With a fresh EP ‘Music For Winter Vol. 1’, Another Sky are getting ready for a whole new phase.
Words: Sam Taylor. Photo: Ella Brolly.
After widespread acclaim for their debut album ‘I Slept On The Floor’, Another Sky are not planning on hanging around. They’ve already dropped brand new EP ‘Music For Winter Vol. 1’, and, as you might be able to work out from the title, suggested a second instalment will follow next year. Between the two, they’re also recording a second full-length which they intend to drop at some point in 2021. Busy bees. We caught up with the Dork faves for a much needed update.
Tell us about your new EP, it’s made up of some old and some new songs?
Naomi: I began writing ‘Pieces’, the EP’s opener, a long time ago. I was writing songs for my final assessment at uni, and my band was basically Another Sky with a few additions – plus me singing terribly. I was struggling with some moral issues regarding my sexuality, and this was the first time I’d written and performed something on that matter. I was touched when Catrin asked me if I’d like to re-work it lyrically. A lot has changed since then, and it felt very cathartic to revisit those moments with a friend who was there from the start.
‘Was I Unkind’ is a really old song, too. That’s one of Catrin’s. It’s about a plant, and for some reason when she told me that I loved the song even more. She really needs to look after her plants. She sat at a piano, and it came out so beautifully on its own. We didn’t want to take any of the beauty away from that, so we wrote some sparse instrumentation around it.
‘Blood Love’ is one we all wrote together at the Pool in South London. ‘It Keeps Coming’ is a relatively old idea but we hadn’t finished it. It sounds very fresh to me in its final form, so in that sense, it feels quite new.
Catrin: We recorded all the songs between August and October this year. We revisited ‘Pieces’ in August and me and Naomi sort of looked at each other and instantly knew I could not re-work those lyrics without her, or make them about something else. I’m honoured Naomi let me take on the emotional weight of that song. ‘Sun Seeker’ came from Jack and is very old. He was really inspired by José González at the time. ‘Tree’ from our debut album came from that phase as well. ‘Leaving The Lighthouse’ is the only truly new one, I think it happened in August. It was a one-off jam me and Max did that Jack stumbled in on and quickly set up two mics for. It’s the first take of a song that took about two hours to write. Max has all these old piano songs from years ago with really beautiful riffs. We were re-working one.
“Another Sky are basically my family now”
Do you hold onto songs waiting for the right release time? Is there a bunch waiting to go?
Catrin: We have a big pot of songs we pick from for each body of work. The process of choosing is really democratic. That’s why really old songs end up next to really new ones.
Naomi: We don’t like thinking in terms of “singles” or ammunition to fire out tactically. We’re incredibly fortunate to have a label that really trust our creative process. We’re constantly writing, and like Catrin says, we do have a heap of songs we’ve always got on the go, but it’s about making sure those songs work coherently, both lyrically and sonically rather than tactically releasing our next summer hit people can lick their ice cream to.
It sounds like some of content here is super exposing – how do you feel about putting songs like ‘Pieces’ out into the world?
Naomi: I’m learning how to channel my emotions into something other than anger, and I think music is a really great outlet for that. I started writing this song at least four years ago now, and I think back then I wouldn’t have even considered immortalising something so fragile, or as you say exposing. I feel that vulnerability is sometimes seen as weakness when really it can be a great strength.
Was there anything in particular that prompted you to tackle these themes now?
Catrin: This EP happened naturally, and lyrically, I was really inspired by watching Naomi go through what she’s gone through. I’m wary of speaking for her, though. Correct me if I’m wrong Naomi, but I think you felt like you could finally confront everything because of lockdown. You were able to take that time.
Where do you look for reassurance yourself when it comes to issues like identity? Are there any bands, films, books or the like that are your go-to’s?
Catrin: I’ve found identity really, really difficult recently. It changes every day, I have a very loose sense of ‘self’. Someone I really admire is Michaela Coel. Phoebe Bridgers, too, Sally Rooney. Writers who don’t pitch people as heroes or villains. I’ve also started listening to the podcast “You’re Wrong About” which explores a lot of the ideas surrounding celebrity culture and the media. I find it so cathartic, mainly because the hosts have a great sense of compassion. They take a big human rights approach. They approach everything with nuance and epistemic modesty.
Naomi: I’m not the most active reader, but if something’s really gotten ahold of me I’ll find a book that zones in on that issue. I also pray or meditate, whatever you want to call it. When you’re in a band, it’s really easy to feel like your identity is synonymous with how many likes you get on social media, or how many streams you have or how quickly your shows sell out. It’s really damaging because it simply isn’t true.
How have you found collaborating together during social-distancing?
Naomi: Wery different, but incredibly productive. It’s always quite daunting changing the way you work, especially if it’s collaborative. I think we got into a groove pretty quickly. Catrin was coming up with some amazing ideas, and we were passing them around. Personally, I found a bit of freedom having the time to really think about what I was offering rather than playing the first thing that came to my head. I’m not saying that’s my preference, but it was quite refreshing.
Did you find it difficult being apart for a while? How often do you guys usually hang out and stuff?
Catrin: Another Sky are basically my family now. Being apart was really hard.
Did you pick up any new skills during the unexpected downtime?
Naomi: No. I bought a bike during lockdown, like a lot of people did. But I did already know how to ride a bike, so my answer is still no.
Catrin: I had to learn to read music as I’ve started a job teaching kids how to play and perform.
You’ve been working on your second album too, right? How’s that going?
Catrin: Really great!
Naomi: Sublime. I’m very excited about album two. It’s certainly a lot more confident. We’re all big fans of undeniably good songs in this band, regardless of genre. The majority of the second album was written during the first lockdown, which has bizarrely produced some of the happiest and most upbeat songs we’ve ever written. We’re all 90s kids so there are definitely hints of that era throughout.
What was your starting point for the record? Is your mindset more ‘What can we do that’s different’, or ‘What can we do that’s better’?
Catrin: My genuine mindset as the lyricist right now is, “I am too depressed to write sad songs right now. I need happy stuff”. I’m also trying not to care about upping the game, as weird as that sounds. Songwriting is purely cathartic for me. I guess we are trying something different, as a band, though. Not necessarily better, just different.
Naomi: It’s difficult to say if it’s particularly different because we’re so close to the songs. If I had to give one word, it would be ‘confident’.
Do you have a rough timeline for the release?
Catrin: I don’t want to say just yet. We’ll say it, and then it will change, ha!
What else are you on with at the mo? Do you have much ‘in the diary’?
Naomi: Writing, writing, writing. Finishing album two. Being an island in our little studio. And we’re hoping we can finally go on tour in the summer.