Interview Archive

This is the 'Interview Archive' where we keep our previous interviews. To read the latest interviews please visit the 'Latest Interviews' page

Click individual 'Read more...' links for full interviews

Vicki Swann and Jonny Dyer: VS: "Over the last few years we’ve sung carols at Christmas lunches, at a castle, in period clothing and we wanted to bring the atmosphere of those times to an album. We chose carols and songs that were not modern but of a period gone by. We wanted to take the atmosphere of Victorian musical halls, the themes of Christmas with carols to create the sound, feel and taste (if there’s mulled wine on offer in the interval!) of a traditional Christmas. The sounds of community singing and people having fun." Read more ...

Laura Cannell: "It started at primary school when I first began to play the recorder. I instantly loved it and started learning with a local teacher who then passed me on to an early music specialist to be my teacher. Along with her husband, she played with Musica Antiqua of London and the more I heard the more I wanted. The first piece I played that really forged this enduring love affair was when I was 14 and played in Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers – it was magical." Read more ...

Martin Purdy - Harp and a Monkey: "It’s one of those unusual situations, Simon, Andy and I have known each other for more years than I care to remember. During that time we’ve been involved in all sorts of projects, both together and apart from each other. And when we got together on this project we looked for a name, the digital age being what it is, you come up with what you think is an original name only to discover there’s a band in Scandinavia or South Africa with the same name. So the first objective was to go for something that we knew no one else could possibly have and I think we’ve achieved that. Next, because we do like a good traditional local pub we had the feeling that the name smacked of a cosy place nestled away somewhere in a corner of the West Pennines where you might go and hear good music, find a good pint and enjoy a tipple or two. And finally, well we do have a harp, which Simon plays, and Andy has this saying: “Everything in life goes better with a monkey.” So that was that." Read more ... 

Peter Conway: “I separated from my music management company about a year before and was in a place where I was trying not so much to find myself by going out but to find me looking within. I had a burning desire to go to Nashville. I hadn’t read anything about it, heard a lot about it or seen a specific programme. It was just a voice inside me that said I should go to Nashville, to go on a trip and take on an adventure. All the music I had written to then was autobiographical either literal or invented and I felt like I wanted to write with other people and go on a journey.Can’t tell you any more than that. So the idea was to work with this producer/ arranger and write a set of songs. I got the trip arranged and went out to Nashville to work with this one particular producer and arranger who could possibly write and record an album with me. When I got there he was simply too busy to work with me. He was really sorry but an existing project had over-run and that was that. I went back to the hotel a touch disappointed - I’d travelled 5,000 miles to meet this one guy and now that’s not happening. So there I was in a small motel with nothing to do for two weeks.” Read more ...

Michael J Tinker: “Basically it sprang from my wild imagination. I’ve been singing the song ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ by singer-songwriter Eric Bogle for some while. The song tells the story of a young soldier maimed at the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War. It also includes the melody and a few lines of lyrics of the widely known Australian ballad, ‘Waltzing Matilda’. The strength Eric Bogle’s song is its vivid descriptions of the pointless destruction and waste at Gallipoli and as my great granddad was at Gallipoli there was an immediate personal connection. The original idea came to me in 2012, so as 2014 is going to be the centenary I thought what an opportunity to create a meaningful album.  I suspect there will be a lot going on around the centenary so it occurred to me I’d better get organising before everyone else started organising ahead of me.” Read more ...

Barbara Dickson:"Actually, there’s a definite time-line with this, Gerry died at the beginning of 2011 and at the beginning of 2012, after experiencing a fairly gloomy year whenever I thought of Gerry and his legacy, Rab Noakes a good friend of mine told me he was tasked with putting on a concert as a tribute to Gerry’s life and works. I had to be involved. We all got together to decide what to play and sing, and I decided to sing one of his songs that I used to sing years ago, ‘Steamboat Row’. There was another song, which Martha Rafferty his daughter, was keen for me to sing at the concert and that was ‘Wise as a Serpent’ so I learnt that one too, both these songs are on the album." Read more ...

Adrian Roye: “We didn’t have a plan as such in terms of our sound – to be honest it is something that’s come along organically. One problem we found when we first started playing together was how to define ourselves musically. That’s part of the reason for the name - The Exiles – we’re exiles, doing our thing in our way. That pretty much sums it up. Also, we came from a range of quite different backgrounds and made different journeys to get to this one place.”  Read more ...

Chris Wade - Dodson and Fogg: "It’s so simple - music has an essence whether it’s totally contemporary, a modern take on old music or an exact reproduction of traditional music. The point is that it’s music and it doesn’t have to fit perfectly into any category. From my point of view it’s also perfectly acceptable for music to live across any number of genres – folk, rock, blues, whatever – it doesn’t matter. The more labels you add the more restrictions seem to get put in place. My philosophy is simple - I make the sort of music I like. The influences are my life and experiences. They make my music what it is. How other people see that is entirely up to them."  Read more ...

Heg Doughty: "I guess you could describe the latest songs as new-folk but if you listen to everything else we’ve done, or listen to a set then there’s a whole lot going on from pop to acoustic and probably folk. Personally, I’m not sure that I would pigeonhole the band as pure folk but there are definite folk tinges. How’s that? Truthfully, I don’t think we want to be categorised in any specific confined genre. We kind of like the idea that the band will always evolve and change depending on what we want to say. If you pushed me I could say this is the first time we’ve focused on folk elements. Read more ...

George Stevens: “I have so many different influences. A lot of the album is influenced by European folk music and these days I’m very much into that. I don’t so much play traditional tunes as listen to traditional tunes and use them to give me ideas to write my own music. It’s the same with traditional instruments. ‘Sasha’s Wedding’ is a great example because that tune is directly influenced by playing bagpipes. I would not have come to that tune on any other instrument. It’s simply a product of the notes that Border Pipes offer. It’s also a case of ‘muscle-memory’ – remembering little shapes and patterns – I don’t think about the notes I’m playing I figure out shapes and patterns all based on rhythm. I feel it’s innovative and refreshing to develop a different take on a tradition. Surely that’s what folk music is all about.” Read more ...

David Eagle - The Young'uns: "If you take ‘Jenny Waits for Me’ that’s a song with as much meaning then as now. Alright, so men don’t go off on ships so much away from home for months and months on long voyages fraught with danger. However, it’s still a song about people going away and leaving home. Those ‘going away’ and ‘out of touch for months’ themes may be less pertinent to our time but how many people, wives and husbands are going off to serve in the military or leaving to fight in some foreign war? There’s still the emotion of leaving home and someone waiting for a return and that’s just as pertinent today." Read more ...

Greg Ireland - Green Diesel: "Like many people, I believe that folk has always had a fairly wide definition but we find the ‘folk’ word does cause confusion. We get everything from expectations of ‘finger in the ear’ renditions of Sir Patrick Spens to expecting us to turn up with a glockenspiel and ukulele knocking out crystal-cut harmonies and pretty-pretty songs. People still get confused and ask why do you add an electric guitar to ‘folk’ music? Some consider it an act of heresy to take traditional music and play it in a folk rock style and others get confused that we’re not the second coming of Mumford and Sons." Read more ...

Joe Murphy from Sergeant Buzfuz: "I’ve always been interested in history and more than a little intrigued by 2,000 years of the Papacy. I found a book about popes and thought their history would make an interesting song. The trouble was the more I tried to condense that history into one song the more I realised it was never going to happen – there was simply too much to tell. When I started writing the first song ‘Here Come The Popes Part 1’, I found that I’d only got to the end of the first century after about 7 minutes - so I thought I’d stop there. There was so much that I didn’t want to leave out but I didn’t want an unwieldy song. Rather than write a 20-minute song I decided to explore the idea of working up a series of songs covering the subject in depth." Read more ...

Simon McKechnie - 'London ReBorn': "The concept began a couple of years ago or so. I was flitting through some folk songbooks for enjoyment, some practice and a little bit of study. I just kept stumbling across songs about London – some were outstandingly beautiful and many I’d never heard of before. I began looking into those songs and started to play with a couple of them to see if I could put a seed of my own music into them and at the same time still retain the integrity of the original song." Read more ...

Steve Austin and Pete White of Navaro: "It’s the personalities. It’s also friendship and the music. It’s a connection that comes from taking pleasure in the same music. It was finding an immediate point of contact between the three of us. Beth’s an incredibly warm person and good at being the ‘front’ of the band. Steve has methodical, ordered edge; I’m more creative and much less disciplined but the amalgam of the three personalities and our musical approach that makes Navaro work." Read more ...

Chris Ricketts - shanty singer: "Every shanty singer since the form began has put his own edge on every song. Some were inevitably more popular than others. There were changes to words, tunes, places and destinations - I really enjoy listening and singing traditional shanties but I also like to give the shanty my own edge. ‘Essequibo River’ has our own edge but it wasn’t forced, it just kind of fell together that way. You could say that ‘Port of Escape’ is a shanty album for non-shanty lovers."  Read more ...

Carolyn and Mark Evans - Red Shoes:  "For me, storytelling runs through everything. Yes, it’s a backbone of folk. A song has to mean something to the audience. The story-telling folk song answers that need where in many ways the introspective ’personal’ song does not. I also like ambiguity in songs. In a way, uncertainty in a song means it prompts different reactions in different people. I sometimes re-write a song to avoid it becoming too personal and missing a connection with an audience. I weave in ambiguities to make my songs mean something to many people."  Read more ...

Nigel Spencer - Folk Police Recordings: "There’s a certain amount of lunacy involved in setting up an independent folk label, but this is something I’ve been planning for years. I’ve long been a fan of folk rock but I’m constantly disappointed by how crap most of it is. I loved the old Pentangle and Mr Fox albums – that sound is more interesting than the folk rock of traditional folk songs with plodding bass and drums crafted on. I wanted to include broad influences and wider tastes. That’s one of the drivers behind the Woodbine and Ivy Band, which is why we originally started the label, to release their album."   Read more ...

Ray Cooper - Solo Artist and Oysterband: "Folk music today adopts a middle-class approach. However, that’s not the world the 'middle class' view thinks that 'folk' came from. It’s like the Dickensian Christmas, it never really existed. Folk music was invented if you will, as an idea maybe a couple of hundred years ago and it went hand in hand with the rise of nationalism. Walter Scott was a musicologist collecting folk music because he was into old Scottish culture. Even though there are great collections, they proscribed folk music by much of what they left out as much as what they included. Folk is like all music - it's for everyone and anyone that it touches or that are touched by it.   Read more ...

Tom Drinkwater - Pillowfish: Music is hard! It’s one of the most difficult labours that humans can do, and yet it's one of the fields where hobbyists are most prevalent. Myself, if I had to hire an amateur, I'd rather hire a hobbyist plumber than a hobbyist musician, yet the reverse is common practise. Being a hobbyist plumber (lawyer, doctor, taxi-driver or gas fitter) is illegal. If you want good results you have to train and devote time. That means become a professional or vocational musician, just like any other demanding field.   Read more ...

Simon Hopper - The Simon Hopper Band: It’s easiest to describe folk music as ‘music that culturally belongs to a people’ - it’s music that speaks of their experiences in their language. It’s by implication, the music of the common people of society. I’m not certain I write folk music – I just write what I have to write in the way that presents itself. I think it’s sometimes easier to define something by excluding what doesn’t fit rather than defining what does. One thing I’m sure of is that folk music is about truth - the truth of the lived experience.”   Read more ...

Damien Barber - The Demon Barbers:“For me folk is what I grew up with; the music Ilistened to and learned as a child, music that develops and grows but keeps its original roots in the words, tunes or style. If I’m searching through Walter Pardon’s songs looking for something that I can work with and a lyric catches my attention it doesn’t mean I just trot out the same old rhythm and melody. What it does mean though is I'm working with a music that connects us to our past and that's important. History books tell us what our forefathers did, folk music tells us how they felt when they did it."               Read more ...

 

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