Interview: Caitlin Rose

The phrase ‘never meet your idols’ repeatedly rang through my head – accompanied by several expletives – in the moments prior to stepping foot within Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club before being introduced to Caitlin Rose. However the bullet was royally bitten while the saying was thrown out of the window.

It’s difficult to grasp the concept of being a musician, touring the world and never particularly experiencing anything that we – the 9-5 office workers – would consider as ‘normality’. However while it may be tiresome living in the knowledge that every new face fumbling around with a Dictaphone are hoping to find some hidden truth; to Caitlin Rose this isn’t necessarily the case. It seems as though communicating with others remains firmly rooted in her mind – despite claims that she can’t meet her own idols because she is ‘too scared to talk to people like that’.

The rise of Caitlin Rose has come under an increasing level of focus within the music world – particularly within the ‘Country’ genre – with her childhood rooted in Nashville being very much at the fore of this attention. However despite the incessant ‘typecasting’ of growing up in a musical hotspot – that can often bog artists down within its mire – it remains of little concern to the blossoming songwriter. ‘I’ve been in Nashville so long that I couldn’t really claim to be anything else – so it can’t really offend me‘.

However aspects of the media’s role within music do seemingly irk and frankly baffle Rose. ‘Comparisons, and things, don’t really do anything for your song writing – except confuse the shit out of you and make you think that you should be doing something that you don’t know how‘. It is this ‘trying to push you in a direction that they want you to go’ that has been a burden for so many promising talents, since the birth of popular music, and remains something that Rose is attempting to distance herself from.

The perception of being a role model is also an issue that strikes a chord – possibly an A minor, terrible pun I know – as it remains an unwritten rule that with fame comes the responsibility of being looked up to by the young and old alike. However Caitlin Rose is defiant in her belief that she doesn’t need to be placed within this pressurised situation. ‘I don’t think being a role model should [be put upon musicians]. You don’t want to change what you’re doing. You don’t want to look at all these people and be like ‘I have to lead the way for you’. I don’t want to lead the way for anybody. That’s not my prerogative.’

It is this sense of defiance that underlines what Caitlin Rose is about because behind the veil of self awareness lies a distinctly motivated individual who knows her own mind and place. This in itself is a hugely important trait to possess in a world where musicians face the wrath of both the public and press in equal measures.

With the cultural rise of social networking within modern society it comes as little surprise to see that artists are latching onto the likes of Twitter and Facebook to put themselves out there. For Caitlin Rose – who claims to have ‘been addicted to the internet since I was 13’ – social networking is a means of interacting and gaining a sense of perspective. ‘All anyone tries to do now is get on there and try and be clever but all I do is get on there and post awesome videos of Linda Rondstadt singing the national anthem. I like to show people stuff now and I think that’s what it’s for, like a bulletin board, it’s like ‘happy birthday Patsy Cline!’ did you people know that? Well now you do.’

It would be easy to assume that a musician who performs in front of vast crowds on a daily basis could ever be encased in the feeling of insecurity. However while Caitlin Rose is in no way, shape or form someone lacking in personal confidence there remains a lack of comfort in the wake of performances and Twitter seemingly provides a platform through which artists can gauge just how well, or badly, a show has gone. ‘That’s the thing for me when I can get on there and see someone post ‘Oh I saw Caitlin Rose tonight and she was terrible’ or ‘I saw Caitlin Rose tonight and she was great’. I want to know how the show went from outside my perspective because my perspective is that ‘that was shit.’’

The difficulties of maintaining a fresh approach to songs that an artist has been performing for the past couple of years is also something that feeds into this downbeat sentiment towards her own performances. ‘I mean you play the same songs for two years and there’s just no feeling left’. But as time progresses so too does the song writing process – which although it being ‘hard trying to write on the road’ – can provide some much needed respite from the same old, repetitive set list. ‘Even adding one more song to the set makes you excited for that bit of the set so you get more worked up about the rest of it.’

The importance of band members Jeremy Fetzer (lead guitar) and Spencer Cullum Jr (pedal steel) to the Caitlin Rose moniker is also likely to impact upon future material as they grow as a collective – along with more recent additions Jeff Cullum (bass) and David Vaughn (drums). Being surrounded by such naturally talented musicians is something that Rose points out takes away some of the ‘musical burden’ as she confesses that ‘I have a very limited chord structure and musical mind. I mean Spencer’s a god damn genius and Jeremy can come up with some of the best stuff that I’ve ever heard.’ It is this ability to delegate aspects of song writing responsibility that could ease the pains of writing while on tour.

Rose recently penned a deal with ATO Records – the home of My Morning Jacket and Dawes – which will seemingly impact upon the rate at which new material will appear on the horizon. However despite signing for the prestigious label there remains a sense of calm, in part aided by the label’s approach to its artists. ‘For how prestigious it is, it is probably the most relaxed I have been around anybody business wise… They’re really cool, easy to get along with and that is the most important thing for me’.

The future is something that must be a welcome relief blending feelings of happiness that the end of a mammoth stretch of touring is in sight with excitement for the promise of new material. Caitlin Rose has set herself the target of learning the piano while seeking to improve her guitar skills in a manner that seemingly defines her approach to refuse to rest on her laurels. She may remain sceptical as to her level of prominence within the wider musical landscape however her music and general demeanour will win her fans the world over as people take even more notice of this exceptional talent.