JPR Live Session: Kacy & Clayton

Oct 27, 2017

The music of Kacy and Clayton exists outside of time, and burgeons with beautiful contradictions. It’s psychedelic and traditional, contemporary and vintage, melancholic and joyous. All at once, it showcases a slightly psych-folk sound of Linda Perhacs, Fleet Foxes, and First Aid Kit; rare country blues records and English folk tunes; and 1920s disaster songs and murder ballads. Their songs often are sugar-coated pills, tales of murderous jealousy, dilapidated graveyards, and infanticide, all delivered with Kacy Anderson’s sweet, lithe voice, and Clayton Linthicum’s hypnotic fingerpicking.

Their latest album Strange Country, strays away from straightforward folk, delivering a sound that pairs Laurel Canyon vibes with Dustbowl-era drama. And for the duo, the subject matter is literally close to home. They’re second cousins who have grown up in the Wood Mountain Uplands, an isolated region of southern Saskatchewan. It is ranch country, very remote, with a landscape punctuated with hills, 12 miles from the Montana border. Neighbors were scarce, and their school bus ride was a long drive into town. “Where we come from it’s kind of a step behind society,” Kacy, 19, says, “We had a lot of time to take in our surroundings. Characters are still very strong.

They learned music by picking up rare vinyl at record stores -- the closest, the 21 year old Clayton says, was five hours away -- and Kacy troweled through Wikipedia to discover long-forgotten bands and musicians. But even internet was unreliable in their area. The remoteness of their town required many hours in the car, so the long trips became educational moments. “I found out about Doc Watson and The Carter Family from a tape that my grandpa had in his car,” Clayton says, “and I found out about Hank Snow and Bob Wills from a neighbor who came up on 1940s and 50s country music.” Clayton would experiment with instruments scattered in his great-uncle Carl’s basement, occasionally performing with Kacy and her sisters(Carl’s grandchildren). There wasn’t much of a conventional music scene where they lived. However, Kacy & Clayton spent most of their Sunday evenings at the seniors home performing with and for local geriatrics. To rehearse, the two cousins living six miles apart often illegally drove to each other’s houses before they had driver’s licenses.

We both started playing music because we were nerds about it,” Kacy jokes. “The history of music and reading biographies and things like that; learning about artists and traditions and styles. That is why we really like folk music.” Clayton continues: “With songwriting, it is more like travelling to a time. We are both obsessed with the old world. When we write songs we almost subconsciously think about an older world.