“Another Rainy Day” weathered the storm
For Juneau-based singer and songwriter Erin Heist, the idea for a solo album was born out of a resolution. “In 2020 I set myself a goal of writing one song per month and no matter how good or bad it was, I just had to write a song and move on.” Heist says. When the pandemic hit in March, she didn’t let it derail.
“And so I started a writing group with a group of women that I had met on the roots music scene in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. And a few of these ladies, you know, we just started giving each other prompts and I was incredibly successful in continuing to write music throughout the pandemic… I think we’ve all faced the pandemic in different ways. And I feel really lucky that for me that means that I actually created something.
Heist has long been a staple of the Alaskan folk music scene. But this is the first time she has gone solo. In March 2020, as the Alaskans entered what was to be a long period of withdrawal coupled with a particularly wet summer in Southeast Alaska, she felt even more determined to stick to her goal. “[‘Another Rainy Day’] is 100% inspired by the unholy, endless rain of last summer, ”she said with a laugh. “I wrote it in 20 minutes, just looking out the window and being a little angry and sad.”
While some local music was successfully transferred to a virtual platform, much of the scene was suppressed overnight. “It was as if a switch had been turned off in March 2020,” Heist noted. But despite the loneliness of a year spent unable to perform in person or perform with other artists, this spring, Heist was ready to share his new songs with the reopening world.
“Since I had never recorded anything in my life, I thought of someone I really loved, trusted and admired, who is my cousin Patrick Troll ( DJ Alternative, Whiskey Class, Revilia) and so I called him up and asked if he could maybe come and help me figure out how to do this.
For four days, they worked together to record the tracks here in Juneau, with help from Erin’s husband, Andrew Heist (Great Alaskan Bluegrass Band) on vocals and instruments.
His EP project was funded by an Individual Artist Grant from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, but Heist emphasizes the strong need for fan support to keep the local music scene vibrant:
“It all comes down to taking a moment to recognize when you’re listening to something that really touches you and taking the time to try to reach out and share it with another person,” Heist said. “That’s why musicians record music.”
Heist also worked with fellow Southeastern musician and photographer Annie Bartholomew to take colorful and bright photos for the album that made a vibrant visual contrast to the smooth, slow songs. Now that they can safely work together in person, new collaborative projects are underway, including music videos funded by a grant from the Alaska Arts Council.
The single “Another Rainy Day” is out now on all streaming platforms, and the full five-song EP will be released on Friday, July 16. Erin Heist hopes to release a full album in 2022.