A title doesn’t get much more Southeast Alaska than “Another Rainy Day.”
That’s the name of a forthcoming single and extended play by Juneau-based singer-songwriter Erin Heist — and with good reason. The talent behind both the EP and single all hail from perpetually precipitation-soaked places, and Heist said the song came to her during last summer’s nearly record-setting rain.
The song and EP had less local and literal inspirations, too. The summer of 2020 was roiled by political unrest following the murder of George Floyd and marred by an isolating pandemic.
The song was inspired by “that feeling of sitting at your window on a rainy day and wondering what the heck is going on in the world,” Heist said in a phone interview.
Both the single, which will be released on the common music-streaming platforms on Friday, and the EP, which releases on July 16, can be traced further back to a self-set goal of writing one song every month for the entirety of 2020, Heist said.
While Heist said she had previously “never recorded anything ever,” she decided to reach out to her cousin, Patrick Troll, to see if he could assist her in recording some of her new songs. Troll, is a songwriter, guitarist and producer based in Seattle and originally from Ketchikan whose assorted projects include DJ ALTER-NATIVE, Whiskey Class and Revilla.
“He came up for five days at the end of April, and we recorded in Studio A,” Heist said. “He mixed the whole thing kind of on the fly.”
She said recording with her cousin was like watching a magician work and praised both his ear as a producer and his work as a musician. Troll contributed “electric space guitar” to an appropriately plaintive, vaguely haunted take on Western standard “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie.”
Troll wasn’t the only contributor the project, as Heist’s husband, Andrew, contributed vocals, fiddle and “electric space fiddle” to the five-song collection.
While both Andrew and Erin Heist are no strangers to performing music — Erin is a frequent performer and past board president of the Alaska Folk Festival, and Andrew is the current board president and longtime member of the Great Alaska Bluegrass Band — they are less familiar with creating art in-studio. Erin Heist said the recording process offered some surprises, such as the sound of her own voice.
“As someone who’s really only performed or played in jams, I didn’t realize how differently that I sing every single line every single time,” Erin Heist said. “Honestly, I came out of this whole thing thinking I need to apologize to any musician I know who’s ever recorded anything.”
A firsthand encounter with the sheer amount of work and disparate tasks required to record, release and promote music are also eye-opening.
“We live in a very different world when it comes to releasing music than people did 40 or 60 years ago,” Erin Heist said. “Every musician out here is running a small business, where they have a staff of 10, and they’re all one person.”
Even more work and a full-length release await.
Five songs comprise the “Another Rainy Day” EP, and two of them are covers. “Rock Bottom Riser” by beloved indie institution Bill Callahan, who previously released music under the Smog moniker, is the collection’s other non-original tune. That leaves plenty of ideas percolating from a year spent writing original tunes, and Erin Heist received a $2,500 grant from Juneau Community Foundation to record what will be her first full-length album.
“This EP was kind of built to be a standalone project with Patrick,” Erin Heist said. “(The full-length album) will probably a little bit more traditional, probably with a full band.”
That means a four- or five-piece band on every track and tracks that push the tempo harder than the relatively mellow EP, according to Erin Heist.
Tentative plans to eventually release the “Another Rainy Day” EP on CD to go along with it’s virtual release mean the full-length album probably won’t be the first physical release in Erin Heist’s body of work, the full-length may become her first release that listeners can take for a spin on a turntable.
“That project, I think I’m probably going to do that on vinyl,” Heist said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt