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29 f

not saying it should be; it just is. And it’s not as notable ten years on as there are a lot more all-female bands. If we’d started the group now we wouldn’t have even made an issue out of it.”


What did you make of the comments suggesting you can’t ask for equality whilst being dressed up to the nines?

“That’s always got up my nose. Why the hell should women not dress as they choose? I’ve heard a few folk musicians who are female say they’ve been criticised for being glamorous, because that’s not the folky way. It doesn’t make sense to me. The reason we looked glamorous for that shot is because our album was called Decadence. It was part of the concept of the album. But maybe one has to think about it from the perspective of certain members of the audience. It got peo- ple talking and that was a good thing.”

Yes, it got them talking about how I was an idiot for writing things I didn’t even write. I can never get enough of that. But interestingly you did say to me the other day that you’d decided you would rather wear trousers on stage. I wondered if it was connected.

“Well yeah. And interestingly the front

cover of fRoots is a picture of me wearing trousers. It’s mainly that I suit trousers bet- ter! But I wore a dress on stage the other day for the first time in ages, and this is a very personal thing but I felt like a little girl. It didn’t feel like me. But I don’t want to offend anyone.”

e’ve been going for ten years now. And yes it’s

notable that we’re all female. We’re

Why would it offend?

“Because someone could say, ‘Well, I wear a dress and I don’t feel like a little girl.’ But it’s just personally I feel like I’m more myself when I’m wearing trousers. And I don’t know if I’m making any kind of state- ment by doing that.”

You can’t not be, I suppose. By virtue of your gender your appearance is under scrutiny.

“Maybe it is partly to do with The Shee dressing up and being criticised. And I’m not not dressing up because of that but I am thinking, ‘Why should I put on a dress to go on the stage? I’m gonna wear what I feel comfortable in.’ I don’t think it’s a state- ment as such but I am aware of it.”

Going back to where we started, what is it you now enjoy about being the focus of attention on stage?

“I think it’s that what the audience is responding to is more me than the other things I do, because they’re more of a col- lective effort. I think there’s something I get out of that that’s just a bit… more. It means more somehow because this is really my thing and you guys are responding to that. I think that’s amazing, I love that.”

Is the physical pleasure of playing alone different from being part of a group?

“It’s more challenging than anything else I do. Singing the lead and playing stuff that’s occasionally quite complicated is real- ly satisfying. But then in contrast, in The Furrow Collective I might be playing one note for the whole song and that’s really satisfying as well. And in The Shee I’ll be playing a bass line and that’s really satisfy- ing. And that’s why I do all the different

things I do because I play a different role in all of them and I love that.”

So can we conclude you’re satisfied with your life choice, even if it was largely dictated by a limited choice of instruments at your school? You wouldn’t have been this satisfied as a vet. Richer perhaps…

“Yeah, I’ve just said the word satisfying many times haven’t I? I am not a rich musi- cian, that’s for sure. I get by and that’s real- ly all I’m bothered about. I don’t have a lot of time off but generally it’s such a great existence. It’s a high quality of life consider- ing how little money you end up with. As a harp player I could be earning a lot more on the wedding circuit or playing back- ground music or teaching. Some of the harp players I know earn a lot more money than I do. But at the moment it suits me to be doing all the stuff I’m doing. And I’m happy doing that.”

“Every decision to make a new album is like, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ But I couldn’t imagine not doing it.”

And what will the next album be?

“I haven’t written much of it yet! I’m going into the studio in December and it’s gonna be out in April. I’m gonna lock myself away for two weeks and write the album. I just have to trust that it will come. Obvious- ly I could start worrying about it, but I just feel like everything I’ve done and experi- enced this year will just come out. I’ll do it because I know I’ll do it.”

Sometimes you just know you’re going to be watching an artist grow and dazzle and impress for a long time to come. Rachel Newton has our attention. F

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