Beth Orton is not one to be confined. The songstress is known as a pioneer in the combination genre of folktronica, finding success in the blending of analog and digital long before the ubiquity of loop pedals and garage band made it so that the two easily reside side by side.
An auditory curiosity is what prompted Orton to take her music into uncharted territory.
“I’m still evolving. I don’t want to box myself in and I don’t want people to see me as just a girl with a guitar and a loop,” Orton tells the Appeal.
“That’d be dishonest. I’m not that into drum and bass or techno but I’m into beautiful sounds.”
Orton’s latest offering broke a six year recording hiatus and delves deeper into her curiosities. Sugaring Season is ultimately bittersweet in lyric and syrupy sweet in sound, harkening back to her earlier groundbreaking work. There’s a confidence to the thirteen tracks of Sugaring Season that almost belie their confessional nature showing Orton as empowered, though still relatable.
Those moments of vulnerability are what Orton truly strives for when it comes to a comprehensive musical experience. It was a solo tour in Australia and New Zealand that further inspired her to push the boundaries of her live shows. She looks to bring that same vibe to the Chapel this Monday, along with a few surprises. Though initially overwhelming in a solo setting, the contrast between solo, duet, and larger collaborations make for an added layer of intimacy between artist and audience.
The folktronica queen has gone from primarily solo shows to adding a full band. Her work with bassist Sebastian Steinberg is a true highlight.
“He’s such an intense bass player. To play like that… he makes it such an art form in itself,” Orton says. “Every time we play together he makes these grand gestures that are just so interesting.”
“I feel like Sebastian [Steinberg] really helps capture that vibe when I was touring in cathedrals. It’s why it works so well with him,” Orton says.
“We have this connection on stage that changes the context of our set. It even changes the relationship you have with a song and adds new avenues to explore. I’ll be playing with a full band then Sebastian [Steinberg] will join me on stage for a couple of songs. We’ve done ‘She Cries Your Name’ where it’s just him playing bass and me picking my guitar and it’s one of those moments that just comes out of nowhere. It really blows my mind.”
Orton is aching to get back to San Francisco, as it repeatedly fulfills one of her childhood dreams. Though she’s been touring for well over a decade, the allure of the city is just as fresh as when she first set foot there.
“I love San Francisco. It feels like deja vu to be back. I can almost taste it,” Orton reminisces.“I fell in love with the city and have almost a romantic connotation with its art, culture, music, and literature. It’s good playing there.”