First Look: Railbird

Brooklyn's Sarah K. Pedinotti, S.K.P., vocalist and bandleader of Railbird, is heating up indie experimental scene with their heavy, deliciously moody, music. With the recent release of their first studio album, No One, a conceptual album that took over a year-and-a-half to make, Railbird has been on a mission to steal the heart's of their listeners. And they're doing a pretty damn good job.

Railbird's dark, brooding, and often complex melodies combined with a distinct, unique voice adds something both familiar and fresh to the scene. In fact, S.K.P's voice has drawn comparisons to luminaries Bjork and Kate Bush. This is seen most definitely in title track number three, "No One," a funky fifties-era throwback instrumentally rich bitty, with a flaunting playfulness that adds to the song's appeal. Also, in "Ashes In," it is possible that S.K.P. channeled Kate Bush for the recording. I'd add that Enya seems to make an appearance in Railbird's music with all the dreamy, floaty, tonal overlays.

But don't let the voice distract you from the brilliance of this creative.

No One is an instrumentally rich offering with an interesting blend of creative direction. It reminds me of watching the Pink Floyd laser light show, No One is a completely existential listening experience that left me confused, bewildered and strangely impressed.

No One truly is a full listening, almost theatrical experience. "Empty House," and, "Not Alone," is like eavesdropping on stage to the main character's inner thoughts, or being requested to visualize an interpretive dance number with only music as your aide, but I dig it. And okay, "Monster" truly scares me. It reminds me of something that could be tracked in the movie, The Shining, but at least she pulls emotion from you. As much as I want to shake off the track, there is no denying the fact that this girl has the stuff. The kind of voice that makes your skin crawl and flesh itch because you're craving more. My favorite track is "Kiss the Wall," where a kaleidoscope of sound evokes all sorts of mysterious images in my mind.

Suffice it to say they are worth a look if you are into unusual, heady music. Besides, anyone who can quote Rocky twice during an interview is okay in my book. We caught up with S.K.P. in between tour dates for a brief chat.

If you are bored to death of the musical snacks crossing your plate, we recommend you check this band out. With haunting lyricism, infectious vocals, and a rhythm section that will blow your mind, Railbird fills a niche that has been starving for attention on the scene.

antiMusic: Talk about the name, Railbird. Where/how did you guys meet and what were the circumstances that led you to forming a band?

S.K.P. The name Railbird made sense for a few reasons. But mostly, I like the words, rail and bird. I think of steel bars laid on the ground, forming a track connecting one place to another. And I think of a tiny warm-blooded creature flying through the air, singing.

We met at different stages. Chris Carey (the drummer) and I have been playing together every summer since high school. We went to different colleges and Chris started a band with the other Chris and I started playing with Ben. Eventually we merged our bands in Saratoga Springs and added James.

antiMusic: What kind of music were you listening to growing up?

S.K.P. Growing up we had a turntable and a house full of records. My favorites back then were Billie Holiday, Whitney Houston, Buddy Holly, Etta James, James Brown and Elvis.

antiMusic: What was the music scene like in your neighborhood?

S.K.P. I grew up in Galway, NY. A tiny village with one general store and a whole lot of cows. So as far as I was concerned the music "scene" was an old lady named Mrs. Mackenzie, who played classical piano (really beautifully, actually) with a hunchback. I lived next door and I was terrified of her.

She was my piano teacher in first grade and introduced me to Beethoven and Mozart. Moonlight Sonata became the hippest, most mysterious piece of music on the scene. It was my favorite song to play on piano.

antiMusic: Did you meet with resistance following your dreams?

S.K.P. Sure. It's a struggle. But in the voice of Rocky Balboa " it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. " Gotta love Rocky.

antiMusic: What challenges have you had to overcome?

S.K.P. The music business can drive you insane and steal your soul, if you take it too seriously. But when you're starting out, you've got to build a name for yourself and if you don't have money, you can't pay people to do that for you. I don't want to be a sales person, or a marketing person, or a booking agent, (etc, etc...) and I hate doing that s***. But on the other hand nobody wants to do it for free and No One wants to sign a band No One knows about. So D.I.Y by default! We book our own tours (a feat in itself) And I wait tables to fund putting out Railbird releases and to hopefully, put enough gas in the van to tour. It's all a little crazy but, depending on the day, worth it.

antiMusic: What musician did you admire?

S.K.P. The incredible Lee Shaw

antiMusic: What kind of music did you start out playing? Writing?

S.K.P. I wrote my first song with my best friend in middle school. I played piano and sang and she played flute. It was about a crazy lady who walked around her garden in the middle of the night, trying to communicate with her lover's ghost and contemplating the meaning of her existence. It sounds way better than it was. I wrote the lyrics while dunking gram crackers in milk. We were a pretty badass duo, come to think of it.

antiMusic: You sing a lot about nervous breakdowns, despair, love, can you tell us more about these themes and the personal experiences that influenced them?

S.K.P. This is a tough one for me. I think I'd rather leave it up to the listener.

antiMusic: Talk about the recording process. Who did you work with, who helped mixed and produce the album?

S.K.P. The songs were tight going into the studio because we did a lot of rehearsing beforehand. We did a lot of collaborating on arrangements before the session. So most of the album was tracked in 1-3 takes. The band was tracked live with the vocals. The sessions were engineered by Jonathan Jetter. Jeremy Gustin then took the tracks back to his apartment in Bushwick and cut stuff up, took stuff out, and pieced things back together, post-production style. We took the final tracks to Jon Jetter's studio in Manhattan and mixed it with Jeremy and Jon. We got it mastered to tape by Jonathan Wyner in Cambridge, MA.

antiMusic: Do you think the final project is a clear representation of what your initial vision was?

S.K.P. Hard question. But I can say it exceeded my expectations and I'm proud of the outcome and everyone involved.

antiMusic: What did everyone bring to the table? What disagreements, if any, did you have to cede?

S.K.P. I could write a novel outlining each band member's strengths but it'd take too long. We're all very different but somehow it works.

antiMusic: What's next?

S.K.P. More touring, more records to be made, more songs to write. Some Rocky marathons. "It's your right to listen to your gut, it ain't nobody's right to say no after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do!"

The man's got heart.

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