Philadelphia indie folk band Sadurn dive into their achingly tender and raw debut album ‘Radiator,’ a record of intense, unadulterated intimacy, unfiltered depth, and heart-on-sleeve passion.
Stream: “snake” – Sadurn
It felt very important to all of us as we started to build more complex arrangements for some of the songs that the sound remained as intimate as possible, and that ultimately we were highlighting G’s storytelling.
– Tabitha Ahnert, Sadurn
Sadurn’s debut album is a product of intense, unadulterated intimacy.
Achingly tender and raw, Radiator is a record of unfiltered depth and heart-on-sleeve passion: A collection of warm indie folk whose stirring songs dwell in the depths of our shared humanity, embracing the little things that mean the most in the long run: Those candid smiles, whispered secrets, and shared, fleeting moments of magic.
Honey I was wrong, I had to walk down to turn
Get a good look at my ways and hell maybe I’ve learned something
From wringing out my shame – I had to lay down with her
if just to see it was the same thing that got me before
Honey I was right, I thought about it all night
I looked the snake right in his face,
I’ve seen the way he blinks that eye at me
But I am not afraid, I’ve heard we’re all gonna die
In a cascade of system failure or in the blink of an eye
Honey I would bet that I’d be just as upset
I’d be at least as mad as you were when we crawled into my bed
But I do regret running right up to the red
I hope the waters down in Assateague are clearing your head
– “snake,” Sadurn
Released May 6, 2022 via Run for Cover Records, Radiator is a diary brought to life in ten unadulterated songs. Sparse and subtle yet altogether stirring, Sadurn’s debut album is a resonant and resounding triumph for its band members, who had only just begun a new chapter of their journey together when all plans were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset back in March 2020.
“The record kind of marks our first steps in the transition from being an acoustic duo project to being a four piece, and the way it emerged was pretty catalyzed by the circumstances of the pandemic,” singer and songwriter Genevieve DeGroot tells Atwood Magazine. “We had just barely started playing some songs as a full band by the time March 2020 hit, and our initial plans to record those songs had to be put on hold. Eventually our engineer friend Heather Jones and I were scheming to set up a makeshift recording studio somewhere that we could isolate and record together as a group. I think the challenge of figuring this stuff out safely, with the extra resources and logistical hurdles that it required, ended up raising the stakes and changing the scope of what we were trying to do. So we ended up at this Airbnb together in the woods after being separated for so long, with a goal of trying to see how many songs we could make work… hopefully enough that could be released together in some form.”
Originally a solo songwriting project, Sadurn debuted three long years ago as the folk duo of DeGroot and guitarist Jon Cox, impressively releasing two EPs and one standalone single in 2019 alone. Today, the group is rounded out by bassist Tabitha Ahnert and drummer Amelia Swain, though you’d never guess they were “new”: Every one of the full band’s songs flows effortlessly, their instrumentation organic, natural, and tight.
“It was pretty magical, in large part because it was our first time all getting to spend time together that year, and also because we got to share this tiny space away from the rest of the world and really focus on making music together – pretty much for the first time!” Ahnert recalls. “We didn’t actually get to play much before quarantine began, so some of the arrangements were written/finalized during the first few days of recording.”
“I can still remember when we first got to the cabin, unloading all the gear and stuff,” Swain adds to that memory. “It felt so good to finally be reunited with all my best friends, to be living in a house together. We basically would just wake up, play and record music all day, and then go to bed. I had never felt so much focus on something, or such a sense of belonging. It was seriously like one of the best times of my life, I was so happy. Jon and I actually slept in a blanket fort together for the entire two and a half weeks.”
Sadurn’s four band members (plus Heather Jones) entered that Airbnb in the woods with the goal of reconnecting and rekindling their spark. DeGroot had their songs written, but nothing could have prepared them or their band mates for the art and artistry they cultivated together, as one, over that timeframe.
“First of all, we didn’t know exactly what we were going to come out with!” DeGroot explains. “I don’t think we were sure it would be a record. Second, this was my first time bringing someone else on to record songs I had written, and the first time playing and recording with a full band, so I think we wanted to be very careful in adding these variables not to disrupt or move away from the kind of core of intimacy that had so far characterized the project. For us that meant approaching each song individually and seeing what made the most sense to capture or expand on it. I don’t think that intention ever changed in the process and I’m glad that it resulted in kind of a range of stuff.”
They continue, “I think it’s cool that the album ended up with a kind of genre range, which was just a byproduct of what songs I had available to record. I was pretty concerned that they wouldn’t fit together, too – for instance I was so worried that the beat demos like lunch and icepick wouldn’t make sense with the full band songs, or that something like special power wouldn’t fit with the more country leaning stuff. Heather was the one who assured me that the thread in this album is the songwriting, which does vary in each occasion that it’s happening, so I guess in that way it’s a good representation of my personal creative process. Beyond that, there’s such a range of ideas and skill sets that Amelia, Jon, Tabitha and Heather brought to the recordings to make them what they are. I would encourage anyone who likes the record to check out each of their individual projects.”:
“What’s fun about this record is it showcases a little bit of everything in terms of our musical influences and styles, and also captures this moment of transition from duo to full-band in a pretty special way,” Ahnert adds. “Some of the songs lean more country folk and highlight the previous iteration of the project, a few feel like bedroom demos, while others are more solidly indie rock and feature the four of us. I like to think of a record as a sort of snapshot of a certain moment in a band or artist’s life or career, and in that way, I think Radiator gives you a good look at where we are coming from and where we’re going.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves: Radiator brings to life Sadurn’s artistic evolution as a band, tracking their growth in real time. Few albums offer such an honest and sincere peak under the hood, but through its blend of stripped-back and full group recordings, Radiator exists as a sort of time capsule, forever enshrining Sadurn’s comeuppance.
The resulting music is itself a marvel of moving, intimate indie folk.
“I definitely write as a way of processing what’s going on,” DeGroot admits. “I’m usually making space for a feeling or a thought that, for some reason, I can’t talk to other people about because it’s too destructive.”
Opening track “snake” sets the scene with a raw, emotional unveiling. “Honey I was wrong, I had to walk down to turn, get a good look at my ways and hell maybe I’ve learned something,” DeGroot sings, immediately starting Radiator off with the up-close-and-personal confessional that eventually defines every track in some way. “From wringing out my shame – I had to lay down with her, if just to see it was the same thing that got me before.“
Things only intensify from there, with heart-on-sleeve outpourings like “moses kill,” “the void / Madison,” and “special power” joining gentle, rosey reflections like the touching ballad “golden arm” and “lunch.” “And your mind is like a fishnet, and mine is like an icepick: Sometimes it really works and sometimes it leaves us hanging,” DeGroot sings in the instant standout ‘icepick,’ rocking listeners with their compelling, unapologetic poetry. “And I get so frustrated about your communication, but I know you can’t help it – I’m not really tryna change ya.”
But you and I are good friends, sometimes we’re in love and
It feels really important like I never wanna lose it
And you even met my family, even though they are chaotic
Even though I keep them distant and never go to Massachusetts
And your mind is like a fishnet, and mine is like an icepick
Sometimes it’s not enough and sometimes I think it’s perfect
And I get so messed up cause I don’t know if it’s working
I’m standing by the window, I can’t wait to let the light in
Can’t wait to let the light in
– “icepick,” Sadurn
“I wouldn’t say at this point that I have any favorite songs,” DeGroot says. “Honestly the way that my brain works is that I could really quickly tell you my least favorite moments, and I have a harder time coming up with favorites. I do really like the line in the song “special power” about Jon being in the basement (“and we had half a conversation while Jon was in the basement, about going our separate ways but just in the same direction“) – I don’t know why but I felt proud of that one. Aside from that, the lyrics that are probably my favorites are the ones that felt the most cathartic to write, and I think there are moments of those in each song – for instance in ‘moses kill,’ it’s definitely the second verse that felt the most cathartic to write, so I could call that my favorite part of the song.”
“I [also] feel really good about how the album ends, like how the ending of ‘icepick’ happens with the sample of Amelia’s guitar playing, and how the outro of the album follows from that. That’s probably my favorite moment.”
Swain agrees: “I love the ending of ‘icepick.’ For the outro, G sampled an old phone video they snuck of me playing guitar. They just took the audio and chopped it up, and threw it in there. I just thought it was so genius and original to do that. I was so honored. And it really fits with the baritone-ukulele solos G plays in that song.”
She also cites a line from the song “golden arm: “‘It’s been a few days since I heard from you, so do I feel the love.‘ I just really feel that. I love how G’s lyrics can get at very specific, powerful emotions. I also really love the ending of ‘Radiator’.
Meanwhile, Jon Cox cites the endless slowburn “lunch” as his personal highlight. “[That] song hits me the hardest emotionally,” he says. “I’ve always really loved that song and especially how the recording turned out. Their songs are so good and I’m constantly having new realizations about them or they hit me in new ways through different parts of the album process. ‘lunch’ was one of those songs.”
As Radiator‘s songs express, true intimacy is hard to find and difficult to maintain, but it’s almost always worth the heartache and strain.
“I wouldn’t say that I have a specific intention or hope about what people get out of this album; I don’t actually have something like that in mind,” DeGroot shares. “But I think people who have listened and said that these songs have helped them in some way, or helped them process something… that has felt like the most rewarding outcome so far. For myself, I think working on this record was a big learning process, because I’d never really done that before. It’s a very different process from writing songs. One thing I learned is how expensive and inaccessible it is for artists to undertake a project like this, even when you’re trying to keep the costs down as much as possible. Not everyone can afford the upfront costs of recording, or can afford to balance their work schedule with the time it takes to manifest such a big project. We were really fortunate to be able to do these things to create the album, especially with trying to do it safely during COVID.”
“One of my main takeaways from making this record is that Heather Jones, our engineer and bff, is a genius,” Swain adds. “I listened to the vinyl for the first time last week, and it seriously sounds so good. Like I actually can’t believe it. She was amazing to work with, recording at the cabin went so smoothly. She had so many genius musical contributions too, like the piano in ‘The void/Madison,’ and the organ in ‘Golden Arm’ to name a few. She runs So Big Auditory and I can’t recommend her enough.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Sadurn’s Radiator with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album! Radiator is out now via Run For Cover Records
Stream: ‘Radiator’ – Sadurn
:: Inside Radiator ::
Amelia: Snake is the reason I got to join Sadurn! One day G and I were hanging out, playing music in my basement. They were playing guitar, I was just messing around on my housemate’s drum set. I hadn’t really played drums that much before, but when we started playing snake, something took over and it was kind of like this amazing moment. Then afterwards they were like ‘Amelia do you wanna play drums in Sadurn?’
Jon: Snake is one of the songs we recorded live and it was maybe the most challenging for me to record because of that. I kept getting like soo close and there would be one bunk note or a donked up moment or one of us didn’t like something else about the take. I eventually got frustrated and drained and had to go out onto the porch in between takes for a while. I think the take on the album was the next one after my little break.
Genevieve: The album recording of moses kill is just one live take of Jon and myself, and one of only two songs on the record with live vocals. This made me feel self conscious about it at first, but ultimately makes it feel more special and now I want to do live vocals on everything for the next album.
Amelia: It was soo fun to film the music video for ‘Golden Arm.’ G and I were on a road trip with our friend Max, and we ended up camping in the middle of nowhere in Kansas. It was kind of an accident, but we found a beautiful spot along the shore of a huge lake and everything was covered in sunflowers. We woke up at sunrise and kind of spontaneously just started shooting footage. Everything sort of just came together. G did such a fantastic job editing, it’s one of my favorite music videos of all time.
Jon: Lunch is one of a few songs that I came up with a last second part for. We realized an acoustic guitar paired with the live drums would give the chorus a nice contrasting vibe to the sample beat and more synthesized sounds in the verses. I came up with a part in the open D tuning on the porch and then we tracked it.
Tabitha: This is one of the last of the full band songs to come together for us, we figured out most of the arrangement in the first few days of recording.
Amelia: I wanna report about the ‘slow leak’ in G’s tire- It got bigger over time, eventually becoming a ‘fast leak.’ It was out of control. I’m talking like, G was filling their tires four or five times a day.
THE VOID / MADISON
Amelia: I love Jon’s slide-guitar part at the end of this song! Jon plays it with such character. A lot of emotional power, but it’s also light and bouncy. It’s one of my favorite moments of our set, when we get to that part.
Genevieve: This song is an outlier on the record in that it was written two years earlier than pretty much everything else.
Tabitha: This is one of my favorite tracks on the record, short and sweet and almost always makes me cry (cathartically). I like to walk around a beautiful cemetery/greenspace in the neighborhood called the Woodlands and listen to it. I remember during the recording process we tried adding some percussion to this song, but in the end everything came together when we made the decision to keep it simpler, adding instead a doubled vocal and a very quiet, droning synth.
Jon – I came up with the slide guitar part right before we recorded the song. I wanted to add slide but didn’t know what kind of slide playing. I walked around the yard while listening to CCR and Gillian Welch. I had read about the open E tuning and how it’s one of the best/most common slide tunings but hadn’t tried it before. My grandma really liked CCR so I was thinking about her while coming up with the part as well. That combined with our engineer Heather getting really excited when we started tracking it, helped me tap into the right vibe.
Amelia: I remember when G first showed me their demo for icepick, it was a cold autumn night, and we were sitting on the stoop outside a house show. They listened with one earbud, and me the other. I loved the song so much, the lyrics and especially the emotionality of the beat and the synth. At the cabin when we recorded the song for the album, G kept the arrangement basically the same as that original demo, which I think is so cool. I also appreciate how the music video shows people sitting on the stoop outside of a house show.
Genevieve: Having this outro on the album was something that happened after we finished tracking everything – I’d been thinking of sampling reversed parts of icepick to finish the arrangement for that song, and ended up being so into how the ending unfolds backwards that I wanted it to have its own place on the record. So that’s all it is, except we took out one moment of backwards vocals and I did a little choppy thing to the end of it.
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