For our latest ‘My 5 Biggest Influences’ feature, we spoke to Katherine Blamire from Smoke Fairies, who are set to release their new record Darkness Brings The Wonders Home tomorrow on January 31st.
‘My 5 Biggest Influences’ is when we talk to some of our favourite upcoming and established artists, delving into their greatest influences and inspirations, to see how bands, records, tracks, friends & family, hobbies and even environments have impacted on their work and music.
More about the latest record, new single and tour plans below, but first, here are Katherine’s 5 Biggest Influences…
Moving further out of the city had an impact on the writing process, being in that weird hinterland where suburbia meets scrubby woods and heath areas, where really bold scruffy foxes try to come into the house and weird life cycles of insects play out in ponds with shopping trolleys floating in them. The feeling of moving between worlds everyday, in and out of the city, had some sort of influence. There is a pond in the back of the house where we watched dragon flies hatching out of skeletal nymph bodies and transforming. I started to feel jealous of their natural ability to live in such a gross environment and kind of emerge as transformed beautiful winged things, I guess that’s what we are all trying to achieve in life, but it’s much harder for people.
We wanted to express the disconnection intrinsic to modern life – the blandness of life now that we are all dependent on devices to make connections with others. That kind of sterile feeling that love is just a click away, but really it’s just as complicated as it’s always been.
News and the Environment
The knowledge that the world is being destroyed and is drifting in a direction that doesn’t feel conducive to repairing it. There is a lot of anxiety we live with, that we can’t crawl back from the abyss we’re staring into. Some of the songs address that dark and helpless feeling.
We felt we had a clean slate to re-think how we wanted to approach our sound. It was liberating to have a break and return to the guitar and think about how we were playing it, how to make everything as strong and clear as possible. Take it back to the power of riffs to drive a melody, and try to make something compelling from the fewest elements. We went back to the interacting guitar lines as the main element and played all the instruments on the record, apart from the drums, which we directed. It felt like we were trying to get back to the essence of who we were as a band, the elements that make us unique.
Running and Gardening
We both found different ways of getting into our heads – running for me provided space to ruminate on thoughts for lyrics, up on the common with all the crows and London skyline in the background. Ideas occur in their least laboured form when you are doing something unrelated that gives you the space to think. It’s important to find a place to lift you out of the grind of the day and into the lightness of creativity.
Ahead of their upcoming record, Smoke Fairies have released ‘Chew Your Bones’, the latest single and the latest to be teased from Darkness Brings The Wonders Home.
Talking about the song, Katherine explains: “I needed to write about the growing feeling that the world is on the verge of real change, there is the sense that there is this scary, unknown future lurking just beyond us. We’d just adopted a cat and were told to keep him inside because the Croydon Cat Killer had just struck in the area. This sanctioned belief of a mythical killer lurking the streets was terrifying and intriguing. At the same time I was reading Sarah Perry’s gothic, Victorian novel ‘The Essex Serpent’ about a fabled beast that stalks the Essex backwaters. Both these tales came together to help me finish the song.”
Have a listen below…
In support of the release of Darkness Brings The Wonders Home, Smoke Fairies will play an 8 date UK tour, their first full headline tour in the UK in 5 years. It follows a sold-out single launch show played in London last month in association with Rough Trade…
Jan. 31 – Piccadilly Records In-Store – Manchester
Feb. 1 – Soup Kitchen – Manchester
Feb. 2 – Bear Tree Records In-Store – Sheffield
Feb. 2 – Oporto – Leeds
Feb. 3 – Norwich Arts Centre – Norwich
Feb. 4 – Rough Trade East In-Store – London
Feb. 5 – The Bullingdon – Oxford
Feb. 6 – Hoxton Hall – London
Feb. 7 – Sunflower Lounge – Birmingham
Feb. 8 – Rough Trade – Bristol
Feb. 9 – Pie & Vinyl In-Store – Southsea
Feb. 9 – The Square Tower – Portsmouth
Oct. 1 – Lafayette – Londno
Smoke Fairies are Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire who first met at school in the south of England. For this LP they travelled to Seattle to record Darkness Brings The Wonders Home with producer Phil Ek (The Black Angels, Fleet Foxes, The Shins) and over the course of a rigorous month-long session in Seattle, adopted a purposely intimate approach to achieving a singular sonic tone.
In the making of Darkness Brings The Wonders Home, Smoke Fairies drew inspiration from mysteries both real and imagined: sea monsters, flocks of crows taking flight in extravagant formation, strange creatures dwelling in the mud near their new South London abode.
The album is released tomorrow on Friday January 31st.