Katy Rose has had a song featured in the Mean Girls Soundtrack, lived in London, New York, Paris, Nashville, and LA, went on the Grateful Dead tour when she was three, and her Dad performs with Elton John. It doesn’t get much better than that. I talked with the star about her upcoming album, traveling the world, and the most hyped decade of all: your twenties. Welcome to being a badass babe.
What was it like starting so young?
I started when I was thirteen… what was it like? I grew up in a recording studio and being on tour with my parents, so it was perfectly normal to me, to be honest. Yeah, my Mom is a singer and my Dad is a keyboard player and producer, so from the time I was little I was kind of like recording in the studio, so it felt really normal to me. I think it was more the touring that felt different.
Did you like touring with your parents?
Yeah, I didn’t know any different, you know? I wanted to be with them and it was fun. I was on the Grateful Dead tour when I was three and it was blast, I had a lot of fun.
Yeah, I heard that! I figured you don’t remember much since you were so young, haha.
Yeah no, I mean—when we were older we would visit my Dad a lot when he was on tour, but we were in school. And it was great to be able to see him and we’d make it into a family vacation, which was nice.
Do your siblings play music as well?
I have one sibling: I have a sister. She does do music but she’s a professional dancer. She’s a contemporary dancer in Amsterdam—but obviously, it takes a certain kind of musicality to be a dancer.
Did you ever feel pressure with your parents being successful musicians?
Uhm, I think the fact that they were successful, and growing up with their friends—we didn’t have any extended family since both of my parents moved to Los Angeles from different places, so their friends became my extended family, and they were all successful—I think it just made me more driven, excited, and inspired. But I never felt it in a negative way.
Do you still split your time between LA and London?
No, I actually recently made a permanent move to France. I am in London quite a bit ‘cuz it’s a pretty easy trip, and I have my best friends and boyfriend’s family there—so it’s nice to be really close in Paris. But no, I’m committed to being in France now.
France is a cool place. I was over in Paris for a short break, the food is just great, and it has such a nice bohemian vibe to it.
It does! And such a rich history, and it’s really beautiful. I’m really happy here. Just relaxed.
You traveled a bunch for the last album you’re working on; can you talk a bit about the concept behind that?
I have always been… well, growing up on tour and touring from the time I was 15 onwards has, I think, really made me realize that traveling, for me, is the best way to learn about myself and the best way that I’ve found to really stay in the moment. Because when you’re traveling alone, especially when you’re doing it in a kind of Gypsy-low-budge style, you really need to stay present and make sure like, nothing gets stolen!
You don’t have time to think about things in the past you regret when you’re traveling, you need to just be really there. And I think for writing, that’s really important, and I wanted to learn more about myself since I did start so young. I needed to have some more experiences to write about and learn more about the world! So yeah, I love it, and finally, I found a place I want to stay for a while so that was a positive part of making this record also.
Given you’ve been performing so long, were there ever times you doubted music was what you wanted to do?
I mean, I guess it’s always been what I do. Because again, I started so, so young. Of course, there are other things I like to do. I’m at a point in my life where my entire life isn’t consumed by being just a recording artist/songwriter. I always thought I’d be a journalist, also write a book. But it all has to do with literature and music, the things I’m interested in. I’m also interested in history which is why I like to travel and want to live in Paris now. So, I’m at a place where I’m able to do other things as well.
…traveling, for me, is the best way to learn about myself and the best way that I’ve found to really stay in the moment.
How has your approach to songwriting evolved over time?
It’s evolved a lot—that’s a good question. I’ve been working in lots of different cities over the past 15 years of so, and each city has a different approach to songwriting I’ve studied. When I started, super young, it was basically just poetry I’d written in my journal as a little girl or young teenager, that I put to music. There was no form to it, it was just this organic, raw thing and I sang it at my house, my parent’s house.
So, then I grew up and I lived in New York, in London, in Nashville, in Atlanta, working on music and in each city I’ve worked with different producers and I try to take everything I’ve learned from those different experiences and funnel it into what I’m doing now. It has become more of a craft for me… I’ve been wanting to learn more about the craft of songwriting.
The track “I’m Your Man” is a statement of sexual empowerment. Can you talk a bit more about that?
Yeah! It’s sexual empowerment, but it’s also saying we’re all really the same. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with gender. I think men often get a bad rep for being “the users” but I know plenty of women who haven’t acted with the most grace or dignity in relationships, you know. I think for me it was more, just—this whole album was about my twenties, essentially. I take from a lot of my friend’s experiences, of course, and a lot are made up. This was basically the idea we’re all, you know, the same really.
What do you think your twenties are like? I actually just turned 20 and wrote a piece on it. Kind of an odd question…
Oh, cool! Congratulations! You know, everyone’s path is so different. For me, my early twenties were the most confusing, difficult time; but then the late twenties is when life gets really good and juicy. But it’s different for everyone. It’s really an extension of your teens, isn’t it? Because, I feel like, your late teens and early twenties, it’s like you’re just pushed out into the world and you’re an adult now—figure it out. You have to do your taxes and you still feel like a kid. Uhm, I still feel like a kid now. But I think its different for everyone. It’s a huge learning experience.
What does feminism mean to you and why do you think it’s important?
I mean, I think if you’re not a feminist you’re just sexist. I think being a strong feminist doesn’t mean you hate men—I think that’s a strong misconception. Being a feminist is just being equal, being strong, being independent, not thinking of yourself as being weaker or a victim in any way, and just knowing you can do anything! That’s what I’d say to a little boy, it’s the same I’d say to a little girl: the cage isn’t locked, there are no limitations, believe in yourself.
…the cage isn’t locked, there are no limitations, believe in yourself.
Follow Katy Rose on her Instagram @Katyrosemusic for new music updates.
Also published on Medium.