JUNO Award-winning songwriter Rose Cousins recently released her version of Prince’s classic “I Would Die 4 U” that she recorded with Bear’s Den and Christof van der Ven while they all were serendipitously in Toronto on a day off from tour. I got the chance to talk with her about her musical influences, collaborating with Bear’s Den and Christof van der Ven for this cover, writing music for film and TV and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your sound would generally be classified as folk, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
Words and melody are important to me so they end up being what drives my own music and what I listen to. I’m influenced by more than one genre and in general have never really felt like I fit in only one place. I also am interested in the shadows and struggle of the human condition so historically a lot of my catalogue has been melancholy. Someone’s gotta do it.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
Songwriters; Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin are two of my top but I’m most inspired these days by friends who are colleagues like Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), Tim Baker, Jenn Grant, Ana Egge, Sarah Siskind, Charlotte Cornfield, Ann Tivel, Joe Henry, Mark Erelli. There are so many more.
What was the recording process like for “I Would Die 4 U” once you actually got into the studio? Was this song recorded in one single session or over the course of a couple different sessions?
The night before the recording I watched a movie and that song came on at the end and it was immediately obvious that that was the song we should do. I could hear it with piano and guitar. The next morning, I went into the studio early and worked out the version and then explained what I heard to the boys. It unfolded quickly in my head and then in the recording, it was easy and awesome. I find covering a song uncovers something else. It’s a great song and this tender version, without the flash, shows how poignant the words are. Prince died on my birthday and his life seemed to have this duality to it. Duality and juxtaposition are the themes I’m exploring in my latest writing.
You recorded this cover with Bear’s Den and Christof van der Ven. Did you always envision them being featured on the track? How did those collaborations come about?
I met Christof in 2012 in a show we were billed on together in London at the now closed Borderline and I met Bear’s Den in 2014 at the Edmonton Folk Festival. I had Bear’s Den sing with me on stage in Edmonton and they have been a support to me covering one of my songs and mentioning me in interviews over the years which has been so touching. I hoped we’d cross paths again. When Bear’s Den released their So That You Might Hear Me record this year, the only show I could go to was their Boston one on May 20th, so I finished a tour in the midwest and flew to Boston for one night to see them play. I’m glad I did because during an after show hang we realized we would be in Toronto at the same time while I was recording. Christof has been playing in the band which is so great. They were all generous to spend a few hours making this tune. I’m such a fan of what they all make. I feel very lucky that this collision happened.
You’ve also written film and TV and had songs appear on Grey’s Anatomy, Supergirl, Reign, and Nashville, among others. How did you get into that? Is the process for that any different compared how you would normally write a song?
TV and movies would be nothing without the music. Some of the first songs I ever fell in love with were movie scores. Then, I started recognizing songs in film and tv and thought maybe my sad music might be able to live in that dramatic space. Some of my catalogue naturally lends itself to scenes and other songs I write more specifically for trailers or certain things happening which is called “writing to brief”. It’s great when you know that a show or film is looking for something specific. I like both writing for myself as an artist and stepping out of that and writing to enhance a scene. Both are good exercises and cathartic.
Any plans for an EP or a full length album anytime soon?
Yes, I’ll have a new record in 2020 that I’m excited to share.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I’m reading a book on sleep and another on insulin response. I’m fascinated about how the body works.