Alaska Reid

Alaska Reid hails from a frontier city in Southwestern Montana whose population lingers around 8,000 residents, and while Reid now works in Los Angeles, she can’t give up her hometown. Her career began here, where she sang in basements, churches, and gyms before starting her first band, Alyeska. Soon talent, and her parents’ minivan, drove her to tour further west. Now, Reid splits her time between the coastlines and the mountainous West, splitting what time she can between the two and working in both cities. “I’m interested in the effects of place on songwriting and the idea of regional writing,” she says. “I like to think I’m in a healthy relationship with it, where I’m still really inspired by my hometown, but I’m not trapped by it.”

Ask Reid how she’d define her sound and she’ll hesitate before landing on “Mountain Pop.” In 2020, she released Big Bunny, a project indebted to a coming-of-age chasing rabbits, throwing bottles in the creek, and kissing in damp old houses. Similarly, Disenchanter is as much a collection of stories as it is a collection of songs. Reid’s father is a writer, and she grew up in a robust literary community, counting novelists like Graham Greene as some of her greatest sources of inspiration. “I love country music because I love storytelling,” Reid says. “Every track on this album has an element of my autobiography in it, but the dosage varies. I write composite characters, or characters based on friends, squirreling bits of fiction in with truth.”

Though Reid’s principle instrument is guitar, she worked on Disenchanter with A. G. Cook, whose synths and the duo’s combined array of pedals allowed Reid to explore her pop inclinations after she recorded each track live at home in both Montana and California. “I have my road dog arsenal from playing tons of live shows, so most of the songs have at least one guitar with my personal chain in homage to my live set up,” she says. “We’d then layer combinations of A. G.’s pedals onto the track, and the contrast between them mirrors our respective musical approaches.”

Like the songwriters Reid is most inspired by (she namechecks Joni Mitchell alongside Paul Westerberg and J Mascis) Disenchanter narrates a landscape of emotional states, some lived and others borrowed. “I read a lot of fantasy, and there’s a character I was introduced to called the Fiend Folio, who can absorb the power of magical objects by coming in contact with them, and in turn, drains the magic from them, disenchants them,” Reid says. “Maybe it’s morbid, but a writer takes an experience and turns it around and around, looking for what makes it worth paying attention to, what makes it enchanting, and in doing so, drains some of that magic and metabolizes it into something that belongs to them.” While Reid might consider herself a disenchanter, her work also does the inverse: it finds magic in everyday, passing moments, and memorializes them into something worth remembering.

US: Jaclyn Ulman |
UK: Tom Sloman |

Andrew Mishko | andrew@ourbadhabit