Based out of Brooklyn, Caitlin Pasko is a songwriter, pianist and, “weaver of dreamy, elegiac meditations”. Caitlin first emerged back in 2017 with the beautiful Glass Period, “a small chapel to personal grief”. After three years, this week Caitlin will release the much anticipated follow-up, Greenhouse, named in tribute to the, “structures that protect plant life from unfavorable external conditions, and from environments in which flora adapt in order to survive and sustain other life forms”.
Caitlin talks openly of how the album emerged from an emotionally abusive partnership, and the record chronicles the wider themes of relationships failing, be they romantic, familial or otherwise. Working with producer Henry Terepka, Caitlin sets these ideas into a stunning musical landscape; a world of spacious, elegant piano lines, intricate, deliberate vocals and swirling electronics. It’s a sound entirely Caitlin’s own, equally nodding to classical composers (Satie and Debussy are cited as influences) as it does to Caitlin’s contemporaries from Cross Record to Tenci. Particularly jarring and wonderful is the album’s centrepiece Horrible Person, a fusion of gorgeous vocal melodies with unnerving electronics and a lyric that seeks to flip the tables on an abuser who has always dragged you down; “you know you are a horrible person, and I could never really be fully at ease around you, like a cat on a hot tin roof wondering when it should move”. While this is undeniably a record that walks the darker streets, at its close it does offer a certain resolution, in the shape of final track, Intimate Distance. The track finds Caitlin at her piano, picking out bold piano chords and singing to herself of fresh growth and progress, “it took a fallen snow to feel that growth and letting go are so complexly intertwined”. Few albums live up to their title like Greenhouse does, it is a record that exists like a bubble, a place where emotions are laid raw and protected from the toxicity and harshness of the world at large, a place where against the odds, new shoots of life, love and hope will find a way.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Caitlin Pasko?
Hi! I’m Caitlin Pasko. I play piano, sing, and write songs. I released an EP in 2017 called Glass Period, and on Aug. 28 I’ll be releasing a full length, called Greenhouse, on Whatever’s Clever. I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA and I’ve lived in NYC now for 14 years. I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn with my partner, Kyle, and our dog Arthur (a jack russell / chihuahua mix). I’m the label manager for NNA Tapes, and I’m also a publicist at Clandestine PR.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I’m not sure if it was my very first show, but I remember performing with my band (in high school I had a band with two girls) at a music festival in our school cafeteria. I think we were the only girls that signed up to play. I remember covering Rilo Kiley’s “Pictures of Success” on the piano. I also fondly remember playing shows at Volume “CD Exchange” in Virginia Beach (RIP) and at Relative Theory in Norfolk (RIP).
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I’m fascinated by sound and how emotional a sound can be, especially piano sounds, and I physically love playing the piano — pushing the keys and feeling the vibrations. Lyrics are also very important to me. Expressing an idea and fitting it into a song can feel like solving a math equation, which I enjoy. Making music is very therapeutic for me.
FTR: What can people expect from the Caitlin Pasko live show?
My live show is even more sparse than my recordings. I don’t run my piano through any effects, and I keep my vocals pretty dry. I tend to close my eyes and go deep inside of my songs when I perform them, and I try to bring my audience there with me. It can get pretty psychedelic.
FTR: What’s next for Caitlin Pasko?
Right now I’m giving all of my energy to Greenhouse. I’m living inside of the songs, cherishing them, celebrating them, and feeling so grateful for them. I’m reveling in their final release! That said, I’m looking forward to the moment when new songs start to take shape, and I’m in the gathering stage right now — just casually collecting little ideas and holding onto them.
They Listen To…
1. Beverly Glenn-Copeland – Ever New
I wasn’t familiar with Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s music until about two months ago when I read about his GoFundMe. Every song on his 1986 album Keyboard Fantasies is so beautiful, but “Ever New” speaks to me most. Beverly’s voice is so soothing and warm. I always feel refreshed after listening to this track.
2. Nina Simone – Seems Like I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You
A friend introduced me to this album earlier this year, and I’ve returned to this song many times. It’s short and sweet, and so powerful. It leaves me bursting with love and gratitude.
3. Gilberto Gil – Refavela
My partner introduced me to this album at the beginning of quarantine, and we recently bought it on vinyl. The entire album is incredible, but “Refavela,” the title track, is my favorite. I love dancing to this song.
4. Sufjan Stevens – Now That I’m Older
I revisited Age of Adz, recently, and so many moments had me floored. Most of the songs on this album are loud and dense and electronic, but then there are tracks like this one that are very gentle and organic, and made mostly of vocals. I particularly enjoy the intro and outro.
5. Dolly Parton – Love Is Like A Butterfly
I just recently began exploring Dolly Parton’s catalog, and I’ve come back to this song a lot. I love the vocal melody and the descending, twinkly piano line in the verses. The lyrics are so sweet and vibrant, and Dolly’s voice is intoxicating.
Greenhouse is out August 28th via Whatever’s Clever. Click HERE for more information on Caitlin Pasko.