National Folk Festival Interview: Charm of Finches

Charm of Finches
Image Courtesy of Charm of Finches

Melbourne based dream-folk sister duo Charm of Finches have had a massive year so far, launching their album Staring at the Starry Ceiling and picking up some high profile support slots around the country. We sat down with one half of the band, Mabel Windred-Wornes, before they head to Canberra this weekend for The National Folk Festival.

Gareth Hugh Evans: You describe your music as “dream folk” – what can audiences at The National expect from your shows?

Mabel Windred-Wornes: Well, it’s dreamy sounding music I guess – it’s full of harmonies. My sister Ivy creates beautiful and sometimes surprising vocal harmonies. We’ve been told our voices together sound like one voice singing two notes, yet our voices individually are quite different. Also, our album has a lot of cello and violin, which we played ourselves, which gives it a bit of a chamber sound. We are bringing Alice Hurwood up to The National with us to play cello. She’s 14 and she’s an amazing cellist.

GHE: You’ve been playing a lot of shows lately – how do festival audiences differ from audiences at a regular gig ?

MW-W: We love festival audiences. Really, they are there for the music and respect musicians. They are there to listen, and they pay attention to the lyrics and love hearing the stories about the songs. Also, a festival audience is usually really relaxed – why wouldn’t they be. They are spending a whole weekend listening to music.

GHE: To those outside of the folk scene, folk music is not considered a “young persons” genre. What is it about this music that’s attracted you at such a young age?

MW-W: It’s common for people to wonder why we are attracted to folk music in the traditional sense, but we know heaps of young bands and singer songwriters you would classify as folk – like The Mae Trio, who we have always loved a lot, and Rowena Wise. They are writing songs about their lives, playing instruments usually associated with folk music like guitar, uke, banjo and fiddle. The definition of folk music as you would hear it at a folk festival today is very very broad. Our influences definitely include traditional folk music, old-time Appalachian songs, Old English and Celtic folk songs and Celtic fiddle music (we love going to Celtic fiddle camps) as well as classical music which we have been playing on our cello and violin since we were little. Our Dad filled our home with Bob Dylan from an early age, but we are also influenced by Americana artists like Gillian Welch and we love Sufjan Stevens so much, who is essentially a folk artist who uses unconventional instruments (even electronic sounds) on his albums.

GHE: You released your debut album Staring at the Starry Ceiling in the middle of last year. How was the reception when it first came out? And are you feeling about it six months on?

MW-W: We were thrilled people really loved our album when it was released last year. People were contacting us after hearing a song on Radio National. Words like “unique” and “beguiling harmonies” were used, which of course made us feel very pleased. We had an amazing experience working with producer Nick Huggins. It was quite a magical experience and being by the ocean in Point Lonsdale (Victoria) really influenced the album. We felt expansive, a bit spellbound and open to ideas. We couldn’t listen to it after we finished it for a while- we needed some distance after recording. Not long ago we were driving home from Port Fairy Folk Festival listening to the new albums we had gathered from the various artists we had seen. We got curious to listen to our own album, and we felt really proud and kind of amazing at what we had created. It felt really good.

GHE: What’s next for Charm of Finches after The National?

MW-W: Well, to be honest, I’m quite keen to take some time to get some homework done! I’m in Year 11 now and love the subjects I’ve chosen – theatre, music, art and sound production! Of course, we will be playing shows in and around Melbourne, as well as house concerts, which we love as much as playing festivals. We also have a whole bunch of half-finished songs that are begging to be finished. We love writing new songs so we’ll be making time for that! And then, I guess we’ll record a new album some time!

Charm of Finches are performing at The National Folk Festival this weekend. Check out their dates below:

Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 1:30pm – Central Park
– Saturday 12:40pm – Flute ‘n’ Fiddle
– Sunday 10:00am – Borderland
– Monday 12:40pm – Flute ‘n’ Fiddle

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1 Comment

  1. April 14, 2017 at 08:18

    […] “My sister Ivy creates beautiful and sometimes surprising vocal harmonies. We’ve been told our voices together sound like one voice singing two notes, yet our voices individually are quite different” – Mabel Windred-Wornes from Charm of Finches chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here […]


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