The Cambridge Folk Festival hosts a wide range of music styles from Traditional Folk through to Contemporary Folk, Americana, Country, Blues & Roots and even Folk Electronica. Our next LCM featured artists are a very exciting award winning family trio (two sisters and a cousin) from Exeter, Wildwood Kin. Emillie Key, Beth Key, Meghann Loney have been making rapid progress and creating a lot of attention in the past 18 months. They worked and performed with Seth Lakeman on his last album and joined him on his latest UK tours. Their highly anticipated debut album 'Turning Tides' to due to be released on the 18th August. Our LCM #TrackOfTheDay is their uptempo and rocky new single 'Taking A Hold', showcasing their trademark harmonies.
Wildwood Kin formed four years ago while in their mid to late teens. They borrow heavily from early folk influences, not least in their hypnotic three-part harmonies. But 'Turning Tides', their extraordinary debut album, delves deeply in to other genres, featuring both electric and acoustic instruments and it boasts inventive electronics and spectral atmospherics.
Guitarist Emillie Key, her bouzouki/keyboard-playing sister Beth and their drumming cousin Meghann Loney all sing, swapping leads on songs they write themselves, and joining forces on harmonies that have remained their trademark. Their sound has matured at speed and their confidence caught up with their talent. From their simple beginnings at a pub near their native Exeter, to a powerful live band inspired by the likes of Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons and Fleetwood Mac to the force of nature they are now, Wildwood Kin have become one of Britain’s most exciting and intriguing new bands.
In their symbolism-laden lyrics, you’ll hear a range of inspirations from their love of the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to their upbringing in a progressive church in which music and faith was instrumental. In the joyous blend of their voices, you’ll hear three young women who found themselves through writing songs and whose purpose is to inspire and empower their listeners.
Wildwood Kin had self-released just one EP when they caught the ear of BBC Introducing and began getting festival bookings and tour supports. This shortly led to the girls joining forces with their female manager Sarah Woodward, who played a major part in helping the girls evolve their sound and grow in confidence, whilst also connecting them with like-minded industry and media contacts.
While still unsigned, last summer Radio 2 fell for their glorious, tribal drums-driven debut single, 'Warrior Daughter' and after being presented with The Bob Harris 'Emerging Artist of the Year Award', they were invited to record a BBC Introducing session at Maida Vale studios. Impressed by their unique sound, presenters Jo Whiley, Mark Radcliffe, Steve Wright and Jamie Cullum all declared their love for a band who had only just begun to believe that music could be their career.
Late last year, on the strength of a pivotal show at London’s Union Chapel, record label approaches came flooding in. Wildwood Kin went with Sony, which made them its first signing to the newly-revived Silvertone label. By then, 'Turning Tides' had been written and recording begun at Middle Farm in Devon.
“Making the album was a huge learning process,” says Emillie. “We had no idea what we were capable of and we constantly surprised ourselves. We went in to the studio not knowing where the boundaries were and discovered that, of course, there aren’t any. That’s what we found most exciting.”
“We started recording the album in London,” says Meg. “But we grew up in the countryside, so when we discovered Middle Farm Studios in Devon, a converted barn with woodburners, we felt at home the moment we stepped inside.”
With the aid of producer Jamie Evans, with whom they had recorded Warrior Daughter, Wildwood Kin started stepping further away from their folk roots. Emillie took up electric guitar, out went the tambourine and in came synths, ambient sounds and tougher drums.
“Some people advised us not to change our style, but we were determined to experiment,” says Beth. “We love folk, but we’re also fans of Sigur Ros, Radiohead and Explosions In The Sky. We didn’t want to take the safe option. The aim was to find a sound that reflected the music we love, but was ours entirely."
They succeeded. In the pulsing Author, the hymnal Circumstance and a reworked Warrior Daughter you’ll hear folk reinvented with widescreen ambition and a wide-eyed sense of adventure. Dove’s sombre electronics lend it both the solace of a prayer and a bewitching, otherwordly beauty. On and On is simultaneously stately and ethereal, Run is anthemic rock and the title track’s dreamy, shape-shifting pop cedes to an ominous, electronic outro.
“Some of the album is still quite folky, elsewhere it’s not,” says Meg. “We like having lots of different styles on there. There’s even some blues-rock which we got in to towards the end of recording and decided to include. No one told us what we could or couldn’t do so we took that freedom and ran with it.“
Emillie, Beth and Meg were destined to be in a band together. Their mums – who are sisters – performed as part-time singer/songwriter duo. Beth and Emillie’s mum also wrote gospel music and filled the house with Sting, Stevie Wonder and Simon & Garfunkel, while Meg’s mum was a DJ who loved Madness and Motown and took her daughter to gigs to get the karaoke going. All grew up singing and playing instruments.