AUTUMN by AFTYN | INTERVIEW
Author: Sean Manuel
Living in a society in which life perpetually seems to get busier and further complicated every passing day, one of the most therapeutic experiences I cherish is streaming folk music and letting my anxieties drift away into the simplistic, earthy soundscape. BlowUpRadio.com's artist spotlight this week, AFTYN, are one such indie folk act contributing to society's audial soothing from Pitman, New Jersey. Songwriters and guitarists Guinnevere Philipp and Chris Maher compose the folk duo and submit a single offering entitled "Autumn" that discusses a reality many of us cyclically experience as summer changes to autumn and vibrant life turns to isolated hibernation. Philipp's airy timbre and vibrato will enchant over Maher's precisely elegant fingerpicking; and, before you know it, the electric rhythm section will drive you into a summer ether. Before their upcoming appearances at the weekly Writers Round at Crossroads (78 North Ave, Garwood, NJ 07027) on Wednesday, May 3rd and an opening set for American Idol's Drew Angus at the Broadway Theatre (43 S Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071) June 9th, we will have an insightful conversation with AFYTN.
Hello, AFTYN! Congratulations on your most recent release entitled "Autumn." It continues a progression from your 2021 Paramore cover "All I Wanted" and your 2022 single release "Cool Girl" of releases with electric instrumentation in your arrangements. In a similar vein to folk artists like Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers, and fellow folk punk NJ indie artist Joe Billy, "going electric," adds a new dimension to your sound and affords you new textures in your sonic palette to craft affecting songs. Compare and contrast your creative process between your releases pre-and-post "All I Wanted." What aspects of creating with an electric ensemble were empowering? Did you encounter any new challenges?
Guinnevere: Thank you! "Autumn" was a really fun song to work on and watch come to life. Because our songs all begin as stripped-down acoustic songs, going electric and adding new elements has been a great process. Chris has experience with full-band sound from his previous projects and is able to bring that knowledge to the writing and recording process. I feel like this is how Aftyn operates at its core because his interests are in pop punk and rock music, whereas mine (Guinnevere) are more in the folk realm. Bringing these two worlds together is important to us and comes fairly easy for us when we create.
Like past AFTYN releases, you recorded "Autumn" at The Gradwell House in Haddon Heights. Dom Maggi, a mix and mastering engineer on past releases, played an increased role on "Autumn." Please tell us what Maggi brought to the release.
Guinnevere: Recording with Dom Maggi was a really wonderful collaborative experience. He has a great ear for taking inspiration from songs/artists and helping you replicate those desired sounds while still being original. I gave him a playlist of some artists such as Courtney Marie Andrews and Phoebe Bridgers to try and draw inspiration for "Autumn". He even went on to draw inspiration from some similar artists and we built off of those sounds together.
"Autumn" is a common time midtempo B mixolydian song in AABCABCA song form. It touches on such relatable themes as seasonal change, our behavioral responses to seasonal change, and humanity's natural needs for social interaction and connection. The first two verses ("Been trying to get the same things done for six or seven weeks now," and, "Spend entire days in bed, watching reruns deafening," in particular) appear to discuss bad habits like procrastination and binge-watching television. Does the change of season from summer to autumn exacerbate these habits?
Guinnevere: Definitely. I feel like the end of summertime and transitioning to the colder months can be very difficult for some people, including myself. At the same time, I think it's important to rest and let the fall and winter be a time for hibernation in a sense because procrastination doesn't always have to be a bad thing.
The third verse introduces a love interest ("And here you come again, and then I watch you leaving...") while the chorus screams desire ("I wanna know you in a different light, I wanna know you my entire life..."). As the summer shifts to autumn, is it taking a summer love with it?
Guinnevere: Autumn is taking away the freedom of summer love, but the next line, "driving down that same old road, I'll see you in five minutes," is sort of a metaphor for how quickly we can get through the colder darker times, in season or in love, and things will come back.
A pleasing chord substitution occurs at the end of the chorus as the melody resolves to an E4 while the underlying chord is an F#m(7) (instead of an E). It communicates a sense of distance in the newly-introduced bridge section that plays well to the song's narrative. What did you envision when writing this section of the song?
Guinnevere: We were just playing around with chords and progressions and somehow that part just seemed to fit! We usually write lyrics separately and music after so we have a mood in mind to work off of musically.
You are set to appear at a new weekly event called Writers Round at Crossroads in Garwood on Wednesday, May 3rd. Please tell us about Writer's Round and what fans can expect to hear from AFTYN at the event.
Guinnevere: We were in Nashville (a few years, about) at the Listening Room. There they have a few artists on stage who go around in a row playing one song at a time. Writers Round has the same concept, so we were super excited to be asked to participate. It's hosted by our good friend and great musician Rory D'Lasnow. People can expect to hear "Autumn" and maybe some unreleased stuff!
A probable highlight show of the year so far, you are also scheduled to perform an opening set for American Idol's Drew Angus in your hometown. How did that come to be? Give us the details!
Chris: Guinnevere grew up in Pitman and has always wanted to perform at the Pitman Broadway Theatre. We DM'ed Drew asking if he was in need of an opener, and thankfully he was interested in us taking part and set us up with a management team for the event! We couldn't be more stoked to open for Drew and perform at a venue as historic as the Broadway Theatre of Pitman.
Without divulging too much, I am aware you have new releases in the works for this year. Following the progression of tracking with electronic instruments, what new kinds of sonic treats can we expect in future AFTYN releases?
Chris: We do have some new releases in the works as well as visual projects to accompany them. The sound is still the same us, but I think these new songs have an elevated feel to them and we're very excited to put them out.
Where can people go to connect and interact with AFTYN?
Chris: We're on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @aftynband and on all streaming services under AFTYN.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Guinnevere: Thank you so much for the questions and we look forward to sharing some new stuff very soon!
Artist Bio: A simplistic indie/folk duo, AFTYN are hellbent on keeping it personal. AFTYN aims to evoke an updated 70's folk sound, blended with both classic and alternative influences. Soothing melodies and raw instrumentation are the core of the duo, who self describe themselves as 'modern hippies'.
About the Author: Sean Manuel is a Senior enrolled in New Jersey City University's Honors Program. A Music Business major, Sean specializes in the piano and bass guitar. Outside of academia, Sean performs in and manages the Bayonne indie-pop group BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Are you interested in their music? Follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj and stream their releases on all platforms.