Woman’s Hour | Full Interview
Being a teenager… choreographing dance routines with my friends… that was one of my first experiences performing with music.
Contemplative four-piece Woman’s Hour have been beautifying our lives all year. Our Rhys Buchanan talks to frontwoman Fiona Burgess about their busy 2014 and slow-cooking a debut album to perfection.
So you’ve had a pretty manic year so far?
It’s gone super quickly. I feel like we built up to the record coming out so much, then when it comes out everything whizzes past you. There’s been a lot of packing and unpacking, it’s felt like my whole life has been in a rucksack. I’ve gotten to witness so many festivals I’ve never been to before and it’s just loads of fun. We’ve also been playing with a drummer for the first time so we’ve been in our element.
The record itself came together in quite an un-pressured way though right?
Yeah it took a long time, we always knew that we wanted to make an album and we were lucky enough to meet a producer called Tom Morris; we started working with him two years before the album was finished. So we were quite lucky to form a pretty strong connection with him before we signed our deal. We’d rehearse like three nights a week, whenever we could get into the studio we’d go in and record what everyone had been doing. Last summer was when we knew we really wanted to start making the album. It was a long and steady process.
You went back to your old school to film the video for the latest single ‘In Stillness We Remain’, whose concept was that?
I was on YouTube and I had a flashback to being a teenager, I remembered choreographing dance routines with my friends. I’d never been in a band before so that was one of my first experiences performing with music. It was a way to pass time in the playground, then we’d have end of year dance competitions. I was looking up videos online and got this sense of nostalgia. Then I thought to put the feelers out there so I contacted my old school. It was the end of term so it was perfect timing because the kids had choreographed routines for showcases. They were amazing, what we wanted to capture with that adolescence was that it’s before kids become self-conscious. They didn’t need any persuading they were desperate to do it because that’s what they do for fun. There’s this funny naivety because I feel like people can see themselves in that. There’s something quite innocent about it and that’s what we wanted to capture.
The visual element of the band seems very important to you?
Yeah, we’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with the artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. They’re really interesting as a lot of what they do is questioning the role of photography in society. They showed us a collection of manuals they’ve been collecting over the years; they were everything from self defence policing manuals to synchronised swimming, first aid and so on. They really liked the images that accompanied these instructional manuals and, when you took the images out of context, they could look quite radically different. This was something that meant quite a lot to us because what you see and what you think you’re seeing are actually completely different things. We liked the juxtaposition of that.
People were saying, you must be inspired by this band and this band, we were like, ‘no mate, we’ve never heard of them.
In a way that’s similar to your creative process, in that you extract snippets from everyday life…
I can be influenced by all sorts of different things and it’s not always music either; it could be an object or a conversation I’ve had, or just how I’m feeling. We’re basically into loads of different kinds of music and I think that’s quite refreshing for us as well. When we made the record we weren’t listening to much music because we kind of wanted to clean our palette. It’s weird because after people were saying “you must be inspired by this band and this band,” we were like, “no mate, we’ve never heard of them.”
We can’t wait until you stop by Exchange later in the month…
Yeah we’ve never played there before; we’ve only played at The Louisiana in Bristol. Our last gig there, earlier this year, was great. I really like that venue. Every time we go there we have the friendliest and nicest sound guys who are well into it. Last time we played Bristol we really appreciated that it was our own show and people were singing along to our songs; that was a real moment — very special. When it’s your own show you have total freedom to do whatever you want to do, we were all craving that.
So beyond this tour, what is your next move?
We’re all writing; we’re going to spend some time just after the tour as a writing period. We’re going to go get our heads down and we’re all really excited about it, it’ll be so much fun. I love that aspect of being in a band and, after the tour, we’ll all be ready for it.
Check out the video for ‘In Stillness We Remain’ right here: