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q&a: caitlin park

Folktronic might seem like a contradiction, but when you hear the songs from newcomer, Caitlin Park’s debut album, Milk Annual, you realise what kind of music perfectly fits the genre.

With an impressive list of collaborators, including Australia’s own lovely Holly Throsby, and samples throughout the record to tickle your fancy and your imagination, lip sat down with Caitlin for a chat about her exciting release.

Your music’s pretty unique, can you tell me a little bit about your songwriting process?
Sort of changes each time I guess…I started writing with sound effects and then as the music became more of a stylistic thing and more live shows were being played, I started beginning with guitar loops and minimalist lines and such [instead], and then the sound effects kind of get put on top of that and between it and [I] sort of mash it up a little bit and the vocals come in a little bit after that.

How did you envision translating that on stage?
I guess the way that I wanted to do it was to create an atmosphere…I want the music to portray some kind of audiobook or being  read to in that way. So live, me and Brighton (Eliza Fawcett), who’s my drummer, pretty much just use a sample pad that has as many sound effects as we can get on there to sort of create those little stylistic things that we have going on.

Your press release says that your album is “an entanglement of excellent ideas”; what were those ideas?
It’s the sound effects mainly which make it a bit different. A lot of the sound effects and such are inspired by old films, mostly the 40s, early 50s kind of stuff, and inspired by a lot of the dialogue used in those films. But also going back to that audio book or being read to kind of thing…a lot of story telling is made up of the sound effects that are used throughout the album.

Do you enjoy working on your own?
Yeah I do. I’m not really sure if I’ll do it for the second record, I might see if finding a partner or a producer of some kind might be better, or it might be more fun, but for this album, I really wanted to do it on my own, and I did really enjoy it.

How did you get started in music?
When I was nine, I started playing sax and played it up until I went to university. I went to the Conservatorium of Music for sax and learned a lot about history and electronic music and how to sing when reading music off the page when only being given the first note, that kind of high brow kind of music. And then I guess I started writing the music that I write now throughout that underground process when I got to do a lot of electronic music. I’ve always kind of been interested in playing the guitar so I guess that’s where that came from, so I started writing during my uni course and then it turned into what it is now.

Was there a moment or an artist that inspired you to start or continue doing music or made you realise that this was what you wanted to do?
Yeah I think at that time when I started writing it, I was being quite exposed to a lot of music that I hadn’t heard before, and I think that’s when I became interested in music at all…Sufjan Stevens and Cat Power and The Books and Penguin Café Orchestra and things like that, but also my friend Holly Throsby who sings on the album, was starting to release albums at the time that she and I became friends so I guess that I was also quite inspired by watching her career move about and you see those processes happen.

How do you find it being a female in the music industry? Do you find that there’s any disadvantage or advantage that’s presented to you as a woman?
I think…there isn’t that stigma [in this genre], I’m not playing a lot of electric guitar and rocking out like Adalita does, and obviously she does that really well. Sometimes I get the feeling that if you walk into a music store and you talk to somebody about guitars or anything, there is a little bit of, ‘you’re a woman, you can’t play the guitar as well as I can’ kind of stuff. But I think generally because of the style and the singer-songwriter vibe, it makes a lot easier with the style than if I was a rock ‘n’ roll artist.

Where do you envision your career going next? Where would you ideally like it to take you?
I’d like to just flesh out the music that I’m writing and release quite a few more albums before I want to take it anywhere drastic. I’d really love to take the music overseas if I could, I’d love to go to Scandinavia because I think that that would be amazing. But eventually I’d really like to do music for theatre and film and so I guess right now, for the next couple of years, I just want to record and write and see what I come up with.

Milk Annual is out now through Broken Stone Records.

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