Caitlin Park is currently working on the follow-up to her 2011 debut album Milk Annual. Taking refuge in the Blue Mountains, the Sydney songwriter tuned into the atmosphere of her surroundings and allowed the vibe of the area to seep into her folktronica sound.
Having descended from her temporary home up high, Park is preparing to showcase some of her new material at intimate venue The Vanguard in Newtown, Sydney on Thursday, 7th March. Taking the time to write back to Music Feeds’ Q&A, Park opened up about collaborations, musical moods and lessons learned.
Music Feeds: What’s the progress report on the follow-up to your debut album Milk Annual?
Caitlin Park: Well, I have written all the songs and the new album is coming together very quickly. I will have some amazing guests on the new album and it will be produced/arranged by myself and engineered by a mister Sam Brumby. It’s a very exciting time, and I can’t wait to show the album to the public.
MF: Was there a particular reason for recording in the Blue Mountains? Was it to try and capture a certain energy or atmosphere?
CP: I wanted to record the album all in one place and do it where we would eat and sleep to create a specific vibe for the album. Originally, we were going to record on Dangar Island, which would have created a different atmosphere altogether, I think – but we stepped away from that after weighing up the idea of carrying so much gear over water.
It was cold in the mountains, and thus created very warm sounds for the new album. I wanted to have a place where we shut out the world, worked very hard, and had a nice time, showing our guests (on the album) around.
We cooked family dinners every night and listened to records like The Big Chill Soundtrack, Curtis Mayfield and The Band. It was such a glorious experience. I never want to make a record in a different way – I’m looking forward to the next one already.
MF: For Milk Annual you did some field recording to capture various sounds. Did you capture any intriguing sounds in the Mountains?
CP: Not many in the mountains, although there will definitely be some birds in there, namely black cockatoos. I wish we had more time to do field recording there. More than anything, however, I just wanted to be inspired by the landscape and the little home we created. Most of the field recordings were done separately and many were recorded overseas in the UK and New York.
CP: Well, I don’t want to spoil too much, but here we were trying to create the sound of someone mining for diamonds, the sound of pickaxe hitting stone. We had a really great time creating sounds for beats and textures with things around the house that we found. The sound of cutlery and bits of odd metal hitting the concrete balcony proved to be a perfect sonic expression of this.
MF: Another picture is captioned ‘… the best time for close mic sad songs’. Has an overall mood to the record emerged?
CP: Yes, there is an overall mood. There are many different paced songs and it’s a much bigger record to Milk Annual. Sam and I recorded three whole songs the day this picture was taken and we decided to have a bit to drink before we did the sadder songs – alcohol and late night recording is always an amazing combination, and it’s an opportunity well captured when you have a recording environment the way we did.
MF: Looks like you roped in some special guests such as Emma Russack and Sam Brumby. How’d you come to work with so many talented musicians?
CP: Yes, again, I don’t want to give too much away, but we had a great time recording the guests on the album. Sam Brumby engineered the album, but he is also a very talented percussionist, which pushed the album to feature percussion and beats heavily, which is what I wanted.
The other guests are very talented singer-songwriters (which was equally daunting), however, they are all my friends – some older than others – but this was all part of what created the atmosphere for the album. It was important to me to also have their opinions; I believe they are a handful of the best artists in the country.
They are all very different writers and the sound of their voices are all very different, so it was a valuable part of the record making. I tried to write parts highlighting their vocal strengths – and that is something I have never done before.
MF: Was there any collaboration you are particularly excited about?
CP: There is one song on the album that I am very fond of, and it features all four of my guests on backing vocals. It was a joy to record and it sounds fantastic!
MF: What lessons learned from recording Milk Annual where you able to apply to the new album?
CP: I learnt many lessons from recording Milk Annual, mostly in the preparations. I wrote the new album entirely to be a part of this project, which was different from my first record. I wanted to involve an engineer this time around also, to make it sound amazing and so I could concentrate more on the production – which I think is my strength in recording. I think it was also very important to record it all in one stint and give myself big deadlines – I became a more capable writer, and there is more unity to this record, sonically.
Caitlin Park – The Vanguard
Thursday, 7th March
The Vanguard, Sydney
Tickets: Pre-sale available now from The Vanguard Official Site or $15 on the door.