If the Me Too movement started a few decades ago, chances are the music industry today would sound and look quite different. In hindsight, The Bangles, The Runaways, The Go-Go’s and similar other groups may have had competition from Kelli Markle Rosenthal and the all-woman punk rock band the singer-songwriter fronted at the time. Now, Rosenthal, who uses the stage name Katye Kellye (Kah-cha Kell-ee) is back with an EP and some bigger plans.
Kelli Markle Rosenthal’s punk band was in full gear when the Asbury Park, New Jersey-based lead singer decided to walk away from music altogether following what can be described as a Me Too incident, prompting cancellation of the group’s recording contract. Today, Markle splits her passion between animal rights advocacy and fronting The Interruption. With an EP titled Vanity Project, Katye and The Interruption are readying for a full album release by the end of the year. In the meantime, musicinterviewmagazine.com spoke with Kelli Markle Rosenthal, also known as Katye Kellye, about returning to the music industry, the Vanity Project, what it is like being a brand ambassador and more.
An Interview with Katye Kellye
What prompted your return to music after more than 30 years?
Katye Kellye: One day, a couple of springs ago, I was at the Jersey Shore with my best friend, who is also our rhythm guitarist, Paul. He [Paul] stopped by his favorite guitar store to drop off a Les Paul for a set up. In the course of talking about the band with the luthier, Paul mentioned how although he’d played for years, his only regret was never being in a band. As luck would have it, a new music space just opened up in the same building that put together adult student bands. We went and Paul signed up. He wanted me to join him. My original thought was that I’d hang out with him for a couple of weeks until he got settled in. But I realized how much I missed performing and wanted to start playing my own music again.
Tell us about the EP Vanity Project. Are the songs all original material?
Yes. I’ve been writing songs since the age of about 14. These are three songs that may or may not be autobiographical, but are certainly about things I’ve experienced. One song, “Rain,” was written after the death of a dear friend, but is for all the friends I lost through the years from AIDS, accidents, ODs and health issues. Others are about living with a mentally ill partner and yet another about an emotionally abusive relationship. We’ve gotten quite a lot of both terrestrial and Internet airplay around the world.
You are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the completion of an album. Is that going to be titled Late Bloomer? Is there an anticipated release date?
The Kickstarter will be up and running as soon as my video editor gets the video done for the project. Some of the rewards for pledging will be things like signed original lyrics, attending a recording session, being an executive producer and even meeting Quinn, the titular head of our label, Quinterruption Music. He’s my Pomeranian. We hope to release the album for the 2019 holiday season.
Asbury Park and the Jersey Shore have a rich music history. Has being located in this area had an effect on your music?
I am lucky that I have the music community in Asbury Park for support. Locals are very supportive of indie artists. There are a lot of venues that showcase local indie bands and there are a lot of businesses that make Asbury Park an easy place to be a musician. But those are all things that sprung up because the artists are here. The fact that there are so many artists from the area though, must have some explanation. Maybe it’s in the water?
Katye Kellye and The Interruption have been named brand ambassadors for Accessory Allies. What is Accessory Allies? How did you connect with the company?
Accessories Allies donates a good portion of their earnings to various charities like RAINN, an organization that offers support, advocacy, education and works to promote public policy changes to prevent sexual violence. RAINN was cofounded by Tori Amos. Accessory Allies reached out to me via Instagram and because some of my music deals with relationship violence, they thought we had synergy. I am proud to work with a company dedicated to this cause. I also hope through my music and speaking my truth that I help other survivors find their voices and seek justice.
My great grandfather was from the Ukraine and used to call me Katye as a nickname as a child. It’s pronounced “Caht-cha.” Kellye is a riff on my first name, plus I liked the name The Interruption because we’re loud and we’re not waiting for anyone’s permission to do this as unapologetically older, fatter, balder, female-fronted, feminist allies and underdogs. We don’t look like rock stars, but we look a lot like everybody else. Interruptions are unexpected and often not at all what you thought you wanted.
On lead guitars are Larry Gray and Rich Stern. Paul Friend is on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Jose Loo is on keys and vocals. Mary Pranzatell-Grayi handles background vocals. Mary is a songwriter too. Raf Santiago takes care of the bass. A drummer is still to be determined.
We understand you were friends with Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens. How did that come about?
I met Pat well over 30 years ago. We hung out in the same circles in New York City and had a lot of friends in common in the music business. We lost touch for a little bit when he moved to Chicago, but I ran into him when he came back to the area. We caught some shows and reconnected. When I saw him at a show or literally in the neighborhood, as I live in the next town, I always got a hearty “Hey kid!” and a bear hug. Pat was never too busy to fix a chord progression for me when I had a hard time fitting a lyric to it. Pat always made me laugh. The big guy is very missed in the New York and New Jersey music scene.
Paul Wolfle, the publisher of musicinterviewmagazine.com, is a web-based journalist and music enthusiast who has written for several popular sites. Paul has a passion for connecting with a diversity of musicians who are looking to grow their presence by way of the World Wide Web.