“It became a creative collaboration where our ideas were able to flourish collectively while serving the songs.”
Inventive, poetic music is a wonderful thing. It can broaden artistic horizons and straight up wow the senses.
Boston indie folk musician Anjimile employs such an approach throughout their debut album, Giver Taker. Released on September 18 via the San Francisco-based Father/Daughter Records, the project packs in pleasant clashes of acoustic and electronic sounds to make for an extremely dynamic pop piece to frame the profound song lyrics.
Giver Taker shows that there is still plenty of room for contemporary styles to grow far beyond generic sounds. Ahead of the album’s release, Anjimile and I spoke about joining up with a label for the first time and working in a positive environment.
Giver Taker is your grand introduction into the Father/Daughter Records roster. The indie label is a reputable one, putting out releases from acts like Mutual Benefit, Diet Cig, Vagabon, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and many others. How did you get linked up with them for this release?
Last year, I got a big grant from Live Arts Boston via The Boston Foundation to make a record, and with this grant I hired two producers. One of them, Gabe Goodman, had a plan for the release. We were either going to get a label to be interested and shop it around, or we were going to pay for a publicist and do it ourselves.
Tyler Andere is the a&r rep at Father/Daughter and the label was mentioned to me a couple years ago by my friend Kelsie, who is part of their roster as Sir Babygirl. They said that Father/Daughter is a great label and they would be a great fit for me and I should reach out to them if I was ever interested. I definitely was interested and I saw that Tyler was doing sliding scale consultations for folks in the music industry, so we prepared three mixes to send to him.
We were like, Hey, we want to shop this record to some labels and we want to know if it’s a good idea and if we can get any advice from you. We sent him the songs and after we had a chat he said, This sounds like a good plan and also, I think this music sounds lit as fuck and I’d like to show it to Jessi [Frick] at Father/Daughter and we’re super interested. At that point, I was like, Hell yeah!, because once Kelsie told me about the label I was obsessed with the fact that they’re uplifting queer and trans voices. When they indicated interest I was very happy about it and Tyler also gave us a list of other labels to reach out to.
We reached out to a couple of them and they were super kind and sweet, but the vibe with Father/Daughter was just so good. Jessi reached out to us and said, Hey, we think this is amazing and we’d like to work with you. I then signed to the label this past November and that’s how it went down.
It’s always cool to hear about an independent musician being signed to a great label like Father/Daughter that does it the right way. … Musically, the album captures your raw essence as a songwriter on guitar with a ton of other elements at play, which include electronic beats, synths, pianos, vocal harmonies, and even a flute. What was your vision while making the record? Did it evolve as each track was completed?
The idea was to have it be as stripped down as possible with me doing live takes on guitar and vocals while adding little things as necessary. Gabe and the co-producer Justine Bowe brought a lot of instrumental creativity to the album itself. There were times when we were listening to an acoustic and vocals mix and we would figure out if this particular bass line would go with it or if we added a flute, how would it fit? Hearing their ideas made me want to try them all out, their musical sensibilities are so different than mine and they’re more influenced by electronic music and stuff I don’t listen to. When they had these ideas to add these elements to my music, it sounded awesome and I think in that way it became a creative collaboration where our ideas were able to flourish collectively while serving the songs.
I found it to be refreshing. It’s really different and unique. You also recorded the album in three different places—Brooklyn, Boston, and New Hampshire …
We initially went up to New Hampshire for the vibe. Justine’s parents have a house there and it’s on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro. It’s a gorgeous place and that’s where we laid down the first takes. We did a lot of scratch takes there and it was a nice, calming and centering location to record this chill acoustic music. That’s why we recorded in New Hampshire. We then went to Brooklyn and Somerville and we recorded once a month on a weekend for 10 months because we all have jobs and stuff to do.
You’ve stated that a lot of the songs on Giver Taker were written while you were working on improving your mental health. Would you consider the process of making the album to be therapeutic for you?
I would say so. It’s definitely not a therapy outlet. My therapy is therapy, but it was helpful in the way that without therapy, those songs wouldn’t have been written. Writing them and recording them in a supportive space with Gabe and Justine was incredibly therapeutic and contributed further to the healing.
After the album comes out, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’d definitely like to do some livestreams and stuff like that. I’d also like to do some shows, but it depends on how safe it feels. There’s probably going to be a second wave of COVID-19 later in the year, but I’ve been writing a ton. Probably most of my time is going to be spent writing because I’ve been feeling very, very creative lately.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.