I have followed many duos through the world of music…
but few who have the same chemistry as Winter Wilson’s Kip and Dave. The fact they are married might account for that but, listen closely, and it is the simpatico and understanding they have when entranced in the throes of sound. I ask them about their celebrated album, Far Off on the Horizon, and how it feels knowing it connects with critics and fans; what they can reveal about the new single, Ghost – and what they are planning next.
The duo talk about supporting Fairport Convention and musicians they count as guides; what other gigs are coming up; if they have goals and ambitions to tick off before the end of the year; how they transitioned from Kip and Dave to ‘Winter Wilson ‘ – they end the interview with a couple of fine and soothing tunes.
Hi, Kip and Dave. How are you? How has your week been?
We're both fine, thanks. Very busy - but that isn’t a complaint.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We’re a married couple based out of Sleaford, Lincolnshire - which is where Dave was born and raised. Kip is Scottish but raised in Holland, Scotland and England. We met through music and have been playing together for over twenty-five years.
As for the music...that’s a more difficult question. In the main, it’s based around acoustic instruments, but we dip in and out of the Folk/Country/Blues genre. We both share lead vocals and harmonies - as it comes naturally to us. One of the best compliments we get from live gigs is that our set has a lot of variation.
Can I ask where that name, ‘Winter Wilson’, came from? Is there a story behind that?
‘Kip Winter’ and ‘Dave Wilson’: it's that simple. We used to go to a pub that had regular live music and Mike the landlord asked us to do a gig one night. When we turned up, he'd advertised us as ‘Kip & Dave’ - which was a little too close to Chas & Dave for our liking; so we went with the surnames from then on.
Ghost is your new track. Can you talk a moment about its origins and how it came together?
Dave wrote it after reading a story in The Big Issue (a wonderful magazine that does a lot of good) about how changes that the Government made to housing benefit had caused some youngsters to fall through the net and finish up homeless. Ghost is one girl's story - but there are, literally, thousands.
I like the way the video is shot. There is a lot of emotion conveyed throughout. What was it like filming the video?
A guy call Graham Wilsoncroft shot the video - and it was good to do. It's not easy to maintain the emotional connection when you're singing the same song over and over whilst looking at a film crew.
(But Graham did a great job and we're delighted with the result).
We wanted the video to have a sort of ‘film noir’ feel, in keeping with the subject matter, and we think Graham achieved that really well.
Far Off on the Horizon is your latest album. A lot of the material addresses redundancy and making music for a living. Was it frightening transitioning from the world of work and embarking on a dream – or did you feel this is what you were always supposed to be doing?
What we do is a dream come true for both of us.
We’re very lucky that it's come at a time in our lives where we have no other major commitments, which has made it a lot less frightening than it could have been. We were both made redundant in our fifties and decided to take a gap year. We've played music, written and recorded albums as semi-pros for years...so we thought we'd work at building up the music for a year and then get part-time jobs to supplement what we make from our gigs and album sales. It's all gone better than we thought it would and, almost six years later, it’s still going from strength to strength...
Best gap year ever!
The record has already garnered positive reviews. Does that give you a lot of faith and drive?!
The reviews have been great and, in general, all of our previous albums have been well-received. As we promote ourselves, we tend to use other people’s words to sell ourselves - so the positive quotes help us a lot. It’s always slightly scary when you send a new album out for review, as you are obviously setting yourself up to be criticised. We make music that we enjoy performing - and it’s a bonus when other people like it too.
The two of you, obviously, have a natural connection. Do you work on songs together – or will one of you work on lyrics/music?
We are a married couple and spend our lives together by choice.
The jokes and jibes on stage are perfectly natural as that’s just how we are with each other all of the time. We're lucky that we are now able to work together as well. Dave writes all of the songs - but many come from ideas and stories that Kip has passed onto him.
Which artists inspired you before you took up music?
Dave: Words have always been important to me. I can remember buying David Bowie and Bob Dylan albums on vinyl and reading all of the lyrics. As a youngster, I was also a big fan of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones; Free and The Who - as well as everything that came out on the Motown label.
Kip: I’m also a lyrics person but I’m also inspired by anybody who can really interpret a song with passion. I adore Bonnie Raitt - but I’m also a big fan of Jacques Brel. We must have one of the most eclectic music collections in existence!
You are going to hit the road with Fairport Convention! How important are they in terms of their music?!
Fairport have had a tremendous influence on the U.K. music scene. You have look at what was there before they came onto the scene and compare it to what came after...
Folk-Rock didn’t exist before Fairport.
IN THIS PHOTO: Jason Isbell
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
One of the best writers we've come across in many years is Jason Isbell. He's very much from the U.S. Country/Rock scene but, whether you like that or not, check out his lyrics. Also, there’s a band from New York state called Darlingside. Their harmonies are stunning!
IN THIS IMAGE: Darlingside
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
At the time of writing this, we are getting toward the end of our tour with Fairport Convention. Once that’s finished, we have a couple of weeks at home to catch up on admin etc. and then we'll be doing our own tour up and down the U.K.; over to Ireland and, then, Germany later in the year - and back to Australia and New Zealand next year.
Full details can be found on our website.
What do you each hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
2018 is set up nicely for us. We have plenty of gigs and we'll be working on new songs for future albums. If we can stay healthy and carry on as we are we'll be happy. We have no plans to take over the world.
Have you both got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
The current favourite is from this tour with Fairport. We played the Union Chapel in London - which is a stunning venue with an amazing atmosphere. We'd seen concerts from there on T.V. but never dreamed we play there ourselves. It clearly had an effect on Fairport also: they played a blinder that night and we joined them at the end to sing Meet on the Ledge with the audience joining in.
What a buzz that was.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Make music to please yourself and that you believe in: don’t be swayed.
Give it all you've got and get out there and enjoy it. If you can do that you've succeeded: it's not all about sales figures. Also, if you want to get gigs, get out there and be seen. In the first year after our day-jobs went, we probably did more floor-spots than gigs - and it really paid off in bookings for subsequent years.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
We like to meet up with family and friends; usually around good food and music. We have nine grandchildren - so there's always something to keep us busy. We also love going to see live music - be it in a pub or on a concert stage.
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).
Dave: Jason Isbell - Cover Me Up
Kip: Bonnie Raitt’s take on Dimming of the Day. Can’t be beaten!
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