The more eagle eyed amongst you may remember that back in October, I interviewed a little known band called Alt J. I stayed for their gig and ended up catching a very exciting support act called Stealing Sheep. A trio from Liverpool, they make what The Guardian describe as 'pagan pop', and are incredibly captivating to watch. Luckily, I'm getting to see them again very soon at Beacons! I chatted to Becky Hawley, the band's keyboardist and singer, gave us the lowdown on making art, supporting Alt-J and the tricks they have up their sleeve for their appearance at Beacons festival...
SIS: Hi Becky! Stealing Sheep have been described as a 'historical' sounding band - are there any particular time periods that inspire you?
BH: We're inspired by alternative history theories and mythology. Ancient Egyptians, Indian Gods and otherworldly creations such as Jason and The Argonauts and The Clangers. We are inspired by a lot of cinematic motion picture soundtracks as well as epic orchestral pieces like The Planets by Holst that encounter imaginary visual adventures. Recently we have been inventing imaginary isles and lagoon atmospheres inspired by the likes of Eden Abhez and Moon Dog.
SIS:Who were your favourite bands as a kid? Who has inspired you most as people and as musicians?
BH: The Beatles, The Jackson Five, Madonna, Disney music, Fantasia, Motown classics, Bach, The Eurythmics, Van Morrison and The Frog Song by Paul McCartney.
SIS:You all met and formed in Liverpool, where are your favourite places to hang out, shop and listen to music in the city?
BH:We spend lots of time at The Kazimier Garden and Mello Cafe. They are ran by our friends and have great bands and food there. Sefton Park is really nice too. We like shopping at some of the vintage shops on Bold Street like Little Red and Ryan vintage and our friend Kitty has a shop in grand central called Curious Orange with lots of mad fancy dress stuff. For furniture stuff there is a new vintage shop called Gasp. The Kazimier has great bands on so that's where we usually go to listen to new music and touring bands.
SIS:You yourself studied at Liverpool's Institute of Performing Arts, what did you learn that you can apply to the band, what advice could you give to students?
BH: I learnt about how to realise ideas. Often I think creative people think of millions ideas which can over crowd the vision of accomplishing them. It's important to focus on one or two things and invest all of your energy into them to make them happen to their full potential.
SIS:You’ve been inevitably compared to Haim, The Staves and Warpaint - do you get tired of this gender stereotyping when it comes to musical comparisons?
BH: It is quite an obvious connection between us and those bands so we understand why people would compare us. We just think that there might be more musical styles that sound more parallel to ideas in our music.
SIS: Your debut album Into The Diamond Sun was received incredibly well by critics. Was it difficult to make? What moment or song on it are you most proud of?
BH: We developed those tracks together whilst touring the first year we were together and then developed them further in the studio with our producer Sam Crombie. It was challenging but exciting. There are lots of different atmospheres but one of our most favourite parts in the album is a section in Gold. It captures the concept of the Album on our journey to the Diamond Sun. It's rushing, exciting and full of dreams.
SIS: I first encountered you supporting Alt J, how was that tour? What's been your favourite gig or festival so far?
BH: I really enjoyed the tour with Alt-J, we got on really well with them and found a like mindedness between the group. They were a pleasure to watch and feel quite influential in our new writing. We really enjoyed Latitude Festival and Glastonbury festival, it was beautiful weather, there was an artistic aesthetic to both those festivals with real atmosphere and well thought out lineups.
SIS:You have an appearance at Beacons festival coming up which I'm really excited about, what can people expect from your set? are there any other bands you're looking forward to seeing?
BH: We're bringing the Harlequin Dynamite Marching band with us to play at Beacons, they liven up our tracks with extra brass, woodwind and percussion, plus great vibes. The lineup for Beacons is really good. We're big fans of Django Django, Dutch Uncles, Temples and Melody’s Echo Chamber so we're hoping to catch them!
SIS: What bands, food and entertaiment would you have at your dream festival?
BH: We'd invite Dog Show to play (they're friends of ours and they put on an amazing show with lights and tassels), we'd invite Grimes (she's awesome), Fever Ray, Dirty Projectors, Major Lazer (for party vibes), El Guincho, PJ Harvey, Ariel Pink. We'd have duck eggs for breko, gnocchi for lunch and artichoke soup for supper.
SIS: You've had lots of press for being featured in an advert for Hollyoaks, are you fans of the show? How do you respond to people who label allowing music to be on adverts as 'selling out?'
BH: They used our music for a medieval festival themed ad so it worked really well with our music, it really captured our song 'Shut Eye' in a visual way. We haven't watched much Hollyoaks because we're on the road touring most of the time but it's great for a telly dinner when your home! We don't see it as selling out because the advert itself was someone's creative vision that we collaborated with, it's not selling out to us, it's sustaining the arts.
SIS: If you could if you were to be characters in a soap, what would you like your first storyline to be?
BH: The pilot episode would show us rising from the sea covered in crustaceans and arriving at Auntie Pat's house to discover a dusty lamp in the attic that would reveal itself as magical and summon a genie with three wishes each.
SIS: When will you know you've 'made it' as a band? Is there a particular career milestone you're desperate to achieve?
BH: Enjoying the growing time, the potential, the creative exploration and the excitement of the journey is more important to us than an ultimate goal. We aim to be able to collaborate with interesting artists and expanding our minds...
Stealing Sheep play Beacons festival on Saturday the 17th august at 4:30pm on the loud and quiet stage. For more information, visit greetingsfrombeacons.com