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the shipbuilding albums is simple, but with an album you just need to find great songs. I try and find songs all the time from books or records but the best way to find songs is from people. So I go to folk clubs and sing in rounds and try to pick them up that way. Some of them I found in Cecil Sharp House in London, like Mount the Air, and Hawthorn is a song I heard at a singing session I set up in Manchester. I heard this song and as soon as they started singing it I knew it was a special song. For the first time we’ve been a bit brave and written a little bit as well. Adrian (manager, member of the band and Rachel’s husband) usually writes at least one song per album, but he’s been badgering me, asking when I’m going to sing some of my own songs. I’ve always said I wasn’t ready but then I thought I have to try, so we’ve all written for the first time. Your album covers are all really varied with different artists. Who has done the cover for Mount the Air?

“How do you deal with tragedy? Singing


about those subjects is very

by their surroundings. We’re inspired by the wild Northumberland landscape and by the sea as well. Tere are so many stories about the sea. Doing the shipyards film soundtrack was really interesting for us; we have sung a lot of songs about mining, being from the North East, but we didn’t know that many stories or songs about shipbuilding, so we had to learn about it and ask people about it, which was great. Your new album Mount the Air is very full sounding, orchestral and cinematic; it reminds me of Elbow and John Grant. Where did you find your songs for this album? Finding songs on a certain subject like

It’s a girl called Natalie Rae Reid; she’s a Scottish girl who lives in the North East now. All her artwork is based on a song or a story. She was a friend of a friend and people kept telling me to go and look at her art. Adrian was looking to commission an artist to create the cover for the album, and so I though that’s perfect. We’ve also started a clog- dancing club together! She’s a new friend and a very talented one. Te first track on the album, Mount the Air, is over 10 minutes long…that’s quite a brave choice for the first track of an album! How did you come to place this first, rather than last? We did have this debate, whether it should go first or last! It was a little ditty I

Did you know there is an Unthank Road in Norwich? Yeah! We stayed on it the first time we stayed in Norwich! We had to leave at 4 in the morning the next day to go on somewhere, and it was raining, but we still got out of the van to have out picture taken with the sign.


Te Unthanks play at Open on 6th March. Tickets from / March 2015 / 49

found and I gave it to Adrian and he got a bit obsessed with this piece of music and it became bigger! He likes making bold choices and really wanted people to hear it. Magpie on your new album is incredibly dark and primal, and is my favourite. I really like the dark sides to folk music; murder, grieving women, that sort of thing! Is there something about sharing tragedy rather than joy that brings people together more? I think that’s a good point actually. It lowers your defences and opens you up…how do you deal with tragedy? How do you move on with things? Singing about those subjects is very therapeutic; I certainly find that in my life. Sharing those stories puts things into perspective perhaps. What does 2015 hold for you? We’re going on tour and then loads of festivals! We’ll be at FolkEast in Suffolk, which is a great festival. I can’t wait to sing the new songs live.

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