The Kaje talks lovely things with The Smoke Fairies

Ahead of The Smoke Fairies upcoming UK tour in January, The Kaje spoke to the delightful Kathryn Blamire from the band to chat about this and that, but mainly to see if the people behind the music were as lovely as the music itself. Here’s what she had to say for herself…

You’ve just come back from Europe. Um, what was the highlight?

We were just discussing this the other day.  It was a really good tour so its hard to say. I think for me it was possibly the last gig we had in Madrid at a festival. It was a really good atmosphere. We were having a really good time, we sounded quite good. There was a really great audience who were really getting into it.

Any plans to go back to Europe?

We've definitely got plans to go back – we're looking at going back next year. I mean, we got a good response, especially in Germany. So it would be nice to revisit there. It's exciting because we're a band who haven't toured in Europe before so it's exciting to get over there and find more venues where people can come and where we think, 'how did they get to hear about us?'

So you did a tour with Laura Marling in the States. How was that?

I mean that was quite different. We were all in a van travelling around together and the States are so huge, so vast, that travelling across it in a van is quite an epic journey. Sometimes we'd be doing twelve hour journeys so staying somewhere at the end was great. We had a really good gig in Atlanta. It was a really nice venue, really great vibes.

Do you feel that when you play bigger venues you’re giving anything up, like some intimacy that you get in smaller venues.

We love playing big venues. Now that we've expanded our sound and the band it gives us a bit more space for dynamics. Like when you've got a big sound system you can pick things up a bit, then put them down a bit and it makes things a bit more exciting. But no, we don't ever want to lose that intimacy that we get when we play small clubs. We aren't quite in danger of that yet anyway. For example, out UK tour will be played out in very intimate venues. We're just happy to play anywhere. Most of the places that we've played that are large venues have been supporting and there will always be a different vibe at those gigs because we're the first on and we're warming up for someone else.

I heard somewhere that you guys were sworn enemies when you first met…?

*Laughs* Yeah we didn't get on at first. We met when we were about eleven at school, on the first day. I don't know why but we didn't click straight away. But maybe we did and we just enjoyed annoying each other and eventually we realised that our energy was better put towards something constructive and we just started playing music. It's one of those things where you don't like one another because you're a bit too similar. But then when you work that out you can actually do something creative. I think its how things go in life.  Journeys start in unexpected way!

Um, harking back to your last single…have you ever actually lived with a ghost?

Well, I don't know. I used to live in a castle when I went to university. Apparently there was a ghost of a cat that came in. I don't know if it was real but apparently if that cat knocked on your door and you didn't let it in it would kill you. I mean, I don't know if it was real but I didn't really care to close my door. There are a lot of unexplained things that happen and a lot of unexpected feelings you get from places. I don't know whether that is ghosts or things we're projecting from our own fears. I don't like to discount things but I think I am quite sceptical.

Everything I have read about you guys has been introduced by the reviewer or the interview attempting to put you into a certain genre. Its earthy, yet spirit-like, blues but folk, English but Americana. What do you think you are?

You know it's a difficult question. People love to categorise us in strange ways but to us we just play the kind of music that comes naturally. It's a result of the kind of music we listen to, our travelling, who we are. Some people find it hard to accept that we can fuse our styles together, some people don't think it works but to me it just sounds naturally. Blues and Folk have been interweaving with one another for such a long time and the history of the two genres are intertwined and to experiment with them in natural. It's just the kind of music we make. I like to describe it as atmospheric and dark. It's got blue-sy undertones but it also has folk elements but it isn't really folk either.

Whenever I listen I’m reminded of Loreena McKennitt, Gillian Welch, Eliza McCarthy…

All those people are great. I remember listening to Eliza McCarthy's album Rice and there is a great song called "Blow The Winds" and it is just so beautiful. That was very inspiring, that song. A lot of English folk musicians conjure up such a range of emotions which I have always found inspiring. But I just don't think we're doing the same thing…

So you’re going on a fifteen date tour in January. Nervous?

I guess a little bit, but mostly excited. I just love being on the road because it's so much fun. Our band is a lot of fun too. Everybody that we bring with us are all great to be around so we have a lot of fun and I guess I'm intrigued to know what it's going to be like, how people are going to react. It's not something we've ever done before. Obviously there is a little bit of nerves – we really want it to go well. But mostly we're excited. We get lots of feedback from our Facebook site with people asking when we're going to be playing this place or that place which is lovely.

If you weren’t writing songs, if you’d given up on music when you were younger, what would you be doing?

I don’t really know because I feel like I’ve always wanted to be this. It’s the thing I do. Hopefully I’d be doing something else creative. I really like creative art so anything like that. Photography, something along those lines. Sometimes I think about it and it is so difficult to know. We’re very grateful to have found the path we really enjoy. We’re very grateful to have a passion, really, because a lot of people don’t. And this way we feel fulfilled.

January 24th is the date of the band's next single "Strange Moon Rising". The cover for the B-Side is a song called Requiem by a band called Killing Joke. Kathryn tells me : "I think it's something people won't really be expecting but we're gonna do a special edition for the tour, take it on the road."

Be sure to catch this band on tour in the new year. Details as follows:

2011 Headline Tour:

Sunday 16 January – TUNBRIDGE WELLS – Forum (£7)
Monday 17 January – BRIGHTON – Jam (£7)
Tuesday 18 January – PORTSMOUTH – Wedgewood Rooms (£7)
Wednesday 19 January – BIRMINGHAM – Glee Club (£7)
Thursday 20 January – NOTTINGHAM – Glee Club (£7)
Saturday 22 January – LANCASTER – Library (£7)
Sunday 23 January – GATESHEAD – Sage (£9)
Monday 24 January – GLASGOW – Oran Mor (£7)
Wednesday 26 January – MANCHESTER – Ruby Lounge (£7)
Thursday 27 January – LEEDS – Brudenell Social Club (£7)
Friday 28 January – SHEFFIELD – Plug (£7)
Saturday 29 January – NORWICH – Arts Centre (£7)
Monday 31 January – EXETER – Phoenix (£7)
Wednesday 2 February – BRISTOL – Fleece (£7)

Words: Hugh Hamill


1 Comment

  1. […] The Kaje talks lovely things with The Smoke Fairies « The Kaje […]

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