Anchorage is a tasty blend of electronic beats and acoustic strings where pop sensibilities connect the technological and the classical. What began as an attempt to “bridge the gap between the kids blasting Usher at school and the ones debating the intricacies of Mozart at youth orchestra rehearsal” has proven successful as sole member Caitlin Pequignot (vocals, violins, synths, engineering…) is preparing to release her most maturely crafted album yet. In fact, before you dig into the full story, why not school yourself on the Anchorage tracks already available?
In the second half we get into spoilers about the upcoming LP, so stay tuned: it may be unlike anything you’re used to hearing, for reasons that go beyond the music itself.
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A lot of the music I wrote in school was despite the workload.
“I think a lot of my songs initially came from my own writing, also from other people’s writing, the books I really love: a lot of Tamora Pierce novels, I grew up on that, and Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, all that YA stuff that all kind of fueled the beginnings of my songwriting until I got more used to writing stuff from my own experience.”
“My favorite thing to do is sparkle up an old thing and make it fresh. I think with that [thesixtyone] song ‘Truth,’ I’ve always really liked it and I don’t really like how the production sounds now based on what I know now about production versus when I did that song, 2010. I would kind of like to spruce that up with new drums, new vocals; that would be nice.”
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I really hated my voice for a long time. Pretty much until college. Even when I was making things on thesixtyone before I went to college, I used a lot of autotune-type things because I thought I couldn’t sing at the level—the pitch-level I really wanted to sing at. But it was really a matter of just my voice not being trained, and not using it enough. Because I’m a violinist, I have pretty high standards for pitch. I don’t want my voice to ever be out of tune. Being in a band and being in college made me really work on that and figure out, oh, it’s not that I don’t know what to do, it’s just that I hadn’t been a singer like I’ve been a violinist. I don’t know how to control it like real vocalists do. But that’s definitely improved, and I don’t use that pitch stuff anymore, which is really freeing for me because I can make music now that I couldn’t make in high school. Like The Bedrest EP: I could have never done that in high school, I would never have been confident enough to sing acoustic with no electronics behind me. So I was very happy that I was able to do that.”
“I had a recital before I graduated of my classical stuff. I studied with a fantastic teacher at Yale named Kyung Yu. I did this Brahms concerto from memory, and I didn’t really think I could do that at the end of my time there just because I was so tired thesising and all this other stuff. But I knew that, if I played with music, it wouldn’t be the performance I wanted. So even though there might have been a couple memory slips in that really long piece, it was really great to just prove to myself that, yes, I can play a concerto from memory—like, a full concerto. So this year has all been about kind of pushing myself into new artistic things, which has been cool.”
At the end of the day, when I get most excited is when I write something new, I go to sleep or do something else, and then I come back and I still like it. That’s a win for me.
“With performing live, I’ve had to get used to singing words and remembering words. It’s not something I had to do as a violinist. That became a little bit of a source of stress when I first tried to do the Anchorage thing at school. But again, just being in a real band and having to cover songs in, like, a day, and learning the lyrics to “Dani California” in a few hours… that’s tricky! It pushed me and it made me be more comfortable singing words and remembering them. And now, triggering things in Ableton and playing violin at the same time, now that I practice my set a lot, I don’t really worry about it anymore. Because the actions become part of the performance, that each trigger is a performance and each word becomes interwoven and it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to, so that’s good.”
Musical snippets used were from “Leaving Port” off Out of the Garden and “Dirtbag” (orig. Rain Brigade) off The Bedrest EP. Both albums can be streamed or downloaded for free or pay-as-you-like at Bandcamp.
Get the music: Anchorage Bandcamp