So, the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest. Have you heard of it? Maybe? Maybe not? Either way, Kathi Witkowski and her band Ros Wilting recently won the top prize for the rock/alternative category. The song? “Funk Funk Chipmunk,” as you can see and hear above. We recently caught up with the songwriter via email and talked about how the winning track came about, what her take on the Frederick music scene is, and, of course, what some of her favorite places to play around town are. You can check out more from Ros Wilting here. There’s some pretty good stuff in here, friends. Enjoy!
How did you get involved with the Mid Atlantic Song contest? Did you think “Funk Funk Chipmunk” had a shot at winning?
I have entered songs in the MASC in previous years and had received a few Honorable Mentions, but never got in the top few. We recorded some new songs last year, so I entered a couple. I can’t remember exactly which ones. To be honest, “Chipmunk” was kind of an afterthought, but I thought, why not? I guess you always hope one of your songs has a chance to win something, but no, I did not think this song had a shot!
And conversely, how did you find out you won? Can you take us through that process?
I missed a phone call but they left a voicemail. It was Loralynn Cole from the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, so of course I called her right back. She told me that “Funk Funk Chipmunk” had won Gold in the rock/alternative category. I am not sure exactly what I said, but I know I was shocked!
How many songs did you beat? Did you hear any of the other songs and if so, what was your perception of them?
I am not sure how many songs were entered into this category, but I know this is a pretty popular contest. There is a second place winner, three finalists, and a bunch of honorable mentions. The list is published on the Songwriters Association of Washington’s website. We looked up a few of the songs. They are of course all well-written songs, although the few we listened to did not really seem like rock songs!
Do you think this was the greatest song you, personally, have ever been part of, or do you wish another song of yours — past or present — could have or should have gained the recognition? If so, which one and why?
I wouldn’t say this was the greatest song I have been a part of, but this is the only song that has won first place in a songwriting contest! We played it for friends at a party one time before we recorded it, and when we saw them a few months later, they remembered it and started singing the chorus. A few recent songs we recorded, “Something Special” and “Looking At Yourself,” I feel are really good songs, but they have not won any contests!
Can you take us through what went into the process of writing “Funk Funk Chipmunk”? How did it come about, from start to finish?
My husband Michael and I took our dogs for a long weekend getaway and went to a place in western Maryland that has cabins and hiking trails — and no TVs. It was very rustic and relaxing. We brought acoustic guitars, a lot of wine and a recorder. Michael started playing the “chipmunk” riff and I started “rapping” about squirrels and chipmunks, using the line “funk funk chipmunk” We have the two-minute recording. We came up with it, started laughing and then moved on to another idea. Michael is the riff master! We started playing it at band practice one night, but I couldn’t play the riff and sing, so our bass player Lynne started singing it, and made it her own; those are her vocals on the recording. Plus she added the important line, “give it to me squirrel!”
What’s your perception of the music scene in Frederick? What are some differences between here and other places? Do you see it growing?
There are a lot of really good bands in this area. I do wish more venues were open to original bands. I think a place like Guido’s Speakeasy is great, because they are open to all kinds of music. That is such a positive thing, and that is how a great music scene can flourish.
Do you have any plans to release something new in the near future? What are your plans for 2015?
We are always writing and recording! Michael has begun building a library of instrumental music that is amazing. We also write and record songs for the band we are in, Ros Wilting. We plan to play out more in 2015, and already have a few songs in the recording process.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
I have so many artists that I like, but to be honest, I don’t (know) who has influenced my writing. I think it is just a mash-up. I like songs, more than artists!
Where are some of your favorite places to play (cities/venues) and why?
Any place that we can play our original music! And I would love to be able to go out in Frederick and see original musicians and bands playing all the time. That would be awesome.
Could you give us some names of some great local original artists we might not already know? Who are you a fan of locally and who should we keep an eye on?
I guess I need to get out there more because I really do not know any local artists!
And finally, what’s next for you as an artist?
To keep writing songs and hopefully have people want to listen to them!