THE superb Sunflower Thieves…
ARTWORK CREDIT: Adam Illingworth
have been speaking with me about their new track, Two Halves, and what the reaction has been to it so far. I ask Amy and Lily how they found one another and whether they have shared taste in music; whether there is more material coming along – they select some rising artists that are worth checking out.
Sunflower Thieves tell me about the albums that matter most to them and whether there are any gigs coming up; how they feel being on stage and sharing music with the people – they each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, Sunflower Thieves. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! We’re great, thank you! You’ve caught us the day after our fabulous gig with Wildwood Kin in Leicester – so, yes, we’ve had a great week!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are Amy and Lily! We are a female-fronted Pop-Folk band originally from the East Midlands and now based in Leeds. We take inspiration from the likes of First Aid Kit, Gabrielle Aplin and Lucy Rose. We combine delicate harmonies, honest lyrics and driving rhythms and, along with our wonderful band, we play all over the country at as many different shows, events and festivals as possible.
I believe Two Halves stems from personal tragedy. Can you explain the story behind the song?
Two Halves is an incredibly personal song, so we don’t go into too much detail regarding the story behind it. The song was inspired by, and a reaction to, a close friend in a vulnerable place. Lyrically, the song portrays the reassurance and care that is necessary in a friendship, without it becoming overwhelming. We have been so touched by some of the messages and responses we’ve had since the release and how people have interpreted it.
Might we see more material next year? How far ahead are you looking?
There will definitely be more music coming out next year. We are writing and starting to demo new work as we speak. Since the single, we have also released a live band performance video, as well as a live acoustic version - so definitely have a look at those if you haven’t already. We have also been performing at a few Sofar Sounds gigs this year, which will produce some live videos on their YouTube channel!
We are super-happy with the reception Two Halves has received and we can’t wait to follow it up with new material. We also have a whole bunch of new merch to be announced soon which we’re pretty excited about, as it’s been a while since we last had some and a lot of it is brand-new.
Can you remember when you got together and started making music?
We have always been close friends - from a very young age - and have always shared a passion for music, particularly attending live music events. Through the very creative community we grew up in - and the everlasting support and encouragement from our families - we started playing open mics and local events, before beginning to write our own material.
We became ‘Sunflower Thieves’ about three years ago before releasing our debut E.P., Hold the Storm, in early-2017. There was no funny or particularly memorable moment when we decided on the name; we just liked the contradiction between something beautiful and something negative.
Since then, we have stepped up in both our music and performance; been joined by a drummer and bassist and played all over the U.K. at more and more exciting shows.
Do you have shared music tastes? What was the sort of music you were raised on?
We have lots of shared musical interests and lots of different ones too. We often share music with each other that we’ve just discovered and we have many albums and songs that remind us of our childhood with strong memories attached to them. We both sang in a local choir, attended piano lessons and joined wind bands/orchestras when we were younger.
Amy: I went to a lot of Country, Singer-Songwriter and Folk gigs with my family - artists whom I still listen to and love…
Lily: KT Tunstall, Joni Mitchell and The Cranberries.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
We would like to have booked/played a Sofar London show - and have a plan for our next single!
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Amy: My favourite memory is our debut E.P. launch which took place in February 2017 - the day before my twentieth birthday. We held an intimate gig in a friend’s house (which used to be a bank), decorated the place with fairy lights and bunting; had homemade cakes and invited all of the people who had supported us until that point. It was amazing to play with the band to that special audience for the first time and to have a physical copy of something we were so proud to share and had been working towards for so long.
Lily: The first full-band gig we played in Leeds at Oporto - that was a lovely evening and I remember feeling very happy and proud.
Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?
Amy: I am most inspired by and absolutely love Carole King’s Tapestry album. My parents introduced her music to me and I find so much emotion and honesty in her writing. Her songwriting career inspires me.
Lily: Like I Used To by Lucy Rose was a big influence for me getting into songwriting properly.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Lucy Rose again; she’s an absolute angel.
We would need herbal tea and Oreos; some cute fluffy animals backstage and lots of houseplants onstage!
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
We don’t have a tour planned at the moment but we have a fair amount of gigs coming up! We update all our socials with upcoming gigs when they are announced and in the run up to them so you won’t miss them if you follow us!
6th October: Derby Folk Festival (Fringe Stage)
11th October: No.28, Belper (supporting The Herron Brothers)
28th October: Hockley Hustle, Nottingham
4th November: Lending Rooms, Leeds (supporting Saltwater Sun)
26th November: LS6, Leeds (headline gig).
Is it fun performing? What has it been like getting out there and performing in front of the people?!
Of course! Performing is often the best part of doing this. It depends on what sort of show it is as to how nervous we get. Funnily enough, it’s more nerve wracking performing in front of an audience we know than one we don’t. We love performing with the band as this gives our songs a new life and lifts the atmosphere of our performance.
However, at our recent Sofar Sounds shows we have been performing as the original duo with just an acoustic guitar and this is fun in a different way; giving us more flexibility with our performance and a more intimate atmosphere.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Support others and they will support you. The more work, practice and time you put in, the more you will get out of it. And be true to what you want to do - don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way or product a certain type of music. Don’t let the passion get lost.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sfven
Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Amy: Music isn’t all work, so going to gigs and writing music is relaxing! Other than that, my go-to relaxation is a nice coffee and cake with friends.
Lily: Chamomile tea and fairy lights.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Amy: What Am I Here For - Jade Bird
Lily: Beautifully Unconventional - Wolf Alice
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