By Liz McArthur (Host of And I’m Here To Say Wednesday 5:00-6:00PM)
Jennifer Castle says she recently spends time being surprised about her career. “Huh, I’m a musician. That’s so weird,” she laughs over the phone as she drives back from shooting some video footage for a yet-to-be-decided song from her new album Pink City. “I guess it makes total sense, because I’ve been very musical forever, but I didn’t pick up an instrument until I was 18.”
Pink City is Castle’s fourth album. She released two under the moniker Castlemusic before switching to using her full name. “It felt significant, but nothing huge. It didn’t feel strange, but it just naturally occurred to me to change it to Jennifer Castle. There was a bit of a musical shift I guess at the time, but I think that was just me becoming more experienced recording and playing.”
Indeed, some of the arrangements on the current album seem more intricate, more expertly layered than her earlier folk compositions and pared-down live performances. She describes the process of fleshing-out the songs on the new album as hallucinogenic. Despite deeper complexities in the music, the intention was to create an album that still sounded like Castle alone with her guitar or piano.
“I treated it more just like it was hallucinogenic. Just in that the songs kind of sounded like they were daydreaming the music, and the arrangements were sort of hallucinations,” she says of the tone of the album. Her voice still exists as the main feature of the pieces on Pink City, but orchestration arranged by Owen Pallet and Mike Smith soar above and below her voice on songs like “Truth Is the Freshest Fruit” and “Sailing Away”.
She says the hallucination concept comes from the way she writes. “[It] is more just like if I’m playing guitar alone at home and then you hear other things, arrangements, it’s kind of like you’re hallucinating and the actual music is playing … So it is just sort of an articulation of that experience. You hear things in your head and then actually do it. Owen [Pallet] was helpful with the orchestra which just sounds so amazing. I mean, all of the musicians sound, I think, very beautiful.”
A fine balance of reality and daydream informs Castle’s song writing. She says it takes discipline to balance the real world and fantasy when creating art. “I would want the expression of imagination to be of somebody who is living a life that is somehow aware of their own surroundings. I’m just inclined to think about what’s happening around me. Kind of taking things seriously but establishing a strong relationship with what’s around you and then drifting from that.” She does write from experience but says she is not completely autobiographical. “The language to me feels very safe and it’s larger than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t mean one specific thing so I don’t ultimately feel all that revealed. And I don’t think anybody else would either.”