Ahead of their tour, Caitlin Tilley chatted to Another Sky’s singer Catrin Vincent about songwriting during a global crisis and what’s wrong with the music industry.
“This is hopefully the only time we’ll release an album in a pandemic!” Catrin jokes. London-quartet Another Sky are one of many bands grappling with the music sector during the current crisis.
They met at Goldsmiths and released their debut album, I Slept On The Floor, last month. Aside from singer Catrin, there is bassist Naomi Le Dune, guitarist Jack Gilbert, and drummer Max Doohan. Their self-proclaimed influences span Tracy Chapman to Four Tet to Talk Talk, but I can hear harmonies to rival Everything Everything and alt-J, and vocals not dissimilar to Hannah Reid (of London Grammar).
Angry guitar juxtaposes gentle piano, cut through by the gravitas of Catrin’s voice. Her sound is breathtakingly unique and it is refreshing to hear an alto female vocalist as a lead singer. Listening to Another Sky in the midst of the pandemic is strangely reassuring. The music feels timely, with standout track ‘The Cracks’ referring to an “age of chaos”.
The music demands attention not only due to Catrin’s haunting vocals but also the subtle politics in the lyrics. Allusions to austerity, mental health, and toxic masculinity are delivered with a poetic rage. ‘Brave Face’ was written for a friend in an abusive relationship. ‘Avalanche’ speaks to a multitude of issues from 2016-17, including the rise of Trump, racism, and police brutality, all of which we continue to face today. The song repeats the lines: “When you hold them to account / They’ll spit you out / Just a bad taste in their mouth.”
The pandemic has changed the way the band approach writing music: “It was quite difficult before: we were quite precious about everything. The mood had to feel right, the room had to feel right.” Now that the album is out, they are able to relax a bit. “I think we’ve found the exploration factor really fun lately,” Catrin reflects.
The band have some eclectic music videos, such as ‘Avalanche’, in which a creepy mud-covered figure stares down the camera. Their most recently released, for ‘Fell In Love With The City’, is noticeably stripped down in comparison. “I just wanted this low maintenance, low pressure music video where I just captured the band as we are,” Catrin explains. The video was made with mini DV cameras lent to them by fans which they took on tour. “I just had fun, tried to make it like Tumblr and 2014…” Catrin says, laughing. “I always wanted to make [a music video] where I was wearing cool things and… we did it! I just wanted it to be real and emotional and I hope we achieved that.”
What is something Catrin wishes she had known when starting out? “It’s so cliché, but sticking really closely to who you are as a person, because we’ve had instances where what people have said has really affected me and I always come back to who I’ve always been. I tried ‘looking really good’ and it kind of numbed me, because that’s not who I am. As a woman as well, you feel pressure to be a certain way and I just can’t live like that, that’s something I’ve learned.” The album cover for I Slept On The Floor similarly refuses to submit to an image driven music industry with obscured portraits of the band members.
Pandemic restrictions permitting, the band are touring in late autumn with a headline show at Earth Hackney in London. Where is their dream gig location? “Max always says Red Rock in California. Me and Jack and Naomi always say the Royal Albert Hall but that’s kind of a boring answer isn’t it so… the Colosseum in Rome?! I don’t know if they do gigs there!”
You can catch Another Sky in Leeds at Hyde Park Book Club on Saturday 21 November. Colosseum tour date TBC.
Header image: Phil Smithies for DIY