Genre: Folk, Americana, Electronica
Discography: Through Low Light and Trees (2010), Blood Speaks (2012), Smoke Fairies (2014) and Wild Winter (2014)
Record Label: Full Time Hobby
Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies aka The Smoke Fairies are a great duo. Their earlier sound really reminds us a lot of Beth Orton, but the new album has moved towards more electronica. In the six years since Smoke Fairies first entered a recording studio, they have made two critically acclaimed albums, supported on tours with Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley and Laura Marling, and had a single released on Jack White’s Third Man Records; but for all the perceived glamour of a musical career, they were still sharing a house in Peckham and waiting for something to happen while they worked temp jobs around London
They had earned a reputation for impressive live performances, for harmonies and intricate guitar playing, but what they now craved was something simpler and more direct. Blamire talks of secretly listening to pop music on the bus, trying to figure out “why it was popular, why it was good.” Davies tells how her own personal yardstick had become “anything with a drumbeat that made me dance around the kitchen.”
Smoke Fairies yearned for movement and forward momentum. They wanted to make an album that wasn’t simply recorded live, but rather presented songs that were pored over, puzzled-out, polished and produced. “We wanted to feel that we had dissected everything back to its basic bones,” confirms Jessica, “and then for every song to kind of shimmer.”
In 2013 Kath and Jessica took themselves to a remote recording studio in Kent with producer Kristofer Harris. The result is a remarkable set of songs, notable not only for their strength and robustness, but also a sense of experimentation. The sheer liberation they felt at using synths for the first time is evident in tracks such as the irresistible “Your Own Silent Movie” and the beautifully compelling “Drinks and Dancing”. Their sublime voices still stand to the fore, and tracks like “Want It Forever” are lined with a deliciously bluesy skuzzy-ness. This may not be the sort of album you ever expected Smoke Fairies to make, but it is an extraordinary record - bracing, sensual and defiant - and one that promises an exciting musical future.
Kath and Jessica see the track “Hope Is Religion” as the song that best sums up their experiences of the past few years and their continued devotion to making music. “It’s one that we wrote together,” affirms Jess Davies. “It’s about writing songs with someone, putting those ideas out into the open and sharing them with somebody; but it’s also about how with music you’re always hoping for more - that this will happen or that will happen. For us it felt as if music had become our religion, we believed in it without any evidence that we’d actually be able to make any money or be successful. I guess that sums up the situation we were in; but we realised we had no other option but to keep on believing.”
Their third album "Smoke Fairies" was released in April 2014. Wild Winter was released as an exclusive to Rough Trade at Christmas 2014.