Influenced by The Cure, Cocteau Twins and Joy Division and others, the rising Swiss-American shoegaze duo The Churchhill Garden — currently, founding member Andy Jossi (guitar) and Whimsical‘s Krissy Vanderwoude (vocals) — was originally founded as a solo recording project back in 2010 as a way for Jossi to plug into his emotions and to focus on writing music without any pressure.
A friend had showed Jossi how to use GarageBand, which he used for some of his earliest recordings. The Swiss guitarist was determined to become a better guitarist and he learned from his mistakes, which helped his musicianship and songwriting flourish and grow. As he was growing as a musician and songwriter, Jossi discovered Logic, which led to an improved and lusher quality to his recordings.
Jossi began to notice that the songs he was writing became more expansive and while inspired by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, shoegaze, post punk and jangle pop had gradually revealed his own take on the sounds he had long loved. The Swiss guitarist originally posted his instrumental songs on Myspace without expecting much in return but he was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the positive response he received. Although Jossi enjoyed writing the songs he had posted on MySpace, he felt that the material was missing something important — vocals.
Hoping to broaden his musical horizons, the Swiss guitarist and songwriter sought out a few local vocalists to collaborate with: his first collaboration was with The Reaction’s Max Burki, one of Jossi’s local musical heroes. Jossi went on to record two more tracks with Eva Tresch. Technological advances — i.e., home recording studios and programs, as well as file sharing — allowed Jossi to collaborate with vocalists outside of his native Switzerland. His first collaboration with a foreign vocalist, “Noisy Butterfly,” which featured Italian vocalist Damiano Rosetti helped expand The Churchhill Garden’s audience and fanbase outside of Switzerland.
Jossi followed “Noisy Butterfly” with more collaborations with international vocalists including Craig Douglas (USA), Alistair Douglas (AUS) and Hideka (Japan). The Swiss guitarist and songwriter first crossed paths with Whimsical’s Krissy Vanderwoude back in 2016. Vanderwoude had been a fan of Jossi’s music for some time: She commented on Jossi’s “Sleepless,” on Facebook, letting him know that she loved his music, had been a big fan and was deeply moved by the emotionality of his work. Her message went on to say that she could “hear his heart” through his work and that they resonated deeply with her.
Vanderwoude and Jossi had a mutual friend, Kev Cleary, who chimed in the comment thread, that the two should work on a song together. The duo were very excited about the idea but didn’t quite know what to expect. Jossi sent Vandewoude files for a couple of different instrumentals and encouraged her to choose which one she wanted to work on. As the story goes, the Whimsical frontwoman gravitated to one of the tracks in particular and remembers being moved to tears when she first heard it. The end result became their first song together “The Same Sky.”
“The Same Sky” was released to an overwhelmingly positive response with people generally commenting that they felt a magical chemistry between the two — and after a couple of songs together, they realized that Vanderwoude should be a permanent and full-time member of The Churchhill Garden. Of course, while Vanderwoude is a permanent fixture in The Churchhill Garden universe, Jossi has continued collaborated with other vocalists, including Seashine’s Demi Haynes and Fables‘ and Swirl’s Ben Aylward.
Churchhill Gardens songs were coming together quickly with a new single being released every few months. With every new release, they found their fanbase steadily growing. And although, they were releasing material through Bandcamp and other DSPs, a growing number of people expressed interest in owning a physical copy of the songs — and they started asking if there would ever be an actual Churchhill Garden album.
Last year, the Swiss-American duo released their full-length debut, a double LP album Heart and Soul. Since the release of Heart and Soul, the duo have been busy working on new material, including the album’s follow-up single — and their first single of the year, the slow-burning and swooning “Fade Away.” Centered around layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering guitars, Vanderwoude’s plaintive and ethereal vocals and soaring hooks “Fade Away” will likely draw comparisons to Souvlaki-era Slowdive, So Tonight That I May See-era Mazzy Star, compete with a similar aching yearning at its core.