One on one with Rose Cousins

Maritime songstress Rose Cousins might not be a household name yet, but with a packed year of touring ahead of her and another nomination at this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards she’ll be hard to miss in upcoming months.

Still promoting her second full length album, 2009’s The Send Off, Cousins has been playing shows across the United States and is preparing for a number of dates with Amelia Curran across southern Ontario in November.

While travelling through Madison, Wisconsin, Cousins spoke with The Cord to discuss life on the road and what she’s learned since starting out.

The folk singer, born in Prince Edward Island and currently based out of Halifax, has made a name for herself in the Canadian folk scene.
She’s worked with artists like Kathleen Edwards and Joel Plaskett in addition to using Luke Doucet as the producer for her most recent record.

“It can be intimidating to approach someone, but he’s just so kind and easy to talk to,” said Cousins, remembering her first meeting with Doucet at a folk festival in Nova Scotia.

“We were having a beer after one of the shows we had done and he expressed an interest in my stuff. So when it came time to choose someone to produce my record, I asked him because it’s such an amazing honour.”

She acknowledged Doucet’s “wealth of knowledge” and “amazing ideas,” claiming that the talented Canadian musician’s vast experience with other artists contributed to the making of The Send Off.

“It’s an interesting relationship, producer and artist — opening up to the process and learning what it’s like to work with someone who you haven’t worked with in that capacity before, but it was a really good experience.”

When asked about the different dynamic between touring and working in the studio, Cousins replied, “The fortunate — or unfortunate — part is that you kind of need one to do the other.”

The cycle of writing, producing, promoting and performing music has its ups and downs. Though she undeniably enjoys both aspects of the job, the folk singer admits that touring is more susceptible to low points. “There’s a rush about being on stage and having a really amazing show,” she mused, but “sometimes you might not have the greatest night, or you’ll have a great night followed by a really stupid long drive.”

Speaking on studio time, however, Cousins is enthralled by the “rush of being creative all the time” and not necessarily knowing what direction a project might go in.

Discussing the Canadian folk scene, Cousins recalled her humble beginnings performing at open mic nights and offered advice for aspiring musicians. “Put yourself in a place with likeminded people or where you’re listening to people you admire,” she said, emphasizing the importance of staying inspired and practicing a lot.

Nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award and multiple Nova Scotia Music Awards this year, Cousins reflected on the honour by stating, “It’s neat to be among people who are working full time making music and striving to write high quality material.”

She also remarked that critical acclaim like award ceremonies don’t really add extra pressure.

From the time of her first nod in Nova Scotia, Cousins said, “I had reached a point where I was being recognized by my peers, as working musicians, as someone who is contributing. That’s the joy that it brings — I feel involved.”

Looking to the future, Cousins has a full touring schedule and revealed that she’s almost ready to start work on a new album. Her current tour around the States will be followed by dates in Southern Ontario with Amelia Curran.