Melbourne based singer, songwriter Caitlin Archibald has busked, gigged, and toured intermittently since she was a young teen. Life however, has got in the way of Caitlin delivering her debut album. That’s all about to change, as the tracks she has been recording this year with producer/engineer Craig Pilkington will finally be released in 2015. The album’s title will be Gravity. By day, Cailtin is a successful business woman, running the uber-cool Subterranean Vintage and Retro clothing store in Northcote. In between fitting out local hipsters and rock bands, Cailtin was able to lay down eleven soulful, roots flavoured tunes featuring an impressive line up of session players including Bruce Haymes, Jen Anderson and Anita Quayle. it’s not only the folks here at Australian Musician who fell for the heartfelt melodies Caitlin conjures, Townes Van Zandt’s producer CL Milburn was equally enamoured when he came across her tunes on MySpace. “Caitlin Archibald is a singer/songwriter who weaves her lyrics and melody into a unique blend of folk/rock/blues. Her voice is pure & pleasurable, conveying her life experiences into each song … She has a lot of potential to make a mark for herself beyond her native country of Australia. I’ve worked with artists such as Townes Van Zandt and feel Caitlin can prove herself as worthy an artist,” he said. We couldn’t wait until next year to learn more about the talented local artist, so we tracked Caitlin down for a chat about where she’s come from and what’s in store for the future.
When did you start performing?
I started gigging at 16. I managed to talk my folks into letting me go to an alternative school in Melbourne. It held classes in Rock Group, that was one of the classes on the official curriculum. I wanted to go there so I could sing and play music. That was what the school was geared towards. I had my first band at 16 and we were doing covers of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, Guns ‘n’ Roses back in the 80s. As part of that school, I also did music theatre, so we were putting together productions where the students were not only writing plays but also the music. We’d take those musicals on tour around Victoria to different schools so that was the beginning of my training in playing live.
What did you grow up listening to?
Some of my first memories are actually sitting around the record player going back to age 3 or 4 and listening to The Complete Beatles Collection and also ABBA. I think the focus from the early years was The Beatles and then I rediscovered them in my teens and became a Beatle Freak, thinking I was born in the wrong decade. As well as that, I was into bands like The Cure and I also discovered 3RRR. I grew up in a rural area and it was the most amazing day when I was skipping through the radio dials and landed on Triple R. I think the first song I heard was a Go Betweens song.
Where did the roots music influence come from?
Good question. It is funny because I didn’t grow up listening to country or bluegrass. It is something I discovered for myself. I think it’s about the rawness and the heart and soul of the roots side of things. I have older siblings and one in particular, passed down to me a lot of music. He listened to a lot of Neil Young. It is something I have gravitated to naturally. Personally I love Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Bob Dylan’s Desire was an album I used to play a lot too.
I believe there was a period where you travelled and did some busking?
I found myself at the age of 18 or 19, landed in Byron Bay in the 90s. Being a Melbourne girl, I grew up with these ideas of Surfers Paradise. My partner at the time and I took that big trip … caught the bus at Spencer Street station to Sydney, then Sydney to Gold Coast. We took one look at the Gold Coast and said let’s get out of here and went to Byron Bay. I had my guitar with me, it always travels with me. I did a lot of busking in Byron from that time. I have spent a lot of time on the Northern Coast of NSW. I love it for the environment and the music community that’s there and whenever I am in town I like to busk. I like to be at that grass roots level. I love the interaction you get with people.
How long has your album ‘Gravity’ been in the making?
A few years actually. I am a mother of two children, two older boys now and have also been running my own business for a number of years so it is about that balance of the day job and all of your other life commitments. I am a musician and that’s what I need to do. It is my ultimate passion in life. So the album was shelved for a while because there was more work I wanted to do on it but I am definitely going to release it in 2015.
How did you come across Craig Pilkington, the producer?
I have known Craig from around the traps for many years. I had seen him gig quite a bit at places like the Tote. He had always been in my mind as the person to go with when I decided to record. He’s an amazing person to work with.
The songs I have heard have a real old world feel to them. Were there any albums that you referenced for sound?
I was really just going from within. I played the songs solo for such a long time, just me and guitar. Then I started working with Anita Quayle (cello), so that was a progression. She was such an amazing find and to have her come in and add that extra layer was great. Then going into the studio was a further progression. All my influences from the very early years obviously would have come into play. I didn’t set out to have them sound anything but like me and my songs.
Anita’s cello on the track ‘Warm Cafe’ is fantastic …
It’s beautiful. The beauty of Anita and that instant sympatico … she just ‘got’ the songs. The rest of the musicians who came in also … like Jen Anderson and Bruce Haymes, it was such an amazing experience to have these remarkable people work with these songs I’d been playing solo for so long and just nail them.
I see you play a beautiful acoustic guitar in your videos … tell me about that.
I was doing some travelling at the time my ex-partner. We’d done up a 1950’s Bedford 30 foot bus. We were travelling the east coast and my previous guitar had been damaged and I needed a new one. I went down to Annandale Road in Newtown. I was heading for Jackson Rare Guitars. Next door was a shop, which later became part of Jacksons. Anyway it had the most amazing instruments in the window and the door was shut. I knocked on the door and this very tall man answered and said, can I help you? I said is this a music shop? He said, would you like it to be? Looking around … I said yes, and he said you’d better come in. I told him I was looking for something special and unique and told him how much I had to spend. Immediately he pulled out this 1970’s Japanese made Takeharu, which has the most sweetest sound. It was love at first play. It was a very magical experience. That’s the guitar which is on the album
How many tracks will be on the album?
We recorded eleven. I originally went in to record an EP. The sessions were going so well that we just pressed ahead. I have been talking with Craig Pilkington recently about going in and tweaking a couple of the last tracks we did before releasing.
When do you hope to have it out and what’s the grand plan?
As the year is ticking along, I’d be hoping for around six months time. I have another major project which might be coming up but I can’t discuss at this point. I have the opportunity to travel to the States in October next year, so I’d like to organise a small tour of the states and Canada. The grand plan? I’d like it to be received well overseas and afford me the opportunity to tour in an overseas capacity, making a living from what I love most which is writing and making music.
Check out two tracks from Gravity below. You can also preview some of the tracks from Caitlin’s forthcoming album on her website
Also check out Caitlin’s other business Subterranean