Mary Kastle's roots are in jazz, so it's no surprise that she's tended to lean towards the complex and intricate when it came time to write pop songs. On her latest record and first full-length, Beneath the Folds, though, Kastle has taken a slightly more direct approach. Sure, the instrumentation is still lush and full of nooks and crannies, but there's also an engaging simplicity to her arrangements, something just a little more immediate in the song structure.
"What provoked that was a close friend asking me, 'Are you pushing the envelope, or are you just trying to hide behind this complexity of what you can do?'" explains Kastle from her Vancouver home. "That was really interesting, because it forced me to ask myself what I really want out of music, and what I'm trying to say. That just kind of opened up the flood gates, and they felt more direct, in a way, then I'd ever written."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kastle has used that directness to start exploring the world around her. Though she's always drawn on her surroundings, she admits this record is her most personal, drawing on questions she found herself asking as she navigates the tricky world of adulthood. As the album's title would suggest, it is about getting at those things that underlie so much of our behaviour, peeling back the layers of self and finding out what's making us tick, set to an easy, jazz-tinged piano pop soundtrack.
"I felt like at the time I was asking myself a lot of big questions about being a woman in the 21st century, and what does that mean," says Kastle. "I felt like I was witnessing a lot of women—and men—around me that were having to ask themselves these really big questions about how to balance careers and relationships and family, just cope with the pressures that come with that. The way the songs started to take shape was posing these big questions about different situations."