Interview: Rose Cora Perry

Rose Cora Perry is a singer, songstress, writer and role model who has just released her debut album titled “Off of the Pages”.

She made time for us to find out some more about her and the work she’s doing.

rose cora perry

(Image Credit: FbImagery)

What made you decide to get into music?

Well, it wasn’t really a decision – more a compulsion. The way my folks tell it you’d think I was singing the moment I exited my mother’s womb!

In truth, I started out very young, at the tender age of four, by taking up vocal, theory and violin lessons through the Royal Conservatory of Music. I sucked I mean REALLY sucked at violin so that didn’t last very long, but I continued to pursue my vocal studies for nearly 14 years covering Broadway, jazz, opera, and classical.

In addition to pursuing music, my parents enrolled me in virtually every sport imaginable from ski racing to kickboxing to volleyball to soccer, and world travel was a regular part of my childhood. My folks wanted me to be exposed to different activities and cultures so that I would become a well-rounded individual.

It wasn’t until I was 15 that I co-founded my first rock band, and initially I was hesitant of pursuing rock. Despite being raised on AC/DC (or Acca Dacca as Aussies refer to them, I hear), Aerosmith, Jovi, Deep Purple and Sabbath by my dad, The Beatles by my mum, and growing up during the grunge era, I had dreams of becoming the next Sarah Brightman (the original Christine from The Phantom of the Opera). Unfortunately, I’m admittedly not much of an actress!

Irrespective of my initial reservations, I found a home in rock’n’roll music for one reason and one reason only: the attitude. Although I love a diverse range of genres and can be caught listening to Frank Sinatra directly after Veruca Salt, rock allowed and continues to allow me to express a passion that I was unable to do so given the restrictiveness and “by-the-book” doctrine ingrained in classical vocal stylings.

I’m probably crazy for continuing to pursue music at this point given the poor state the industry has found itself in as of late, but it’s just a habit I can’t seem to kick.

Can you tell us about the personal journey you have undertaken to get where you are today?

Wow, not certain I nor anyone else could synopsise the summation of their existence in a mere few paragraphs, let alone an autobiographic account, but I shall try…

In a snapshot (and non-sugarcoated manner), suffice it to say I was f***ed up for a very long time – emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically. I battled manic depression, suicidal thoughts, and an eating disorder for many years.

While I would never take for granted my amazing family or friends, I felt very very alone, and as though no one else in the world quite understood nor could relate to where I was coming from or what I was going through.

Although I had many luxuries bestowed upon me that others around the world can only dream of, purely as a consequence of my parents’ social backgrounds, I felt unloved, worthless, ugly, and frankly as though no one would attend my funeral should I decide to off myself prematurely.

Where did these thoughts originate?

Well, it was a combination of factors – my family, for all of the material benefits it afforded me, really lacked in a lot of the more important intangible attributes (ie: for a long time, I felt I had to justify who I was to everyone and achieve unrealistic perfectionist accomplishments in order to just be loved and accepted).

My friendships and love life were likewise all too frequently conditioned on what I was able to “get” for people, whether that meant a moment shining next to me on stage or juicy gossip that would aid in peoples’ ridiculous quests for superficial popularity.

My appearance – well it’s unconventional and has always been a source of torment in my life given that people assume if you’ve got a “darker” image that you must be a freaky S&M chick or a drug addict, my experiences at school – I had teachers who are supposed to be facilitating my and the learning of my peers make really nasty assumptions about me and my abilities purely based on the fact that I guess you could say I’m a little “left of centre”…among other things.

Comparatively speaking, I know my experiences are NOWHERE close to the personal hells that many people, particularly those born into war-torn or third world countries, have had to face and struggle through in their lifetimes.

But it’s easy to get overwhelmed living in this crazy fast-paced materialistic world of ours, and it’s easy to start to feel alienated when “electronic friendships” prove more real than the world that is right in front of your eyes.

I won’t lie, there are some days where my past comes back to haunt me, and there are some days still where I cry for no reason at all. But I’m not ashamed of who I am, what I’ve been through, what I’ve done, and or what I’m trying to do.

I know that without music, I wouldn’t still be here, and all I’m trying to do is pass that gift onto others.

My life has not always been easy, fun, or “glamourous” by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m eternally grateful for all of the amazing things I have in my life, especially the opportunity to try and make a positive difference in this world.

As for my former melodramatic identity, well had I never gone through all of that, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today; any person trying to do good needs to first understand what’s wrong.

rose cora perry

(Image Credit: FbImagery)

What have been some of the high points of your life and career up until today?

Career-wise: rocking out solo in front of 500,000 people at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Regatta, playing at some of the world’s most recognized music festivals including Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, & M.E.A.N.Y.Fest NYC, having every single one of my CD Release parties to date sold-out (and hosted at my favourite venue in the world, Call the Office) and receiving heartfelt letters from fans who have been able to get through their own personal struggles because of my music.

Meeting Joan Jett and other fellow females who acknowledge their right to rock’n’roll as they should, being elected the official spokeswoman for MindYourMind.ca’s youth mental health campaign and writing my first song at age seven (it was about environment destruction caused by the quest for oil, haha no joke).

Launching my music industry advice and insight column, “So You Wanna be in a Rock Band?”, winning a London Music Award with my former band Anti-Hero, being elected to represent the quintessential independent musician’s perspective in a three-part interview series for Canadian Musician Magazine and obtaining my very first sponsorship from DaisyRock Guitars.

Establishing my record label at 15, getting my first magazine cover courtesy of The Interrobang, having my former band Anti-Hero selected by MTV as the first ever Canadian artist from whom they wanted to license music for their hit show, “Next”, obtaining top #5 placement on national college radio for my former band Anti-Hero’s hit single, “Unpretty” entirely INDEPENDENTLY, and… being asked to guest speak at the Jack Richardson Music Awards Music Seminars & Metalworks’ Opportunities in the Music Industry Seminar.

As for the rest of my Life: bonding with my mommy, falling in love (yes I’m a cheesy hopeless romantic), studying Sociology and Psychology at school, learning about the greatness that is Shakespeare, travelling the world, getting my very first pet as an adult (Johnny Rotten, my wonderful black cat, R.I.P., named for the infamous frontman of The Sex Pistols), being paid for my opinions (ie: my weekly op/ed series “Call Me Old-Fashioned But…”), and cherishing each and every moment I have with my friends (I couldn’t ask for better ones!).

All of the money raised from the sale of your CD goes to a not for profit organisation called MusicSaves, what can you tell us about that?

At this point, my non-for-profit is still in its preliminary stages, but yes 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Off Of the Pages are going into a development fund with the hope that I’ll be able to raise enough money to tour North American highschools and youth groups conducting a psychology seminar series (which will include live performance and audience interaction) to teach distressed teens about the healing capacity of music as an alternative to the “medicalization model”, or even more noxious “coping” mechanisms (and I use that term loosely) like suicide or non-pharmaceutical drug addiction.

As already alluded to, a big part of why I’m still here today is because of music (both from writing it myself and from listening to artists whose experiences mirrored my own). Yes, I had family and friends and even guidance counsellors willing to listen to my story, offer advice and console, but it wasn’t enough – I still felt all alone.

Adolescence, even in its most tame of forms, is a period of transition, and accordingly is wrought with difficulty for most people. You often lose your old friends and gain new ones which may or may not last. You face peer pressure and competitions for popularity. You typically fall in love (and hate) for the first time.

It’s the first time in your life wherein you are able to exert your own individuality and independence, and search for your personal self identity rather than just follow the values that have been passed down onto you by your parents. In two words, it’s all about discovery and exploration. Popular culture, especially music, plays a MAJOR role in helping teenagers find their path and establish their self-concepts.

I believe that music, like any art (in its pure organic inspired form) can touch people in really powerful ways. Music has the amazing capacity to inspire people, to act as a source of comfort, and to provoke thought. With technology such as Autotune which makes up for a lack of talent, and the current “commodification” mentality that has permeated the mainstream consciousness, we’ve forgotten this. Musicians once spoke out for the ideals they believed in.

Musicians once held the power to represent the voice of the people. Musicians once intelligently commented on social and political happenings. I’d like to see that day come again. I’d like to see music celebrated for the art it can be.

The impetus behind MusicSaves therefore is twofold:

1) to try and help those struggling with depression by teaching them about a beneficial pure way to channel their negative energies and turn them into something quite beautiful

2) to show this world once again what a REAL musician, a REAL artist can and should be

On the 9th of September your video for “Mad World” was released, was this date chosen deliberately to coincide with the significant and world changing anniversary two days later? What can you tell us about the message you’re hoping to send with your new video?

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that everything I do is deliberate. September 9th was chosen because of the political undertones (though they aren’t very subtle) in my music video including scenes from the World Trade Centre tragedy and the Columbine school shootings.

I didn’t want to release the video right on the 11th first off out of respect for those who lost their loved ones that day. Secondly, I felt that if I released the video on the 11th there would be a good chance that because the video is so hard-hitting, people may have been struck on such an emotional level that they would have tuned out entirely what I was trying to say/do.

As for the message of “Mad World”, it’s NOT meant to be hurtful or disrespectful in any way. Quite the contrary really – I wanted to bring people’s attention to the extremely divisive realities that co-exist in our world in hopes that it will inspire them to make changes in their own lives to make this place we call home a fairer and more just society.

I am one who strongly maintains the existential philosophical view that everything we do/say/think affects everyone else; therefore we must be pure in our motivations for if we are not, we are essentially “giving the okay” to others to commit heinous actions. The world and our interactions are made up of energy transference. In other words, “you reap what you sow, you sow what you reap” so you best be moral in that which you are putting out there for your own and the good of others.

Your lifestyle seems a little out of the ordinary for the business you are in. Has this had any impact on your career?

I’m assuming you mean my “straight-edgeness” and health-conscious eating habits? Yes, it most certainly has. Being vegan and trying to tour, especially, really has proven difficult at times. Although I’ve gotten a great deal of flack from fellow musicians and promoters for not living up to the “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” mantra, I think I’m better for it.

While I love/perform rock’n’roll music, I don’t believe in excesses of any kind. I feel that sex should be reserved for loving relationships and drugs are stupid, including the government-approved substances (they consistently after all rank as among the leading causes of death every year).

I’ve seen/heard about far too many rock’n’roll tragedies in my lifetime – I think everyone has. From the backroom cocaine deals to the “sleeping your way to the top” stories, it’s all disgusting and bogus, and if that’s the ONLY way I’ll ever be afforded “rock legend” status, then I’d rather remain underground and appreciated solely by those who are receptive to my message, and my values.

What would you tell young people trying to get into the music industry?

In the words of Alan Cross as he explained to me once in an interview, “the world doesn’t owe you anything.” The music industry is called “the music biz” because it is FIRST AND FOREMOST a BUSINESS.

You may be the next John Lennon in terms of talent (though talent isn’t really even a prerequisite anymore), but if you don’t know how to market yourself or you don’t have the right “look”, sadly you will go nowhere. This is NOT something I personally agree with, but it’s the cold hard truth that I have had to learn from scratching my way up from the bottom.

With all of that said, I mean there’s really no greater high in life (for me at least) than being up on stage and rocking out in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Are 9 out of 10 shows shitty? Often yes. But is it worth it for that one AMAZING opportunity? HELL yeah!

Pursuing music professionally has never been a “safe” career choice, but especially in today’s oversaturated market and economic recession (not to mention the illegal downloading and “commodification” mentality), it is that much harder. Am I saying any of this to dissuade aspiring players? NO, NOT AT ALL!!! I’m just being realistic.

If you love music, and are as passionate about it as I am, and despite all of the b.s. you continually encounter you just can’t seem to give it up, then by all means, follow your heart…just be prepared for a long and hard road, especially if you’re pursuing rock. Of all of the genres to work within, original rock musicians by far are the MOST disrespected.

What lies ahead in your career?

Whatever the universe has planned for me! I have dreams I hope to accomplish, but I don’t want to jinx ‘em by sharing them.

I plan on continuing to work my ass off as I always have and I keep my fingers crossed that it’ll happen for me. But even if I never “see my name in lights” (as they say), I am thoroughly appreciative of all of the amazing opportunities and people I’ve already encountered along the way. Without the support of my fans, none of this would be worthwhile.

What is your ultimate goal for your life and your career?

(Laughing) world domination…in a good way of course, NOT a crazy totalitarian police- state type way.

What do you hope people will get out of listening to your new CD?

The beautiful thing about art is that it’s entirely a subjective experience. I can look at a painting and be moved by an emotion that I feel from it, and the person standing next to me could be compelled by that very same piece in a completely different manner.

People will get out of my cd what they want to get out of it. My only hope is that they enjoy it and are able to relate to it in some capacity. If it helps them get through a personal struggle, that’s a major bonus.

You always seem to have a lot of different things going on in your life, and your career, how do you find the time to fit it all in?

I don’t sleep and there’s some debate as to whether I’m a vampire (on a bizarre side note, everyone seems to think that my boyfriend and I resemble Edward and Bella from that latest fad movie, “Twilight”, though I don’t see it myself).

All joking aside, I work hard yes, and I stay busy, but it makes me happy. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I’m a very goal-oriented person, and I was raised by two entrepreneurs so it’s kinda in my blood.

There’s a difference, however, between being employed at a job and working toward a career vocation in terms of motivation. Yeah, there’s a lot of paperwork, and menial duties associated with being a D.I.Y-er, but frankly I don’t trust that anyone else would be as invested in my dreams as much as I am. So, while I may bitch about it upon occasion, I am doing what I need to do in order to get to where I wanna go.

I have a lot of big dreams I hope to accomplish in the future, so it’s not a matter of if I can fit it in, it’s a matter of just doing it. Even if there’s something to reincarnation, I think James Dean said it best when he stated, “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

What do you do for relaxation, and to get away from it all?

Typical stuff I’m sure most people enjoy. I’d like to think I’m NOT some prissy high maintenance diva-type.

I like going to the beach, singing karaoke, shopping with my ma, hanging out with my girlfriends, cooking (in fact I’m a fantastic vegan chef!), travelling, watching movies, and just lounging on the couch next to my man in my living room, surrounded by our wonderful cats.

I take pleasure in the simple things in life – even just having a day where I can sleep in until noon totally turns my crank! On that note, maybe I’ll just do that tomorrow…no wait, work’s a-calling as per usual.

To learn more about Rose or MusicSaves, please visit her official website at http://www.rosecoraperry.com
The controversial music video for “Mad World” is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRyx1rpYDNU

3 thoughts on “Interview: Rose Cora Perry

  1. A BIG thanks to Anna & Michelle for this wicked interview and for providing me with exposure in a brand new territory (HELLO Australia)! I truly appreciate it:)

    Hope to tour to your neighbourhood in the future!

    Rock on
    RCP

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