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Portrait of karenkosowski


About karenkosowski

Toronto, Canada

Toronto singer-pianist Karen Kosowski’s new album, Meeting The Future At Full Speed, is a bold, sweeping, sophisticated pop recording that comes from a better place than her previous release, the critically acclaimed Out Here At Sea.

“It’s a lot more positive and upbeat. The record in 2005 was very introspective and dark. This one is like, ‘Hey, I’m happier. I worked out some sh*t and I still have insecurities but I’m dealing with them,’” Karen laughs. “It’s about identity and getting comfortable with who you are.”

Meeting The Future At Full Speed is a reminder that time is ticking and one must jump in feet first, do it all, don’t hesitate, but take time for yourself and the people you love. Self-produced at her home studio and at Canterbury Music, the 10 songs range from the dreamy “Stars In Our Eyes” to the percussive “Land On Your Feet” and the empowering title track.

While she wrote most of the songs herself, “Can’t Fall Anymore” is a co-write with her husband, Marc Rogers of the award-winning soul-pop group The Philosopher Kings, who also plays bass and does programming on the album. His bandmates, drummer Denton Whited and guitarist James Bryan, also lend their talents. Karen plays everything else, keyboards, programming, tambourine and some acoustic guitar.

She funded the recording herself, but her ever-growing and supportive fan-base also stepped up. “I sent out an email to my mailing list asking for people to sponsor the string session; in return they would be able to attend the recording session and receive a thank you in the liner notes,” she explains. “The response was great and I was able to raise the money to hire the players and do the session.”

The string quartet, assembled by noted Toronto cellist Kevin Fox (Chantal Kreviazuk, Tom Cochrane, Shaye), breathes deeper emotion into the songs “Life Is Short Enough,” “Can’t Fall Anymore” “More Than A Sign” and “Faded Souvenirs.”

This piano-driven, cinematic sound is exactly the direction Karen has been working towards in recent years. “The progression from the record in 2005 to this record makes a lot more sense in comparison to some of my previous work,” she says.

Born in Winnipeg, Karen was put into piano lessons at the Yamaha Music School at age 4. The one time she complained about practicing, her mother said she could quit if she liked. That forced her decision not to and she never looked back.

Always interested in composing, the classical-trained musician wrote her first song, for Remembrance Day, when she was in the ninth grade and actually included parts for the flute and two-part harmonies. Later, she says, “I went through that ‘Oh, I want to be Tori Amos,’ when I was 16.” By 18, she bought a guitar and wrote songs on that as well. She even fronted a band called Eve. “We were wanting to be XTC — but it was really bad,” she laughs.

At the University of Manitoba, not surprisingly, she was enrolled in the music program, but by then she was interested in much more than classical composition and decided to drop out. “It wasn’t in line with what I wanted to do,” she says. “It was more of a ‘safe’ kind of decision thing.”

Just before moving to Toronto in 2001, she was exploring a rootsy, guitar-based direction and released a more rock-oriented disc entitled Optimist Party in 2002. In 2005, she switched it up to the more piano/synth-based Out Here At Sea, which she promoted on book store tours, as well as in the clubs. As months passed, she found she didn’t play much guitar anymore and wrote entirely on piano.

While touring behind Out Here At Sea, she test drove some of the new songs and found they all stood up well solo. “I can perform them on different levels: as a duo with my brother on a full drum kit; or with full instrumentation (with bass, additional keyboards and synths)… but in the end you can’t make a good record if you don’t have a song that can be played solo and still retain its identity,” Karen says. “From there, the songs that ended up on this new record are the ones that I had the most fun playing live.”

“Can’t Fail Anymore” was actually written with Marc for the synth project they co-founded called National Sound, but Karen felt it best suited her solo direction. “Your Day Will Come” was originally written and recorded for National Sound as well, then reclaimed by Karen and rerecorded with a different treatment for her own project.

The ones she wrote for herself from the outset include “Land On Your Feet,” an encouraging lyric about turning a bad strategy around; “Life Is Short Enough,” her first-ever happy love song about a guy who gets his girl to stop and smell the roses; and “Stars In Your Eyes,” which can be interpreted in a positive or negative light.

Karen, who is active online with her own web site, as well as her MySpace and Facebook pages, is more interested in promoting Meeting The Future At Full Speed online and creating a viral buzz by word of ‘net. “The way that people seem to find me so far is through their friends and I find that the people who tend to come to my shows want to spread the word,” she says. “The web, of course, is the ideal medium for that.”

As for the title of the album, she sums up her choice like this: “You start out playing music and you think, ‘Wow, I really want to make a CD’ and then 10 years and several CD’s later, you’re like ‘Wow, where did that time just go?’ It’s a humbling thing, just realizing the process of life and how you can’t control it and it’s going really fast. So the title Meeting The Future At Full Speed best describes the feeling of the whole record — that sensation you get when you throw your whole heart into something.”

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