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On Deck: Smoke Fairies

By ; May 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM 

Smoke Fairies

Friends since they were children, Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire of Smoke Fairies have grown up sharing similar musical tastes and influences. Bonding over their parents’ guitars and Jessica’s mother’s vinyl collection, the two women seemed bound together through this shared musical history. You can hear the sound of two artists working in tandem as Davies and Blamire work out their own frustrations, as well as a new found sense of confidence, amid detailed descriptions of cross-country road trips and the suffocating nature of becoming stationary, both physically and spiritually. Their sophomore LP Blood Speaks deals with how we should embrace the experiences of day-to-day life and listen to our blood—our inner sense—as it “speaks” to us about how we can change and evolve as individuals. There is also a prevalent sense of motion and momentum that pervades the album, as both women have traveled extensively and this informs their music and lyrics to a large degree.

Taking time from their busy schedules, Jessica and Katherine recently sat down to write about a few of their favorites records for Beats Per Minute. In the latest installment of our On Deck series, the duo talk about Mark Lanegan, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ soundtrack work, and the genius of The Beach Boys, as well as discussing a few other artists (Dr. John, Avi Buffalo, Fever Ray) from their personal collections. Drawing inspiration from these artists and copious amounts of other musical influences, you get a sense of the wide range of sounds that are being incorporated into the music of Smoke Fairies. And with veteran producer Head manning the boards, their latest release Blood Speaks is their most accomplished and striking set of sets to date. Having already found previous distribution in the UK, the album has recently been released here in the US on Year Seven Records.

Mark Lanegan Band - Bubblegum
Mark Lanegan Band – Bubblegum

Jessica: I got this album when it first came out in 2004. It’s one of those albums that hasn’t got boring even though I must have heard it a zillion times. My tastes over the those years have changed but this still seems fresh every time I hear it. There’s such a wide range of songs on Bubblegum, from ‘Hit the City’ which used to be one of my going out favorites, to songs for quiet contemplation, like ‘Strange Religion’. Last year, to our amazement, Mark Lanegan started covering one of our songs on his tour. It was great because we felt that his music has had a strong influence on us.

The Proposition Soundtrack
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Proposition Soundtrack

Katherine: I’ve always been interested in film soundtracks. There wasn’t a lot of music around in my house when I was young, so maybe it was one of the first ways I discovered the way music can elude to landscape and emotion. I used to love the old classic Weston movie soundtracks too, like the incredible compositions of Ennio Morricone who did the Good the Bad and the Ugly. The Nick cave and Warren Ellis soundtrack collaborations are really unique. They use really imaginative, raw sounds to signal danger, unrest and build tension. It leaves me unsettled and disturbed and the sense of depth and space seems endless. The Assassination of Jesse James Soundtrack was similar and just as dark and exciting. I like the way film instrumentals are supposed to tell you what to feel, and when they’re good you are enslaved to the music without even knowing.

Fever Ray - Fever Ray
Fever Ray – Fever Ray

Jessica: I first heard this on tour, in the van driving through Germany at about 3am. I was half asleep and it was all very eerie, it seemed to fit that moment. It’s a strange record. Sometimes I listen to it and I am brought into a cold, murky, ethereal world, other times, when I focus on the lyrics I find it to be quite fitting with every day life; domestic, homely and warm. some of my favorite lines are ‘I’m very good with plants, When my friends are away, They let me keep the soil moist’ from ‘When I Grow up’ and ‘Accompany me, By the kitchen sink, We talk about love, We talk about dishwater tablets’ from ‘Seven’.

The Beach Boys - 20 Golden Greats
The Beach Boys – 20 Golden Greats

Katherine: In one episode of the classic British comedy series Alan Partridge someone asks him which his favourite Beatles album is and he says “I would have to say The Best of the Beatles.” I feel a bit like him now with this choice – The Beach Boys 20 Golden Greats. I’ve just always loved it ever since I was a kid. It’s an incredible collection of brilliantly arranged classic pop songs. The harmonies just completely blow me away and you can’t feel sad when it’s on. I love to return to listen to the Beach Boys over and over again, trying to work out what makes the harmonies so great. This process often inspires the way we approach building layers of vocals in our own songs. It would be even better if it had “Feel Flows” on it from Surf’s Up, but you can’t have it all.

Dr John - Locked Down
Dr John – Locked Down

Jessica: This is a recent release but already it feels like it is going to become a classic favorite in my collection. It’s the perfect mix of so many American genres. My favorite track has to be “Ice Age;” its got an odd time signature and a repetitive riff. This album is perfect for jumping around the kitchen to.

AviBuffalo_20PT ALT PACKAGE 1 UP
Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo

Katherine: We were at a festival called de-Affaire in Holland where we slept on canal barges. Avi Buffalo were playing on the same stage as us and so we heard their set. The guitar playing seemed so summery and free. I went home and immediately bought the album. The music is really catchy and somehow manages to be complicated and childlike at the same time. Some of the guitar solos are like a soundtrack to a feather blowing off in the wind.

Smoke Fairies’ sophomore record Blood Speaks is out now on Seven Year Records

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