Winter Grain has today released their new video for the track titled ‘Passenger Seat’. With a sublimely introverted sound, the almost angelically pristine style of vocals over a sweetly subtle guitar that blends into a Nashville style orchestral sound, Winter Grain show they have the salt to make a name for themselves in this ever competitive #indie scene while keeping their sonic integrity and signature sound completely intact and without compromise. Stunning.
When singer-songwriter Kate Anderson moved from Reno, Nev. to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2014, she met guitarist Secily Saunders while looking for band members. Discovering a musical and personal harmony, they formed a band around Kate’s songs and gigged locally and regionally.
Before the band had been together a year, Kate, a helicopter pilot with the Army, was chosen to train on the storied Blackhawk chopper—just as she was switching jobs in her civilian life. In addition, she and Secily became engaged. Late one night, Kate and Secily reflected on their musical direction. “If we could make a wish,” Kate said to Secily, “where would we go from here?”
They elected to go big. Where usually a band would write, and rehearse an album, then find a producer and a studio, they decided to work backward. Being big Brandi Carlile fans, they inquired about tracking their first release at Bear Creek Studio.
To what Kate calls their “excitedly terrified surprise,” they’d soon booked a week at the Seattle studio during the last week of February 2017. That gave them less than a month to field a band, choose a name and write some new songs. “We didn’t know who was going up with us until a week-and-a-half before we left,” says Secily. They managed to assemble a tight five-piece group comprised of friends and previous collaborators who could travel during that window. The band name came when from one of them, a luthier.
“Winter Grain” describes the ideal woodgrain for instrument-making: durable, lovely and resonant. “It gets that dark grain from the tree having pulled its nutrients into the roots and bark, hardening itself for the winter to survive. Then, when spring comes, it uses those nutrients for a growth spurt,” Kate says. As it happened, it proved a sublime metaphor for the transitional period all the band-mates were going through, ranging from breakups, to addictions, and the death of a spouse.
The next step was to write some new songs. They sent demos of material old and new to Bear Creek’s Ryan Hadlock (Foo Fighters, The Lumineers, Vance Joy), who suggested the five tracks that became the Bear Creek EP. Through Hadlock, the band secured the mastering services of Grammy-winning Gavin Lurssen (Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams). “When we came back with this beautiful-sounding EP, it only seemed right and natural to say, ‘Let’s go big again,’” Kate says.
So, instead of booking a release show at one of their usual venues, they thought outside-the-box. Teaming up with Salt Lake’s Clark Planetarium, Winter Grain produced what may be the first folk-rock laser-light show listening party. The June 2017 show was a hit, earning the band a “Best of Utah” award from Salt Lake City Weekly, who described the event as “a full-immersion multimedia experience that made the music more immediate and present, engaging multiple senses and causing eruptions of gooseflesh.”
Once again, life zigged instead of zagged. After a year of playing listening rooms and private parties, Kate and Secily had sensed a big change coming. Initially, they thought it might be another album, or perhaps another unique event. It wound up being both. In August 2018, they released the three-track EP Pale Horse Sound, produced by Greg Downs at his studio and once more mastered by Lurssen.
While it is, in fact, momentous— there was another, bigger change in store. Shortly after completing the EP, Winter Grain decided to move to explore music in another city, namely Los Angeles. It made sense, because Secily had already lived there and knew people. She learned she could teach music at Manhattan Academy. The morning after their final show, Winter Grain left Salt Lake City for L.A. where Kate joined the California Army National Guard
Since their arrival in L.A. they’ve set out to sample as much of the music scene as they can. Teaming up with Berklee School of Music grads, Elliott Klein and Ryan Gleason, they also added Morris Carrillo as percussionist. In 2019, they played Hotel Café, Whiskey A Go-Go, House of Blues – Anaheim, among other venues, festivals and radio stations. When COVID hit in early 2020 they shifted their focus to online shows and crafting new original music.
Come October, they found themselves at Bear Creek Studio again, but this time, socially distanced. During recording, nobody could have guessed how elections would end up or how tensions were to rise before Inauguration Day. However, it grew increasingly clear during mastering that the EP release wouldn’t be complete without “Fists” setting the tone.
Released on the 20th of January, “Fists” set the tone for the five-track EP to be launched this summer. On Valentine’s Day, Kate was deployed with her Army unit, leaving Winter Grain limited on what shows they can perform in the next year. However, it is with great joy and anticipation that they plan to participate in the digital music scene as much as possible to keep the music alive.
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