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Up Through the Woods with David Gibb & Elly Lucas

Posted by Shelley Rainey on 05 September 2013

Hailing from Derbyshire, David Gibb and Elly Lucas, were Young Folk Awards finalists in 2011. They released their first album in early 2012 and have recently featured in an advertising campaign for Gola. They have also been involved in the Mills and Chimneys project with other Derbyshire musicians including Lucy Ward and Sarah Matthews, writing and performing songs inspired by the Derbyshire landscape and its many traditions. Their second album Up Through the Woods was released on 2nd September.

It’s 18 months since you released your first album Old Chairs to Mend. What has been different about the recording process this time?

David Gibb: We had a bigger budget for this second album and I think that gave us more time to think about how we wanted the album to sound. We approached each song individually, and that’s led to the album being quite diverse sonically, but with still a level of overall consistency (we hope!).

You play a lot of instruments yourselves on the album but this time have a few guests too, with Oli Matthews on clarinet, Jim Molyneux on percussion and Will Pound on harmonica and melodeon. What made you decide to go for a fuller band sound on this album?

David Gibb: On our first album, we wanted to keep things simple and stripped back. We’d always played in bands before and had big arrangements on the records we’d made, so it was quite refreshing to have things so sparse on that first album. However having done that, I think we felt more confident in bringing in some more interesting arrangements, whilst still making sure that our songs and harmonies were the main focus. It’s been really exciting to bring in people like Oli and Will and Jim and witness how their playing has taken some of the songs in different directions to what we previously expected.

There are two songs inspired by your home county’s industrial heritage on the album (David’s Jackwire & Elly’s Wheeltapper). Is this something you find particularly inspirational when it comes to songwriting?

Elly Lucas: Derbyshire has such a rich, fascinating industrial heritage that it’d be positively criminal to ignore it! My Dad’s side of the family have worked on the railways for about six generations, so that’s something I’ve grown up around and always had a fondness for. Alongside that, working on the Mills & Chimneys project for the last couple of years has given both of us access to a wealth of amazing material about Arkwright’s mills. I guess the more you learn about somewhere you love, the more you want to learn?

Do you think songs like Jackwire with a historical reference can still be relevant today?

David Gibb: I think to some extent, yes. Although when I wrote the song I think I was more interested in the history aspect rather than how it can be seen as relevant to current times. I think the world’s a very different place from when the song is set, but there will always, in my opinion, be a conflict between those who have power and those who do not. That for me is what a great deal of folk songs are essentially about, and that power struggle is still happening today in many different ways, so yes in that sense I think it can still be seen as relevant.

Elly, your song Paper Boat has a rather psychedelic feel to it - did you plan the arrangement or was it something that came together once you got into the studio?

Elly Lucas: Ha! I think it’d be fair to say that pyschadelia wasn’t necessarily on the agenda when we went into the studio, but I’m delighted that it turned out the way it has done. I knew I wanted it to sound a bit different, a bit more spacey I guess, so we went in with a basic arrangement and ended up adding layer upon layer with a bit of production wizardry from Robbie and Rich at Snug. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m in love with the sound of that chord organ!

You’ve also recently been involved with another Mills and Chimneys recording celebrating Derbyshire’s industrial history. Can you tell us some more about that?

Elly Lucas: We’ve finally recorded an album! About time, really. We’d all been busily writing songs and tunes and arranging like crazy since our project with Sinfonia Viva last June, so it was an absolute delight to finally track everything properly. We were hugely fortunate to have a few of the incredible musicians from the orchestra come back to join us in the studio for a few songs too. What a lovely bunch. Things are hopefully set for release some time next year...

Rather unusually, you have embarked on a busking tour this summer. How did that come about?

David Gibb: We were recently contacted by Gola trainers who were interested in us featuring in one of their advertising campaigns. After the advert, we started to talk about how they might be involved with the build up to our album launch, and we came up with idea of travelling round cities, busking and handing out free sampler CDs of the album. Gola have been really supportive of everything we’ve done and so far it’s been a great success.

David and Elly will be touring extensively to promote the new album.

11 September 2013 - Carlton Cinema, Westgate On Sea
13 September 2013 - Quad (Album Launch), Derby
18 September 2013 - Biddulph Up In Arms! Folk Club
19 September 2013 - Katie Fitzgerald’s, Stourbridge
21 September 2013 - The Live Room, Bradford
26 September 2013 - Uxbridge Folk Club, London
27 September 2013 - Googies Art Cafe, Folkestone
28 September 2013 - Melbourne Assembly Rooms
12 October 2013 - Old Cinema Launderette, Durham
16 October 2013 - The Portland Arms, Cambridge
17 October 2013 - Loughton Folk Club
18 October 2013 - Love’s Cafe Weston-Super-Mare
19 October 2013 - Private Industry Showcase at English Folk Expo, Bury
26 October 2013 - The Ropery Hall, Barton Upon Humber
31 October 2013 - The Musician, Leicester
1 November 2013 - Lincoln Drill Hall, Lincoln
8 November 2013 - Seaford Folk Club,Norton
26 November 2013 - Chichester Folk Club

16 January 2014 - Cecil Sharp House, London
25 April 2014 - Oxford Folk Weekend, Oxford
24 May 2014 - Chippenham Folk Festival

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