Northern Transmissions chatted with Anna Fox Rochinski from Quilt about the band’s upcoming album Held In Splendor, as well as a few other interesting topics. The LP drops January 28th via Mexican Summer
NT: Quilt formed at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where you were all studying visual arts. What was it that you guys bonded over?
AFR: Right off the bat, I loved Shane and Taylor’s sensibilities, musically and aesthetically (Taylor is our founding drummer who plays on 75% of the first record… they had an acoustic band, just the 2 of them). We all got along really well in many ways, and found that we all had complimentary music taste as well as tons of mutual friends. I remember showing up for the first “practice” with an acoustic guitar and an Indian instrument called a Bulbul Tarang.
NT: Shane grew up in a spiritual community involving quite a bit of chanting, while you grew up singing classical in choirs. How has this effected the way you guys sing and write?
AFR: We have had all sorts of musical experiences between the three of us individually, but in terms of my time singing in classical choir as a kid, it really sharpened my musical ear in many ways — especially being able to instinctively figure out complex harmonies and singing arrangements. I want to write a song with, like, 36 different layered harmonies. It would be such a blast.
NT: You have described your music as “visual without any visuals”, can you tell us a bit about that quote?
AFR: This was something that a journalist said, and I have never been quite sure what they meant. I think our band is very visual, at least in terms of our songwriting process, which often is born out of an internal “visualization” of the song’s structure. Perhaps the writer was pointing to the visual nature of the songs, remaining that way regardless of whether or not there is a video component.
NT: The recording process behind Held In Splendor is described as pretty intense, did you put a bit more pressure on yourselves to make a better record this time?
AFR: I wasn’t approaching it as wanting to make this record better than the last one… in fact, I wasn’t thinking too specifically about the first record when recording Held In Splendor. I did want the songs to be a little more diverse, I suppose, and wanted some of the songs to be more upbeat. Overall, just a dynamic feeling album. The thing is, every record speaks to its own little time in your life as an artist. Held In Splendor was made in a much different way than the self-titled record, and I learned different things this time, building on what I had learned the first time. Recording the self-titled was a huge learning experience for all of us. And yes, this time, recording for a month in a very professional studio gave the whole experience a different vibe at times, but ultimately, it was still, you know… us. Just a little bit older and more experienced and ready to craft a full-length album with a ton of time and resources at our disposal. It was magical.
NT: Did you ever have second thoughts about the future of the band, your first album had come out just as you had finished school.
AFR: Well, the album actually came out a whole year and a half after we finished school. We began recording it right after we graduated, and the process of compiling and finishing everything occurred during many big changes. By the time it was finally released, we were all feeling pretty committed and ready to tackle the journey ahead of us. But, yes, the year after college ends is always challenging for everyone in different ways. We had a few ups and downs, but the whole time I knew that Quilt was what I wanted to focus on.
NT: Which five albums are still inspiring you?
AFR: Plenty! I was watching an interview with Bruce Springsteen last night and he was lamenting the lack of good modern albums. Some examples of my favorites are ‘Spirit of the Golden Juice’ by FJ McMahon, ‘Agadez’ by Bombino, ‘Lonerism’ by Tame Impala, ‘McCartney’ by Paul McCartney, and ‘Loaded’ by the Velvet Underground.