Amelia’s Magazine | Wood Festival 2015 Review: A Family Friendly Musical Paradise

Wood Festival 2015-review year of the bee
This year, as ever, the weather was absolutely gorgeous for Wood Festival: plenty of sunshine and dry underfoot despite the downpours a few days previously. I managed to persuade my friend (and fellow mum) Helen of East End Prints to accompany us as I knew that Snarf would love to feral around with his lil’ mate (we went to the Buddhafield Green Earth Awakening Camp together last year, read my review here) and we arrived in time for a late lunch on Saturday, staying through to Sunday evening.

Wood Festival 2015-review kids run wild
Wood Festival 2015-review out door singing
Wood Festival 2015-review tyre swing
Wood Festival 2015-review snarf
Wood Festival 2015-review bubbles
Wood Festival 2015-review harmony workshop
Wood Festival 2015-review samba band
I know I’ve said this in previous years but Wood Festival is perfect for kids: there is a sense of freedom and safety in the field at Braziers Park that is rare to find, and we basically had a child-led festival, following where our little ones wanted to run. We ate cheesy chips, enjoyed unexpected tunes around the daytime campfire, roamed the woodland playground, ate ice cream, chased bubbles, joined a harmony singing workshop, followed the samba band (dressed as bumble bees), ate more ice cream and of course listened to some music when we could:

The Wallingford based Band of Hope shared some beautiful folk harmonies and soaring violin melodies. They have put together a podcast recorded at Wood Festival, which you can listen to here.

Wood Festival 2015-review main stage
Wood Festival 2015-review kids in woods
Wood Festival 2015-review bee girls
Wood Festival 2015 review kids workshop
Wood Festival 2015-review dining tent
Wood Festival 2015-review campfire
Wood Festival 2015-review the gang
Late on Saturday night I listened to Tunng from the comfort of our tent, having adjourned for the night at a ridiculously early hour with my child. This was the first time the band have played together in some time and they sounded great, even in my half asleep state.

Co-Pilgrim put together a typically dreamy set from the wonderful album A Fairer Sea, which lulled my over excited three year old to sleep. Expect a new album from them soon.

The ‘big bastard baritone’ vocals of Liverpool based John Joseph Brill (his words not mine) were an exciting discovery – a uniquely raspy voice married to soulful reverb that is a heavenly cross between Interpol, U2 (in the best sense) and I LIKE TRAINS. Go check him out.

I heard Spiro on the radio a few weeks ago and was most taken with their tight music making (the result of many years playing together), a deft combination of classical music, dance and folk. It was great to hear them live.

Wood Festival 2015-review band with baby
Finally, Francis Pugh & The Whisky Singers are bluegrass singers from Oxford and were a great reminder of what Wood Festival does so well: creating a family friendly atmosphere where everyone can enjoy great music in a relaxed setting. Where else would you so comfortably find a baby on stage, holding a red balloon?

We are already looking forward to next year.

All photography by Amelia Gregory, our portrait by Mim Saxl.

Categories ,2015, ,A Fairer Sea, ,Band of Hope, ,Brazier’s Park, ,Buddhafield Green Earth Awakening Camp, ,Child Friendly, ,children, ,Co-pilgrim, ,East End Prints, ,Family, ,Francis Pugh & The Whisky Singers, ,I Like Trains, ,Interpol, ,John Joseph Brill, ,Mim Saxl, ,Oxford, ,review, ,Snarf, ,Spiro, ,tunng, ,U2, ,Wood Festival, ,Year of the Bee

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Amelia’s Magazine | Woodpecker Wooliams at King’s Place: Live Review

Woodpecker Wooliams by Sam Parr

Woodpecker Wooliams by Sam Parr

Turning a corner from King’s Cross station, it was a chill wind that blew as I hurried down York Way. Past those Victorian facades touched by the regeneration that is fast spreading through this part of London, I spied that most modern of constructs, King’s Place. Opened in 2008, a mixture of the artistic and commercial (as well as performance and exhibition space, it’s also home to the Guardian newspaper), this was my destination for the evening.

I’d been to King’s Place once before, to catch Laura J Martin just before Christmas, but tonight’s action was taking place in the venue’s main room, Hall One, a curious space (apparently a structure within a structure, a box sitting on rubber springs to acoustically separate it from the rest of the building, and layered in veneer that comes from the same 500 year old German oak tree) which strangely reminded me of a lecture theatre.

The final day of The Local’s “three day mini-festival of modern-day existential songwriting”, The Stranger The Better, tonight’s fine line-up included Sons Of Noel And Adrian and a solo set by Meursault front-man Neil Pennycook, but opening proceedings was Woodpecker Wooliams.

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Hailing from Crawley but based in that musical hotbed-by-the-sea, Brighton, Woodpecker Wooliams (otherwise known as multi-instrumentalist, shaman and bee-keeper Gemma Williams) was apparently once told by Brian Eno not to bother with music. Ignoring his sage advice, she has instead spent time crafting darkly delicate melodies tinged with electronic flourishes and occasionally unsettling lyrics, delivered in an idiosyncratic style that has drawn comparisons with Björk (“creepy, but in a good way” is how the Guardian described her – creepy from Crawley indeed, to borrow a music journo description of another of that town’s famous sons, Robert Smith of The Cure). Touring around the UK and Europe has led to radio sessions (most recently on BBC Radio 6 Music, with Tom Robinson) and the release of her debut album, The Bird School Of Being Human, on Robot Elephant Records.

Woodpecker Wooliams by Gilly Rochester

Woodpecker Wooliams by Gilly Rochester

It was a prompt 7.30pm start and I’d just made it to King’s Place (having come straight from home), but, on discovering that no drinks were allowed in Hall One, I had to endure that most novel of experiences – a sober gig. As Woodpecker Wooliams (tonight, a full band) walked on stage and settled down in their places, the strangeness of the atmosphere was heightened by the fact that the audience was completely hushed, there was none of the background chatter that you normally get in venues.

The set tonight was a run through of tracks from the album, which all have a common theme (in title, at least, as they’re all named after birds). We got songs like Red Kite and the most recent single, Gull, with Williams sat with her harp as around her dissonant electronic drones warbled, backed with skittish drums, an occasional trumpet (and, on Crow, a grainy sample of the Last Post). There was even the parping of a deflating balloon – not the sort of thing you’d normally encounter, especially somewhere as refined as King’s Place! Williams moved behind a keyboard set-up for an incandescent Sparrow, bobbing to the beat as the searing vocals echoed off the laminated walls. The unusual quiet of the hall added to the often eerie nature of the songs, and focussed attention on the performers.

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Cheers broke the respectful silence as we reached the end, Williams and band taking the crowd’s applause as they walked off the stage as we, in turn, filed out to lay siege to the bar during the brief intermission.

There don’t appear to be any more live performances on the immediate horizon for Woodpecker Wooliams, at least until an appearance at the End Of The Road Festival during the summer, so we can only wait and see what more magic she is concocts in the meantime.

Categories ,BBC Radio 6 Music, ,bjork, ,brian eno, ,brighton, ,Crawley, ,End Of The Road Festival, ,Gemma Williams, ,Gilly Rochester, ,King’s Cross, ,King’s Place, ,Laura J Martin, ,Meursault, ,Neil Pennycook, ,Robert Smith, ,Robot Elephant Records, ,Sam Parr, ,sons of noel and adrian, ,the cure, ,The Guardian, ,The Local, ,The Stranger The Better, ,Tom Robinson, ,Woodpecker Wooliams

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Mike Gale of Co-Pilgrim and review of A Fairer Sea

Co Pilgrim by Gemma Cotterell
The Traveller by Gemma Cotterell. This illustration was inspired by the concept of a A Fairer Sea, title of Co-Pilgrim‘s album. The octopus is taming the sea with his melodic folk music.

Co-pilgrim is the new project from Mike Gale, who has enlisted various friends to join him on A Fairer Sea. The album opens with a rollicking beat before the more melancholic Trapeze takes over: songs are inspired by the difficulties of a trans-atlantic relationship, combining often sad lyrics with beautiful tunes and harmonies. Third in the beautiful title track A Fairer Sea makes copious use of slide guitar to create a gentle slice of Americana that belies the lovelorn words. Other highlights include the combination of upbeat chorus and lonely lyrics on I’m Going to the Country, and the final tune, No Guiding LIght, a spiritual questioning in times of woe. Mike Gale has successfully woven together different musical genres and personal experience to create a gorgeous album that deserves a wide audience.

Co-Pilgrim by Lucy Kirk
Co-Pilgrim by Lucy Kirk.

Why Co-pilgrim
My mum actually came up with the name, I just liked the sound of it. I didn’t want the project to be called Mike Gale. Co-pilgrim felt like a good name for a band that isn’t strictly a band in the traditional sense in that we don’t really have a fixed line up, people can come and go as they wish.

co pilgrim album art
I believe this is the most recent of many projects for all your members, what has been your musical trajectory so far and how did you end up here?
Everyone in the current line up apart from Claire ( vocals ) has known and worked with each other for at least 10 years or so. Myself, Andy ( bass ) and Tom ( drums ) were all in a band called Black Nielson. We were lucky enough to get picked up by Joe ( Slide, vocals, keys ) and his brother Robin’s label Truck records about 13 years ago and released some albums through them. I’ve worked on and off with both brothers since. After Black Nielson split I travelled around for a while and worked on Co-pilgrim songs with the people I met but when it came time to make A Fairer Sea I wanted to work with the people that I felt most comfortable with and had the biggest musical connection to, I was lucky enough that Joe, Tom and Andy wanted to do it. We’re also really lucky to have Claire, who is Joe’s wife, on board because her beautiful vocal harmony is exactly what we’ve been missing.

Co-pilgrim by Carley Chiu
Co-pilgrim’s ‘Surreal fantasy land‘ by Carley Chiu.

You are a fan of both Smog and the Beach Boys – how do these two influences manifest in your music?
I think that they both make music designed to get right into your soul. I know some people may consider Bill Callahan‘s music to be a bit miserable and The Beach Boys to be happy and full of sunshine but I think the opposite is often the case. Bill Callahan‘s lyrics are more often than not really funny where as a lot of Beach Boys songs are heartbreaking, especially the later stuff when Brian was losing his way. I guess the thing that I take from them both the most, apart from the harmonies is the idea that just because the feel of a song is happy or sad it doesn’t mean the lyrics need be the same, I really like that trick.

Co-Pilgrim by Carina Martina
Co-Pilgrim by Carina Martina. Co-Pilgrim’s album A Fairer Sea inspired my illustration with its aquatic references and dreamy melodies. 

Would it be fair to say that Co-pilgrim is a combination of folk and country, with a strong American influence? Why do you think British bands have taken Americana to heart in recent years? 
Yeah I suppose that’s fair, though the first bands that I really fell in love with were Stiff Little Fingers and The Jam, I still love them and they’ll always have an influence on me and my songs. I’m not sure It’s only been recently that British bands have been influenced by Americana, I think It’s been an influence for a while, maybe a few breakthrough artists have made it seem like a recent thing? To be honest I’m not really even sure what qualifies a band to be called Americana, it’s quite a broad genre.

A good melody is clearly very important to you, how do you write your tunes? 
Thanks, yep, the melody is definitely the most important part of any song for me, then the harmonies. My songwriting style is quite simple I guess. I just sit with my guitar for a while until I find a few chords I like and then try to mumble a melody over the top. I don’t always write a full song in one go, often I’ll have a bunch of little sections that will all end up in different songs. Lyrics always come second to the melody for me, though I really am trying to work harder on my words.

Is there a theme to the new album, and if so what is it?
Yeah, the main recurring theme of the album is a long distance relationship I was involved in a while ago with a woman from New York and the struggles we faced in trying to make it work. I moved over there to be with her but ultimately we couldn’t keep it going. It was nobody’s fault and she’s still a dear friend.

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What is title track Fairer Sea about, and what was the idea behind the accompanying video? Who made it?
A Fairer Sea is again about that same relationship. It’s just about how with a bit more luck then maybe we could have made it. The sea is the distance we always had to fight against. Claire from the band and our friend Suzy made the video, it came out brilliantly and fits the theme of the song perfectly.

What can we expect next from Co-Pilgrim?
We are going to release a couple more singles from A Fairer Sea over the next few months. During that time we’ll also be starting to record the next album, I’m really excited about the new songs. We’ve got some festival appearances booked over the summer including my favourite little festival, Wood Festival. We’ll see you there!

A Fairer Sea by Co-pilgrim is out now on Battle Worldwide Recordings.

Categories ,A Fairer Sea, ,americana, ,Battle Worldwide Recordings, ,beach boys, ,Bill Callahan, ,Black Nielson, ,Carina Martina, ,Carley Chiu, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,interview, ,Lucy Kirk, ,Mike Gale, ,new york, ,review, ,Stiff Little Fingers, ,The Jam, ,Truck records, ,Wood Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Mike Gale: introducing solo album Finger Bone From Swan Wing

Mike Gale-Finger Bone From Swan Wing cover
I catch up with prolific musician, writer and seaside dweller Mike Gale, Co-pilgrim frontman and now solo artist, with one album out and another on the way.

Why did you decide to release a solo album, and what have been the challenges and distractions?
I’ve always written a lot of songs, about 3 or 4 a week, but I didn’t really record them unless it was time to do a Co-pilgrim album, so a lot of songs have been lost or forgotten about through the years. I started doing a duo called Pelotons just over a year ago with my friend Tina from Finland and needed a way to record songs to share with her which is when I bought a tascam 8 track recorder. I got to grips with it and have been recording everything I write since then. I was getting frustrated with the time it takes in between Co-pilgrim albums with all the promotion and build up etc and asked Darren from the label if I could just release a couple of low-key solo albums a year as well to keep me busy. I don’t really get distracted by anything, my days are mostly spent writing and recording.

Mike Gale
What are the inspirations behind your lyrics?
I have had it pointed out to me that I write about the ocean, birds and the weather quite a lot. I think that the influence of the ocean is the biggest for me. Wherever I’ve lived in the world, it has always been by the sea. I find the ocean endlessly mysterious and romantic.

In what way would you say your solo sound differs from that of Co-Pilgrim?
It’s probably a bit weirder than Co-pilgrim, probably due in part to my limited musicianship and production skills. It’s definitely more lo-fi sounding.

Who are your vocal idols and why?
My favourite voice of all time is that of a Brazilian singer called Elis Regina, her album with Tom Jobim is the one I always reach for to find some peace. She was incredible. I’ve never felt such an emotional connection while listening to a singer as I do with her, even though I can’t understand what she is singing.

Mike Gale-Another Planet Cover
Another Planet cover art by Friederike Ablang.

Who else made this solo album possible and will you do it again?
I’m always grateful to the help that Battle give me. I’m lucky. Yep, this is going to be a regular occurrence now, I’ve finished the new solo album ‘Another Planet‘ and it is the hands of the label now, hopefully it will be out in a month or so. After that, the new Co-pilgrim album is out in Sep/Oct followed by another solo album….repeat until people are sick of me and then repeat some more.

Where can we see you play live in the coming months?
I have a solo show at The Great Escape in Brighton next month, then Co-pilgrim at Wood Festival a couple of days later.

Finger Bone From Swan Wing by Mike Gale is out now on Battle Worldwide Recordings. Mike Gale contributed exclusive words to my 10th anniversary limited edition book That Which We Do Not Understand.

Categories ,#TWWDNU, ,Another Planet, ,Battle, ,Battle Worldwide Recordings, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Elis Regina, ,Finger Bone From Swan Wing, ,Friederike Ablang, ,Mike Gale, ,Pelotons, ,That Which We Do Not Understand, ,Tom Jobim, ,Wood Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | An animated video from Co-Pilgrim: Pushover

Co-pilgrim videostill-nail hammer
The new Co-Pilgrim animated video for Pushover was made by Claire Bennett (who sings in Co-pilgrim) & Suzy Brough. This is the same team who made the Fairer Sea video, using single-frame animation with images composited from drawings and photographs. Mike’s coonskin coat and straw boater style was a popular fad in 1920s American Ivy League college students who would line up to cheer on their ‘football’ team (Claire is American). Watch the video below.

Co-pilgrim videostill-nail hammer
Co-pilgrim videostill-let's hear it for misery
Co-pilgrim videostill-filling lungs
Co-pilgrim videostill-beat
Pushover is featured on the new Co-Pilgrim album Plumes, which is out now on Battle. Writing by front man Michael Gale will be featured in my 10th anniversary book, available here.

Categories ,animation, ,Claire Bennett, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Fairer Sea, ,Michael Gale, ,Plumes, ,Pushover, ,Suzy Brough, ,video

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Amelia’s Magazine | Wood Festival 2014 Review: Sunshine, Drumming, Children, Singing, Bubbles and Yoga

Wood Festival by Tabby Booth and James Heslip

Wood Festival by Tabby Booth and James Heslip.

This year I was super excited about taking Snarfle to Wood Festivallast year he had not quite started walking yet and I think the concept of being in a field with music was probably a bit lost on him. This year, however, he is a walking talking being and I knew he would love a weekend spent in the Oxfordshire countryside.

We headed westwards on Friday afternoon in the lovely May sunshine, and put our tent up right next to the woods that fringe the field at Braziers Park. It’s a lovely location that I have camped on many times before, and it makes me wish for a life lived nearer nature…

Bar tent, Wood Festival by Becca Corney

Bar tent, Wood Festival by Becca Corney.

The music started just as we began to wander around the festival, and we caught the tail end of Sephine Llo on the main Wood Stage whilst eating a delicious meal courtesy of Will’s Cafe. This classically trained musician experiments with lesser known instruments such as the kora and sanxian, and her debut Flame EP is currently out with Tape Club Records.

Wood Festival 2014-kids

Up at the Tree Tent I was taken by country folk from Oxford based My Crooked Teeth, who ups the ante with clever lyrics. His debut EP is out now with Bear on a Bicycle records.

Wood Festival by Karolina Burdon

Wood Festival by Karolina Burdon.

Leeds based outfit Dancing Years impressed with delicate melodies, big instrumentation and heartfelt vocals. Their singer told us that since their tunes hardly lived up to their name they had prepared a special dance tune for their set, which I thought was a great addition.

Wood Festival 2014- Snarfle at main stage

Next up it was nice to hear from Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou again, showcasing their pitch perfect harmonies before jetting back off to rejoin Tori Amos on tour. I particularly liked hearing Hannah sing on her own for a change. By this point we had put Snarfle in his pyjamas and he had a great time running around with the other wee ones in front of the stage.

Wood Festival 2014-Oxford Ukeleles

I first wrote about Alessi’s Ark many a moon ago, and yet she is still only 23 years old. She graced the stage as my child started to go a bit mental with tiredness, but since he is not given to sleeping before nightfall these days we decided to sit by the camp fire for a bit, where a kindly lady let him pluck at her ukelele. I think his undoubted favourite of the day was watching the Oxford Ukeleles sing a selection of popular songs in the Tree Tent just before we fell asleep under the stars.

Wood Festival 2014-clay fairy

On Saturday we awoke to brilliant sunshine, and Snarfle had a lie in whilst I did some knitting (bliss, this never happens). Our morning was spent exploring activities for small children – we missed the yoga, sang along with family entertainer Nick Cope, discovered a wonderful woodland playground (how I wish we had more trees near us in East London), watched a man make a flute with a carrot, had lunch and then went for a lie down.

Wood Festival bubbles

Or maybe not as it turned out: because instead Snarfle BROKE MY FUCKING NOSE. By head butting me. Yup, I was hysterical. The onsite St John Ambulance sent me off to the Royal Berkshire A&E in Reading, so that is where we spent a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon. It turns out there was probably very little point to this trip because they gave me no referral letter, so I ended up back in my local A&E earlier this week in the hope of being seen by a consultant. As a result this Friday I am being put under so that they can whack my nose back into place. Toddlers: dangerous weapons of facial destruction. Watch out parents: it might happen to you!

Wood Festival 2014- Snarfle and Tim

But back to Wood Festival: on our return we managed to meet up with a number of friends who were on a day visit before they left. Many locals only come down for the day on Saturday, so the festival gets delightfully busy (but never too much so).

Wood Festival 2014- Snarfle drawing

By turns glitchy and dreamy folktronica by Oliver Wilde kept us entertained into the evening. We also enjoyed the female folk duo O’Hooley & Tidow, particularly their reinterpretation of songs by the likes of Massive Attack.

Wood Festival 2014-wood craft

By the time the Wood Festival brothers’ band The Dreaming Spires took the headline spot the kids were out in force, dancing wildly in their onesies beneath the stage. Snarfle was pretty much spent but we managed to catch carefully crafted folk songs from Birmingham’s Boat to Row before bedtime.

Wood Festival 2014- clay bat

On Sunday we took it easy again in the morning, with Snarfle very happy to hang out in the big kid’s tent, drawing whilst a bunch of older kids made wonderfully odd animals out of twigs and pinecones twisted into clay. He was also transfixed by a storyteller in a big feathery hat.

Wood Festival 2014-Phil Ball

In the Kindling Tent Phil Ball gave an engaging (and thoroughly candid) talk about his time spent in a Russian prison as one of the 30 Greenpeace protesters arrested in the Arctic last year. It was good to see him in the flesh, having only kept up with his recent antics via facebook for some time. Find out why it is such a bad idea to drill for oil in the Arctic here.

Snarfle drifted off during his talk but before leaving we could not resist hanging out for a bit longer in the sunshine, lulled by the twinkling world sounds of kora player Jali Fily Cissokho, who spends his time between Senegal and Oxford. Rapturous applause ensured a lengthy encore, before we finally hit the road homeward bound.

Wood Festival 2014-little girl

It was once again the perfect festival for families and folk lovers (ahem, we’ll leave aside my personal mishap). Before we left I picked up a pair of hand turned wooden bowls made by Alistair Phillips of Woodworks and Coracles, who was offering lessons in wood turning; once Snarfle is older I will really enjoy participating in the adult workshops, of which there are many.

Sadly I missed a number of favourite Wood Festival musicians… including Ellie Ford, Knights of Mentis, My Sad Captains, Goodnight Lenin and Co-Pilgrim. But don’t worry, you can still enjoy them by listening to my special Wood Festival compilation playlist on Soundcloud (just above). I’m looking forward to next year already.

Categories ,2014, ,A&E, ,Alessi’s Ark], ,Alistair Phillips, ,Arctic 30, ,Bear on a Bicycle, ,Becca Corney, ,Boat to Row, ,Brazier’s Park, ,Broken Nose, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Dancing Years, ,Ellie Ford, ,Flame EP, ,Goodnight Lenin, ,Greenpeace, ,Jali Fily Cissokho, ,James Heslip, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Kindling Tent, ,Knights of Mentis, ,Massive Attack, ,My Crooked Teeth, ,My Sad Captains, ,Nick Cope, ,Oliver Wilde, ,Oxford Ukeleles, ,Oxfordshire, ,O’Hooley & Tidow, ,Phil Ball, ,Playlist, ,Reading, ,review, ,Royal Berkshire, ,Sephine Llo, ,Snarfle, ,St John Ambulance, ,Tabby Booth, ,Tape Club Records, ,The Dreaming Spires, ,Toddler, ,Tori Amos, ,Tree Tent, ,Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, ,Will’s Cafe, ,Wood Festival, ,Wood Stage, ,Woodworks and Coracles

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with The Epstein about new album Mumurations

The Epstein by neonflower
The Epstein by neonflower.

Oxford based folk rockers The Epstein return with their second album Mumurations today. 14 months in the pipeline, it’s a record filled with songs of departure and change, all set against a lush melodic backdrop. From opener Morning News – a typically heartfelt tale set to the mournful twirls of a guitar – to the beautiful lilting sounds of current download single Calling Out Your Name, this is over 40 minutes of big folk that is well worth checking out. I spoke with Olly Wills, who is responsible for vocals and acoustic guitar.

The Epstein - Murmurations Cover
What does Murmurations mean?
Murmurations is the term used for a flock of starlings when they fly in swooping flocks of thousands and can be seen sweeping and diving above fields and trees… I think it is something that is most often seen in the early autumn. Type the word into google images and you will see what I mean, it is an amazing spectacle.

The Epstein by youdesignme
The Epstein by youdesignme.

Who came first to The Epstein, and how did the others come on board?
The band started with founder members Olly Wills and Al Verey and very quickly Jon Berry and Rowland Prytherch came on board. We started playing open mic nights in Oxford and London and built the band up from there. We got a residency in a local pub where they paid us to play for 2 hours a week on a Thursday night and slowly the band developed its live skills and worked out what songs worked and what songs didn’t. This was quite a few years ago now and the band has changed hugely over that time but Olly and Jon are still there along with Seb Reynolds on Keyboards, Humphrey Astley on Bass and Tommy Longfellow on drums.

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What inspired the words and the sounds of the new album?
Our first album was pretty narrative in terms of its songwriting and pretty country-folk in terms of sound… we wanted the second album to be quite different in both regards. We aimed for a widescreen cinematic and fully studio sound and the songs whilst still being narrative in some regards are also more image based as well. Hopefully they allow the listener to paint pictures for themselves as they listen. 

The Epstein by SarahJayneDraws
The Epstein by Sarah Jayne Draws.

What can attendees expect of your album launch later this month?
We are playing album launches in Oxford on June 27th and London on June 30th and we are really excited about both shows… We have some great support coming from The Dreaming Spires, Co.Pilgrim, Empty White Circles and Jordan Oshea (2 support bands each night, not 4!) and we will be playing the whole album from first track to last with some great visuals to help create a magical atmosphere. Great venues, great music and some cool backdrops… what else could ask for?

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Why is Oxford such a hot bed of musical goings-on? Anything special that you can put a finger on?
Ever since I have been involved with music in the city there has been a constant week in week out scene. You can choose between 4-6 gigs a night almost every night of the year which is a pretty healthy amount of creative activity for what is a pretty small city… There are some great local music magazines, there are loads of festivals to get involved in and a huge student population who are a big part of it all too. On top of this you are really well situated if you do want to do gigs in London and other UK cities. Oxford had a rich heritage in great music when I got here 10 years ago – Radiohead and Ride are just two that spring to mind – and is so cool that in recent years newer bands have brought recognition back to the city. Foals and Stornoway are two recent acts who are known far and wide now, so I guess that all in all these elements combine to create a scene in the city where as a musician there are many opportunities to get your project in front of many interested people and hopefully further a field as well.

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It’s taken awhile to record this album. How did it take shape?
We started this album in a studio in north London, did sessions in Bremen, Germany and ended up doing a lot in Truck Studios, Oxford as well as various rooms in between. It involved many musicians and much planning and as a result took us quite some time to record let alone mix and master so that in brief paragraph explains the lengthy nature of the process… The end result is what we planned for at the start, I just dont think we thought it would take nearly as long as it did to get from that start to today where the album is all packaged and ready for people to take home with them.

What next for The Epstein?
A busy summer of shows here in the UK promoting Murmurations and also on the continent where the album is out on PIAS Records. It is great to be busy again and the band has never been better as a live unit so we have a lot to look forward to in the near future. In the autumn we will finish off the next record – which we have already started on – and baring in mind the experience with the making of the current recordings we are seriously aiming to be able to release another album early in 2014. Fingers crossed!

The Epstein release Mumurations with Zawinul/PIAS on 24th June 2013. They will celebrate with a launch party at St Albans Church in their home town of Oxford.

Categories ,Al Verey, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Empty White Circles, ,Humphrey Astley, ,Jon Berry, ,Jordan Oshea, ,Morning News, ,Murmurations, ,neonflower, ,Olly Wills, ,Pias Records, ,Rowland Prytherch, ,Sarah-Jayne Draws, ,Seb Reynolds, ,St Albans Church, ,The Dreaming Spires, ,The Epstein, ,Tommy Longfellow, ,Truck Studios, ,youdesignme, ,Zawinul/PIAS

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Amelia’s Magazine | Reports of Snow: an interview with Abe Davies of Reichenbach Falls

Reichenbach Falls_Reports of Snow album_cover

Reports of Snow is the new album by Reichenbach Falls, a collective headed up by singer songwriter Abe Davies, and based out of Oxford, that ever burgeoning hub of musical creativity. The album is chock full of mellow tunes with a tinge of Americana, perfect for those long winter evenings…

Reichenbach Falls portrait

How would you describe the sound of Reports of Snow?
Reports of Snow started out as a solo acoustic record – it was going to be just me and my guitar, with maybe a little keyboard and piano, that kind of thing. But as we worked on the songs we kept thinking ‘this should be an acoustic song, for sure, but maybe with electric guitars, drums, bass, piano‘ … so not really an acoustic song at all! So once we’d decided to let the songs go wherever they wanted to go, we worked on the basis that there should be a sort of approach tying them together, to make sure it remained an album rather than just a collection of songs – every one should have the heart of a fairly simple folk song, and the listener should be able to hear that, but that from there one might go in a pop direction, another in a rock, another in a more arty direction and so on. Which is I guess a long-winded way of saying: I’d describe it as ‘experimental folk-pop-rock‘!

Reichenbach Falls by Amberin Huq

Reichenbach Falls by Amberin Huq. ‘I found whilst listening to the Reichenbach album I was reminded to cold winter mornings by the sea and absence so it was just about finding an image that reflected that feeling I had. I wanted to create something that could be quietly beautiful and quite sparse to accompany the music.’

What are the lingering themes of the album and what inspired them?
Well, I guess the lingering theme would be lost love or something like that. It’s kind of a break-up album, and though a couple of the songs are a little older (written when I was living in St Andrews in Scotland) the vast majority were written over a couple of months after moving to Oxford a couple of years ago. So whereas I think the next record will be a little more wide-ranging in terms of subject-matter, this one’s pretty single-minded. I guess every songwriter has to get a break-up album out of their system every few years, and this is ours. 

Reichenbach Falls by Emma Russell

Reichenbach Falls by Emma Russell. ‘Reichenbach Falls have an outdoorsy, Americana feel that I wanted to echo. Listening to Risky, I liked the idea of escape and the image of the Southern Cross shining.

Where are you from originally and how did you end up here?
My parents came over here from Canada for my dad to train as an actor, so weirdly enough I was born in Wales. But all our family was in Canada still, and after a few years my dad moved back, so we were always back and forth and I lived in Calgary, near the Rocky Mountains, for a while when my dad lived there too. Then I lived in Spain for six months, Norwich, Scotland for a while, now Oxford for the foreseeable … so kind of all round! I consider myself 40% English, 40% Canadian and 20% somewhere in the Atlantic, maybe a little south for warmth. 

Reichenbach Falls by Kimberly Ellen Hall

Reichenbach Falls by Kimberly Ellen Hall.

How does the ‘rotating membership’ of the band work in practice?
The rotating membership is a pain! It’s allowed us to make an album that I’m really proud of, and that I couldn’t possibly have made without the generosity and skill of all these people, but everything takes forever and is a nightmare to organise. On the other hand, I’m super lucky with the talented friends I’ve made over the last couple of years and also with the fact that to play live I don’t necessarily need anybody but me. I’m kind of at the point where if I want to do a show I’ll agree to do it solo, and then if there’s the possibility to add components I’ll see if I want to and then make some calls to if it’s going to work schedule-wise. So having that solo option takes a lot of stress out of the rotating membership. Sorry, are these answers going on forever?? I feel like they are …

Reichenbach Falls tarot shop

Is that Joe Bennett, founder of Truck Festival who you are collaborating with? how did that come about? He gets everywhere!
That is indeed Joe Bennett of Truck fame. And it came about because he’s a friend of mine and does get everywhere … He’s also an incredibly talented and fun guy who lives to play music, so that doesn’t hurt either! He’s a great guy to have around – I ended up playing Y Not Festival with Co-pilgrim, a band that he’s in, and so he joined me for a few songs. That was cool, and I’m sure won’t be the last time. 

Where was the video for Risky shot? it looks suitably depressing and grey…
That was shot in a single take in Jericho in North Oxford – coincidentally, only a few hundred yards from the studio where we made a lot of the album. It was in February, I think, so you get that washed-out light that’s beautiful but sort of sad. Ben Johnston, who conceived and directed it, is also pretty nifty with getting the look just right in post-production – there’s a video for the song Stay Home, Elizabeth that he’s in the process of making with an amazing actress from here in Oxford which is going to be really beautiful, too, I think. I’m really looking forward to seeing it myself!

Who was the dancer and what was her brief, and who is polishing the gun and where did you acquire that from?!!! Looks real…
Actually, the dancer is Breeze Murdoch, a great friend of mine who I met through her husband, Michael de Albuquerque, who co-produced, engineered and mixed the album – and that’s him with the gun at the end, which I think is actually a very realistic, powerful air-rifle. As far as I remember, her brief was to make it feel as if it were a little ‘risky’ just being outside, with all these strange, pretty, dangerous things happening. But she’s both a musician and a professional dancer, so the kind of person to whom you don’t really have to spend a lot of time explaining these things. 

Reports of Snow by Reichenbach Falls is released on 2nd December 2013 through Observatory Records.

Categories ,Abe Davies, ,album, ,Amberin Huq, ,Ben Johnston, ,Breeze Murdoch, ,Calgary, ,canada, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Cornershop, ,Elizabeth, ,Emma Russell, ,Goldrush, ,interview, ,Joe Bennett, ,Kimberly Ellen Hall, ,Little Fish, ,Michael de Albuquerque, ,Observatory Records, ,Oxford, ,Reichenbach Falls, ,Reports of Snow, ,Risky, ,Stay Home, ,Truck Festival, ,Viarosa, ,wales, ,Y Not Festival

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