We speak to Chasing Owls who were recently added to the Ironworks Easter Showcase, the Edinburgh based purveyors of indie-folk take a visit up to Inverness to play on the 1st of April.
Can you give us a brief “story so far” of the band?:
We got together in the spring of 2010 after Jimmy moved up to Edinburgh where Naomi, Callum and I were studying. Since then we’ve been carried by our live set really, it all just seemed to flow quite organically quite quickly, I think helped by us not really knowing much about how to run a band but knowing that we were making music, wanted to make more of it and wanted to play it live to anyone that would listen. That ethos still remains really with a little bit more knowledge added to it. Any ‘story so far’ for us revolves around what we do live and it’s from that our recorded material and whatever we put out takes its cue. So there’s been two self-released EPs surrounded by festival and touring dates up and down the country pretty much continually since we started.
With the current trend towards nu-folk do you find the perceived trendiness of the genres as a benefit or a disadvantage?
We’ve always found questions about trends and styles quite interesting because we don’t really feel like we belong in any one genre, at least we don’t make a conscious effort to. We write as it comes to us and as it pings into our heads, if you want to call that nu-folk then that’s cool, I just can’t promise that what pings into our heads isn’t going to be more jazzy or rocky than folky one day. And I think in some cases that can be a disadvantage yeah- getting pigeon-holed in one genre could limit a band to writing in a style they feel they need to conform to rather than just being expressive of what’s going on inside their heads. We’re really lucky that the folks that like our music seem to like it regardless of whether we deviate from type or not.
Genres will always come and go though, sure everyone’s wild about ‘nu-folk’ through Mumford and Noah and the Whale etc. but the mass appetite is always in flux. Folk as a mainstream genre’s nothing new either, Dylan and Drake are some of the most revered musicians of our time. The more of the masses listening to the more varied the music the better I think.
The Scotsman highlighted your “beautiful songs and enchanting boy/girl vocal harmonies”- where is the emphasis when songs are created?:
Writing is a bit of a jumble really and definitely loosely based around heavy experimentation- most songs have a message or story that we’d quite like to be given a a chance at getting across so I guess there is an emphasis on vocals. But the vocals only stitch together everything else that’s going on already and I think we definitely think of the them as additional instruments. There’s a lot of linking throughout the band in each piece as well, Callum and James are in each other’s pocket but then so is everybody with each other in certain sections in addition to the vocal harmonies so I think the emphasis is across the whole song.
How do you see the Chasing Owls journey, what have you learnt so far as a band, and how do you think your music will develop?:
Probably the biggest lesson is in allowing the music to develop as you say, we’re really enjoying hearing our sound mature and the fun that comes with experimenting with that and we’ve never really wavered from the music being what comes first so in terms of developing the band and our journey the first and only real checkpoint is that we keep on loving making music and keeping that music fresh and dynamic- we’re lucky that concentrating on that takes us to some cool places and helps us meet a lot of lovely people, if we get to see and meet more of them then that’d be great.
You’ve been up in the area a few times, how are you feeling about playing the Easter showcase and have you checked out any of the bands that are also on the bill?:
We love working with the GoNorth and Ironworks guys so love any excuse to come back up, the Easter showcase will be great fun. I actually went to school with the Washington Irving guys so it’ll be great craic being on the same bill as them again, looking forward to it!
2012 saw you play quite a selection of festivals from Go North to Celtic Connections via Hebfest, how do you think your music adapts to the festival environment and what are your plans/hopes for Summer 2013?:
We’ve definitely got some tunes that work better than others in a fest environment and it’s good for our musicianship to be sensitive to what is appropriate when etc. We’re lucky that we’ve a healthy festival set that crowds respond well to. We’re back out for more festivals in Summer as well as revisiting a few old places again for normal touring dates, more shows really is the plan!
With 2 EPs released (in ‘Quell’ and ‘We Began’) what plans do you have for future recordings?:
We’ve definitely got plans. We write quite a lot so our recorded output will never catch up with our written output but there is plenty to put out. We’ve got a series of live sessions taken from our rehearsal hall that we’ll be putting out soon in a video format, so keep an eye across the sites for them.
You can keep track of Chasing Owls here.
Tickets for the Easter Showcase are available via Ironworks.
See all our Ironworks Easter Showcase coverage.