Interview: The Mourning Suns

“It should be eight songs long, give or take one,” says vocalist Rosie Wilkes of The Mourning Suns‘ forthcoming debut album. “It’s quite a worrying and exciting process, I mean, what if it’s shit? Or what if it’s amazing, or if it takes longer to make that we’d planned for…which is a real possibility here?”

Having formed the core duo of the band with Ant Williams in 2011 when the pair met studying at Dartington College of Arts, they’ve been an accordion-like entity ever since, gaining members, saying goodbye, until we reach 2014 and The Mourning Suns are a fully-fledged six-piece complete with guitar, bass drums, ukulele and viola. It’s delicate psych-hued folk, beautiful Joni Mitchell vocals atop softly intertwining instrumentation carefully layered. On record it’s richly atmospheric, live it’s enchanting.

“Rosie loves Kate Bush, Jean Ritchie, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell and Jeff Buckley and Ant loves Nick Drake, Ryan Adams and Eddie Vedder,” the pair pinpoint. “Then we have [viola player] Lizze Chan-Foxley’s classical influences and Ric [Yarborough, drums], Allan [Young, guitar] and Stu [Barker, bass]’s jazz backgrounds. Collectively we all love jazz, classical, rock, folk and blues so we have a lot of everything simmering in there.”

“Most of the time I’ll improvise on the guitar until I’ve found something that I or Rosie likes and then we build on that,” explains Ant. “Rosie will create some melody or lyric which usually directs the writing style. Sometimes the songs are easy and enjoyable to write and other times they are trickier and take a lot more time. It’s hard trying to think critically about what you’ve written sometimes, and although most of the time you can go with your gut instinct, other times you need to be hard on yourself and keep working away until something better comes out. Once we have the foundations of a song we take it to the rehearsal room to show the others and get their creative input.”

For a band just three years old, there’s a maturity and a coherence to their writing. There’s an obvious chemistry which is most apparent live.

“So much thought and feeling goes into every aspect of our songs that I hope our music has a cinematic and tangible quality to it,” Rosie says. “When I think of us live, I think more of an experience than just a live show, a live experience and I’d like to think that our shows make people feel things that are close to how I feel when we are writing, but that could be just what I’d like to happen, and not actually what is happening!

“We like to rock out a bit too though, and also share those moments of beauty. Think Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Nick Drake and Kate Bush.”

To have and to hold, the aforementioned album is currently being finalised.

“It’ll have a few old tracks on there recorded last summer at BCU by Ed Taylor, George Hawkins and Robin Emery, but also some newish tracks recorded earlier this year by Gemma Hubble at her studio in Birmingham. We are very much hoping that it will be ready for unveiling before the end of July!”

The Mourning Suns play the Brum Notes July Issue Launch Party at The Sunflower Lounge on July 2 with My Grey Horse and Our Mutual Friend. Entry is priced at £3 on the door.

Brum Notes_July_Online

Photo: Anthony Williams

Poster: Charlotte Owen-Meehan

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