By Serenat Kivilcim
Smoke Fairies (link) is a British dream-folk pop duo comprised of Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies. Since their school days in West Sussex, England, the duo has been establishing their own unique style, and have since toured with the likes of Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley, and Laura Marling to name a few. However, after releasing “Blood Speaks” in 2012, the duo wasn’t sure if they wanted to continue Smoke Fairies, and they subsequently released an engrossing self-titled album in 2014 with producer Kristopher Harris. Black on the Canvas had the opportunity to interview the ladies of Smoke Fairies about their music, self-titled album, and more:
How did the band get its name “Smoke Fairies”?’
Katherine: It came to us one night when we were driving around in the misty roads where we grew up. Sometimes the mist gathers in the winding roads between the hedgerows and creates Smokey figures that we called the smoke fairies. It’s also an old black and white film about 2 mischievous fairies trying to cause trouble, which is also quite fitting.
How would you describe each other in 2 words?
Jessica: Wacky races
Katherine: stubborn ponderous
What are your all-time favorite albums?
Jessica: It’s such a hard one to answer there are so many. Mark Lanegan Bubblegum is an album I never tire of and one of the first tapes I had, The Carpenters is one I return to over the years.
Katherine: I will have to choose the records I listened to when I was a kid: Anything by the Beach Boys, I still think the arrangements of harmonies in their songs are amazing. Also, basically anything from the 70’s with twiddly guitars, dark and atmospheric blues or psychedelic music that you can dance around to.
If you could re-record, or re-write any song of yours, what would that song be?
Jessica: I don’t think I want to start to think about that. There’s no point regretting anything and all the songs we have put out there have been of their time. There’s only one exception: There is a weird cd of demo recordings that have got out into the world. It is the Holy Grail to smoke fairies record collectors. I would like to rerecord the whole thing properly because I think some of the songs deserve to go beyond the demo level.
If you were not making music, what would you be doing?
Jessica: I would like to garden all day.
Katherine: I like to design furniture.
Let us talk about your new self-titled album which was released in April. It seems like you were on the brink of splitting up and then decided to move on to release an amazing album. What kind of emotional journey did you ladies embark on through the production of this album?
Jessica: By the time we started recorded the album we were very certain that we were going to continue music and we were going to make an album different to anything we’d done before. It was the period before that which was tricky.
Katherine: Other aspects of life suffer when you throw yourself completely into something. Creative endeavors are perilous. Rewards come in fleeting moments and as soon as you create something you want to create the next thing, it becomes obsessive. I guess we just had a “what’s the point?” moment. It’s tough being a musician in London; it’s a whirlpool of late nights, crap jobs, strange experiences, monotonous routines. You can feel like someone who has made odd decisions and can’t get on with life like others around you.
The new album dealt with a lot of these feelings, like the song, “We’ve Seen Birds” has a line that says “Do it and get it right, even if it means you’re screwing up the rest of your life”. Which is kind of funny, but is sort of what happens. We forged on, and we were really proud of the record, recording it felt very liberating in the end.
It has been busy for Smoke Fairies recently. You performed in NYC, Philly, and Washington, DC, respectively, before heading to Germany and the Netherlands. Have you noticed any differences between your European and American audiences?
Jessica: A lot depends on the style of venue. When we played in Philly it was a seated venue so the crowds aren’t likely to go nuts. German audiences tend to dance and shake their heads around more. They seem more open to showing a physical reaction to the music.
What’s next for Smoke Fairies?
Jessica: Right now we are putting the final touches to a winter/ Christmas album we are releasing with Rough Trade record shops.