Her sophomore album The Sleeper was met with a wealth of official recognition and approval from both peers and idols alike. But Sydney’s own Caitlin Park isn’t about to hang up her tools and bask in her former glory whilst surrounded by an abundance of fuzzy kittens.
No sir, in quite the opposite direction, our first lady of ‘Folktronica’ is setting herself new goals in the form of her upcoming tour and hotly anticipated third album.
Set to hit the east-coast and Darwin over the next two months, Caitlin chats to Music Feeds about what you can expect from these dates; how she feels about her record over a year after its release; her concerns for the future of Australian music industry and how she is more than happy to shut herself away without a morsel, not even a singular Tim Tam, to pursue creativity.
Caitlin also shared with us an exclusive live recording of Hold Your Gaze, filmed at Mild Manners Gallery, check it out under our chat!
Watch: Caitlin Park – Hunt For The Young
Music Feeds: What is your overall vision for this upcoming tour? Do you want people to go away with a different perception of The Sleeper?
Caitlin Park: I am looking to put on a really full and bold show with this tour. I have an ever-rotating band, which makes it extremely difficult to grow as a live band – as you are always teaching and re-teaching parts.
However, this time around, I wanted to challenge myself and the music, so I have re-arranged and re-written bits of the songs to make them feel new, but also abide by the new directions in which I am taking my music.
MF: How did you come to meet Joe Gould and Leroy Lee and how did the idea of playing together arise?
CP: I met both of the boys a long time ago. Joe was playing with a friend of mine Sui Zhen and Leroy used to live near by a cafe I frequented and a video store I used to work at. I have always admired them as musicians, from afar (Joe plays in a bunch of bands, including The Crooked Fiddle Band and Leroy writes and sings his own tunes) – they are both very good.
They also have a hunger for a challenge, so it works well for all of us. There is a lot of behind the scenes work, but doing it together makes for a strong hold! Leroy and Joe are also very old friends, which I did not know when we all met for a beer at the start of the year, so it makes for buzzy company.
MF: You teamed up with them for a cover of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, how did that come about and what was it like to work on the arrangement with them?
CP: Mercy Mercy Me was incredibly challenging. As a fan, but also a very particular arranger it took a LONG time for me to feel satisfied – not with the boys playing, but with the way it all fit together.
There is samples used in their from the original song, as well as recreated samples, and the song is actually extremely harmonically complex, so it took a while to get our heads around. But it was a really valuable process, and in the end we were at a rehearsal and it just clicked! I was really worried I was going to ruin the song for myself forever… that would have been a tragedy, mercy me!
MF: Can you describe the effect they have on the way you perform live?
CP: In a live band, it’s all about energy and feeding off each other – but in the same instance, this is not a jam band – it is a premeditated performance (many people will tell you that their process is different… it’s not). But you hope to get to a stage when you’ve played together for a while, and you like each other’s vibe and this can be seen and heard in a performance.
I feel good when I play live with Joe and Leroy and I don’t feel like I have to think about what they’re doing. A band should always be developing in my mind, otherwise you lose a spark. Sarah Blasko and Lanie Lane have always had this – a real back bone of a band that dig each other. It was a joy to watch them perform together and build on this each time.
Watch: Caitlin Park – Lemonade
MF: Would you say that your feelings towards The Sleeper have changed over a year after it’s release?
CP: That is a reaaaally good question. Yes, indeed. The Sleeper was my second record and a development from my first – the next record will be the same. I love the album, and I’m damn proud of it – I’m ready to make new music though, and I have already started.
Some songwriters will tell you that this is the best part about the process, it is exciting and you feel creative and you feel ambitious and you feel optimistic. Its a super positive time for me. Lock me in a small room with my recording gear and I will be in there for days without eating (that’s if i didn’t have to go anywhere). The Sleeper will always be a triumph for me, I’m just ready to make my next one.
MF: Being shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize is a pretty big compliment, and wholly well deserved. Are there any particular comments about The Sleeper that stand out for you?
CP: Yeah, I was absolutely honoured to be shortlisted and to be amongst the others nominated. It was a real goal for me with that record (with all records) so I was extremely complimented.
A lot of people said nice things about the record, however, Urthboy said he “fucking loved my album”, Tom Iansek (Big Scary, #1 Dads) told me it was beautiful, but the best comments came from Lindy Morrison (Go-Betweens) in a quite drunken conversation – she expressed love for both my albums and said she liked my style, the way I dressed – said it reminded her of herself. Call me complimented.
MF: You have said that The Sleeper focussed on the ‘lightness and darkness of time’. How are you able to immerse yourself in these deeper concepts and be creative in an age where social media and constant communication dominates?
CP: It is extremely distracting, especially having these things on your computer, where you generally are writing your music. However, the album’s concept became stronger as more songs were written – it is a bit like a sickness, your obsession grows.
I like to turn my phone off and hide away, that is a very good way to escape constant communication – it’s like putting a sign on your door that says, ‘fuck off I’m being creative’. However, I think the pressure builds, because you switch off for a while and people wonder where you’ve gone – you emerge and the question spills out – ‘who’d you go?’ – oh gawd!
But it’s all part of the process.. failure, writers block, success, creative flow.. it’s what we do.
MF: You have also said in previous interviews that film soundtracks and film foley heavily influenced the making of the album. Would this be something you are thinking of for your next album or will the direction be different?
CP: Film will always influence my music – there is nothing like listening to the Hook soundtrack, and imagining Peter becoming Pan, it is exhilarating. For the next album, I’m thinking more along the lines of cinematic, than soundtrack.
Watch: Caitlin Park – Wake Up In A Whir
MF: How is the writing for your new album going and when can we expect a release date?
CP: It is going well, I have a very strong idea of the direction and the stories and the concepts – you can expect an exploration of memory and to be able to hear the way lyricism influences sonic landscape.
MF: Being a part of Big Sound 2015 must be an exciting prospect, especially considering the amount of important speakers and talented musicians to attend. Is there anyone in particular that you’re excited to see?
CP: I am very excited to hear Brother Ali talk, as well as Peter Garrett. I am also very much looking forward to seeing Ngaiire, Gang of Youths, Pearls, Fraser A. Gorman, Aldous Harding and Astral Skulls. And heaps more. It’s going to be a buzzy weekend!
MF: Big Sound, as you know, is all about exploring contemporary artists and also looking at innovation present within the industry. Do you have any opinions on the future for music within Australia, or the entire world, and how it will evolve?
CP: I have opinions yes, but I don’t know how it will evolve. I worry about music within Australia – I worry that our governments disable creative funding for the arts and that we suffer, I worry that people think they know what they’re doing, but they don’t. Bigsound does.
There are a lot of musicians in the Australian Music industry that are contemporary and innovative, with loud and unique voices – but do they have a platform to voice it? Lets just say, not yet!
‘The Sleeper’ is an independent release, distributed through Create/Control and is out now, grab it here and check below for upcoming tour dates.
Watch: Caitlin Park – Hold Your Gaze (Live at Mild Manners Gallery)
Caitlin Park The Sleeper Awakes Tour
Friday August 7th
Darwin Festival, NT
Tix: Darwin Festival
Sunday August 23rd
Newtown Social Club, Sydney NSW
Wednesday, September 9th – Friday, September 11th
Assorted Venues, Fortitude Valley, QLD
Friday September 11
Jet Black Cat Music, Brisbane QLD
Record Store Gig
Saturday September 12
Shebeen Band Room, Melbourne VIC