Interview | Robin Bacior on her new album

Robin Bacior left a mark in listeners’ heart with her album Water Dreams, an evocative collection of jazzy chamber-folk songs that do sound as the album title suggests. Robin will be releasing a new record called Light It Moved Me on the August 31st, through Spirit House Records. You can hear the first single from the record, ‘Modern Confusion’, at the foot of the article.

For Folk’s Sake: Hi Robin, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I think you are a new name for FFS readers, so would you like to introduce yourself and your music as an artist and musician?

Robin Bacior: Of course. I’m a songwriter living in the US, in Portland, Oregon. I’ve played music for many years, whether as a child taking piano lessons, learning the saxophone, singing in choirs, or touring around with my own songs. My songwriting has always hovered in the folk realm, but in recent years it’s had a lot of jazz influence, specifically from Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. Aside from my music, I’ve been a music journalist for a long time. The balance of the two has always been fascinating for me.

FFS: A new record is coming out, and I was about thinking your last record, Water Dreams. I remember there was a rare correspondence between the title and the aesthetics of the record, in terms of sound and themes. I remember you said you were even having these ‘water dreams’. Is this the case for the new one, Light It Moved Me?

RB: It is. After Water Dreams I felt a little depleted. That album was about sorting through a lot of frustration, trudging through that water. It was hard to play those songs live night after night, even though I still love each one. Following that album, the cellist I’d worked with for many years moved back to New York. I missed his presence, but it gave me the opportunity to make space for other voices. In fact, when it came time to write this record, I wanted actual voices, harmonies. I kept thinking of flipping things upside down, which gave me the visual of what’s reflected in water- light. These songs are meant to channel bodies of light- their delicacy, their odd shapes, and how much meaning they can contain.

FFS: After releasing Water Dreams, you said you hoped you could keep ‘altering your sound’. Do you think you have accomplished that with the new album and in which direction?

RB: I do. These songs feel much brighter. Water Dreams was lush and dark, and these newer songs are delicate and airy, with much more percussive backbone and romantic horn lines. I even got to pull my flute out and take lead melodies, which has been so fun. I’m already working on more music, and it’s even slightly veering into new territory. That’s the best part of writing music, getting to fall freely down those rabbit holes.

FFS: You are still based in Portland, Oregon. We reviewed Haley Heynderickx’s beautiful debut album this year, so we know that something is still going on at the moment and that’s somewhere we should look to if we want to find out where folk music is going, in America at least. What is your point of view on this latter point?

RB: Haley is wonderful. It’s been so incredible to see the world finally get to see how special she is. Portland has a talented community, absolutely, but it’s hard to say whether it’s more concentrated than others around the US. I toured through the southwest last fall, and I was so blown away by the musicians I played with in each city. One night we played in Phoenix, it was a Sunday night slot at 1 am. There were about 15 people there.The artist who played before us began his set, and it became so instantly mesmerizing. It felt like the whole world evaporated for a bit, and I got to just sit with his music in some isolated dimension. The songs were so raw, it was touching. There are so many talented people walking among us, they’re just not always propped up by labels and the industry, so it requires a little more work to find them.

FFS: Would you like to introduce to our readers your new single, ‘Modern Confusion’? Is there a socio-political hint?

RB: There is. I wrote this song after returning from a long tour through Italy. I came back to a rainy, bleak winter, and ended up with too much time spent on the internet. This song stemmed from all the emphasis put on online appearance, and how it seems to get worse and worse. It feels out of hand. I wanted the song to race, to keep pace with the online world.

Words: Lorenzo Righetto