Rose Haze is an indie dream-pop band that blends the ethereal with the industrial as imagined by frontwoman Kate Ramsey. Currently based in the Bay Area, she embodies the persona of “Rose” on stage and intertwines spacey vocals with a harp, 70s electric pianos, synths, vintage guitars, and effects pedals.
For the last four years, Kate’s been a rolling stone, living across the Midwest, New Orleans, Europe, & Kauai. During that time, Rose Haze wrote and released a series of singles that received critical acclaim from A&R Factory and The Bay Bridged, among others. Now they’ve repackaged the tracks into a cohesive EP called Callipygian Interloper with a new, unreleased video for “Edge of Something” as the featured visual. The songwriting behind the Callipygian Interloper EP spans a 4-year era during which Kate, the leader of Rose Haze, was searching to find her voice in music and a sense of belonging in an artist community. She discussed these themes in a recent interview with Liliana Morrisey.
How has living in different places affected the sound of the music you make?
Every place evokes a particular energy to people who listen, and I definitely listen. Back home in Ohio, I began maturing emotionally and musically alongside a backing band of jazz musicians much more proficient than me, and I identified strongly with young Joni Mitchell, but I would NEVER dare compare myself to her. Due to the nature of my being so close to my roots, my chaotic childhood and first few heartbreaks surfaced a lot and I wrote more deeply and naturally, without much technical thought, due to general insecurity, very rough cycles of depression and anxiety, and simply just getting my thoughts out to feel better. My music is very precious to me, and is a very deep release through which I find healing. Over the years, and with travel, I grew stronger in my sense of self, and I believe that shows in the recordings and on stage. When I began my second record I had more creative control over my music, that album was more calculated because of what I experienced both as a musician and just as a human being in New Orleans, Europe on two occasions, and then beginning my discovery of Kaua’i. I chose to isolate myself there on the island to strengthen my physical body and continue working on my mental health which was in much better shape than when I was in Ohio, and of course track my second album. The beauty there made it effortless to work out, every moment was a workout, and when I wasn’t surfing, climbing, running, or sunbathing, I was writing music alone every day and night with the sounds of palm trees, the ocean, birds, and bugs. That paradise turned sour with a failed strange relationship in which I was manipulated and deceived, so it hastened my pace to move somewhere else, but I was already working towards moving to Los Angeles to start a band (with that ex, but he never showed up, a complete heartbreak, but a blessing in the end). But I obviously ended up in Oakland and that’s where I’ve stayed. The music I’ve produced and performed in the bay area has come from a very distinct vision, because I had so much down time on Kaua’i to really design that vision, that was the a lot of the purpose of being there. I realized I wanted to play psych rock, and step away from that more singer-songwriter mode, so I brought the basic sketches for some new music to the bay and found the right musicians to complete the sound I wanted.
How do you meet and work with people who share a similar artistic vision?
I was never good at this until I came to California, as prior to, I was a bit aimless and still searching for my own vision. As mentioned, by the time I left Kaua’i, I knew what I wanted and I wanted it fast. The only person I knew connected me to my first drummer. He still plays with us from time to time. Because I played with jazz guys back in the day, I always found it best that I have my main players, and some backups so that no matter what, I can play the gig. Due to this strange adrenaline from the Kaua’i breakup catastrophe (that’s so deep I can’t even get into it), I was fueled to find folks really fast, so I tried some things I never thought I would, I looked online at music networking sites. It’s hilarious to us, because neither of us ever used it before or after, but I met Ruben, my guitarist, on Bandmix.com. We laugh so hard about it and we joke about how they should sponsor the band. From there I just got out there and watched bands, went to open mics as a solo artist, I introduced myself to everyone, against my introverted ways, and I looked for talent and was just straight up, “hey I need a band, send folks my way.” It’s just a thing you can’t explain, but I knew what to look for and would think, “okay this player can do this, and this will work for a while until what I really want comes along.” And I just recently this summer got exactly the backing group I want. We are a tight family and they’re all devoted to the music, and without them it wouldn’t be the same music. Sure, they’re all my songs, but the songs come to life because of them.
Is it difficult to build and maintain relationships when you move around a lot?
Absolutely, it’s been really hard not to get down on myself for not “staying put” and having that 10 year band in a local scene that everyone knows and got drunk with in college. Because I know what it takes, and I left the drunk college fans in Ohio and took a leap of faith. Building a local (or bigger) fanbase takes time, or a lot of money. People have turned on me left and right, my own past musicians even, for leaving Ohio. There was one musician in particular who I still tear up about, who chose to exit my life for really bizarre reasons, but I just send love. People sometimes hate when you abandon them, especially from a place like Ohio, but on the same token, there are the other people who love that you are following your dreams. I had to do what I had to do to get to where I am. I have friends all over the map, and I know a great deal of them would welcome me if I showed up again, but I felt like I was starting over in 2019, and that’s hard, because I’m not new to music, and I have albums from 2016. Because I wanted to get into the bay area scene fast, I simply just did not let one single self-doubt get in the way, and I got out there and just started booking in 2019 before we were even technically ready as a band, and carried through with any virtual mediums I could during the pandemic. There wasn’t any time to waste. In my younger years, I had crippling stage fright and self-hate and it got me nowhere. I knew I could put on a good show and my soul was aching for the stage.
What about the Bay Area made you want to stay and put down roots there?
The bay is just incredibly beautiful for one, and as we all know it’s insanely expensive! This makes the scene interesting because if you want to make it here, you have to really want it. From the start, I left Kaua’i and landed in the bay because my cousin / best friend had bought a home in the east bay. I lived in her tiny home in the backyard and only intended to stay for a few months until I could get down to LA. Then I met Ruben. That was pretty much the end. I was like, he is the sound. He’s the sound AND he is an awesome human, AND he is devoted to my music. I’m like, I won’t find that in LA. So I should work with what has presented itself here and see this through. Then the pandemic hit and I was for sure staying put.
What are some of the challenges you face as an artist in the pandemic era?
It was awful. Bloody awful, we all went through it. My birthday is 3/23 and I will never forget my birthday in 2020, it was the first day of global lockdown. I went to a beach with Ruben and sobbed. But it was awesome. I sulked for about a week and released “Untouched” that I wrote and recorded that very week to lift myself up, it’s about quarantine and is a true story. Then I took it upon myself to become the ringleader of silliness to make it through. We decided to quarantine together early on. I took my bandmates out in rental convertibles and cruised. We played mini rock shows on my cousin’s back deck. I rollerbladed my days away. I schemed, I planned, I kept recording, I kept writing. I networked online. I decided that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my hard work. We had the EP in mind for a May 2020 release and a tour to follow. It broke my heart because I felt like I didn’t have another year in me to wait, to have that same momentum we had in late 2019 as a band. So I decided to continue to release singles and music videos. We wrote other songs, we zoomed, we livestreamed, we even dressed up as sailor moon and did a livestream. In fact, I believe I was the most active artist I knew in 2020. I bought a harp. I learned to play it. We just did whatever we had to as a group. It was a blessing that we had my cousin’s backyard to enjoy during that weird time. It made me learn how to pace myself as an artist, learn patience as an artist, and I really manifested how I would approach returning to the stage.
What message do you hope to spread with your music?
I want people to feel good when they see me perform, listen to my records, and hear my lyrics. I also want people to be reminded through my music that feeling bad is necessary, and it’s going to happen, but to relish in the good, to learn how to move through the bad, laugh it off, and when it feels like there is no end in sight, to remember, there is, there always is, and that they are not alone. Beyond that, I want them to learn things about themselves through my words, my experiences. I’ve put myself in some weird predicaments out of pure alice-chasing-the-rabbit curiosity and found myself in bizarre situations from just plain bad luck, and I want my fans to connect to those stories & moments, to find healing or familiarity from my music. My first two albums are very much stories from the songwriter. But I grew bored of that style and wanted to write some dancier tunes with less intense lyrics because I felt happier, and I wanted to dance to my music, and for others to dance too. I want people to experience a range of sounds and thoughts. Overall, the message I want to spread is that empathy is the ultimate path to true love, and that no matter what, everyone on this planet is going through it, and that true success or happiness is not achieved by how many followers we get or how much money we have, but how we treat other people and ourselves. I also want people to learn how to actually truly cut loose and dance again, and not care what people in the room think of them, if you know what I mean.
What advice would you give to young people who feel lost and struggle to find their identity?
Breathe. My mom was always like, “take deep breaths.” I was like, really mom? Deep breaths? She clearly didn’t understand anxiety and depression and hating yourself. Then I realized, oh, it works. But you have to connect to the breath. That’s something I had to learn on my path. That’s a starting point. When breathing doesn’t work, try singing, because that actually will regulate your breath and open your lungs but your brain is focused on making sound not what’s in your head. If you suck at singing, or are embarrassed of singing, hum or tap on something, place your hands on a wall and feel your own body against something to ground yourself. Meditation is something that doesn’t have to be done on the floor on a mat with your legs crossed, in fact, it took me years to get to that point. Just remember to send little love notes to yourself. The path to finding ourselves cannot be walked by anyone but ourselves. No one is like another person. These things we hear, but we don’t believe or understand these “special snowflake” euphemisms when we aren’t settled in ourselves yet. Trust the process. Learn to love the process. The process is the fun part. Above all, listen. Listen to yourself. Your gut, your heart, your brain, only you know which path to take. Some of us know what we want at 18, I didn’t. I had to go down about 900 paths, some over and over again, to get to one that was a little more linear with a few bumps here and there. Don’t take someone else’s path. Stay on yours, and the only way to do that is to breathe and listen. Oh, and definitely connect with nature and drink tons of water.
Callipygian Interloper EP is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp