny that. After all, you cannot appreciate the light times without acknowledging the dark. As far dancing is concerned, I do still dance! I dance every chance I can get, and I’ve also channeled that drive to move emotion through my body in my yoga practice. 

When was the moment you finally felt like you'd really made it as a singer?

I don't know that I’ve had that moment yet!! I mean, the music business (especially today) is so hard. We are all it because we love it, so even getting the smallest amount of recognition is “making it as a singer” to me.  What I think you are referring to was the time period where I was on MTV a lot, and was hearing myself on the radio quite a bit. I’ll never forget how uncomfortable I was seeing a huge building in Roppongi, Japan that had my picture plastered to the side of it.  It was exciting and nauseating at the same time, but seeing it gave me a feeling that maybe I had made some kind of mark.  

The simple fact that after 11 years people are still listening to my music and following my career is a sign to me that I am making it. I hope to still “make it” for many more years. 

Katy, how your songwriting process works?

My songwriting process differs every time.  Generally speaking, I seem to always have a plethora of lyrics lying around. I write some things 100% on my own (on guitar or keyboard), but I do prefer to collaborate with people. It’s just more fun that way! It’s nice to have an extra perspective when creating something. I love the collaborative process. I learn so much from other writers. Everyone has their own process. Most people make their friends at school or work. You could say that about songwriting for me… that’s my work, and most of my friends have come this way.  For example, after my first record was released, a sweet and amazingly talented girl named Skylar Grey approached me to do a co-write. She became a close friend and we made a lot of great songs together that I should release one day. It’s been an enormous pleasure for me to watch her career explode as a writer.  This business is so insane. Just a few years ago, she was couch surfing in my living room and then one month later she had a number one hit with Eminem.  I mean, that’s really a perfect example of how volatile this business is.

About like you to ask about your music influences and inspiration when it came to mind an interview you did with Kiya on rockpulse website when you said "I am the biggest music snob you will ever meet" what makes me smile. You was explaining you captured everything since music to films. Is that so?

I suppose I am music snob. I definitely do not mean that in bad way! I just have never been someone who likes a song just because a radio station is telling me I’m supposed to. I am and always have been a true music fan. Music drives my life. I am always on the hunt for new music and interesting new artists. I used to spend  hours at used record stores, searching for new artists to inspire me. I think a lot of people either don’t care that much or are just lazy when it comes to listening to music. They’ll just listen to whatever is on the radio, and they’ll like it because it’s catchy or has a driving kick drum. I’m not saying that’s wrong, and I totally get that. I’m just saying that there’s so much more out there. It’s so much easier today to listen to and find good music, so there is no excuse.  Also, it blows my mind when younger producers or artists I’ve worked with don’t have any idea about “older” music.  To me, we are creating art. Even if you aren’t a fan of neoclassical painting, you should still be well versed on some of the driving pioneers in the older styles of painting if you are trying to be a visual artist. The same should be for music too. In regards to my influences, mine are vast! I am influenced and inspired by every bit of life… the broken and the glorious! My musical influences run the spectrum from DeBussy to The Velvet Underground and Nico to Leonard Cohen to Kate Bush to Patti Smith to PJ Harvey and even Robyn. A huge influence to me in my early days of writing was Fiona Apple. When she was already a huge star and I was just getting signed, she used to sit in and sing at Largo in Hollywood. I met her there and we became fast friends, having a lot in common. She seemed to intuitively know me, as we were cut from the same cloth in many ways.  One night I was totally melting down and called her, feeling that she was the only one who would probably understand. Within moments, she had left her own recording session, drove out to my house, sat with me in my studio, and just listened to music with me. I was so moved by that gesture, how she really showed up and was there for me. I’ll never forget that. She’ll always be one of my greatest influences and favorite people. 

So, you have two albums out, the celebrated "Because I Can" (2004) and "Candy Eyed" (2007). It was said to release an album in 2009 titled "Tangled But True". Both albums came in such difficult moments of your life, as we explained before. How do you value the experience on the recording of those albums, it was a kind of therapy for you?

Yes. Of course. I have a lot of existential anxiety, and music certainly soothes that. Music is therapy! Writing has always been the most healing  action I take. Artists generally feel things very intensely and use their work to bring those heavy emotions and aching sensations into something tangible and relatable. All that makes art art is the triggering of some kind of emotion in another person. Therefore, you need a hefty amount of emotion back-logged to create said art in the first place. I’ve never been wanting for intense feelings!! haha. Most of the time (fortunately or unfortunately... however you look at it) the work I'm most proud of comes from what I've felt were my greatest tragedies. 

I saw pictures that showed you on the red carpet at the movie premier for Mean Girls, and that you and your band performed at the party while Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Lizzie Caplan were all dancing.  There was probably a lot of things happening at this time for you.. but did you know that it was a special night? or was this just another show for you?

That question brings up a lot of thoughts… When things are heated up around your career, and you are really young, it's a lot to handle. There are a lot of things pulling at you. It is intoxicating, and you rely on people around you to not be intoxicated with it so you can have balance. It’s a big problem if the parent who is looking after you is also very intoxicated with the whole thing. It can easily spin out-of-control. I don’t really know what happened on the inside world of Lindsay Lohan, but it seems like that’s what happened. Her parents were as intoxicated as Lindsay was with her career. Then, they forgot to be parents. Maybe that sounds harsh, but you see that scenario happen in LA all the time.

When you have a song on the charts and you're on MTV and so on, there are a lot of hangers on that want a piece of it too. I never cared too much at all about going to the hip places, but other people certainly did. The way that they got in would be to bring me along as their entree into cool clubs. I thought it was all really boring and vapid, but I was also really young and naive and was maybe desperate for friends ( having lived a slightly different life that left me feeling sort of isolated).  I would see Lindsey out and about and we would say hello to each other. She was going in a million different directions, so we did not really develop a tight friendship.   I have not thought of that night in a long time… lets see, Amanda Seigfried was also at the "Mean Girls" premiere, of course. She is good friends with my friend Nikki Reed.  She was there with her mother and is a super nice girl. I've really enjoyed watching her career take off because she's a good person. Rachel McAdams was, naturally, also there. She is probably about 5 years older than me, and I remember being in awe of her beauty. I love her work! Jason Mraz was randomly there, and since we were friends from doing TRL together, we both went out with some people afterwards and did karaoke. Talk about the best karaoke singer ever! seriously… he is amazing.  I didn't hang with Lizzie Kaplan much that night, but she was a kid from LA as well. I love watching her on "Masters of Sex" now.  She is such a good actress. These kids were a little bit older than I was, but I kind of felt like it was just a bunch of LA kids making a movie and having fun. I don't think any of us expected it to be such a cult classic! That whole event was fun, and we all laughed until we cried watching the movie for the first time.  It’s hard not to love Tina Fey! I think we all wanted to be a part of "Mean Girls" just so we could be a part of something Tina Fey touched.  Yeah, looking back it was a special night… thanks for reminding me of that!

"I've been a Katy Rose fan since I was a kid, it is kinda surreal that I'm playing music with her now. I'm always interested in how Katy Rose sees the world. She is and will forever be one of the fresh voices of music". Those words are from my first guest on the interview,  Fiona Grey, who's second EP "Belladonna" impressed me so much for its quality. She became an ASCAP member at age seven and joined you on some recent shows. So next question is from her to you, Katy:

How your music has evolved in the past 10 years? And how your growing up has inspired your music?

I definitely feel more fulfilled by the music I’m making now. I think that comes from growing up, doing work, and understanding who am much more than I did ten years ago. I am much more secure and feel so much stronger in who I am spiritually and emotionally, that I think i can put a lot more of myself into my music and feel proud of it. With age, too, comes a myriad of experience that you can’t buy or make up. It makes my songwriting more authentic. I do think young people sometimes make some of the most raw art because they haven’t yet gotten a grip on managing their impulsivity and intense emotion. I think with getting older, too, we start to get less fearless with that expression. We start to understand our own mortality and get stuck on how much there is to lose. I know when I was a teenager, I felt like I had nothing to lose and could do or say whatever I wanted.  There is something kind of strangely beautiful in that youthful, reckless abandon. I am a different person than I was ten years ago, but i am also the same person… if that makes any sense. I’d like to think there’s still pieces of my teenage self with a bit more depth and polish in my music today.

Thanks Fiona, I appreciated so much your collaboration. Fiona Grey, a nineteen year old indie pop artist currently living in Los Angeles. She has been performing and writing music for over 10 years. In March, 2013, she released her first EP,“Striped Heart," a six song set of original songs which reflects both the edgy modern rock side of her music as well as her introspective lyrics and playful melodies. She also worked with a band “KITTEN” and toured on their North American tour for 6 weeks. Performing with artists such as Charli XCX, Foals and Liz. 

Well, Jack Rabbit, go on with your interview: Yes, music industry changes so much today. Radio doesn't play rock songs so much, it seems all is very pop and dance. Digital age changes everything. That's so difficult to move in this world and to get your products out. What's your experience? How do you manage to do that?

Yes. The music industry has changed so much, but- honestly- it’s always been really hard to get your music out. I’m examining ways right now to get my new music out. I don’t necessarily think it's any harder, I think it’s more about understanding this new format. Music continually evolves. That is why it is always so interesting. I mean, the Beatles evolved from what was essentially a boy band, into arguably the most influential band in history, and they did in about 5 years.  Its mind-blowing to think about the evolution of pop music during that time period. Yes, it is too bad that radio is still so powerful, and that to get the widest audience, you need to be on the radio. No matter what any artist says, they want to reach as many people as possible. But there are a lot of smaller niche artists that do well outside of radio. They find their audience somehow.  Like I said before,  success to me is just reaching one person. 

Kim Bullard was so important in composing and producing your albums. And he's my guest on the Week Of... Kim Bullard. "Being his daughter has definetly molded me into the artist I am today". So no one like you to explain us how's Kim Bullard as a musician and his importance in your music career?

Making music together was a way that we hung out as father and daughter when I was growing up… he would play stuff on the keyboard, and I would be on a mic in the studio making up songs.  Therefore, us “working’ together as we do now, is just an extension of what we have always done.  Of course things got more serious when a tape of some of my songs ended up getting passed around, and there was a couple of record deals on the table. As much as he tried to keep it fun and playful, things definitely heated up.
You asked me to specifically talk about KB as a musician. Well, he definitely works hard… maybe too hard.  He spreads himself thin, and really puts a lot into whatever project he is working on.  He does too many jobs, but I kind of think that's admirable at the same time. He gets really obsessive and kind of lost in his work when he is producing something. If you walk in while he is working he jumps like he saw a ghost! It’s pretty funny, actually. We all laugh about it. 

What could you share about Kim Bullard's work being an Elton John band member, now?

You probably know more about my dad’s work with Elton than I do! I never see him because he’s on the road with Elton all the time!

Have you ever been an Elton fan? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music, in that case?

Well, I used to be obsessed with the film, “Almost Famous.” In high school, people called me Penny Lane ( probably because of my hair. haha. ). “Tiny Dancer” was basically the theme song of that movie, so - like every other girl ever- I felt like “Tiny Dancer” was my song. I don’t think kids of my generation are even aware of the FIRST time they hear Elton’s songs because they have heard them their whole life..  His songs are woven into the fabric of their very being. Even though we didn’t even know it was Elton John, you know the songs, because they are played everywhere… in restaurants, in TV shows, on oldies stations.  Its like Elton John songs are not something we discovered, it is music we have always known. 

Apart from music, which are your interests? What do you like to do in your free time?

As a former dancer, i love to move my body. I love to go out dancing, and I love a good spin class. I am also 500 hour certified in yoga, so I’m obviously very interested in yoga and the healing arts. I love health food and raw juicing. I am a huge history nerd, so I am never without a historical fiction book in hand. I like supporting my musician friends in Los Angeles and seeing their shows. I enjoy hiking in the California canyons. I love photography and visual art and want to take more classes. Mostly, I love traveling. If I could just play live shows, make music, and travel every day for the rest of my life, I would be so happy! 

Could you explain a little bit about your future projects, please, Katy? And what would you like the future to have in store for you? So excited to see a new album by you out very soon.

I am so excited about releasing a new album this year. I’ve been back and forth from LA to Scandinavia for a  couple years now, and cannot wait to share what I’ve been up to! This is an exciting time!

Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to the eltonites?

I hear from all the guys in the Elton band that the Elton fans are just the sweetest and kindest people. If any of you Elton fans see my dad out there, tell him to call me! haha. 

Hahahaha I will, sure!!! Well Katy, I am absolutely delighted to have you here on the Katy Rose Day, and on the Kim Bullard Week. I am sure eltonites and your father enjoyed your touching and amazing interview you delivered. You are a very interesting artist and a wonderful and marvellous person. Coulndt wait to buy you cd when comes out. Thanks so much for being there. You are one of a kind. Oh, before you go, please, there's some other people you know that want to tell you something:

"Well first of all I have known and been friends with Kim way longer then anyone else in the band. And I have known Katy since she was a little girl bouncing on her daddies knee while we were in the studio recording. I was so excited to see her grow from a young little girl to this amazing songwriter and singer. It made me very happy, when I was asked to sing the backing vocals on her record. It felt like passing the torch from one generation to the next. I have a lot of love for the Bullard's, Kim Cece, Maddy and Katy!!!! Big hugs to all of you". (Bill Trudel, singer, songwriter, producer. He was part of the Elton John Band as his primary backup vocalist in 1997 until 2000.Writer and producer of new talents, he co-owns a few on-line companies and  )

"When I first met Katy Rose, she caught me off guard. Through the warmth of her smile and her sweet Aquarian eyes, I got an immediate sense of her strength. The same is true of her music. It may look, sound and act like pop, but there is a beautiful jeering quality about it, a kind of clever sincerity. You can hear this in her voice and lyrics, that unavoidable finger-pointing clarity. She's so immediate and personal with her delivery that it transcends all the hallmarks of popular music, it even cracks open the imagery she uses in her songs. When she says she's "California," you absolutely believe her. I am so blessed to know her as a friend and performer and I can hardly wait to hear what she's got in store for us next". (MRK, Madison René Knapp is MRK, an experimental alternative dream pop rock band. Her tunes use electronic palates to create indie-rock influenced, bombastic theatrical anthems that sing with levity and creativity while always keeping sinister undertones simmering in the undertow. Her debut video, for "River of Blood," captures what she's all about - The ugly and the beautiful all in one, harmonizing in a cacophony that will not be ignored.)

Thanks to all of you, Bill, MRK. I really appreciate you have been here to Katy Rose Day

Pictures courtesy of Katy Rose

Videos by Katy Rose:

I Like
Because I Can

Videos by Fiona Grey:

Beauty Queen

Videos by Bill Trudel:

Crimes Of Passion

Videos by MRK:

River Of Blood

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