Interview – Rosanne Baker Thornley

Canadian singer-songwriter, Rosanne Baker Thornley recently unveiled her new single, “In Paris”, along with a video to accompany the release.

“In Paris” is pulled from her upcoming album, Sorry, I’m Late, which is set for release in 2022.

Produced and arranged by newly arrived to the Canadian music scene UK Producer/multi-instrumentalist Will Schollar, “In Paris” is further infused with the talents of world-renowned – drummer Mark Kelso; cellist Kevin Fox; music designer/mixer/producer Ben Pelchat, and Mastering Engineer Andy Krehm of Silverbirch Studios. “In Paris” was recorded and mixed at Toronto’s historic Kensington Sound.

“All said, my songwriting process is reliant on channelling the inspiration of real life,” says Thornley. “And as my songwriting years have evolved, my writing is more grounded in writing what it is I know and have experienced.” 

As she says about the upcoming album,

“My hope is that my music and I will reach and fit into people’s lives, everywhere. That my songs will resonate with people who are struggling with, to or from something. That my songs will tell their stories and pull them into a space that is healing, hopeful, familiar, inspirational, safe. That people will feel seen, comforted, moved, heard.”

Watch “In Paris” below, and find out more about Rosanne via our mini-interview!

First off, care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Rosanne Baker Thornley.

Singer / Songwriter – turned Songwriter / Singer – more recently returned to Singer / Songwriter.

There’s a total difference in those to me. All said I love writing, and through that journey, I’ve collected some notable songwriting awards along the way.

I spent much of my teens, twenties, and thirties touring full time in rock bands, Bakersmith, Niteskool, and Daystar. I eventually extracted myself from the road because I knew the road could be the never-ending story. I married my then road manager, Michael. And with Factor funding recorded my Sony-supported album “Courage” which was released in 1993.

As Murphy’s law would have it, we started a family at exactly the same time. And though I fully intended to continue with my music career, my passion for the music business dwindled as it became abundantly apparent that I wasn’t overly keen on making my way back to the road.

So I stepped back – called Sony and told them I was shelving my album for a little bit. I moved my guitars out of my direct line of sight but kept my writing journals close. Then a little bit became a longer bit as life moved on. All good. It really was. I had found an enormous amount of contentment and a sense of stability that I hadn’t experienced in my youth. Then as our daughter grew up and found her own busy, the calling from those guitars grew louder until one day I came across an opportunity to participate in a songwriting challenge. I was up for that. And so, I stepped back in and fully unleashed the Songwriter me again. I was back in the studio, writing songs, demo’ing songs, and co-writing. But I was still done with the aspect of being a performing/recording artist. I was intrigued instead by a writing/production team out of LA called ‘Matrix’. Matrix was co-writing with upcoming and established artists, Avril Lavigne for one, which intrigued Songwriter me. In fact, I had kept an article about Matrix for years in a folder. And now with my rediscovered Songwriter self again, I decided to partner with another Songwriter / Artist (North Easton) who I had met through the songwriting challenge, and I called back the producers who had been asking me for years if I would write with their artists and told them, ‘ok, I’m back and good to go’. I began writing with, mentoring, coaching, and producing artists through what has become my That First Song entity. Writing and working with emerging artists for their projects is an aspect of my life that continues still and is greatly fulfilling. Meanwhile, in the background, I kept writing, writing, writing.

Enter “I Am Poetry”. A song I wrote that I had very personal connection to, but was planning to pitch it with another artist singing it. However … during demo’ing the song, I just wasn’t hearing what I felt it needed with anyone else who sang it. My then producer (Ted Onyszczak) suggested that – maybe, just maybe, this was my song to sing? Nope, I insisted, not going there. But then I thought well, maybe, I’ll just record this one song, and keep it for me? And that was it. Hook, line, and sinker. Back in that familiar space of me at the mic for me. And so while standing happily in the wings of other artist projects I was working on, I continued writing songs for me. It was a few years later that I decided to step back into my artist shoes and I applied once again for a Factor Grant (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Record). Which I was awarded.

In 2020 “Sorry I’m Late” started to take shape. “Sorry I’m Late” is produced and arranged by Will Schollar, mixed by Ben Pelchat; Mark Kelso once again plays drums for me on this new album; Will plays most everything else; Kevin Fox adds his hauntingly beautiful cello; Recorded at the historic Kensington Sound in Kensington Market, Toronto; mastered by Andy Krehm at Silverbirch. I’m also grateful for the industry experts who I have continued to work with and who are in my corner.

You have just released your new single, “In Paris”, what can you tell us about the writing process behind the single?

I’ve been fortunate to spend much time in Paris, France. As a teenager, I lived with my father in Versailles where I studied French in Paris and at the same time dove full-on into writing songs and performing.

I love the ambiance and texture of Paris. The familiar aroma of gasoline, Gauloise, cafe aux lait, and century-old cobblestone. There’s a great energy and romanticism to Paris – from the book and photo vendors who line the banks along La Seine, and the farmer’s markets, creperies, and flower stands that colour the boulevards – to the fashion forwards who crowd the escalators at Gallerie Lafayette.

I’ve made the trip to Paris many times. But this particular trip was just before her my daughter’s upcoming wedding in London. We met in Paris for a weekend of wedding dress shopping. And do as we always do, we ventured the hill to Montmartre to catch a familiar birds-eye view of the city, to enjoy dinner, and peruse the artists in the square.

To be in this fabulous city that had instilled so much in me, and to be able to be there with my daughter – was incredible. I was extremely grateful that the once 16-year-old me, who at such a young age had fallen in love with these Parisienne streets, had the good fortune to make this trip with her daughter to look for her wedding dress. After dinner, we explored the square for which artist would capture her on paper. It was in that moment of watching her getting her drawing done, that it dawned on me that this trip was the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another for us. The next time I would see my daughter would be for her wedding. And as happy as that was, the realization tugged at my heart knowing that life was going to change for us both. And I remember thinking, ‘just take this all in because it all goes by so fast”. It seemed like I had just watched her as an 8-year-old getting her drawing done in that same chair. “In Paris” is truly the narrative of experiencing the past, the present, and the future all in one moment.

I had written down a few lines after the trip, but of note was “nothing could prepare us, when I left you there in Paris”. That line sat for the longest time in my journal – until one day up at the cottage, with a plan to write a few new songs – I turned to the first page of my writing journal – and there was that line. A line that summed up the weight of change I had felt – and was enough to reignite the same emotion of that trip with my daughter. Playing a simple guitar line, I was enveloped in the same wave of emotion that had inspired me to write it down. I’m very
visual when I write and I laugh that I am actually walking through the movie in my head when writing, describing what I see and feel. And so I was
transported back to Paris, with my daughter, window open, breeze drifting in on a warm night, as our cab climbed the cobblestone hill to Montmartre.

I never made it past that first page in my journal. I wrote most of “In Paris” that day. And then as I do, I spent a few weeks revisiting lines, chords, and structure to finally arrive at the “I’m good with this” finish.

You have also shared a video for “In Paris”, what was the highlight of the video shoot?

I’m grateful to have some extremely talented and experienced people in my life. In this case my good friend Damon Pourshian, Director. Damon is fully invested artistically and emotionally into my artist path, and also tuned into the reality of finances in this business. The energy, time and input he puts in by-far surpasses my available budgets. Truly if we could have, we would have been on a plane heading to Paris to film this video. However, this time our portal to Paris was an iconic vintage Viewmaster. Beyond Mariam Hovsepyan who to date has applied every eyelash and shot of hairspray in my music videos, it really was just Damon doing this video from pre shoot do’s to filming, directing, setting the lighting, to editing. My favourite part of filming “In Paris” was on the second day, late into the day, just Damon and I in the room. We had become so succinctly on the same page and in the rhythm of the shoot – him filming, eyes behind the camera – as he quietly instructed the motions and moves he was looking for – and me totally in the moment of emoting and singing but listening to and accommodating the direction. I love that synergy.

The single is from your upcoming album, Sorry I’m Late, which is set for release this year, what can you tell us about the collection of tracks on the album?

This album is a journal of my experiences. Songs I’ve lived. These songs are about moments so moving, confusing, incredible, delightful, hurtful, resolving, that I had to write them. This album is my honesty.

And because I express my pop, rock, singer/songwriter, country, EDM, and punk sides by writing with many other artists for their own projects – this album gives me the freedom to fully adopt my singer-songwriter self. My songs are not slave to the latest beat, they’re not hinged to a particular genre or trying to fit into a bucket – other than my own personal RBT bucket. I’m very appreciative that my producer, Will was sensitive to what “I” and my songs needed and called for. There’s a simplicity and sophistication to this album that fits me and the songs. I love that there’s a space created in these songs so listeners can close their eyes and be transported. My hope is that listeners can find pieces of themselves in those songs.

What else can we expect from you in 2022?

End of May I will be releasing a third single and video. End of summer a fourth single and video – and end of September the full album “Sorry I’m Late” will be available. I would love to do a live show to celebrate the release of the album, but we’ll have to see how that pans out 😉 This album has taken a considerable amount of time to come to fruition. When I’m asked why there’s such a large gap between my first album and this album? Life. Thank you, R.

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