Resurrecting an old feature here, the first interview for almost three years. It's something I will hopefully/probably try and bring back on a more frequent basis as I find it rewarding and you also get a break from my ramblings (well shortly)...
Given that this blog is basically a diary of my personal music taste I am always keen to know what inspires artists that I like, what they are listening to and who they would recommend themselves. Hopefully it will open the door to discover even more great music and perhaps learn a thing or two about some of my (and your) favourite artists at the same time.
She Keeps Bees
have long been a favourite of mine. It's almost five years since I first saw Jess and Andy perform in London and since I've seen them on at least a dozen occasions around the capital (and Reading festival one time too). Their new album Eight Houses, their fourth, was released last week via bb*island here in the UK and Future Gods in the US. It's been extremely well received and has entranced me on my every listen yet - it may even, already, rival Nests as my favourite SKB record - some task given my connection with it as my band introduction and memories of being blown away at The Old Blue Last one cold, Sunday night.
Eight Houses sees the duo at their most devastating and exquisite yet, combining minimalistic and subtly intense song-craft, full of equal measures fiery passion and spacious intimacy with raw power and emotion. There's moments that bring goosebumps throughout (the devastatingly beautiful "Is What it Is" and "Radiance") and moments that will blow your mind with their gut-dropping aggression and life ("Raven", "Both Sides"), both are incredible. The album comes, of course, highly recommended by me - you will not be disappointed.
Many thanks to Jess for answering a few of my questions.
What inspired you to start making music?
Music gave me comfort and solace as a kid. When you play an instrument you always have a friend. My father was a musician - he could speak that language and he taught it to me. He was a drummer - played in bands all over the east coast and down south. We would listen to music in the car and he would teach me how to break down rhythms. I loved that sense of community in music and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Of your own songs, which are you proudest?
We are both proud of Counter Charm - we collaborated with our friend, Gaspar Claus who is an incredible cellist. We recorded it at our friend's restaurant called West Country Girl on Halloween in Paris. Very magical night.
The taster tracks we’ve heard from the new record
have been starker, more controlled and emotive than on
Is this raw yet warm sound something that you purposely looked to create?
I think it's natural to ebb and flow from aggressive to receptive qualities. As we gathered and cut the songs for the new album we realized it was going to be a slow-burn. Andy and I were allowed to focus on mood and performance without worrying about technicalities when using a producer and engineer. We took our time with this album - it was carved through collaboration.
Do you have a favourite track to play live?
I always like playing All or None/ Dark Horse. It's different every time and people seem to respond to the strip down nature of it.
Do you have any pre-gig rituals? Can we expect more banter about jeans when you hit the UK in November?
We have our friend Adam playing with us now. We like to connect and try to calm down before the show. You can always count on me to say something about what I'm wearing - my nerves take over and half the time I don't even remember what I said after the show is over.
Which artists – musical or non-musical - do you feel have influenced your work and continue to do so?
Jason Molina - Nina Simone - Patti Smith - The music found by the Djs Chances With Wolves - people that freely and selfless give to the community they nurture.
Which song do you wish you had written?
by Cliff Edwards
If you were asked to curate your own stage at a festival, who would you want to invite along?
The Love Story - Nina Simone - Magnolia Electric Company - Bo Diddley - Howlin Wolf - Jimi Hendrix - Broadcast - Sharon Van Etten - The Kinks - Tom Waits
Recommend an artist that isn’t getting the attention they deserve.
A selection of songs by She Keeps Bees and those by acts/artists recommended by Jess.