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Look out, Avril. There’s a new anti-Britney headed for the charts. Katy Rose, the depressive rocker ingenue from Tarzana, Calif., releases her debut album, “Because I Can,” Tuesday, her 17th birthday. While her contemporaries whine about boyfriends and crushes, singer-songwriter Rose delves into darker teen issues, spewing frank lyrics about depression, therapy, drugs and self-destruction. Her music has echoes of Liz Phair, with whom she will tour this spring. “She’s great,” says Rose. “We can relate on so many levels.”
If it all sounds a bit like Catherine Hardwicke’s film, “Thirteen,” well, it is. Rose’s single, “Overdrive,” appears on the film’s soundtrack, and she claims her rebellious 13th year wasn’t so different from the drug- and depression-addled struggles portrayed on-screen.
“The movie just hit so close to home, it was really painful to watch,” says Rose in a telephone interview. “There was a lot of depression and anxiety and confusion. I was very self-destructive and it’s just such a downward spiral.”
After hitting therapy and getting signed to a record label at 14, life became considerably brighter for Rose, who left Catholic school to pursue her high school diploma through independent studies. “I was always the kind of girl who was just off in her own world picking flowers when she was supposed to be in P.E.,” she says.
Her parents’ connections softened her entrée into the music industry. Her father, Kim Bullard, is a producer and former tour keyboardist with Crosby, Stills and Nash, and her mother was a local backup singer.
“I still had to shop around, go to a lot of different record labels,” says Rose. “But we got a really great response. I didn’t get turned down by any labels. It was basically my decision.”
The same goes for her image. Rose prefers to style herself, and her look is far from mannish neckties and cargo pants. She favors vintage pieces that are both tough and sweet — fluffy skirts with petticoats, and jeans and T-shirts that she rips herself. “If it’s really cold, like in New York, I wear my spray-painted Doc Martens and a scarf, and I usually wear mittens with the fingers cut off.” In the playful and highly stylized video for “Overdrive,” Rose dons colorful dresses with jeans and leggings, and a bikini top with a ballgown skirt. “No labels or designers,” she says. “I think it’s silly to pay that much for things you can make yourself.”
While her obsessions once involved knives and nicotine, Rose has picked up a more wholesome habit. “I love exercising because it releases endorphins and makes me feel good,” says the former ballerina.
And just one year shy of adulthood, Rose doesn’t know if she’s ready for superstardom yet. But her days of teen rebellion appear to be numbered.
She plans to celebrate her birthday as any budding rock star would — belting out tunes at a karaoke bar with friends. “And I’ll probably spend the day in Venice Beach, rollerblading and buying incense,” she says.?Forget the Vegas wedding chapel.