“We were so happy, and we’d finally reached this perfect balance, after going through all the things we did together,” says Deheza. “There was no baggage, no hurt any more, everything was pure, true friendship. We’d hit every colour on the spectrum. We were so close, and we had this flow like we’d never had before.”
“Ahead of the album’s release, you can hear the triumphant, synth-driven tribute to their friendship, Ablaze.”
Read the full article & stream the track HERE
Pre-order the new album and receive Ablaze along with the two previous singles “Open Your Eyes” & “On Your Heart” –
“Breathtaking… Aidan Knight has been called the Canadian Sufjan Stevens due to the melancholy of his music. On his third LP he sounds closer to Bill Callahan, his forlorn baritone suffused with a world-weariness that suggests a singer twice his age and experience.”
Uncut – 8/10
“He’s no stranger to playing unaccompanied, and St Christina and Black Dream nuzzle into Tobias Jesso Jr territory. Yet when he stretches himself musically and brings a band in, he’s another scion of Canada’s alt-royalty… Aidan Knight is hitting his stride.”
Q Magazine – 4 Stars ****
“In just eight tracks he packs together the bittersweet melancholia of Sufjan Stevens, the lush arrangements of Andrew Bird and the wistful vocals of Jeff Buckley.”
Loud & Quiet – 8/10
The Magnetic North – the occasional musical partnership of Erland Cooper, Simon Tong & Hannah Peel – release their second album on March 18th 2016 on Full Time Hobby.
Skelmersdale in West Lancashire was designated a new town in 1961. Part of the UK’s second wave of post-war population redistribution, it was failing within twenty years. In the early ’80s, the town became the official UK home of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Geographically placed somewhere near the centre of the country, the town was deemed the perfect site for the movement to build their ‘ideal maharishi village complete with gold meditation dome’ (the Guardian). The local community was soon augmented by families from across the country looking to live peaceful, peace-promoting lives with an overriding ambition to spread goodwill to the town and beyond.
Inspired by the town and the lives of its inhabitants, the Magnetic North’s Prospect of Skelmersdale sits somewhere between finely tuned kitchen sink drama and urban psychogeography. Inspired as much by the greys and greens of Kes as the soothing, cyclical patterns of meditative ragas, Prospect of Skelmersdale is a collection of musical snapshots of a uniquely British town. Drawing on childhood memories, the urban landscape and the lives of its inhabitants, the album perfectly uncovers the beauty, magic and mythology that can be found in the most unexpected places.
Gathering together archived news stories, dim-lit memories, directions from road signs, local graffiti and tales from the town’s dual modern histories, the Magnetic North beautifully detail a dozen tales of hope and hopelessness.
Pre-order the album on limited CD bookpack, LP & Digital Download HERE
Happy to announce Aidan will be heading out on tour in support of Villagers & Half Moon Run over the coming months. Full tour dates are HERE.
Pop along to see Aidan perform tracks from his forthcoming album “Each Other” – out 22nd January. Pre-order HERE.
NPR Music premieres Smoke Fairies new video “Christmas Without A Kiss” from their holiday-themed collection Wild Winter. The album is out now on Full Time Hobby. NPR Music says the song “beautifully captures unfulfilled holiday wishes with moody vocals and distorted guitar. The song sounds like a Christmas carol stretched and warped like a half-melted string of lights.” You can view the post on NPR Music HERE and share via YouTube HERE
You can buy the record from the Full Time Hobby store HERE
Diagrams, the artistic moniker of Sheffield-based Sam Genders, will release a new song, which follows up this year’s critically acclaimed album Chromatics.
The stand-alone track will be released digitally on 25th November; no arbitrary date, but one which marks the 100th year anniversary of the last of Albert Einstein’s lectures in which he put forward his revolutionary theory of general relativity.
To commemorate the event, Genders has worked closely on the track with Sheffield based producer and multi-instrumentalist Martin Gregory Smith and “long-time collaborator of Diagrams” designer/animator James Bates, on a video.
He says of the inspiration behind the track, “I’m fascinated by science and had been reading Einstein’s biography on the last European tour. When I read that the centenary of the theory was approaching I was inspired to write a song to commemorate it.”
Swirling atmospherics reflect the cosmic subject matter, which inspired the track as synthesizers hum and whirl; yet these textures are juxtaposed with Genders’ rich, subtle vocal delivery and pastoral horn arrangements. The overall effect is wistful, but cautiously optimistic, drawing parallels between the incomprehensibility of universal matters, and, as Genders puts it, “the cosmos that we each have inside our heads.”
The imagery included in Bates’ animation alludes to these parallel themes, as two figures seek to be reunited as they float through the void. They drift past intricate, intertwining concentric patterns while Genders sings of dancing “like two electrons held in the orbit of a radium ion”.
Following on from the release of their self-titled album last year, Smoke Fairies release ‘Wild Winter’ an album of songs about Christmas and the darkness of the winter months. It is released on 20th of November on Full Time Hobby as a CD, digital download and on limited edition white vinyl.
“We have a love/hate relationship with winter and the Christmas holiday, When it was suggested Smoke Fairies make a Christmas album, the last thing we wanted to do was make a classic, jolly, celebratory album that can only be played once a year. Sometimes winter provides us with a sense of togetherness and love, and sometimes it leaves us feeling alienated, cold and playing a glockenspiel alone in a darkened room. It’s part of the year that will always be bittersweet and wild. This was the inspiration behind the record.”
Wild Winter is out Friday 20th Nov from your local independent retailer, as well as our shop and multiple digital services.
School of Seven Bells have announced the band’s fourth and final studio album, entitled SVIIB, will be released on February 12 via Full Time Hobby. In a note to fans, Alejandra Deheza explains the story behind the record and shares a snippet of new music. Find both the letter and music below.
Benjamin and I wrote this record during a tour break in the summer of 2012. I can easily say that it was one of the most creative and inspired summers of our lives. What followed was the most tragic, soul shaking tidal wave that life could deliver, but even that wouldn’t stop the vision for this record from being realized. This is a love letter from start to finish. It’s the story of us starting from that first day we met in 2004, and that’s the story of School of Seven Bells. So much love to all of you. Thank you for being a constant light in our lives. This record is for you <3 -Alejandra Watch the trailer for the album announce HERE
More info soon…
Following his sold-out London show earlier this month, AIDAN KNIGHT has today announced the release of Each Other, which will be available 22nd January via Full Time Hobby, and unveiled a majestic new track from the album entitled ‘The Arp’ which is streaming HERE. Aidan has also announced news of a UK tour in March to follow the release of the album. Dates/info below:
Wednesday 2nd March – LONDON – Sebright Arms
Thursday 3rd March – LEEDS – Brudenell Games Room
Friday 4th March – MANCHESTER – Gullivers
Saturday 5th March – BRISTOL – Louisiana
Sunday 6th March – BRIGHTON – Latest Music Bar
Farao are heading out on tour in November in support of San Fermin. The live show is superb – make you get down to one of them to see for yourself.
Pre-order “Each Other” now and receive All Clear instantly.
Aidan is on tour right now, full tour dates HERE
We’re happy to announce to you all that we’ll be releasing Aidan Knight’s new album “Each Other” in January 2016.
In a few week’s time Aidan begins a European tour on 12th September which includes an intimate show at London’s The Islington on the 1st October, as well as select support dates with good friend and fellow countryman Dan Mangan.
‘Each Other’ was recorded at the Bathouse Studio, just outside of Kingston and home to Millhaven Maximum Security Prison. The band sequestered themselves in the studio for over 2 weeks with producer Marcus Paquin (The National, Local Natives, Stars). The band and Paquin were meticulous with each song, piecing together the raw energy of the live show along with the layered textures that could only be captured in the studio. An exhaustive process to say the least which Knight reflects on in saying, “Marcus, guided an unruly collection of ideas and a sometimes impulsive person (me) with remarkable patience (Marcus is also a new father).” Each Other was mixed over a very cold winter by Mathieu Parisian, known for his work with Patrick Watson and Karkwa, and very familiar with intricately elaborate recordings.
Lyrically, Knight’s penchant for astute observations and personal reflections remains a compelling component of his songwriting, as previously witnessed on 2012’s acclaimed album ‘Small Reveal’. Aidan muses that“It’s nice to keep a journal. I’ve never done it myself, but I get the appeal. You document time and memory; it allows for a kind of time travel. And I am interested in time travel, but also letting my embarrassments and history go quiet when it suits me”.
‘All Clear’ acutely demonstrates Knight’s evolving musical depth, highlighting both the band’s sonic exploration and Aidan’s ability with a subtle melody. The emotional weight running throughout the record should satisfy the most discerning listener and bring Knight’s work to a newfound prominence.
Aidan Knight UK + European dates 2015:
Supporting Dan Mangan:
12.09.2015 Germany, Darmstadt, Golden Leaves Festival
13.09.2015 Germany, Freiburg, Waldsee
16.09.2015 Germany, Karlsruhe, Substage
17.09.2015 Germany, Reutlingen, franz.K
18.09.2015 Switzerland, Düdingen, Bad Bonn
19.09.2015 Switzerland, Aarau, Kiff
21.09.2015 Germany, Wiesbaden, Walhalla
23.09.2015 Germany, Erlangen, E-Werk
24.09.2015 Germany, Leipzig, UT Connewitz
25.09.2015 Germany, Hamburg, Reeperbahn Festival
26.09.2015 Belgium, Charleroi, Eden
27.09.2015 Germany, Dortmund, FZW
29.09.2015 France, Paris, Festival Humanist SK
30.09.2015 Luxembourg, De Gudde Wellen
01.10.2015 UK, London The Islington – get tickets
02.10.2015 Germany, Aachen, Musikbunker
03.10.2015 Switzerland, Geneva, La Graviere
04.10.2015 Germany, Augsburg, Bedroomdisco
05.10.2015 Germany, Munich, Hauskonzerte
07.10.2015 Germany, Berlin, Berghain Kantine
08.10.2015 Germany, Hannover, Feinkostlampe
09.10.2015 Germany, Göttingen, Nörgelbuff
10.10.2015 The Netherlands, Eindhoven, Studentenkapel
Out 11th September – available to pre-order now.
Check out the Weston Getto Allen & Dorian Electra-directed video for Samantha Crain’s track “Killer.”
Simply put, “Killer” is a protest song that breaks open the reality of police brutality in the African-American community. “Every day we are told that progress is being made toward equality and fairness but it seems there are still widening gaps between classes, sexes, races and creeds,” Crain explains. “This song is a call for awareness…”
With lyrics like, “The killer of girls, the killer of self / Turned the Garden of Eden into a fiery hell / Struck the rock too many times now no water comes out,” it’s obvious Crain pours her heart and soul into the thought-provoking track — and the accompanying visuals help paint the picture she’s created with the song.
Read More: Samantha Crain, ‘Killer’ – Video Premiere
“Killer” is taken from the new Samantha Crain album “Under Branch & Thorn & Tree” – available HERE
You can also buy the new album as part of a bundle, complete with Samantha’s previous album, all featuring bonus tracks. Pick up the bundle HERE
We’ve been wanting to get this one out for a while – a truly unique album, the debut from Canada’s DRALMS. “Shook” falls into a world of it’s own – it’s reminiscent of what’s gone before whilst simultaneously sounding like nothing else. Part Antlers, part Air, part “Spirit Of Eden”-era Talk Talk, part “OK Computer”-era Radiohead. Those are the pointers we’re using, but you kinda just have to listen to it.
Stream title track “Shook”:
We previously shared “Hunter,” shimmering with starry electronics that churn against an inexorable underbelly of rhythm. Directed by Nina Knag and Ina Lerner Grevstad and with cinematography and editing by Karl Erik Brøndbo, the “Bodies” video touches upon the song’s introspective message, sharing the human ability to find strength in learning from ones weaknesses. Farao explains, “Like the song itself, the video is about surrendering to bad decisions and going down the wrong path, where it’s likely you’ll end up hurting someone. It’s exploring impulsive physical contact and dominance, and seeing this take control of your rationality.”
Pre-order Farao’s debut album “Till It’s All Forgotten” and receive both Bodies & Hunter instantly as a digital download:
Farao is the musical alter ego of adventurous pop songbird & multi-instrumentalist Kari Jahnsen, who will release her debut album Till It’s All Forgotten on September 11th through Full Time Hobby. Today she reveals a new single ‘Bodies’, a song about giving in to bad decisions and described by The Fader as “A tense, trombone-laced march led by Jahnsen’s gentle urging.”
Jahnsen composed and performed all instruments (except brass and drums) on Till It’s All Forgotten’s ten songs. Shimmering with depths of determination and sorrow, the album combines celestial pop, R&B and haunting brass melodies.
Farao’s varied and evocative musical artillery – guitars, synths, organs, glockenspiel, sitar – dances at her fingertips, dazzlingly interwoven with her ethereal vocals to create a suite of music that is otherworldly and entirely her own. “Hunter” shimmers with starry electronics churning against an inexorable underbelly of rhythm. The brooding “Bodies” (premiered yesterday on The Fader), thunders over rugged terrain, its knotted path smoothed by Farao’s angelic, but stoic, voice.
Produced by Mike Lindsay (of Tunng) and mixed by Grammy Award winner Andrew Scheps (Hozier, Lana Del Rey, Cass McCombs), Farao’s sublime debut is a unique composite of sonic elements perfectly reflecting and enlarging upon its emotional themes and dramatic range.
Samantha Crain will return to the UK at the end of July to promote her new album “Under Branch & Thorn & Tree.”
Full tour dates and ticket links HERE
Check out the new track “Outside The Pale” on SOUNDCLOUD
Pre-order the new album from the Full Time Hobby Store
Shot in Snowdonia in Wales, ‘Hunter’ was directed by Berlin-based visual artist Irrum.
“We wanted to use the wild and majestic nature in Wales as a way of reinforcing the dramatic soundscape of the song, combined with unsettling elements like reptiles, naked bodies on the ground, blood and people staring at you,” Jahnsen says of the video, “The song is about conquering and oppression, and we wanted to reflect that by making a video that leaves the viewer feeling intimidated and hopefully a little anxious.”
The first single to follow her 2014 self-titled EP, ‘Hunter’ shimmers with starry electronics churning against an inexorable underbelly of rhythm, while Farao’s crystalline voice soars over intoning a tale of retribution and personal liberation with cathartic poise: “If I have to, I will haunt you like a phantom in the night… I can’t deny, I’ll track you down and shoot you like a hunter.” As interweaving synth lines lift the song’s mournful harmonium intro over a bed of rolling drums and funereal brass, ‘Hunter’ snakes like an aurora borealis casting its ever-shifting illumination over the scene of an unnerving adult fairy tale, vibrant surface beauty deftly revealing the depths within.
Following 2014’s critically-acclaimed album Kid Face, singer-songwriter Samantha Crain will see her fourth album, Under Branch & Thorn & Tree, released on July 17, via Full Time Hobby.
The new album was recorded and mixed at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, and produced by John Vanderslice, (The Mountain Goats, Spoon) who also helmed Kid Face. The album’s intimate vignettes are marked by Crain’s smoldering vocals and lyrics that call attention to the details of everyday life that often escape us, supported by the subtle musical settings she crafted with Vanderslice and the backing musicians.
About the new songs Crain said, “I don’t write protest songs in the traditional sense, but I’m always listening to the voices of people around me. These stories are told from the perspective of the underdog, the 99% of us that are working people. They might not be literal protest songs, but the lives of the people within these songs speak at the same volume if you listen.”
Crain and Vanderslice recorded and mixed the album in 10 days. “I like to work that quickly,” Crain said of the process, “and John’s good with spontaneous creation. We recorded straight to two-inch tape on a Studer 24-track machine and mixed down to 1/2-inch tape on an Ampex machine. The pre-amps were tube and we never used a computer. Our effects were done manually through tape looping and manipulation. Most of the arrangements happened in the moment, as we recorded. My guitar and vocals are all first or second takes.”
The album’s overall tone may be somber, but Crain’s vocals and the sensitive, striking arrangements bring unexpected flashes of light to even the darkest scenarios. The new songs are marked by expansive melodies that veer off in unpredictable directions, with lyrics that explore conflicting emotions with uncommon insight and compassion. She has a jazz singer’s phrasing, often breaking words into rhythmic fragments that land before and after the beat, stretching syllables or adding grace notes to uncover hidden nuances in her lyrics.
Stream first track “Outside The Pale” on Stereogum
Pre-order the album now and receive “Outside The Pale” for free, instantly:
The Leisure Society’s new album “The Fine Art Of Hanging On” is OUT NOW!
“intense beauty” – The Independent 4****
“Hemming is as eloquent as Rufus Wainwright” – Mojo, 4****
“exquisitely cadenced melancholia” – Financial Times, 5*****
You can pick up a physical copy of the album from the following places. CD format is a hardback bookpack, LP is 180g heavy-weight vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with printed inners – both lovely objects.
Note – bookpack format is now almost sold out, standard version of the CD is a gatefold digipack.
Dralms is the latest project by Vancouver’s multi-faceted artist Christopher Smith. Working with long time collaborators Shaunn Watt and Peter Carruthers of Siskiyou and William Kendrick of Failing, The project delivers a darker, more complex sound than that of Smith’s previous work. Bringing Andy Dixon (Secret Mommy) into the equation for his signature electronic beats and programming, Dralms packs a heavier punch, pulling the listener into its depths, and demanding undivided attention.
Smith’s Lyrics expose powerlessness, fear and rhetoric. Beyond this poetic prowess, the band’s strength lies in their ability to manipulate and play off of this content. Nothing captures this more than the band live. Cultivating an ebb and flow of all-encompassing build ups and ruthlessly catchy grooves, Dralms dramatic sound and pure volume creates a visceral and profound reaction in their listener.
Dralms will play a series of shows throughout May –
Mon 11th May – UK, London, Barfly w/ Baxter Dury (SOLD OUT)
Thu 14th – 16th May – UK, Brighton, The Great Escape (Stages + times TBC) TICKETS
Thu 21st May – Germany, Berlin, Antje Oklesund TICKETS
Tue 26th May – UK, London, The Sebright Arms TICKETS
More performances to be announced shortly.
Dralms’ debut album is due for release this summer.
It gives us great pleasure to welcome Jacco Gardner to Full Time Hobby!
We will be releasing Jacco’s new album “Hypnophobia” on 4th May 2015 on CD, coloured vinyl and high quality digital download. The coloured vinyl is a one-time-only pressing of 500 for Europe. Pre-order the album now and receive “Find Yourself” for free right away!
Screen prints of Julian House’s awesome album art will be available in a numbered edition of 50. These are available to pre-order separately or as part of an album bundle. All pre-orders will ship for album release date.
There will also be a limited 7″ of “Find Yourself” which includes the exclusive b-side “Mixed Feelings”, available to pre-order HERE
Stream the first track “Find Yourself”
Jacco is on tour throughout Europe, full tour dates HERE
Read all about Jacco HERE
The beautiful first video for the new Leisure Society album is live!
Directed by James Moore whom we’ve worked with for Tunng and Erland & The Carnival videos in the past has produced a wonderful, heart-felt insight into the day in the life of a modern day fisherman.
James went down to Newhaven on the South Coast to follow Martin for a day out on the seas. What we have is a perfectly fitting video for The Leisure Society’s “Tall Black Cabins”, mirroring the melancholy and highlighting the album theme of “hanging on” – doing something because you love it and not necessarily because it’s easy or financially viable.
The new Leisure Society album is out 13th April in UK, 28th in North America and 1st May in Germany. You can pre-order the album from HERE and you’ll receive “Tall Black Cabins” for free, instantly.
Ahead of the release of their debut 7″ single of the same name, The Line of Best Fit have premiered the Ewan Jones Morris directed video for Crushed Pleats.
Check out the video HERE
Dralms are playing live at St Pancras Old Church on March 4th. Tickets are on sale now, support comes from VENN.
The debut album will be released this year.
On April 13th (28th in North America) The Leisure Society will release their new album “The Fine Art Of Hanging On.”
The Line Of Best Fit premiered the first track “Tall Black Cabins” – stream it HERE
The album will be released as a limited edition CD bookpack, 180g heavyweight vinyl in gatefold sleeve with digital download and as a high-quality digital download. All versions are available to pre-order from the links below.
The band are heading out on tour in April. Tickets on sale Friday 30th Jan
The new Diagrams album “Chromatics” is out now!
You can buy the album on special edition CD which features the complete instrumentals (exclusive to the CD version), 180g vinyl in a beautiful gatefold sleeve (includes digital download) and also as a high-quality digital download (320 MP3 or FLAC).
All versions are available from our store, and physical versions are available at your local record store.
Happy new year everyone! Let’s kick 2015 off with a stream of the new Diagrams album. You can stream the whole glorious thing here.
You can pre-order the album from our store or via Rough Trade
Diagrams play live this month at London’s Lexington, tickets on sale now.
Check out a brand new Diagrams track “Gentle Morning Song.”
Premiered on The 405 yesterday, “Gentle Morning Song” is taken from the forthcoming album “Chromatics” released 19th January 2015 in Europe, March 10th in North America. You can pre-order the record from the following places:
Diagrams play live in London on 21st January 2015 at The Lexington – tickets are on-sale now.
To give you a taster of what to expect from the new album “Wild Winter”, Smoke Fairies have put together a homemade video for “3 Kings”, featuring a cameo from the girls themselves. You can watch the video HERE.
And if that’s not enough – here’s one more track from the album – “Give And Receive” was the first track we heard from the record here at Full Time Hobby and it’s remained an office favourite ever since. Perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of the record as a whole and we’re not at all ashamed to admit – it even makes us feel a little festive.
Stream “Give And Receive” HERE.
The new Diagrams album “Chromatics” is available to pre-order now, you’ll receive a free download of Phantom Power instantly.
Diagrams plays live in 2015 – tickets on sale now.
Smoke Fairies announce Christmas-themed album of 10 brand new tracks and 3 December shows, Rough Trade album of the month for December.
Following on from the release of their self-titled third album, Smoke Fairies are set to release “Wild Winter”, the 10 track Rough Trade-exclusive album of seasonally-themed songs on December 8th 2014.
In support of the release, the band will play 3 exclusive shows:
TUE 9TH DEC – RISE, BRISTOL
WED 10TH DEC – ROUGH TRADE, NOTTINGHAM
FRI 12TH DEC – ROUGH TRADE EAST, LONDON (W/ DJ BOB STANLEY)
When asked about the album, the band (Katherine Blamire & Jessica Davies) had this to say:
“We have a love/hate relationship with winter and the Christmas holiday. When it was suggested Smoke Fairies make a Christmas album the last thing we wanted to do was make a classic, jolly, celebratory album that can only be played once a year. Sometimes winter provides us with a sense of togetherness and love and sometimes it leaves us feeling alienated, cold and playing a glockenspiel alone in a darkened room. It’s part of the year that will always be bittersweet and wild. This was the inspiration behind the record.
We got together with our band, played around with the songs a few times then headed off to the studio to record them all live. It’s buzzy and raw and not one tinkling of sleigh bells can be heard.”
To pre-order your copy of “Wild Winter” direct from Rough Trade shops and to add a ticket to attend the tour date of your choice, click here
You can aslo pre-order the digital version here
Stream the first track “Christmas Without A Kiss”
The John Steel Singers’ new album is out on now! Available on Double CD, LP & high quality digital download.
“…a dizzying mash-up of irresistible kinetic force: sunshine pop, surf pop, locked grooves, powerpop, ’70s pop smarts, highlife guitar.” MOJO****
“The More you listen, the more it pulls into focus as a fabulous soundtrack for a heatwave” The Guardian****
Look out for Autumn tour dates announced soon.
“Everything’s A Thread” will be availble on CDx2, 180g LP and high-quality digital download. The bonus tracks included on the second CD will be included in the digital download code supplied with the LP as well as available digitally via iTunes.
We’re very pleased to announce that Full Time Hobby will be releasing the new self-titled Smoke Fairies album on 14th April 2014 in the UK.
Stream “Eclipse Them All” on Soundcloud:
“Smoke Fairies” is available to pre-order from the Full Time Hobby store now. Available on mini LP-style CD, 180g heavy-weight vinyl (with download code) and high quality digital download.
Smoke Fairies’ outstanding new album, the eponymously titled Smoke Fairies, shows the band in top form, combining their classic approach whilst exploring new forms of musical expression – but it is an album that they nearly didn’t make.
There was a moment after the release of Smoke Fairies’ last album (Blood Speaks, 2012) when Jessica Davies turned to musical partner Katherine Blamire and told her she was no longer sure whether Smoke Fairies should continue.
For Smoke Fairies the suggestion of not playing music together would potentially impact more than just their band – theirs was a friendship forged by music, by a shared ambition that had carried them from their schooldays and on to songwriting and performing together.
“We started considering what would we do if we didn’t do music,” recalls Davies, “and it was just a massive void.” Deciding that giving up on the band was “not an option,” Davies wrote a musical apology to Blamire that would become the stunning opening track of their new eponymously titled album, Smoke Fairies. “I just wanted to say sorry to her – sorry I scared you like that.”
In the six years since Smoke Fairies first entered a recording studio, they have made two critically acclaimed albums, supported on tours with Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley and Laura Marling, and had a single released on Jack White’s Third Man Records; but for all the perceived glamour of a musical career, they were still sharing a house in Peckham and waiting for something to happen while they worked temp jobs around London.
But with the question now raised, Smoke Fairies were able to really take stock and reassess what the band truly meant to them. “We realised that this is our life,” says Davies. “And we just have to see it as this wonderful thing, every gig we get to play and every record we get to make – we’re just incredibly grateful for that.”
More than this, it allowed them to think about the type of album they wanted to make. They had earned a reputation for impressive live performances, for harmonies and intricate guitar playing, but what they now craved was something simpler and more direct. Blamire talks of secretly listening to pop music on the bus, trying to figure out “why it was popular, why it was good.” Davies tells how her own personal yardstick had become “anything with a drumbeat that made me dance around the kitchen.”
Smoke Fairies yearned for movement and forward momentum. They wanted to make an album that wasn’t simply recorded live, but rather presented songs that were pored over, puzzled-out, polished and produced. “We wanted to feel that we had dissected everything back to its basic bones,” avers Davies, “and then for every song to kind of shimmer.”
In 2013 Blamire and Davies took themselves to a remote recording studio in Kent with producer Kristofer Harris. “It was on a very old industrial estate,” says Davies. “It was a really eccentric area – it used to be a council office, now there’s a bubble car garage, a tattoo parlour and a granite workshop. It just physically felt so distant from anything to do with the music industry.”
It was there that they set about crafting their latest album, Smoke Fairies, calling on their bandmates and old touring friends such as drummer Andy Newmark (Sly and the Family Stone, Roxy Music, John Lennon) to help out. “It felt very warm,” says Davies. “These people really came together to encourage us, as if we had retreated into a world of only ourselves and the people who mattered.”
The distance and sense of introspection also allowed for a shift in their songwriting techniques. “We used to do a lot of harmonies,” says Blamire. “But this album gave us the opportunity to actually be two voices, rather than two voices as one entity; two people talking to each other as distinct characters. They’re the messages that we send to each other.”
Their lyrical style, too, has changed: “We scrapped lyrics right from the start if they were too flowery,” asserts Davies. “Unless the lyric really got to the point and said something, it got cut.” Blamire agrees: “As songwriters, I feel we’re really starting to sum things up properly, to nail them down. For me, it was a testament to how long we’ve been together that we could just say to each other ‘that’s shit.’ There really was no ego on this record.”
The result is a remarkable set of songs, notable not only for their strength and robustness, but also a sense of experimentation. The sheer liberation Blamire and Davies felt at using synths for the first time is evident in tracks such as the irresistible “Your Own Silent Movie” and the beautifully compelling “Drinks and Dancing”. Davies and Blamire’s sublime voices still stand to the fore, and tracks like “Want It Forever” are lined with a deliciously bluesy skuzzy-ness. This may not be the sort of album you ever expected Smoke Fairies to make, but it is an extraordinary record – bracing, sensual and defiant – and one that promises an exciting musical future.
Blamire and Davies see the track “Hope Is Religion” as the song that best sums up their experiences of the past few years and their continued devotion to making music. “It’s one that we wrote together,” affirms Davies. “It’s about writing songs with someone, putting those ideas out into the open and sharing them with somebody; but it’s also about how with music you’re always hoping for more – that this will happen or that will happen. For us it felt as if music had become our religion, we believed in it without any evidence that we’d actually be able to make any money or be successful. I guess that sums up the situation we were in; but we realised we had no other option but to keep on believing.”