An out-of-the-blue inquiry provided a pivotal turn for Austin-based singer-songwriter Whitney Rose’s fourth album, We Still Go to Rodeos, which premieres exclusively below.
Rose, a native of Canada’s Maritimes, was in the middle of writing songs for the set in early 2019 when she was contacted by Paul Kolderie, whose production credits include Radiohead, The Pixies, Uncle Tupelo and Hole. Rose happened to be passing through New York around that time and went to lunch with Kolderie, which was the first step toward Rodeos.
“To be completely honest, before I met him I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is gonna be the producer of my next record,'” she says. “But I was really intrigued by him and we got along really well so I figured, ‘Why not?’ This seemed like a really interesting opportunity.”
Rose and Kolderie worked on Rodeos, due April 24, mostly in Austin, Texas, with a crew of players that included guitarist Gurf Morlix and others who have worked with the likes of Dave Alvin, Billy Joe Shaver and Jerry Jeff Walker. The set’s 12 tracks came from a master list of nearly 50 Rose had written, primarily on her own.
Rose says the collaboration was “definitely a different studio experience from what I’ve had in the past. … I feel insanely spoiled in that we just got along and had similar ideas and I was prepared for what was going to be thrown at me. … Some things definitely took different forms as we were working on them.”
Nevertheless, Rose says making Rodeos went smoothly. “For the most part, we were on the same page,” she notes. “At one point, Paul said, ‘I feel like this [song] would be cool if it was a double verse here, but with different lyrics or a different chorus,’ and we went with it and he was right. So it was educational and brought something a little different to the table. And he is a really nice guy, so that always helps.”
Rose is self-releasing Rodeos, another different experience for her. “I definitely have mixed emotions about it,” she says. “Obviously the music industry is constantly changing — especially now — and I was in a position where I could release my own record for the first time and own everything, which I’ve never really done before. I took it on as a business venture and also as kind of a schooling.”
The coronavirus pandemic shutdown made a significant dent on Rodeos‘ rollout, including scratched performances at South by Southwest and Stagecoach, the latter of which was set to coincide with the album’s release. Rose and her management are hatching other promotional plans, and she’s using the enforced time off to expand her horizons in another direction. “I’m brushing up on my French,” she says, adding to Spanish studies she began a few years ago.
As to where that will fit into her music, Rose adds, “I’m a big fan of [French singer-songwriter] Francoise Hardy, so we’ll see.”