The Ontario singer-songwriter Kate Rogers isn’t exactly new – she’s had success oversees and has worked plenty in collaboration with others – but her album Repeat Repeat has fresh start written all over it. Indeed, the title itself might be a mantra attached to a new way of thinking. In a clear, strong voice Rogers deals with detrimental, perhaps draining, relationships. “I’m searching for a healthy diversion to set my mind at ease,” she sings on the bright pop stomp of Contender. -B.W.
Until now, Kate Rogers has largely made her name as a collaborator.
The Toronto singer-songwriter has performed with noted indie bands The Coast and Sunparlour Players, sung on tracks by celebrated U.K. trip-hop and electronica acts Aim and Rae & Christian and is also currently a member of “shoegazer dream-pop” band Indoor Voices.
Her love of collaboration, however, takes a bit of a backseat on her new album, Repeat Repeat, her first since the 2010 EP Gadabout. Recorded in Toronto at the Lincoln County Social Club and Verge Music Lab studios with producer Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre), Repeat Repeat is Rogers’ fifth solo record but the first to feature songs credited entirely to her.
As she explained on the phone recently, it was a change prompted in part by her regular songwriting partner getting married and moving to Argentina.
“At the time, I was like, ‘Well, you know, this is something that I’ve always wanted to challenge myself to do anyway,’ just to see if I can do it and to see if I can get through it without having a total meltdown and ending up running to someone saying ‘Please fix everything!’ It was actually really natural, it wasn’t nearly as taxing as I thought it would be for myself, just knowing my writing process, so it was actually surprisingly cathartic to do,” she said.
That catharsis was also partly due to a life-changing reassessment of personal relationships Rogers was going through at the time, a process that found its way into her lyrics.
“It was one of the strangest periods in my life,” she said. “I was going through a massive, massive life change because I had broken up with a partner of many, many years and, for some reason, in the following couple of years I had some people in my life … I don’t know, I think vulnerability attracts vulnerability or it attracts certain types of people and so I ended up with sort of a trail of people in my life that were — it took me a long time to realize — that were just literally sucking me dry.”
Though Rogers said extricating herself from a series of destructive friendships and business relationships was “one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” she estimated “a good 50 to 60 per cent” of the songs on Repeat Repeat came directly from those experiences.
“For me in reality, when I feel the most about something is right in the middle of it. I think I’ve also realized that I’m very capable of letting things go and so once I do let something go, I’m very unlikely to revisit it, especially if it’s unpleasant because I just don’t think there’s much of a point. And so a lot of the stuff was actually written during (that time), because at that point I was feeling it the most and I needed to get it out of me. But I think, you know, it’s funny, now even looking back at those relationships and how unhealthy they were, I probably wouldn’t write those songs now, the immediacy of it wouldn’t be there,” she said.
Though this album finds Rogers going out on her own as a songwriter more than ever before, she’s still a collaborator at heart. As well as her ongoing tenure in Indoor Voices, Rogers also contributed to a song on the upcoming Rae & Christian album and she hopes to do some festival touring with the duo in Europe this summer. She’ll also be taking her own band (featuring drummer Josh Van Tassel, bassist Devon Henderson, bass clarinetist Julia Hambleton and keyboard player Robbie Grunwald) to the U.K. this spring for a tour to promote Repeat Repeat and, though collaborating with others makes her schedule ever busier, it also has the ironic effect of allowing Rogers the chance to unwind.
“I enjoy working with other artists so much because it allows me to not worry about the business side of things, to not worry about how I’m going to execute something or who I’m going to have to help me achieve it,” she said. “At this point, when I’m releasing stuff independently, I basically have to take care of every factor and I think when I’m collaborating with other artists, I’m just there for what I can do and that’s it, and it’s a really nice feeling. It’s total freedom for me and it’s kind of a luxury.”
Kate Rogers Band // Jimmy Jazz, Guelph // Thursday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. // katerogers.net
When Kate Rogers sings “There’s no saying where the wind gonna take you/so I prepare myself for the worst,” on her new song “Contender”, she could very well be talking about the path her music career has taken her. From a small town Ontario where she studied classical voice at the Royal Conservatory of Music, to being lauded by the oft fickle UK music press for her work as a singer, songwriter in her own right, as well as being a featured contributor to others’ projects, the winds have taken Rogers just about everywhere an aspiring musician would want to go. And when the worst thing that could happen did (her label Grand Central Records closed up shop), Rogers found herself back home in Canada, ready for yet another adventure.
Along with forming the Kate Rogers Band, she’s worked with the likes of Sunparlour Players, The Hatchetmen, The Coast, and Indoor Voices, and is now getting set to independently release Repeat Repeat in February, an album she says is more about setting boundaries rather than crossing borders. “I’ve never been good at removing myself when I care about someone,” she says, adding, “I just hit a point where I realized I had to fundamentally change something about myself in order to be less affected by other people’s pain and problems. Every song on Repeat Repeat I’ve written while trying to break that cycle.”
On the strength of the song “Contender”, it looks like Rogers has let the winds of change take her to some place rather special this time out. If all goes according to plans, Repeat Repeat will take Kate Rogers Band across Canada this year as well.
Jim Di Gioia – Jan 14 2013
Canadian songwriter Kate Rogers has experienced some success in the UK, and she’s looking to have an impact here at home with the upcoming Canuck release of her new album. Repeat Repeat, which is credited to her Kate Rogers Band, is due out February 19.
The album was recorded at Toronto’s Lincoln County Social Club with producer Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre, Snowblink, Ohbijou). Unlike some of Rogers’ past work, these tunes were penned alone. “For years, co-writing was usually my go-to process because I always believed that more heads were better than one,” she said in a statement, “but I wanted to push myself this time out and so I made a promise to myself I’d fight through it on my own.”
Hear the bouncy pop number “Contender” over at Quick Before It Melts. A video for the previously released album cut “Anger Management” is at the bottom of the page.
Rogers plans to announce a Canadian tour soon. In the meantime, she will celebrate the release of the album with a show at Toronto’s Drake Underground on February 22.
Repeat Repeat will be released in the UK and Europe this spring.
By Alex Hudson – January 20th 2013
Vocal superiority matched quite beautifully by instrumentation in the most superlative way possible Bringing you her third album, but the first with her band, this teasing singer from Toronto along with the five other musicians include tracks that have an upbeat groove about them which leaves you wanting and begging for more. Within its eleven tracks lie a smorgasbord of radio-friendly, Americana-experimental and downright surreal tracks that make you scratch your head and nod your head in appreciation at the same time. With an opening few moments similar to a jamming session, Whippets seems as though Kate double-tracks her vocals at certain points, as Buddy Holly did, to great effect. With more than a hint of the gypsy band Oi Va Voi about this track, the use of the accordion and hand-slapping adds to this track’s atmosphere of radio friendliness and inventiveness. Stealing From You begins quite teasingly courtesy of some piano tinkling which is soon joined by jovial vocals that act as musical foreplay before this wall of harmonious and instrumental goodness hits you. Silent Movie is not a tune which allows the audience to wonder, as from its very first second it includes so much in a short duration you don’t really know what aspects to fully concentrate on and requires at least three or four hearings for its quality and overt beauty to fully penetrate the consciousness. With a hypnotic beginning, Feels Like Years is a candidate for the ideal driving song. Not for the likes of Route 66, but the frozen Canadian landscape at the height of winter. It has a feel-good element about it, but in an apprehensive way. A song that asks more questions than it answers which is always a good thing for music. Joining the ever-growing ranks of exceedingly good artists currently coming from Canada, I see no reason why this band wouldn’t be able to lead the way in showing the world the quality of Canadian music. If this prediction comes true, than that would surely be a situation to savour.
RH Laura Bethell Maverick
We love the songwriting. We love the understated dignity of the live performance. We even love the YouTube video trails. Kate Rogers, indie rock darling, launches off a bedrock of cred. Following eight years on Grand Central Records, where she was a regular vocalist for artists like AIM and Rae & Christian, Kate decided it was time to bring it back to her home in Ontario, Canada. Following the critically acclaimed St Eustacia album and a recent stint singing with Toronto indie rockers The Coast, Kate and her band kick it up more than a few notches with the release of Beauregard. While never losing sight of her Folk heritage, Beauregard picks up the pace where St. Eustacia left off. With production by Toronto’s Chris Stringer and mixed by the venerable Michael Phillip Wojewoda, this album heralds a little extra pop and punch than earlier recordings, and in turn gives Kate’s affecting, soulful vocals room to roam.
Si Si Penaloza is the Editorial Director of WOMAN.ca.
Posted in Entertainment – Music Who’s the Foxiest Of the All?
February 4, 2010
As a rule I don’t really review older albums. But with a new EP coming in June I thought I’d make an exception for Kate Rogers’ 2008 album Beauregard. The Canadian-born Rogers had spent 8 years plying her trade in the UK before making the decision to return to her home and native land for this album. This record is not the stereotypical piano-playing woman record. Rogers has a far more diverse sound than someone like say, Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan. Yes, there are some gorgeous vocal-focussed tracks like “Up Country”, but those are the exception rather than the rule. Instead you’re more likely to her bellowing rockers, country-tinged stomps, and smoky lounge numbers. Rogers is at her absolute best when she’s playing melodramatic noir music. Tracks like “54 Rounds” and “Not Okay” are simply engrossing. Having now heard her latest full length several times, I can’t help but be excited for the EP.
Best tracks: “Safety Net”
May 3, 2010
After releasing an album of alt-rock covers in 2005, Toronto’s Kate Rogers returns with a clutch of originals penned with co-writer Matthew Bannister. On the disc, produced by Chris Stringer (the D’Urbervilles, the Coast), Rogers’ rich voice exudes a folksy confidence that’s mostly put to good use, with the exception of a jarring heavily filtered trip-hop bridge stuck in the middle of Whippets. But generally it works, and Togers really hits her creative stride on Stealing From You, on which she sounds like a rockier Sarah Slean.
Sometimes when you are stuck in airports watching time pass too slowly, and people move too quickly, whatever music you have playing gets lost somewhere between the stagnancy and constant motion. I spent the better part of my quick vacation sitting at gates, watching time crawl by and the stack of promos I loaded onto the IPOD Zune didn’t help the lethargy. But on one of my flights yesterday, I gave Kate Roger’s new record, Beauregard, an extended, focused listen and was duly impressed. She’s been doing well in Europe, but this Toronto based singer really has the chance to make a splash here on her home turf. The arrangements bounce from folk to jazz to roots and the range of sounds is impressive, but no matter what the melody, it’s her folksy voice that booms over top and makes it hard to focus on anything else. I realize that is something that can be said about tons of artists attempting to hit the same market, but Rogers brings something unique to the equation: energy. With the help of Chris Stringer’s production, the tracks are infused with the spikes you’d expect hearing his resume (he helped the D’Ubervilles and the Coast really deliver big records as well). She doesn’t want to be the warm sweater or trusty blanket you reach for out of habit. Kate wants to challenge and surprise the listener. And that’s just it. Too often we let things blend into the beige and forget that music should energize us. I’m not trying to make Rogers into something she’s not. She’s got a beautiful voice, one that fans of folk pop or the soundtrack to Grey’s Anatomy will really enjoy (as Lying Loveless and the playful horns and choir vocals on Go proves), but the static that runs through Wowbox, the warble filled Whippets and the hints of rock and reggae on Safety Net she shows that there is more to her sound than you’d expect. She offers up a more realistic perspective – like when she hits back on a lover (“you’re so fucking miserable“) – and even when the record stumbles, you still want to hear what comes next.