Stealing Sheep’s inventive psych-folk has been running happily amok through the music world this year (they managed to play festivals on the Isle of Wight, in Norway and Wales in the week before speaking to us). Their keyboardist, Becky, gathered with the rest of the band for a phone interview on diverse influences, upcoming plans, apocalyptic visions, and favourite animals…
FFS: You’re all equally songwriters in Stealing Sheep. What differences are there in your influences?
SS: We’re constantly introducing each other to new sounds: I like electronic music, Emily likes more sixties guitar music and rocky styles, Lucy likes lots of world music, organ music, and folky things, and we all like pop music. I think we have a similar wavelength in our tastes, even if we might not all have the same likes and dislikes to begin with…
FFS: Is there a performance you’ve seen recently that you’ve found inspiring?
SS: We saw Grimes at a festival in Bristol called Simple Things, and I think you always learn something from watching artists playing: I really liked how the bass sounded. You’re always taking ideas from how things are produced, the texture of the sound, what keyboards people are using. I also liked performances in Liverpool which were slightly more theatrical, using interesting lighting and projections. I think you’re inspired by everything in a way, whether you like it or don’t like it.
FFS: Are there things outside music that influence you, in art or mythology?
SS: Well, when we were on tour we took Twin Peaks with us. Emily was introducing Lucy and me to David Lynch, those poignant moods and the music… we were listening to the soundtrack in the car. And [to Emily and Lucy] mythological things that we like… [“Indian gods?”] We talk about Indian gods! [Laughs] we don’t really, but we all like folkloric stories, and obviously there’s been quite a lot of attention drawn to the Mayan culture at the moment. I think we’re all interested in alternative history theories, just – to open your mind to unusual things that could happen.
FFS: I was intrigued by ‘Circles’ in Into The Diamond Sun, could you tell us more about that song?
SS: We wrote that song together, more so than some of the others. We lost our rehearsal room so ended up rehearsing in a club called The Kazimier; there was a cool atmosphere in there, and we each had our own sections in that song which made it quite diverse. We had a lot of visual ideas: I’m not sure if the lyrics correspond to the story, but I was imagining this thing, like a UFO, not alien specifically, landing on the beach and dissolving all the sand, melting all the sand, and I was imagining a big bonfire on the beach and people running chaotically around – it was kind of apocalyptic! Something’s coming, something’s on it’s way that’s exciting, and destructive.
FFS: You’ve been touring a lot lately, any favourite gigs or venues?
SS: We’re touring again soon, and we’re really looking forward to returning to The Fleece in Bristol, we played there with Emmy The Great and Field Music, and it’s where we signed our record deal with Heavenly, so it holds nice memories for us. It’s got a nice vibe and a good audience: the people who come to that kind of gig are really interested in music.
FFS: Do you have a favourite song out of all the ones you’ve written?
SS: I like them all, that’s a tough question! Our next single is ‘Rearrange’, so I’d recommend that one.
FFS: What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music? Is that too vague?
SS: No, that’s ok! I want people to feel a kind of escapism… although the music does tackle lots of different subjects, I want people to interpret it in their own way, and imagine scenes…
FFS: What are you planning next?
SS: Aside from touring, we’re going to work on the visual side of the album, videos and animations, and also the performance side of things, how we’re going to represent the music, so we’re not just turning up and wearing any old thing, it’s all going to have a symbolic meaning.
FFS: I recently saw you perform at Bestival, which had a wildlife theme. If you could transform into any animal at will, which animals would you choose?
SS: Ooh, ok!… Lucy says she’d be a lion! Emily would like to be a loris. …And I would like to be a bird. I don’t know which one yet, but some kind of bird.
FFS: Thank you very much for speaking to us!
SS: It was nice to speak to you too!
Interview by Becky Varley–Winter