Corinna Rose makes soft, beautiful music with her angelic voice and sensitive strumming. Her first full length album, Northeast Southwest, was released in April 2013 and uses a diverse array of musicians to create orchestral-indie-folk. In advance of her upcoming appearance at Under the Snow, I asked her about her journey as a musician.
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“I never intended to be a vocal artist,” Corrina Rose tells me. “But I joined a collective called The Rusty Horse band and we played for five years.” One of her songs from the Rusty Horse Band is featured in the opening credits of Sarah Polley’s film Take This Waltz. The Rusty Horse Band played for about five years and in the wake of its dis-bandment, Rose went solo.
In 2012, she was part of Via Rail’s Artists On Board Program. Rose went across the country several times as the opening act for Gabrielle Papillon. Playing on the train required as many as four or five sets a day. “It depends on when you’re going and what time of year it is, also how big the train is,” she says. “You’d wake up, have breakfast, play a set, have lunch, play a few sets, have dinner, and play some more sets, and then have the evening off to watch the country go by.”
Rose and Papillon played across the country several times this way. “Via Rail is quite flexible with trips,” she syas. “There was one trip where we went from Toronto to Winnipeg in one day. One time we went all the way from Halifax to Vancouver. That was 4 days with only one day off. You’re playing without a break and working in concentrate.”
Playing on the train suited her fine. “It’s an intimate setting,” she says. “We’d be going in these lounge cars and would sit among the passengers. We’d make an announcement and tell people to gather round. There would be about 10 to 30 people, and everyone would be listening and asking questions. It’s a great way to meet passengers.”
Starting in a collective band and being so open to experiences only helped Rose when it came time to release her own album. “There was a group of people who came together and helped. It came together in a really cool way,” she says. She booked a gig as a solo artist at the Montreal Fringe Festival and someone offered to be her bassist, and others offered to play drums and guitar. “Leah [Dolgoy] who plays autoharp joined us. It worked out great. We ended up working on arrangements as a group process. They’re all really talented.”
Rose is quick to add that all of them come from different bacgrounds. “Leah has an amazing folk background. Matt [Dahler] has a jazz background. It’s folk, but with rock and jazz twist. On top of that, my friend Nick [Godmaire] did some string and horn arrangements. We went all out and ended up with this orchestral vibe.”
The album title, Northeast Southwest is not just a reference to Rose’s many wanderings. “The title refers to all the different directions that are taken on the album,” she explains. “There’s a feeling when you’re a singer-songwriter that you’re expected to fit in a certain genre. I wanted to reference that I felt drawn in different directions.”
The lyrics are, as she says “pretty blunt.” “They’re all about my on personal experiences,” she says. “The raw inspiration is from things that have happened in my past. A lof of folk artist do that. It’s an honest tradition, all about storytelling and history.” On this album, the break up of her old band and a number of personal tragedies led to its creation. Writing music, she says is her way to express herself. “I’m pretty shy in person, and not used to expressing myself,” Rose says. “Song writing provided me with a means to expression I hadn’t had before. It was an outlet for emotions I was feeling.”
In particular, the song There is Darkness, There is Light comes from coming out of tragedy and feeling better, “but also having this dark spot in the back of my mind,” she says. “Being well is not a permanent state.”
Rose is excited to take part in the Under the Snow Festival. “I love that it’s bilingual,” she says. “The anglo and franco music worlds can be very separate. I was so stoked to be asked to open for Marissa Nadler. I’ve been a fan of her music for awhile. I’m super pumped.” For the festival, Rose is trying out a new formation. “I’ll have a cellist, a violinist, and a backing vocalist. It’s more a chamber folk show,” she says.
Corrina Rose opens for Marissa Nadler at the Under the Snow Festival on March 8 at Casa del Popolo (4873 St Laurent). 8:30 p.m. $13.