Wednesday, September 23, 2020

An Interview With: Another Sky

Another Sky are a four piece, female fronted band formed at Goldsmiths University. Catrin's hauntingly beautiful vocals are a key feature of their music. I first came into contact with the band after seeing their new album artwork plastered all over Manchester - and rightly so. 

Their new album is a captivating listen from start to finish due to the pure sense of nostalgia provided through the heavily reverberated instruments, combined with the crisp vocals of Catrin Vincent. Vincent’s voice is relatively similar to that of Hannah Reid from London Grammar. Recently, Vincent explained: “People say I sound like a man. Maybe the means they’ll listen.” Following the release of ‘Last Night I Slept On The Floor’, she can rest assured that people are definitely listening (Ben Broyd).

One of our team Emma, had the pleasure of having a chat with lead singer Catrin about their new album, their formation and the meanings behind their songs and band name... 

 I slept on the floor is your first full album. So how does it feel to have produced something so tangible and significant for the first time in the band's history.

Oh that's lovely.That's a lovely question I timed. It feels, you know, I just can't grasp it, just maybe because in my life, I mean, I'm moving house. I we have this whole situation with a studio every day. I've been waking up not knowing what's next. So I've not even got time to think about music. It just becomes this action that you do compulsively. 

Yeah, I saw you mentioned that in a couple of different interviews because I guess the messages and the kind of subject matter of what you're dealing with are quite raw and sometimes uncomfortable. So I suppose there is that kind of dichotomy around keeping personal stuff private and, you know.

Yeah, and it was really I was always like, why don't artists really dark and really deep, you know? I need everything to be emotional. And then now I'm on the flipside where I am the lyricist and I've discovered why artists don't go to can't can't go too deep and personal all the time. We've written some quite upbeat songs off the back of I hope they weren't going to get the flip side for album two that.


So the tracks on the album, they kind of lend themselves to a sense of sort of belonging, identity and newness. And I suppose this links onto the previous question as well. Did the album kind of did a particular concept emerge for you guys when you were writing the album or was there a specific narrative you went into it looking to explore?

The concept came after which I was really I was always really worried about, that meant it could be the most honest concept possible.

It was just really lovely to. I was really scared. Someone said to me, what's the problem? And I didn't know. Yeah, just look at the lyrics for the first time. Look at all these things I've been hiding from and exploring cathartically through music where mentalising and put it in a box and say, I don't need to face music. And then the past few weeks has kind of been a reckoning of sorts. I've had to completely face this. Go through it publicly as well. I mean, it's not that is not that much more controversial album, but it definitely came after an answer to your question. I had to really look at what was going on and find out for myself.

I studied art for a year and I know you went to Goldsmiths, which is kind of very artsy, and I'm really interested in a lot of the album artwork and record sleeve artwork that you chose. And I did some digging and I finally found out who did the artwork for your album, a guy called Mike Burry. Is that right?

So we worked with Mike Burry. He's a friend of ours, and it just so happens he wasn't available for the album release. So we don't get this done. The album artwork is actually called go home. And so we basically the reason we asked him was because first song Avalanche, we this was released in 2019. We found his going promos digitally. Avalanche Artwork's.

I wondered if you could talk briefly about how you choose the album art and specifically about this, this album art, how that sort of links to the concepts of anonymity that you guys address, both in your lyrics and in the way that you perform as well.

It felt like it was the only it was the only when we looked back at our previous releases and that artwork, the one that really stood out was Avalanche, and it felt like the only artwork that would make sense for the album. 


I watched one of the clips on your Instagram that you did with BBC Radio one, the music lesson four fell in love with the city. And you mentioned that you don't know much music theory. So I wondered if that kind of I wondered how that changes your approach to music. Does it make for a less boundary approach or what impact does that have?

I prefer it, but I would say that I was enjoying is trying to learn it after all of this.  It felt like this thing I had to learn to learn songwriting... I remember people writing me off, people saying, well, you can't be a real musician then. So it feels like my journey personally to Goldsmiths was sort of railing against the West or just creating songs out of knowing nothing. Sometimes that's more freeing. For some people that can be too scary.

I think we do get too caught up in arbitrary rules.

And I know now I have perspective and time and I've done kind of what I wanted to. But being in the spotlight and I can look at it and look at I can look it is just an extra tool instead of something necessary. 

You know, I've heard people say, oh, well, this person is a classical pianist. And then you and I just thought, yeah, but that's not I was never my goal.  You know, you can create amazing art from any place like this. I've worked as a receptionist instead of reading music in a jazz bar for as a piano player. So I definitely like reasons people do it and it's so important.

But that's my personal view. We are changing every day.

OK, let me ask you about the band name so I know that you're named after a poem by Emily Dickinson and another sky, that kind of I mean, when I first saw that name, I sort of thought about reaching for new horizons and new ways of thinking. And then when I read the poem and that it's actually kind of a plea for her brother to come, to come back, to come home or to come into her way of thinking, I wondered kind of if that was a reason that you had chosen the name and also whether that link to given that you're very kind of political and socially, you have a lot of political and social commentary in your lyrics, does that kind of choice of of poem to inform your name indicate a kind of desire to have people come around to your way of thinking or kind of what's your sort of take on that?

Such an interesting question. I think you hit the nail on the head that there's a double meaning there.

Well, the lyricist, another sky, hoping for a different way of life. And then it does. It's almost like pleading. It's almost a paradox of pleading people to come home and this poor kind of rejection and wanting to escape to an. The sky, but it will always be another sky. You'll always be under a different sky script for existence.

 I love that poem. We actually the way we chose our name, we wrote I used to write from other people's poems, inspiration from other people, poems, lyrics. We wrote a song and it was called Another Sky. I was basically a more bleak version of a poem where I said I think it was another sky. And I was talking about wanting to be on the other sky. But I wasn't I felt like I felt like I was writing from the perspective of a brother. Right. Right. Yeah. And then we were just talking about our names. And one seemed to make the most sense, as you just know what the name said. And someone said some name in the sky and it just

Yeah. Yeah. I like how there's that hidden meaning as well. Like you, I don't think, you know, like me, like you kind of said at first. It does seem like it's talking about a new way, but the idea of coming home, it takes a bit more thinking. So I think it kind of adds adds another layer and new music and and stuff and and messages are very layered. So I think that's super interesting. I won't ask you about being a woman in music, but I do I do want to ask you one more question, if that's OK, because there's a lot of kind of dialogue around your voice. And as there was and is around vocalists like Joni Mitchell and I think he's called I have to pronounce his right, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons.

It's been noted that a lot of people initially think the band has a male vocalist. And I'm kind of wondering, I did sort of want to address this to to all of the band, but placing your voice again, like, you know what could could easily be presented as a very rock band, you know, the heavy guitar riffs and really strong percussive and bass contributions. I think that kind of music can very often be presented as male.


So I wanted to ask you guys as a collective, but, you know, I would love your perspective... Is kind of tackling gender norms in music a motivator for you? And I know you will say perform quite often in the dark. So it's hard to tell where the sound is coming from, whether it's coming from a male or a female. So I just wondered if you could sort of talk a little bit about that. It's kind of a roundabout question. I'm sorry, but yeah, the main thing I wanted to kind of ask there was the tackling of gender norms. Is that kind of a motivator for you guys as a whole? Because I know you were very vocal about it yourself as a whole.

The other people in the band don't care as much as me. I think I care because one is as feminine in music spaces, you do get treated differently. Gender is the most really interesting thing for me that I've kind of played with a little bit over the years. And through having this exposure of my voice, I wouldn't say I know what it's like to be trans or non binary, but through how I've been treated.

It's opened my eyes to that world. And if I can, use, you know, this perspective of this voice to elevate this group of people to need recognition and need us to act for them. We do that. And I don't know I still don't know how to go about it. I want to make sure I'm very respectful and also can talk about my own experiences.

But I think I never thought about it. But it is funny. Is it just the sound of the music sounds muscular and not very rock. It sounds like Radiohead. Yeah. No, you know, someone once said to me, like, if you were a guy you solo then you sometimes sing out of tune. Wouldn't matter, but the woman matters. And that blew my mind. And suddenly a lot of things made sense.

If we can keep on kind of subverting the norm and just questioning and pushing, pushing against this idea of what each gender should be, I'll be happy.


I did think as well there's there is an aspect of your voice that's kind of very choral. And I wondered if you had like had choir training or something, because there's there's that kind of genderless voice, especially with young choir singers, where it's very hard to discern whether it's a young male or a young female singing, and especially as they get older. I was doing a little bit of research into the male counter-tenors, and it's almost difficult to discern whether that's a female voice as well. So I was wondering if that was sort of an influence or whether you'd had any kind of vocal training in that aspect of your question.

Oh, I think growing up around so much gospel music, even though I wasn't I didn't consider myself gospel musician as well, that I felt like I could sing a certain way. I have some friends that were pastors. Yeah, we like them and their boys. Yeah. They say they sing in falsetto and I'm like, well, maybe in a past life I was of course. Yeah, yeah. You're right. It does come from that kind of place.


Your personal favorite track from the album or the track that means the most to you if you had to love one.

All ends.

Go and give the new album a listen...

Interview and Questions by Emma Burton

Write up by Lana Williams

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