For most of her career, Kathy Foster has been a team player.
But Foster's newest project, Roseblood, is all her own.
"I've always loved working on my own songs and recording at home," she says. "I've done it a lot in the past, I just haven't put a lot of it out there."
This week, Roseblood will play on the second day of In the Lot, MusicfestNW's mini festival. It will be only the eighth show Roseblood has performed. Live, Roseblood is a four-piece band—former Bangs bassist Maggie Vail, Janet Weiss on drums and Elly Swope on guitar. But offstage, Foster lays down all the vocals and instrumentation herself.
With Roseblood, Foster is taking her time. "[I've been] really thoughtful about the songs I've been writing, and trying to focus on what sound I want for this band," she says. "I like that darker, little bit of twangy sound."
Roseblood is Foster's most personal project yet. "I kind of stopped working on my own music for a while, because I was focused on Thermals," she says. "It just felt like it was time to get back to my own songwriting."
Foster's personal influences range from the hardcore punk of Hot Snakes to the moody folk of Elliott Smith, and she says she derives something different from each band she plays in. "I like so many different kinds of music, so it satisfies my heart and my brain to play different styles," she says. "I can bash [stuff] out on the drums—which is really cathartic—but then also play guitar and sing emotional songs."
So far, Roseblood has released one single, "Black Veil." Over the song's slogging, doo-wop guitar riff, Foster's voice echoes with shadowy, lovelorn angst. On the hook, she croons, "I'm warning you/Day after day/I'm warning you/You better just stay away."
Foster recorded "Black Veil" at Destination: Universe! in Southeast Portland, but most of her songwriting takes place in her home studio.
That approach is the antithesis to the Thermals' lo-fi power pop, punctuated by high-energy beats and scrappy punk lyrics. Swirling in a melancholic sea of hazy harmonies and Mazzy Star-esque dream rock, Roseblood's sound reveals a softer, more vulnerable side of Foster.
Without any other Roseblood shows currently scheduled, Foster is recording more demos, which she plans to shop around to labels. It's a labor of love she's willing to take her time with.
"Sometimes it gets a little hectic," she says of her multiple projects. "But it's very fulfilling, and so far I've been able to keep it all balanced."
SEE IT: Roseblood plays MusicfestNW's In the Lot, 2 NW 10th Ave., on Sunday, Aug. 26. 5 pm. Festival starts Aug. 25. $18 for day pass, $30 for weekend pass. All ages.