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, quirky interview.
Today we feature Jenn Butterworth, one of Scotland’s great traddy guitarists. 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?
I have always been curious about music, and grew up in a musical household, with my parents taking me to folk festivals from a really young age. Luckily I had violin lessons at school, and discovered the wonders of the guitar in secret, learning chords to accompany myself singing when I was a teenager.
What made you choose your instrument?
I originally learned the fiddle in school, and when I was a teenager I started singing songs. I wanted to play an accompanying instrument – I borrowed my dad’s guitar and worked out a few chord shapes from buskers books, and taught myself how to play.
Who would you say have been your influences (musical and otherwise)?
My parents were both big influences in my musical upbringing – they had a big interest in traditional music, they put up with me practicing and drove around countless folk festivals and sessions. I’m a self-taught guitarist, and spent a lot of time just working from books on my own, so developed a style that was very organic. When I was growing up and playing a bit more in folk sessions I met John Doyle, and absolutely loved listening to Solas albums, and the groove of his playing definitely influenced me. I have been so lucky to work with so many talented artists over the years; each one has had an influence on my playing and my general artistry. I’d say that the music scene in Glasgow has been a huge shaping influence; it’s been amazing to spend the last 15 years surrounded by a group of deeply creative and passionate musicians.
Tell us one unusual thing about you
I’m a technology geek
What do you want this project to achieve?
The theme of separation has been at the forefront of many people’s minds in the UK during the past year, due to the recent political events. People find different meanings from songs – they will connect in different ways, attaching them to their own emotions and stories. Songs can help us process the way we feel; they can often provide us with the words that we can’t find ourselves. I’d like this project to create music and songs that connect with people and move them.
What matters to you about the project? Why do you want to be part of it?
Although I’m a fan of a range of different music styles and genres, I’m looking forward to working with some incredibly talented women, some whom I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with before, and some I have only briefly met. I’m excited about working on a project that brings together a mix of artists who are deeply rooted in both the English and Scottish folk music scenes – I feel that the scenes are quite separate, and that this collaboration is relatively unusual.
Got any news?
I’m currently working on a new album with the duo I perform in with Laura-Beth Salter.
Here’s Jen and Laura Beth being silly… it never gets tired.