It’s not easy recording an entire CD within the confines of your own apartment. But singer/songwriter Katie Rox pulled it off quite nicely, with her superb latest project Pony Up. The former Red Deer College music student with the sweet, compelling and expressive voice plays The Hideout on June 30.
Pony Up was released just last week and Rox, 29, describes it as an acoustic-driven CD similar to her first disc High Standards – which was also recorded at home.
“It sounds great – it has a real home-like, ‘labour of love’ kind of feel to it,” she explains of Pony Up during a recent chat. It came together in about four months in her Vancouver apartment, but the project wasn’t obstacle free. First, her drummer promised his drum kit was the quietest one on earth (so as to not disturb the neighbours).
That wasn’t quite the case. But Rox’s neighbours have grown accustomed to her musical endeavors. “I’ll often see a neighbour and they’ll say ‘I heard you singing yesterday’.”
Rox also developed a vocal chord hemorrhage at one point and had to stay pretty quiet for about a month. Musicians could still lay down tracks, but she wasn’t able to contribute in the way of vocals.
“I could whistle a bit,” she says, chuckling. She also had some of her vocals already recorded as demos, so these were used as the songs began to take shape. After her vocal chords healed, she was given the green light to belt it out again. “When I was finally told I could sing again, I was so relieved. But I was scared. What if it happened again?”
But the doctors assured her there was no problem with her resuming, so she did just that. She does, however, feel like her voice has a different tone to it – a more mature sound. Although others feel she sounds like she always did. Either way, Rox is thrilled to be hitting the road to introduce Pony Up to folks across the nation over the next while.
Originally from Airdrie, Rox had an inkling pretty early on she was born to sing. Her passion for music was sparked early on during her growing up years, and a singing recital at eight years of age proved one of those pivotal moments.
She got up to sing, looked at all the people gathered, and promptly burst into tears. She told her mom there was no way she was going to do that again.
But seeing her sister get up there and do her thing was at least part of the reason Rox decided to give it another try. “I decided I should go up in front of all those people and try again. And I did,” she says. “I realized that not only is this not so bad, but I really loved it.”
Things started out rather simply at first as she honed her musical skills around the family farm. “I sang on buckets in barns, for friends in the living room, in competitions at festivals, you name it.”
After high school, she embarked in the late 1990s on a post secondary path to study music at Red Deer College. It was here she met the late Keith Mann. The popular music instructor had a powerful influence on Rox. He passed away in the spring of 2001 just as she was making connections in her new home on the west coast.
“I couldn’t wait to tell him about how things were going, but I never had the chance.”
It wasn’t long before doors started to open, specifically with the band Jakalope. Her years with the group proved a whirlwind of wonderful opportunities including videos, red carpets and visiting foreign countries.
But eventually she new she had to venture out on her own, and she did so in the spring of 2007. That summer brought a season of soul-searching and figuring out where next to pour her creative energies. It’s been fulfilling from the get-go.
Besides her solo debut High Standards and Pony Up, she also released Searchlight a couple of years back.
Meanwhile, she’s excited to be heading out and introducing her new music to the masses. She’ll also be spending Stampede week in Calgary as well – a nice treat as it’s so close to home. Ultimately, Rox can’t imagine another path in life.
“Last year, I took some time off because I was feeling a bit tired and burned out. And I wanted to think about maybe doing other things,” she says reflectively. But there was no way music would ever be put on the back burner for too long. “Music is just one of those things I can’t say no too. I just really love it.”