From the heart of Baltimore, a city with music running through its veins, Cara Beth Satalino brings a new album from her indie-pop project Outer Spaces, drawing vocal comparisons with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Soccer Mommy. A collection of tracks full of clear melodies and reflective lyrics, the result is a cathartic and emollient body of work. We spoke to Cara Beth to find out more about the inspiration for her songs and the eclectic set of artists she listened to in the process of writing and recording.
Your new album Gazing Globe is out on 28th June – how long has it been in the making and who’s been involved?
It’s been quite a long process actually. I started writing some of these songs about three years ago. In 2017 I took a little break from playing shows to finish writing and I demo-ed everything myself at home before going into the studio, so I had a very good idea where I wanted things to go. I recorded the record at Tempo House in Baltimore, working with Chester Gwazda and Jared Paolini in March of 2018. My good friend and former band-mate Rob Dowler played drums on all of the tracks and Chester played the bass and keys.
In the process of making the album, you said that you were reflecting on a period where you were ‘obsessed with finding music from the past that has a cult following now, but never really ‘caught on’ at the time it was released, either because it was ahead of its time or simply because no-one had really heard it’. Which artists did you have in mind that you’d recommend?
One of my favourite albums is East and West by Anna Domino. It’s incredible, and so innovative. I listen to it weekly. Linda Perhacs’ record Parallelograms is another favourite. Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Vivien Goldman. It seemed to me that there were so many women making amazing music and going largely unnoticed. I also fell in love with the music of Francis Bebey, Ernie Graham and The Cleaners from Venus.
Tell us some more about Gazing Globe and what we can expect.
When I wrote a lot of the songs on Gazing Globe I was doing some exploration of my inner self, starting a daily meditation practice. A few of the songs reference another person, who is most likely myself. The title track came to me more like a vision. I liked the image of a gazing globe on a moonlit night. In the song, the character is compelled to explore the garden after dark, in a sleepy haze, further disoriented by the distorted reflection of themselves and their surroundings. They are looking for this person whose reflection they see, but it’s really just them all along. It’s kind of a metaphor for the trap of self-improvement. Basically, Gazing Globe is a record about learning to soften to yourself and really love yourself.
How does it differ from your past work and what’s influenced this?
People have told me since I was young that my songs were ‘sad’, which I’ve always hated. As if there are two feelings: happy and sad. What a boring and limiting way to experience the world. I think on my last two records I was trying to make the ‘sad’ songs more peppy, more upbeat, more poppy. With this record I was trying to get outside the box with my songwriting and guitar style. On Paper Flowers that meant letting go and deliberately choosing a very simplistic chord progression, losing that sense of ‘structure’ completely. On songs like I Slowly Close my Eyes I was really trying to make this windy guitar part that kind of pulls you along gently, but doesn’t feel complicated. I was just getting into meditation and I was trying to express my experience of it through music.
What’s your local music scene like in Baltimore at the moment?
After a bit of a slump, it seems like it’s really starting to come back. A few of my favourites have or are about to release new music this year. I’m especially into Abdu Ali’s new record. Baltimore is home to so many amazing artists so it’s nice to feel like the music scene is thriving again.
And what’s next for Outer Spaces?
I’ve already started writing for a new record, though I haven’t made my mind up yet about how it will sound. I’ve been working on stripping things down and doing more solo performances, so I’d imagine it will be a bit more sparse, but time will tell. In the meantime, we’ll be hitting the road and touring a bunch this summer.
Gazing Globe is released on 28th June via Western Vinyl; for a taste of what’s to come you can listen to latest single Album for Ghosts here and follow Outer Spaces for updates on future releases and live dates.
Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © Chester Gwazda
7th June 2019