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Cape Wrath: Reel to Real Music.

December 1, 2014

CapeWrathSmall01Text by Jenelle Janci. Images by Darragh Dandurand.

When her former band drove through Baltimore on its last tour, Jamie Glisson spotted a massive ship docked on the water. Painted on its side was the name “Cape Wrath” – derived from the Old Norse language for turning point, in reference to the most northwestern point of Scotland known for its treacherous waters.

“Something about it just lodged in my brain and resonated,” Glisson says. “I thought, ‘That’s going to be the name of my next project.’”

Cape Wrath is Glisson’s mixed media project, combining her ambient, acoustic-based rock music with self-made videos. In April, the 28-year-old Fishtown resident launched her “12 in 12” campaign, for which she is releasing 12 songs with companion films over the course of the next year.

Alex Santilli, owner of the newly opened Spice House Sound in Fishtown, is working with Glisson to record and master the project. Glisson is one of the first acts to release music from the studio. When she and Santilli began recording together, the beams and insulation of the studio were still exposed.

“It’s a super interesting and practical way to do things,” Santilli says of the “12 in 12” campaign. “We can continue releasing things and people can continue listening and it sort of builds and builds. Instead of releasing an album all at once and going, ‘Oh, OK, there it is,’ people have something to look forward to wait for.”

Incorporating film into the project is an homage to Glisson’s grandfather. About five years ago, she began transferring his reel-to-reel footage to digital and splicing it with her own footage.

“It was really special to kind of carry on a family hobby,” she says.

Glisson says her grandparents were also part of her inspiration to start Cape Wrath. She visited them in Norway while traveling through Europe in July, a trip she also took in order to write and gather footage for the project.

While she’s beginning to experiment with more planned videos, Glisson says most of her film work has an undirected feel. She keeps her Canon Rebel nearby in case spontaneous inspiration catches her eye.

“It could just be the way that the sun is catching a spider web,” she says. “Or it could be that I’m having coffee with a friend who’s really beautiful in that moment.”

When it comes to the audio aspect of the “12 in 12” project, Glisson says that Santilli is her perfect counterpart to work with.

“His brain and the way that he approaches engineering is very esoteric, very scientific,” she says. “I’m kind of the opposite. I’m very emotional and maybe sensational. So, it’s a really interesting marriage of meaning and form.”

“My job is to take her affectation and translate it so it comes across to a listener,” adds Santilli.

The “12 in 12” project has been one of the easiest he has ever worked on, Santilli says, thanks to Glisson’s detailed foresight and the amenable musicians joining them in the studio, including Joey Getz, John Lattanzio and Will Stichter. The first three songs of the campaign were tracked in a single day.

Santilli’s approach to recording Glisson has been centered around her larger-than-life vocals. While he says she has “the most beautiful voice,” Santilli aims for a more minimalistic sound than Glisson’s previous album, adding parts that come in and out along with very simple accents to her voice. Glisson’s music ­also has a bit of lyrical darkness, Santilli says.

“I wanted it to have that quality,” he says. “You enjoy the music but if you listen to the lyrics, you might get an entirely different vibe.”

During the school year, Glisson works as a full-time, in-classroom tutor with sophomores and juniors at a high school in North Philly. Her scholarly habits show in her lyrics’ subject matter – just a few of the topics she’s currently studying include mystic writers, ecstatic poetry and esoteric traditions. Glisson says she aims to write about her own journey while reflecting “the light of the divine.”

“Lyrically, I want there to be an integrity that’s worthy of asking people to listen to what I’m saying,” she says.

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