Over the last half-decade, Katy Rose traveled across the country and all over Europe to bring her latest batch of music to life. Along with working in places as far-flung as Nashville and Holland, the L.A.-born singer/songwriter recorded in a centuries-old church in the seaside Swedish village of Kristianopel in the dead of Scandinavian winter. To shoot the video for an upcoming single, she took to the French countryside and filmed in a hunting-lodge-turned-ashram built over the ruins of a 15th century castle. With her wandering also including time in London and Paris and Stockholm, Rose ended up creating an album that’s deeply introspective yet outwardly searching, unabashedly personal yet attuned to a universal experience of love and pain and transformation.
Set for release as a three-part series of EPs, Rose’s new album I’m Your Man matches her soulful intensity with an uncompromising honesty. “All of these songs came from a huge period of growth that I went through in my 20s,” says Rose, who now divides her time between L.A. and London. “They’re about relationships I’ve had and some self-destructive times I’ve experienced, and about trying to get through all of that. In a way I had to break myself down and then build myself back up again, and in the process I was able to figure out who I really am as a person and an artist.”
A nod to Leonard Cohen—one of her most beloved songwriters—the title to I’m Your Man echoes the newfound self-reliance that Rose discovered in her travels. But as the daughter of two touring musicians, Rose is no stranger to the vagabond lifestyle that she embraced in the making of I’m Your Man. A keyboardist who now plays for Elton John, her father (Kim Bullard) began dating her mother (Cecelia Bullard, a backup vocalist) while the two were performing with French singer/songwriter Véronique Sanson in the ’70s. Rose often joined her parents on the road as a kid, including a tour with the Grateful Dead, and eventually started taking piano and guitar lessons. Soon after she found her voice as a songwriter, Rose landed a record deal and delivered “Overdrive”—a smash single that landed on the Mean Girls soundtrack and quickly became synonymous with the teen cult classic. In addition, she later toured with artists like Liz Phair and the Cardigans.
Showing a new level of sophistication and self-possession in Rose’s songwriting, I’m Your Man is infused with a defiant spirit that makes that nuanced approach all the more potent. On the swaggering title track, for instance, she delivers a daring statement of sexual empowerment. “We’re living in a moment when gender is becoming a bit blurred and people are getting more open-minded,” says Rose. “But at the same time, nobody can deny that sexism is alive and well, with everything that’s happening politically. This song is about recognizing that, and it’s also inspired by all the rambunctious and powerful women in my life.”
Interlacing live instrumentation and electronic elements throughout I’m Your Man, Rose gracefully sculpts complex yet lucid arrangements befitting of each song’s emotional intricacy. Such tracks include “Run in a Dream,” whose delicate piano work and ethereal effects serve as the backdrop to Rose’s reflections on her struggles with anxiety. “It’s about living in fear of confrontation and feeling paralyzed by that fear, to the point that it’s almost like you’re leaving your body,” she notes.
Though each stop on Rose’s recent journey left a distinct imprint on I’m Your Man, a certain sense of purpose endured throughout the making of the album. “I wanted to give people something like the records that I’ve listened to top to bottom whenever I needed to pick myself up or feel less alone,” says Rose, who names PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Kate Bush, Nick Drake, and Lou Reed among her favorite artists. “Those records are like your friends; they create a whole separate world for you to live in. If I can make music that evokes real feeling and maybe empowers people to be more authentic and true to who they really are, then I feel like I’ve done my part as an artist.”