Kathleen Edwards on quitting music, falling for a conman – and her comeback

Frustrated about her career and fighting depression, the Canadian songwriter left the industry in 2014 to open a coffee shop called Quitters – before a partner ‘tried to deconstruct my sense of self’

When Kathleen Edwards opened Quitters coffee shop in Stittsville, Ottawa, in late 2014, customers would ask if she was the country singer. Yes, in a manner of speaking, she was. “Great!” they would say. “I’ll have a coffee.” Edwards laughs. “It was a wonderfully freeing experience where I didn’t have to be so precious about who I thought other people should think I was.”

Edwards is not really a country singer, but rather a Canadian songwriting star of two decades whose wry, openhearted Americana brings to mind that of Tom Petty. Six years ago, expectations around who she was crushed her, prompting her to quit music and start the cafe. A new album, Total Freedom, marks a fresh start. Her brother suggested she put a bald eagle on the cover to emphasise the title. “I know it sounds a little ‘doo doo-doo!’” says Edwards, mimicking a military bugle as she FaceTimes from her bed, her red hair tied back. “But it was the essence of where I’ve got to.”

Among fans, Edwards is beloved for her sharp lens on relationships and mounting feelings of discontent, and for putting a Springsteen-ish spin on Canadian lore, naming hockey players and domestic murder victims in her songs. Her 2012 album, Voyageur, attracted a different kind of attention. It was produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, then on his own skyward trajectory. He was also Edwards’ boyfriend, following her divorce from the Canadian musician

That became the whole story: critics asking “if this was my divorce record produced by my new boyfriend”, Edwards says bitterly. “The reason that I had a record deal must have been because my work was OK, not because I made really good choices in my romantic partners.” She had hoped that Voyageur would elevate her career – not that that was why she made music, she clarifies. Yet Vernon’s mammoth success became a stark point of comparison: “It was hard getting a call saying: ‘I’ve just played to 20,000 people in Melbourne,’ and I can’t even sell 200 tickets in LA.” Continue reading

Kate Tempest is changing her pronouns

THE HOBBLEDEHOY loves Kate Tempest and now we love Kae. Here’s Kae’s latest message from her Facebook:

Hello old fans, new fans and passers by – I’m changing my name! And I’m changing my pronouns. From Kate to Kae. From she/her to they/them. I’ve been struggling to accept myself as I am for a long time. I have tried to be what I thought others wanted me to be so as not to risk rejection. This hiding from myself has led to all kinds of difficulties in my life. And this is a first step towards knowing and respecting myself better. I’ve loved Kate. But I am beginning a process and I hope you’ll come with me. From today – I will be publishing my books and releasing my music as Kae Tempest! It’s pronounced like the letter K. It’s an old English word that means jay bird. Jays are associated with communication, curiosity, adaptation to new situations and COURAGE which is the name of the game at the moment. It can also mean jackdaw which is the bird that symbolises death and rebirth. Ovid said the jackdaw brought the rain. Which I love. It has its roots in the Latin word for rejoice, be glad and take pleasure. And I hope to live more that way each day. Funny because I know this is much more of a big deal to me than it is to anyone else, but because of my role as artist, it is in some ways a public decision as well as being a private one. So, here is my announcement. Sending my love to you all and wishing you courage as you face whatever you must face today. This is a time of great reckoning. Privately, locally, globally. For me, the question is no longer ‘when will this change’ but ‘how far am I willing to go to meet the changes and bring them about in myself.’ I want to live with integrity. And this is a step towards that.
Sending LOVE always

Cheers, Kae!