SHE was once the lead singer in an industrial rock band, MTV featured her in an episode of Cribs, but it has always been about specific kinds of music for singer-songwriter, Katie Rox.
"From an early age it was always country music and Broadway music," Rox says.
The Vancouver-based singer performed last month at The Central and The Free Times CafÃ© in Toronto during Canadian Music Week.
"Canadian Music Week was awesome," Rox says. "It's so great to have so much music vibrating in one city. The panels are informative and helpful, especially for a do-it-yourself artist like myself. I loved Canadian Music Week. Not only is it a great opportunity for music lovers to come out and watch thousands of bands but I really feel that it brings the industry together."
Rox grew up in Airdrie, Alta., and after finishing a music diploma at Red Deer College she decided to move to Vancouver in 2001.
"I knew that I just wanted to be involved in music," she says. "Vancouver was a lot closer to home than Toronto. So I picked a place that I could go home to quickly in case I didn't like it."
Shortly after moving to British Columbia, Rox landed a job at The Warehouse Studio in Gastown as an office manager.
"I was really lucky because I got that job working within three months of being in Vancouver," she adds. "I would always meet tons of musicians and producers and people like that."
It was while working at The Warehouse Studio that Rox was asked to sing backup vocals for Mandy Moore. Rox also met SÃ©bastien Lefebvre from Simple Plan and producer Dave Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy) who eventually asked her to become the lead singer of his electronic-pop group Jakalope.
During her time with Jakalope Rox went on an Asian tour and several of their songs reached the pop charts in Japan. She also sang the song for the opening credits of Degrassi: Next Generation in season four and five.
"I learned a lot. It was my first real experience in the music industry as an artist," Rox says. "I will say not only did I learn a lot about the business side, both for better and for worse, but I also learned a lot about myself. When I think back, I was pretty young, so it was an interesting time in my life overall with all kinds of learning curves."
In early 2007 Rox decided to leave Jakalope and begin a solo career of her own.
"It was just where my heart was," she says. "I referred to it as going back to my roots . . . That's really where my passion in music was."
Since departing from Jakalope, Rox has released three solo albums; High Standards (2008), Searchlight (2009), and Pony Up (2011).
Rox is currently working on her latest album with Jamie Candiloro (who has worked with REM, Ryan Adams and Willie Nelson) and hopes to have it out later this year.
"I started sending him demo's over the course of about six months," Rox says. "It was an amazing experience to work with him. To go from being friends from about 10 years ago to being able to work on music together was a really great experience. It was definitely a new way of doing my solo records and he is so talented. I can't wait for people hear it."
According to Rox, Pony Up was the most challenging album to create to date.
Shortly before going into make the record she experienced some health issues and was told by doctors that she couldn't sing for at least a month.
"They all had their challenges but I would say Pony Up was the most difficult because I went through a million setbacks recording that record. I had a vocal cord hemorrhage and some other health issues and then some personal issues," she says. "I couldn't believe it when the record actually came out because it seemed like if there was a road-block, I made sure it got in my way unintentionally. It was probably most challenging record to do. You can probably hear the overcoming of tough times throughout the album."
In 2010 the Airdrie native collaborated with SÃ©bastien Lefebvre of Simple Plan on a three-song Christmas EP called Christmas Etc.
"He's the best," she says. "Every time I write with him I am reminded of why I write with him. He makes me laugh. He is so fun and he is so talented. There are a couple of co-writes with him on the new album."
According to Rox, the most challenging part for her about being a solo artist is the amount of roles she has to play.
"It's hard when you're a do-it-yourself artist to be everything, and that's what you are," she says.
"You're your own manager, agent and publicist. You're your own everything about 75 per cent of the time I'd say. Sometimes you do get help from other people. It is hard to wear all those hats and sometimes you miss things. I find that is a challenge but it is also really rewarding when you get something done or accomplished because you had to be so many people to achieve it."
Rox has performed across Canada and Japan. She has embarked on two cross-Canada tours and performed multiple times at Whistler's World Ski and Snowboard Festival. In 2010 she performed during the Winter Olympics and also at the Calgary Stampede. In 2011 she toured across Japan for the first time as a solo artist.
"We ended up playing in Revelstoke, and it was one of my favourite shows on the tour and probably one of my favourite shows I've ever played," she says.
Last April she also got the chance to travel to Nashville and says the experience was very inspiring.
"It was eye-opening for sure. Going out and seeing all these songwriters and hearing all the stories about their songs is great. Nashville is the place where the songwriter is the star," she says.
"I am such a huge Patsy Cline fan that to be able to go by the places where she played is so cool. I was there for a week and I got a life changing experience," she adds.
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