Q: We love the blend the of electronic elements into what is uniquely a folk inspired EP. What was your creative and writing process when making “Still Life”?
Jon & Abbie: We wrote the majority of the EP while each of us were trapped in different places during lockdown, drawing on our mutual love of artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes and Simon & Garfunkel. Abbie would write the lyrics, and Jon would write the music.
With ‘Still Life’, we were able to sit down and actually record it together, and so had the opportunity to take a different approach. We built it up around a guitar part that Abbie could hear, and Jon then embellished with synths and layered vocals. We sat down and felt out the drum beat together. This was very much a shift in the sound we had established so far, and is probably more in line with the kind of thing we want to make going forward.
Q: We were particularly drawn towards the title track, “Still Life”. What inspired you to write “Still Life”?
Jon: Abbie has always loved bands like ‘Warpaint’, in particular that reverb-soaked guitar sound. ‘Still Life’ came from a shoe-gazier angle. We were also drawn to the sound of ‘The XX’ and their blend of guitar elements and electronica.
When we were writing, we could imagine this kind of ‘watershed’ moment halfway through, where the style completely changed up and this deep kick would come in, and it would start driving towards this big climax. As for what ‘Still Life’ is about: it’s about being reckless and losing yourself in someone, and we wanted that to come across in the layers of the track, building up to this moment where it all collides.
Q: Was there a pivotal moment in each of your lives when you decided to follow down the path to become musicians?
Abbie: For me, it was feeling left out in a music class back in school when we had to do a cover of ‘Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends’.. Everyone else could play something and I wanted to be a part of it. I started playing bass in a band with my best friend on drums, and then moved on to teaching myself guitar. Once I started gigging and writing with my other band ‘Maud’, I knew it was something I really, really loved. I think the most exciting part of being a musician is that you are also a storyteller. Not only is an outlet and a release but it’s also something that gives back as much as you take from it.
Jon: What’s a ‘musician’?
Q: “We love how Jon’s vocals really cut through each song”. Who are your biggest influences as songwriters?
Abbie: Lyrically, it’s hard to say. I am drawn to writing in a confessional style. Lately I have been reading poets such as Hera Lindsay Bird. I find that style of writing works for me, right now at least. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Sharon Van Etten, are always creeping into my songwriting, they are all great. I love writing about the everyday, that’s what ‘44 Days’ was about. I wrote it 44 days into lockdown, and my mind (and pen) were more focused on what would happen to all the kegs of beer because the pubs were closed. Then there’s ‘Marmalade’, a much more sombre song about being in love and then falling out of it and how complex, beautiful and ultimately heartbreaking that experience is.
Jon: In terms of the music, I read Abbie’s lyrics and in my head, I could hear how I thought they should be presented. For ‘44 Days’, I probably unintentionally channelled the everyday-ness and gentle sarcasm of Courtney Barnett and John Grant, for ‘Marmalade’: Sufjan Stevens, for ‘Could’ve Been U’: the tight and layered harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel, introducing slightly off-kilter time signatures for the outro. In the end, they all felt like they were kind of inspired by English forest folk (I’ve just made this term up) but interweaved with other genres for each song: classic rock, indie folk, baroque pop.
Q: What is coming up next for you guys?
Jon & Abbie: Err… Pubs re-opening and also booking us, hint hint.
We’re going to continue to work on our music and to promote our EP. We’re really proud of it, so we want to get it to as many ears as possible – if people are interested, then there’s more where that came from!
We’re also really keen to start gigging. It’s really interesting trying to translate a song to a different medium, and stripping it back so that we can perform it with just the two of us. This can be pretty scary, but we did this for our live session of ‘Still Life’ and although it was quite a challenge, it almost kind of revealed another song underneath the recorded version. A purer version. We think that’s pretty cool. We also did a live session for ‘Marmalade’, but that one was more acoustic to begin with so it wasn’t so difficult.
We also have a remix release in the works, we are also keen to lock ourselves away in the woods for a few weeks, or a narrowboat; and write an album, but we will see…
Q: What would you like to tell your supporters out there?
Jon & Abbie: Thank you for all the support with the EP. It was made during a very strange time for everyone, so it feels really great to know despite it all, there are people still listening and wanting to be a part of it. If you like our music, tell your friends about us! Word of mouth and personal recommendation is a lovely way to discover new music and connect with people… But short of that, a like and subscribe would do. We don’t have an Amazon wish list, unfortunately.
Also, ‘Free Britney’.
Interview by Brittney Williams