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Named after an Emily Dickinson poem, emerging rock-band Another Sky are taking the music world by storm, one release at a time.
The four-piece is led by lead vocalist and songwriter Catrin Vincent, a gifted guitarist and pianist. She is backed up by drummer Max Doohan, bassist Naomi Le Dune and guitarist Jack Gilbert. They met each other at Goldsmiths, University of London while studying music.
One of the first striking aspects of their music is Vincent’s enthralling vocals. Further bolstered by the slick playing of her bandmates, their talent is undeniable. They’re acutely aware that the pen is perhaps mightier than the sword and never shy away from tackling deep subjects in their music – from a toxic relationship in ‘Brave Face’ to police brutality, racism and Donald Trump in ‘Avalanche’.
Following these releases, they’ve taken this brazen honesty into their debut album, I Slept On The Floor. Released earlier this month, an identity crisis lies at the centre of the album, turning it into a journey of exploration. This is further explained by their show in 2017 at St. Pancreas Church, where they performed in the dark appearing as silhouettes with circles behind illuminating them. Many left the show questioning the gender of Vincent, which made her wonder “Why does it matter?” Since then, this idea of challenging the norm and categorising in the industry has stayed with them.
Their drive for success is easily noted from their debut, especially with their track, ‘Fell In Love With The City’, which was premiered as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record. The music video for the song was directed by Vincent and was described as shot “the way you’d film a partner, but you’re filming a city instead”. They nostalgically filmed the video on a mini DV tape camera provided by their fans and tried to mirror how they felt when they moved to London 7 years ago. This attention to detail is always apparent in their music and those in the industry have taken notice, notably Scottish-rockers Biffy Clyro, who invited them on tour with them last year.
aAh! catches up with Catrin Vincent and Jack Gilbert over the phone, to find out more about their latest album, labelling in the music industry, and their goals for the future.
Your debut album is being released in a few days, how did it initially come together?
Jack Gilbert: “The album has been pieced together from 6 years of long, long hard work. So, some of those songs are from six years ago, and some are from five or four months ago. It’s been a real journey. It’s just a documentation of our lives and lyrically, specifically, Catrin’s life. Yeah, long time.”
It almost feels like a diary entry, questioning adulthood, childhood and growth with a lot of natural imagery in the lyrics. Was this always your intention to make it so transparent to your life?
Catrin Vincent: “No, I think originally I was hiding a lot behind metaphors… a lot of nature metaphors. I think I was hiding and then the album became an amalgamation of really blunt lyrics and really old hiding lyrics. Eventually, I just was like, ‘I just want to say what I’m just saying’. Through this transformation between the two, and I just think right now that writing about your life is why you do music. I don’t want to pretend too much.”
I think you can definitely tell that from the album, how did you piece the lyrics together with the instrumentals?
Jack: It’s always a bit random how it comes together. But, essentially they’ll be an idea, whether it’s lyrics, guitar, riff or piano, they’ll be a starting point. Then, they’ll be this journey. All of us will come together and we’ll work out what this song is. Catrin will sometimes out of nowhere be like, ‘I know what this song’s about’. From that moment onwards, we know where we’re going from it. But, there is a moment of randomness at the start of every song. So, it always gets dictated by the lyrics eventually but sometimes that can happen right at the end. It’s always quite interesting. We never know what we’re going to get.”
That’s really interesting, was the order of the album random too?
Jack: “We did think about it quite a lot and our manager Theo was great with that kind of stuff. We all kind of threw out ideas and eventually through the process of elimination we… the thing is we have written hundreds of songs. So, you know we had to pick twelve that were going to be on the album. There were some definites straight away when we were making the album. We knew the first, second and last song. The rest was a puzzle piece that didn’t feel right.”
Halfway through, the titular track ‘I Slept On The Floor’, seems to be almost an interlude, why was it added and made the sixth track?
Catrin: “It is an interlude. We made it into an interlude for ‘Village Underground’. I was messing around with the vocoder and it turned into one of the most bloody astonishing lyrics ever. We were like, ‘let’s chuck it on the album’. It became the title of the album.”
Jack: “It was the last one to come in on the album as Catrin said, we prepped it for a gig so it was going to be a really intimate moment in the set, where Catrin would just be spotlighted and screaming these lyrics. All of a sudden after that show, we were like, ‘hang on a minute that’s an amazing song’. It ended up on the album and summarised the whole album. It was the last song to be brought into the album, and it’s really interesting. I hadn’t really thought about that.”
Also, hopefully, you’re going to be touring later this year, which song are you most excited to play live?
Catrin: “I’ve got a curveball. I say it’s my least favourite song on the album, but I’m really excited to do ‘Let Us Be Broken’ live because we always rework songs live. I’m excited to see, as we haven’t played that one live yet.”
Jack: “I’m excited to play ‘Only Rain’ live, which is the last song on the album. Just because if it all goes well, we all sing on it as well. So, if we can pull that off live, I think it’ll be a nice moment. That song’s got a special place for me, even on the album, so I’m excited about that one and people hearing that one in general.”
That song, in particular, has the final lyrics ‘I am no one I’ve met, I’m nowhere I’ve been’, was there a reason to end the album with those lyrics?
Catrin: “Yeah, I think lyrically the entire album is an identity crisis, and sonically as well. It’s just that feeling of… it sounds depressing but hopeful. You can constantly reinvent yourself. So, when you end up in a new place, you become a new version of yourself that wouldn’t have happened, had you stayed in the place you were before. So, I quite like that the lyrics end on that.”
Also, along those lines, you’ve previously commented that ‘people say I sound like a man, maybe that means they’ll listen’. You’ve also said ‘why does it matter?’ Personally, why do you think it matters to others to identify other people?
Catrin: “That’s such a good question. I was writing a lot about this yesterday for another interview, and I think that I wrote something that will stay with me. I want the privilege of not being a spectacle. I think what we’ve had with kind of predominantly male bands being successful, especially to us growing up, that was the norm. They were seen as the dominant identity, and women just didn’t have that. Being a woman which some people say sounds like a man, it can often be the main sticking point of the band. But, I feel like we have so much more to say, and why does it matter? But, then we’ve done it in our press release. We’ve said, ‘People say I sound like a man, maybe that means they’ll listen.’ I do feel in terms of labelling, labels do help identify what people go through. So, I do think you know, people question why we’re drawing attention to it? I say because so many people exist in the in-between gender. So many people can’t conform and have been made to feel ashamed of it. Actually labelling and talking about what people are going through, is really empowering for a lot of people. If talking about it can help the trans community, in particular, I will absolutely do it.”
Exactly, if you had a legacy for Another Sky would it be empowering others?
Catrin: “Yeah, I guess so, and maybe that’ll morph over time to what we want to do, but for now definitely.”
Recently, you’ve written on Instagram that you’ve almost finished your second album before releasing your first. What can we expect from the next album?
Jack: “We kind of pick up where we left off really. It’s you know gonna be diverse, it’s not going to be one thing to listen to. Lyrically, it also covers a lot. I think everything we’re doing, we’re just… we don’t know what we’re working towards but essentially it’s just being as clear as possible about the songs. When we’re writing songs for the second album, we’re just trying to be even more clear and to the point than we were before. So, who knows?”
Regarding your first album, how did you get the inspiration for the artwork?
Catrin: “Originally, I did have the idea.”
Catrin: “I did originally have the idea. The single artwork for ‘Avalanche’ is a school picture of me as a school kid. I think Theo found this artist [Mikey Burey] who ‘avalanched’ faces. He came up with this kind of digital pixelation and avalanching for that single. He ended up doing the artwork for the album.”
Jack: “Our super, super, amazing friend, Mikey Burey, did all of the artwork for the album. So, yeah we were like, ‘Mikey would you be able to make something like this?’, and he kind of did his interpretation. So, that melting face thing has been with us since the song ‘Avalanche’, which was maybe 2018 when we released that song.”
Catrin: “It kind of plays into the inspiration behind it, which is just playing into this idea of identity.”
Jack: “Yeah that’s the thing, there’s the four of us there but you can’t see our faces. It’s kind of distorted because we’re kind of not sure who we are as well… kind of vibe. It just makes sense and it’s really cool. So, yeah we just wanted it to be attention-grabbing, rather than just a nice bit of art for the artwork, you know. It’s not the time to just put out nice artwork. There’s too much going on.”
Definitely. There seems to be a lot of world issues discussed on the album too, was it quite important to mix your personal experiences with these wider issues, such as in the lyrics for ‘Avalanche’, ‘When you hold them to account, they’ll spit you out’?
Catrin: “Yeah so originally I used to kind of… I never wanted to write about myself, and that was the transformation throughout writing the album. It was being able to lyrically pick apart why am I writing about these issues that don’t affect me. Ultimately, I think that all of these issues do affect us. I think we’ve grown up thinking we’re so far away from it, and we’re discovering now that we’re absolutely not.”
Jack: “Yeah I think the whole process is just like, what we’re talking about in general is sort of a transition of Catrin’s lyrics coming from a metaphoric place of blunt, is just like also informed by just the response the blunter songs got as we released them. They kind of just gave us confidence and Catrin confidence to just be a bit more like, ‘yeah we can talk about this now’, sort of stuff. So, the whole album is us working out what we were doing, and linking it in with Catrin’s personal life, as she writes the lyrics.”
Now you’re getting the album out, what are your future goals and next steps?
Catrin: “Jack’s going to say an arena tour but coronavirus has stopped those dreams. No, we all have different personal goals for the band, I think. One for me is to get in a position where we can make art, where we can change every single time and do whatever we want. That’s been my goal in music, to not have restrictions. That would be amazing. I don’t know if we’ll get there or not, but it’ll be great if we could!”
Jack: “Yeah, I’ve got to a place recently where I’m just ready to sort of take what comes our way and just try and enjoy it. Bizarrely, as a band, we did so many of our actual goals so early on, like Jools Holland. It happened so quick that as a musician, the thing you hold so high… we’ve kind of already done them. So, from that moment onwards, it was kind of okay maybe I just need to enjoy this, rather than have a goal. Obviously, we want to play massive shows to people that love the music, but I think we’re ready for the journey… whatever will happen.”
Another Sky Live Date 2020
11th November – EartH, London
19th November – Think Tank, Newcastle
20th November – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
21st November – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
26th November – The Bullingdon, Oxford
27th November – Star & Garter, Manchester
28th November– The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
3rd December – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
4th December – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
5th December – The Louisiana, Bristol