It’s anchors aweigh for the next chapter of Toronto’s Autumn Hill.
Tareya Green and Mike Robins had immediate chemistry when they sang together at a Wax Records holiday party and decided to form a country-pop duo. Their 2013 debut album, Favourite Mistake, named after their first co-write, yielded three Top 20 hits, Juno and CCMA nominations, and a crossover hit at pop radio with debut Anything At All – the first Canadian country act to accomplish this feat since Shania Twain. Following a year of touring and recording internationally, Autumn Hill has solidified a connection with their fans, and found a confident new direction on their sophomore album, Anchor.
“The first single from our first album was ‘Anything At All’ and one of the lines is ‘you were tied to me like an anchor to my soul.’ Ever since then, the anchor has been a symbol for our band,” says Tareya. “People have actually got an anchor with the lyrics tattooed on their bodies. So we had this idea of writing a song about finding your place in this world, finding somebody to love, and saying, ‘This is where I want to drop my anchor.’”
“It’s a special song and we ended up opening every show with it on the last tour,” says Mike. “It just has that energy and the vibe that we were going for on the new record. There’s great moments where people can sing along with you.”
Produced in Nashville by Canadian Dave “Dwave” Thomson, and couple of tracks by Australian Lindsay Rimes, Anchor features other sing-alongs besides the title-track. “It Don’t Get Better Than This,” with its hey-heys and oh-ohs, is another energetic anthem, inspired by an all-day (all-night) beach party with great friends. The album takes a more reflective turn with “Mixtape”, telling a story of singing along to an ex’s favorite songs, revisiting a time forever immortalized by the music in your headphones. The first single, however pop, takes on a more emotionally raw turn: “Blame” is about a break-up in which you accept the finger-pointing and concede both of you made mistakes.
“We were very hungry for the second record because there was so much more that we wanted to say. We had so much bubbling to get out as artists,” says Tareya. “The record wrote itself very quickly, but a few songs we had written on that very first trip to Nashville.”
“We never stopped writing,” says Mike,” and we got to road-test half of our record, so we got an idea of what we wanted to bring into our live show. For us, it was upping the energy but maintaining the Autumn Hill sound from the first record, which is more ballad and harmonies, but we wanted to inject our live set with this energy so a lot of our songs we were writing had that sound.”
“What was cool about ‘Favourite Mistake’ was we were able to write a song from two different perspectives,” says Tareya, “and now we try and embrace that quality in our songs, writing about one topic from looking through two different windows.”
“It gives a 360 view of the story,” says Mike.
On the road, the two quickly learned whether their songwriting chemistry would extend into a working relationship. To promote the first single, they got in a Ford Fiesta and drove across Canada in the dead of winter — even with a cold and flu. “We quickly got very close and understood what touring was gonna be like,” laughs Mike. From how to do radio and TV interviews together to performing at such music festivals as Cavendish Beach and Boots & Hearts, there was a huge learning curve going from solo artists to part of a duo.
“There are a lot of things that you learn,” says Tareya, “from picking a key for the song to be in and working out the vocal arrangements to answering questions with another person in an interview. You have to be more aware and respectful. It really teaches you a lot about yourself and how to lean on the person and draw on each other’s strengths.”
“And we’ve both been working like crazy to put on a complete show from start to finish and keep the energy up,” says Mike. “We just lifted each other to a new level.”
This new level is apparent in every aspect of Anchor – the music, the production, and even the duos trademark harmonies have found a new confidence and energy, written large across every track. Now with their hearts firmly anchored to a collection of powerful new songs, Autumn Hill has their eyes fixed on the horizon and are set to sail to new heights.