- Words Josephine Amstad
- Photography Matilda Hill-Jenkins
Following the release of their new single "Do You Want It All?", 20-year-old Bognor Regis artist pinkpirate chats to Notion about the track, how they got into music and what's next on the agenda.
Fresh of their signing to PIAS records and following the release of their EP “Nowhere” in 2021, 20-year-old singer-songwriter pink pirate is back with “Do You Want It All?”
Inspired by the likes of Bon Iver and Rina Sawayama, pinkpirate’s latest offering leans into a euphonious bedroom pop sound with their haunting vocal performance taking centre stage. Co-produced by Bullion who was worked with Nilüfer Yanya and Orlando Weeks, the cut contends with unequal relationships, with pinkpirate playing with pitch to denote a back-and-forth conversation.
Speaking on the track, pinkpirate (real name Caitlin) explains: ‘”Do You Want It All?” is about the sort of person who doesn’t like to give but loves to take in a relationship. It’s about the feeling of somebody taking all you have and treating you badly but not being able to see that they’ve done that. The song is almost like a conversation between me and them – with the pitched up vocals meant to represent the other voice within the relationship. I didn’t want it to be a completely plain and simple piano based song, so I was inspired a lot by Bon Iver and James Blake in my production.’
Having grown up in Bognor Regis – dubbed the ‘sunniest town in the UK’ – pinkpirate admits ‘there’s not much to do in Bognor Regis when it’s not sunny’. Rather than being a hindrance, their upbringing in the slow-paced seaside town aided in their musical development. Growing up as a queer neurodivergent youth in a place where the music scene was virtually non-existent, pinkpirate travelled elsewhere to satisfy their musical hunger. pinkpirate discovered the UK Indie scene, travelling out of town to catch artist’s that inspired them from Wolf Alice to the 1975. Without the hunger to do more and look further afield, pinkpirate might not have come to fruition the way we know them today.
Although the artist played trumpet from a young age, they didn’t realise the potential of their voice and musical talent till they reached sixth form. Now with over 1.5 million streams and coveted spots on Spotify’s ‘New Music Fridays’ and ‘Our Generation’, pinkpirate can be assured their music is touching those even further afield. The rising artist chats to Notion about their latest single, who inspired them growing up and why they’d describe their music as ‘introverted.’
Congratulations on your new single “Do You Want It All?” What inspired the track?
The track was initially inspired by the music that Bon Iver were releasing at the time, PDLIF was one of the main songs that I really loved, especially the pitched up vocal. I wanted to use my pitched up vocal to represent the other voice in an abusive relationship that I had just gotten out of. The lyrics are representative of the unfairness of a controlling relationship, specifically somebody who expects your ‘all’ until you are completely emotionally drained. I wanted the pitched up vocal to make the song a bit more playful too, I didn’t want to just create this extremely sad song about being in a bad situation.
How was it shooting the visuals?
I worked with director Theo Batterham, who came up with the concept for the video and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I think bringing my hometown into the video was ideal for this song. We basically walked around most of Bognor trying to find the most iconic places, the shots in front of the cinema and bingo are definitely two of my favourites.
At one point a man who was sat outside his beach hut stopped us to ask what we were doing and said ‘congratulations, you’re only 15 as well!’ (I’m not) But he did still end up getting a feature in the video intro I think, so his compliment/insult worked in his favour. I also conquered my fear of pigeons on the shoot whilst walking through the town centre for a longer shot, you can see them flying in front me but obviously I couldn’t stop walking. A few people have said they are very impressed that I didn’t flinch.
It definitely is a bit daunting doing that sort of thing, especially as I don’t even like pictures taken of me, and then suddenly I am making a music video that features me and we are filming in my hometown where I know half of the town from school, but you definitely start to get used it after 3/4 hours of a camera in front of you.
We wanted to keep the video local to sort of help represent the fact my music is very much made at home in my bedroom in the town I’ve always lived in, it wouldn’t have made much sense to do it anywhere else, for me. I really like the shot in front of my house too, where all the music is made in the first place.
Tell us about your musical journey, how did you get to where you are today? In what ways did growing up in Bognor Regis influence your path?
I initially started playing the trumpet at school when I was 7 but switched over guitar the next year. Me and my friends wrote a song together when we were 8 and performed it on stage in front of the whole school. I was way too nervous to ever sing back then though. I got chosen to play at one of the awards ceremonies in year 11 and they didn’t turn the microphone on so I basically just played to the front two rows of a full school hall, very character building and humiliating but at least the worst that could happen has already happened!
I think I realised that I could actually pursue music around year 10/11 of secondary school, I would do performances and people would come up to me after and it was such a strange experience considering I had always been such a quiet person that avoided having interactions with people in general and all of a sudden they were coming up to me telling me I had made them cry because they loved it so much.
I also started producing music at that time as well, which felt embarrassing to say to people because I hadn’t really heard of any non-male writers/producers and especially not in Bognor. There’s really not much of a music scene at all in Bognor, which definitely made it harder to know what I was doing and made it a lot harder to start moving into more of an electronic sound because most musicians locally will either be in a guitar-based band or just play solo with a guitar, which is what I had been doing for a long time. I even had other music students making fun of me for sharing music on SoundCloud at one point, I think just because the local music scene is so different to what it’s like online.
Before I posted on SoundCloud I had no idea what I was meant to do with my songs and I thought that finding a manager and label etc. would be impossible, but that’s why I am really grateful for the online music scene. SoundCloud basically singlehandedly got me to the point that I’m at now and I would probably still be stuck not knowing what to do with my songs if I hadn’t used it when I was 16/17.
What three words would you use to describe your sound?
I would probably say ‘layered’, ‘alternative’ and maybe even ‘introverted’. Most of my songs have a lot of vocal layers and I think that’s become one of the key features of my songs now. I also think my music is very much the inner dialogue of an introvert, most of my music is discussions I wish I could have in person.
What is your songwriting process?
I have really struggled to stick with one writing process and I definitely find it hard to sit down with the intention to write. A lot of my songs are first formed when I am playing around on Logic with a new plug-in or just messing about in general. I rarely sit down and write with a guitar anymore though, it definitely works better for me to write and record at the same time straight into Logic. Sometimes I will write a song start to finish within about an hour and other times I will be stuck on a verse for months. One of my favourite songs that I’ve written, which isn’t out yet, is actually two different songs that I wrote basically just glued together. I couldn’t stop singing the previous song I had just written over the top of a part I was stuck on so I scrapped the last song and added it to the new one instead, that’s another reason why I enjoy writing multiple songs at all times, I will often have 5-10 songs on the go at once!
In terms of lyrics, a lot of the time I won’t even know what they mean until I go back and really think about what I am saying. A lot of the time I will just sing absolute nonsense over the music until something sticks and then when I listen back I will realise what I meant, it’s almost like free therapy accidentally releasing my subconscious.
Who are some of your musical heroes? Do you think they influence your sound today?
I remember listening to ‘Woods’ by Bon Iver when I was about 14 in an episode of ‘Skins’ and it completely changed my view on music, almost like it flicked a switch. I had all these ideas in my head about music and suddenly I was listening to this insane song with heavy autotune and no music backing, just vocals and that was what really helped me to just make music that I liked and especially influenced the layered vocals that I use in most of my songs now.
Seeing The Japanese House supporting The 1975 in 2016 was one of the biggest moments for me too. I spent the week beforehand listening to her stuff and didn’t really know what to expect when seeing the band play live because I had mostly seen guitar based bands previously. It really inspired me to start making music that wasn’t just on a guitar and I came away from the gig with a new favourite artist and she’s definitely still my favourite to this da. I even got a tattoo for the song ‘teeth’ the other day because it’s another one of the songs that changed how I think about music.
Any artists you would love to collaborate with in the future?
The Japanese House, for sure. I would really like to see their writing process but also the production process too. I sometimes find myself doing some really simple productions unintentionally and I would just love to see how she comes up with all the intricate background details that make the songs what they are. I think the production on every song is just really interesting and I just want to see the vocal chains for every song. I definitely struggle with vocal production sometimes, in terms of keeping it interesting.
Where is the weirdest place you have found inspiration?
I sometimes get these weird moments of inspiration from situations that are basically nothing, I will be looking at a building or a stranger’s outfit and suddenly I am the most creatively inspired I have been in weeks, it’s really unpredictable so I have to make the most of it when it happens and I often end up writing about 10 songs from it. I also find quite a lot of inspiration from people I don’t know, I have songs about people I have seen once, people that have served me in a cafe or people I see at work that I just think I would love to be friends with. I’m definitely a big observer and I people-watch a lot, I just find people really interesting and inspiring.
I get inspired by differences too, I got diagnosed with ASD when I was around 16 and it sparked a huge inspiration for me. A lot of my music stems from feeling different in some ways and not being able to put it into words, writing lyrics really helps me to explore that. It was similar when I realised I was LGBTQ+, I ended up going to lots of gigs to surround myself with people who were like me and it helped to shape my view of what music can be.
I am also really inspired by a lot of soundtracks, especially after watching so much TV throughout the lockdowns. Things like the ‘Euphoria’ soundtrack have really made me want to expand my writing further than just for my own project.
Where would be your dream location to play a gig?
I think it would probably have to be somewhere in Brighton just because it’s a place I spend a lot of time and I find it easy to be myself, especially as an LGBTQ+ person. I think it would just be really cool to play a gig in a really safe, accepting and open place where I don’t have to worry about being myself and I just have to think about putting on a good show to people who are supporting my music.
What does the next year look like for you?
I am currently working out how I’m going to play the new music so I can start performing again, which is really exciting as I haven’t played since before the first lockdown. I am also doing a lot of writing as well, which I would really like to start taking in more directions like writing for other people, writing for film/TV etc. because I am making a lot of music that isn’t always necessarily very ‘pinkpirate’. I am really excited for my newest project that is all finished and to share what I have been making over the past couple of years, the new songs are some of my favourites I have ever made.