There are ten musicians in the Songs of Separation gang, hailing from across Scotland and England. Some of you will know some of us… but in case there are a few of us you’ve not encountered before, here’s an introduction in the form of a short interview.
Today we feature Eliza Carthy, who comes from one of England’s well known folk families. Featured here in the get-up she wore for BBC Music’s “God Only Knows” advert, she needs no introduction! We’ll be posting an interview with each of the musicians in the coming weeks. Please keep in touch or join our newsletter if you’d like to find out more!
What made you want to start playing music?
My family mostly. Then Bob Dylan, Rory Macleod, Chris Wood. But when I was fourteen or fifteen I met Nancy Kerr, and she inspired me to take up the fiddle.
What made you choose your instrument?
My grandad died when I was eleven. When we were sorting through his house we found a fiddle in one of the cupboards – turns out he had learned, as a London Irish boy, a few tunes from his father but my grandma didn’t like the instrument so he had given it up. Chris Wood had it set up for me. I didn’t get very far with the lessons at school but after I met Nancy that was it for me…
Who would you say have been your influences (musical and otherwise)?
Everyone. It’s pretty disingenuous to list all the things I want you to think are cool, because I’m just as influenced by rubbish music as I am by good. Everything you hear asks you to make a choice, every day.
Tell us one unusual thing about you
I loved baked beans but I can’t stand the juice touching any other food, apart from toast. And sausages when I allow it…
What do you want this project to achieve?
Oddly, a feeling of togetherness. There has been some tension recently between the Scots and English over the referendum and the general election; fortunately musicians can usually see past all that. I’d like us to be demonstrating how we are all the same, going through the same things, down the generations, across the borders. It seems obvious but sometimes it’s important to say these things out loud. Music is a good conduit for that, as it skips the small talk and goes straight to your gut, where the important feelings are. Music lives in the gut and in the heart, all the messy organs.
What matters to you about the project? Why do you want to be part of it?
I am just looking forward to experiencing other people’s brains. When you just tour your own music all the time your focus can narrow, your perspective becomes specific to your own path. Residential co-operative writing is a great opportunity to rummage about in other people’s heads. The messy, dangerous organs again. They’re the best.
Got any news?
I have a new album out with Tim Eriksen from America, called “Bottle”, that’s pretty good. I’m about to release a live DVD of my big band, the tour we did to celebrate my 21st anniversary a couple of years ago with Jim Moray. That comes out this month on Gonzo Multimedia. That band, the Wayward Band, are touring the festivals this Summer and are undertaking to write, record and press on heavy-grade vinyl a Summer single called “You Know Me”, all in one week. It will be released on July 10th at Ely festival. Looking forward to the madness there. Apart from that I’m very much enjoying my two-year position as Associate Artist at Sage Gateshead, putting stuff on, teaching and expanding my mind. I have a couple of big projects coming up, and a mini-tour with Ewan Maccoll’s family in the Winter. Lots to do.
Here’s a tune from Eliza and Tim’s new album, ‘Bottle’