Kacy & Clayton Interview: ‘Carrying On’ Celebrates Community, Deep-Rooted Musical Traditions
In the two years since their last album, 2017's The Siren's Song, Saskatchewan roots outfit Kacy & Clayton have toured extensively in their home country of Canada as well as in the U.S. and beyond, honing their retro sound and continuing to temper their musical identity as they amass new experiences and influences. For a group heavily grounded in place -- second cousins Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum grew up on family ranches in rural Western Canada -- much of that influence tends to come from their surroundings.
To record their new album, Carrying On, Anderson and Linthicum returned to rock group Wilco's Chicago, Ill. studio, The Loft, where frontman Jeff Tweedy produced the project, released on Friday (Oct. 4). "It was where we made our last record. And we knew this place so well, so we were like, 'Would you guys wanna make a record with us?'" Anderson tells The Boot.
"It was a really tight squeeze, because Jeff was putting out a record a month later, so we were right in the middle of that," she adds. "He took the time [to work with us, even though it was such a busy time for him]. It was a priority to him, and that made it such a priority to me, you know?"
Though their surroundings in Chicago were a far cry from the rural landscape that surrounded Kacy & Clayton as they did much of their, Anderson says Tweedy's support -- and the sense of community she felt while making the record -- were driving forces.
"It was drastically different from my environment. I wanted a breath of fresh air, I went out on the fire escape, and people were honking under my feet," she recalls. "Like, 'God, I do not belong.' And then I see all these people working in this environment ... With Jeff, it's like, 'This is my home. Welcome. Here are my instruments. I love you and your music.' That's all I need to do a good take."
These days, Anderson and Linthicum spend a lot of time away from home, whether for touring or recording purposes. Still, Anderson chooses to remain based in the rural Canadian community where she grew up, even though it would be much more convenient to live in Nashville, New York, LA or any one of the U.S.' major music hubs -- "or, like, even just in a city! Just some good WiFi would be helpful," she says with a laugh.
"But [my hometown] is simply the greatest place I've ever been in my life," she continues. "And in my family, every fifth generation, we've been kicked off our homestead. And I'm the sixth generation of this homestead, and there's a seventh generation, too. But there's this fear, you know, that the government of Canada is gonna come take over our rent.
"It's funny how that actually shows up in your character," Anderson muses. "Like, 'I need to get away from everything and everyone hates me' -- that has not been my own reality. That's strictly coming from my family teaching me that that's how the world perceives us."
That instinct shows up in Kacy & Clayton's music, too -- but not necessarily how you'd expect. "I think it makes me love to play music with other people, because playing music is the most joyful thing you can do, even if it's a sad song," Anderson offers. "That brings me the most joy I get out of any day."
Kacy & Clayton are known for an old-school sound, pulling from throwback rock traditions in their original songwriting. The band's music, Anderson goes on to explain, reflects a love of community, and the joy she and her bandmates find in puling from their deep, collective well of musical intuition.
"I want my music to be familiar. My goal is always that my songs will fit into a style that's traditional and resonates with people, because of the familiar parts," Anderson says. "But that's the thing, is you don't try [to make your music sound a certain way]. If you're able to develop your brain properly, creatively, then you have it all there, and it's just a matter of doing it ... I just listened to everything I could, and so did Clayton. And we listened to each other."
"I think it makes me love to play music with other people, because playing music is the most joyful thing you can do, even if it's a sad song." -- Kacy Anderson
That's a critical component of Kacy & Clayton's musical style, Anderson points out. In order to make music that resonates with listeners, they have to set aside their conceptions about what they think people want to hear, and instead make the music that makes them happy.
"My goal has never been to make people like my music," she says. "It's always been for the people playing the music to enjoy themselves."
Anderson and Linthicum know their music won't resonate with fans if they take themselves too seriously, and Anderson jokes that Carrying On's title might sound a little more morose than it's intended. "Tom Schick, the engineer, had three name [suggestions], and [the song] "Carrying On" was one of them. We were like, 'Oh, do we sound like that [Winnie the Pooh] character Eeyore?! Like, 'Carrying on ...'" she says, adopting a faux mopey voice before dissolving into a laugh. "But we meant, in the song, it's like we're talking -- like, carrying on a conversation."
Plus, she adds, the band is hoping for a sly, goofy bit of marketing help from the title. "I went to an AirBnB the other day, and there was [one of those posters that said] 'Keep Calm and Carry On.' I forgot that was a thing," Anderson says. "I hope people, in their subconscious, wanna buy an album called Carrying On because they saw that 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster!"
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