The Call of Autumn

Folk-Pop Band Autumn Still Offer a Glimpse into the Consciousness of a Musician

photo courtesy of Autumn Still.

Autumn Still, a thriving pop-folk trio from Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the product of a long-term friendship bound by a shared passion for music. Set to release their new self-titled EP on Dec. 4, the band’s latest songs evoke themes of internal dialogue, relationships and isolation.

The band comprises lead vocalist and bassist Bethany Swanson, guitarist Trevor Graumann and drummer Roger Arseneault, a lineup that forms the culmination of several previous collaborations. Autumn Still has recently attracted a fair share of buzz across Canada’s local music scene and college radio stations, hoping to take the scene by storm.

“The core of the band is comprised of myself and Bethany; we’re the two principal sub-writers,” Graumann told The Link. “We’ve actually been friends since high school. For several years before, we were doing solo projects and were in a couple of bands. But just about a year and half ago, we got together with our drummer Roger to create Autumn Still.”

Following their formation, the band started recording songs in Arseneault’s home studio. While the collection that appears on the self-titled EP runs under 15 minutes, Graumann explained that they wanted to highlight their best and most carefully-crafted songs.

“We worked hard to get to the point where we felt it was beautiful. Often people ask why [there are] only three songs and we felt that it was [about] quality over quantity.

“We had worked out the arrangements to a certain point and we realized that lyrically these songs have a tightness together,” Graumann continued, adding that the band paid special attention to composing their music around their lyrics. “It was a matter of where the arrangements [should go] and it lumped together nicely,” he said.

Motown, 1950s doo-wop and 1960s pop music have greatly impacted Autumn Still’s creative process, which shines through in their old-school guitar tones.

Their longing for a particular musical past can be heard through their three songs “Our Last”, “Long Terms” and “Bartholomew”. Melodically akin to ballads of the 1960s, the band adds a modern pop-rock vibe with Swanson’s haunting vocals and Graumann’s guitar licks that resemble 1990s indie pop bands Camera Obscura or Belle and Sebastian.

However, Autumn Still attributes their greatest musical inspirations to British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac and Canadian folk singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. Autumn Still strives to create quality recordings with strong and meaningful lyrics, which they see those artists as exemplifying.

“Fleetwood Mac represents a spiritual influence on the band because it’s a common interest we bonded over for a long time. Leonard Cohen also has played a great role because of his emphasis on lyrical work that we stress,” Graumann said.

“In a general sense, we qualify ourselves as an accommodation of a folk band with pop elements. Folk especially because of our lyricism that we take a lot of time to craft. I know that a lot of people would define us as such and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to write well and how it will fit into the musical arrangement.”

Friendship, relationships and isolation were themes the band decided to explore in the songs “Our Last” and “Long Terms” because of close personal experiences that have affected them. Graumann and Swanson structured the lyrics in a way that exposed their mind’s internal stream of consciousness.

“The lyrics are disjointed, which accounts for their mysteriousness. That’s when the stream of consciousness comes in. The whole idea of not speaking coherently when you’re talking to yourself,” Graumann said.

“These songs are about different people and friends,” he continued. “Mostly about how I’ve seen them change in the long term. Particularly about someone who’s becoming increasingly isolated, and sort of not living much of a life now.”

Autumn Still will be releasing their EP on Dec. 4 in Winnipeg at the Good Will – Social Club. The band intends to tour across Canada this spring, with hopes of stopping by in Montreal.

“By the springtime we’ll be on the road. We’re putting the EP out right now on college radio, at this point we’re trying to see who responds to it, where it makes sense for us to go,” Graumann said.