Last year, on October 4th, the UK acoustic rock trio WILDWOOD KIN released their self-titled 2nd album via Silvertone/Sony. This group consists of sisters’ Emilie (Guitar) & Beth (Bouzouki/keyboards) Key and cousin Meghann Loney (Drums).
Check out their video for “Time Has Come” here: (It was directed by Sitcom Soldiers (One OK Rock, Johnny Marr, All Time Low)
On this new collection, the trio’s vocals harmonize effortlessly. There are shades of Simon & Garfunkel, Bear’s Den and early Fleet Foxes in the beautifully gentle folk rock melodies, and its lyrics address profound themes like love, loss and spirituality. But above all, there’s a spirit to the record that’s as wild and free as the West Country moors where they grew up.
The album launched with the lead single ‘Never Alone’, a beautifully sombre, Fleetwood Mac-like folk rock ballad which radiates with positivity. Produced and co-written with Ed Harcourt, ‘Never Alone’ is deeply personal and a message to anyone feeling as isolated as Meg Loney’s brother – who sadly committed suicide.
“Because Ed’s so raw and heart-on-sleeve it wasn’t long before we were talking about shared experiences of mental health,” says Meg. “We played some riffs and sang harmonies that had been knocking about for years and asked ourselves: how does this make us feel? It all came out from there. ‘Never Alone’ is about walking and loving someone through a dark place. We knew it had to be honest and hard hitting, but uplifting too.”
This time around they delved deeper into their sound by experimenting with a variety of co-writers across sessions in Los Angeles, Nashville and Oxfordshire. These included Gabrielle Aplin on ‘Wake Up Sleeper’, Angelo Petraglia (Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon) on ‘All On Me’ and Alex Davies (Sigrid, Birdy) on ‘Signals’, with Ian Grimble (Bear’s Den, Catfish & The Bottlemen) on production duties.
The songs are all built around messages that Wildwood Kin believe in. The warm-hearted ‘All On Me’ is similar in spirit to ‘The Weight’ by The Band, a song about sharing the load with someone. ‘The Crown’ addresses the rise of political showmen, and asks if any would actually stand up for what they believe if their power was stripped away. The strident ‘Time Has Come’ is both a female empowerment anthem and a reminder to not let yourself be crushed by circumstance, while the intimate acoustic lament ‘Beauty In Your Brokenness’ is about self-acceptance.
Wildwood Kin may have an unusual gift for harmony, and a way with evergreen folk rock melodies, but ultimately they’re three normal, relatable young women finding their way in the world and dealing with the same challenges, triumphs and tragedies as the rest of us. That connection, acceptance and, ultimately, love is captured throughout this beautifully reflective album. It is a tonic for our times.
Upcoming February Tour
5th – Antwerp, Belgium, De Roma*
6th – Utrecht, Holland, Tivoli Vrendenburg*
7th – Nijmegen, Holland, Doornroosje*
8th – Amsterdam, Holland, Paradiso Noord*
11th – Paris, France, Les Étoiles*
12th – Cologne, Germany, Luxor*
13th – Hamburg, Germany, Knust*
15th – Berlin, Germany, Lido*
16th – Munich, Germany, Strom*
17th – Milan, Italy, Magnolia*
18th – Zurich, Switzerland, Papiersaal*
*w/ Boy & Bear
Check out their music here:
‘Beauty In Your Brokenness’ https://soundcloud.com/1888media/wildwood-kin-beauty-in-your-brokenness
‘Beauty In Your Brokenness’ Official video https://youtu.be/IhUu2RE7Yt0
‘Never Alone’ Official video https://youtu.be/PAvegL1ZrqE
’Never Alone’ Acoustic https://youtu.be/UGDBLS03Plc
’Time Has Come’ Official video https://youtu.be/vCTS3o1zZw
Wildwood Kin Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/wildwoodkin
Learn more about Wildwood Kin in the following All Access interview-
Now that 2019 is over, how would you say that the year treated this band? What were some goals that this group had for the year? What are you already excited about for 2020? What are some goals for this year?
We have had an amazing year filled with lots of new and exciting opportunities; playing the Royal Albert Hall, recording a session with Jools Holland, Glastonbury, releasing an album- to name a few. It has also been a year of learning and growing as people and finding our voices separately to music as well as musically.
The album process was awesome but very hard work and I think it forced us to really look at what’s important and vital to us as a band; how we spend our time together as family, thinking about the integrity of the music and figuring out what our priorities are. It has definitely been a year of finding more unity in our relationship with each other which has been great!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on?
We always sung together as a three so in some ways it wasn’t really a surprise for our family I think it was just a matter of when and how. None of us ever thought it would become more than just a hobby but we’re so blessed to have been given a platform to share our music with more people. It all started at a little Devonshire folk pub open mic where we began to put our nerves aside and sing some songs we’d written or covers we’d arranged in our own style. We just really loved the community aspect of it and to our surprise the word spread and we started to get invited to play at other venues and actually do paid gigs!
Wildwood Kin came from a kitchen table brainstorming session; Kin because we’re family and Wildwood we thought gave context to our love of the outdoors and growing up in Devonshire.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? How has the music scene there changed over the years?
Devon was a lovely place to grow up in, we spent most of our childhood rambling the moors and forests and that was a major part of our growing up. We still love it and I think our characters as people are the way that they are because we had that freedom and space to explore. We’re all quite laid back people and we like to create a sense of peace and freedom with nature imagery in most of our songs to set the scene. So in that sense our upbringing naturally comes into our song writing lyrically.
The music scene in Devon has a hidden pocket of a lot of extremely talented musicians! We have a lot of great friends who are amazing musicians writing their own music and we love festival season because a lot of the festivals are based down South which means we get to hang out with a lot of our musical pals during that season.
The Southwest music community is so supportive and encouraging which became a massive part in our growth as musicians needing that kind of support to move forward and gain confidence.
Let’s talk about your recently released 2nd self-titled album. What was it like putting this collection out? What was the inspiration to make it?
We knew we wanted our second album to present a developed sound & growth as musicians and give a more up to date representation of where we’re at now musically. We had written a lot of new songs that we couldn’t wait to record in the studio and have production added to. Since the first album we have toured a lot and been inspired by a lot of sounds and so naturally we needed to take the next step as songwriters and experiment lyrically and musically. For this album we did some co-writes which we found massively helped us. To have an outside perspective and someone to be an objective voice in our writing who we could bounce ideas off of really helped, and also when we couldn’t agree on things it was good to get a fourth opinion. We also experimented with different producer/writers in the process to help us figure out what we wanted in production and as a general cohesive sound for the album.
Lyrically we knew that we wanted to open up about some personal experiences we’d had with mental health. After losing our dear brother/cousin to suicide just a few years ago, we felt that we wanted to use our platform to bring awareness and hope to those who may be suffering. We believe that music is so healing and transformative and since releasing the album we have heard some amazing stories from fans who have felt a positive impact from our music in their healing process which really was the aim for us to achieve and bring through this album.
Did anything surprise you about the overall process of putting it together?
The second album we knew would be the hardest. You’re writing a whole new set of material and recording it before even playing it live so you’re unsure how it’s going to come across to people. It was a long season through the winter of 2018/19 and we spent so much time making sure we had the right takes and parts which was ultimately so worth it, but we didn’t have the live experience to refer to like we did from the first album, where we’d played most of the album live before recording. So that was a new and daunting experience for us.
Can you pick out a few of your favorite songs on this album and talk about they written and got to be on this collection?
Our collective favourites from the album are Never Alone, Headed for the Water and Wake Up Sleeper.
Never Alone really stands out to us as an important part of the record because it was written specifically for our heart for mental health and we felt that in the writing process, the song became a letter to our brother/cousin Natty who sadly took his life a few years ago. We knew we needed a song like this on the album to be honest and vulnerable and a lot of people have responded in such an amazing way. It has also opened up a lot of honest communication between us and fans and has been so eye opening to us.
Headed for the Water again is a song that promotes self care, identity and worth in our beings. We wrote it when we were feeling exhausted and burnt out. We were at a place where we didn’t even know what to write about anymore, the idea of forcing a song just didn’t feel right but miraculously out of the frustration came the lyrics to a song about yearning for rest and oasis in a barren place of feeling empty and in a creative rut. Headed for the water represents a knowing that this feeling wont last and that eventually you will come to a place of refreshment when you understand that sometimes you need to let go of all the hinderances and complexities in life to find rest. When we jammed musically for this song we felt like the sound gave a slumbering desert like groove which sets the scene for the lyrics.
Most of the songs on the album represent identity, growth, self worth, standing up for what’s right and being confident in hope and faith to carry you through life when times are hard, and being awake to the endless possibilities and purpose that each one of us has been given and gifted. This was what we wanted to portray in Wake Up Sleeper especially.
We had the lyrics “wake up sleeper awake” which we felt was an encouragement to find your identity and purpose in life and not be afraid of stepping out and following the things that give you life.
How creatively involved with the making of the music videos for “Beauty In Your Brokenness”, “Never Alone” and “Time Has Come” were you all?
We worked with an amazing team called Sitcom Soldiers for all these videos. They gave us a presentation of ideas for the videos and we worked together to make sure that the meaning of the songs were portrayed in the videos. However we did let the film team have creative direction because of budget and time restraints. We were more involved in the final cuts and editing. In hindsight I think if we weren’t so busy with other things going on we may have changed a few things or thought about different options but generally we had an amazing experience with the team of creatives and just really enjoyed the process. It was great fun!
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
We get asked this a lot and honestly it’s different every time. I think it would hinder creativity if we kept to a certain method every time. Sometimes it’ll start with a riff or a rhythm one of us has created and other times it’ll start with lyrics for a chorus with no music. The process is always collaborative in the end because each part we individually bring is so vital to creating our sound but it really differs every time; sometimes it’s the music first and other times it’s the lyrics and concept that we write the music to.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? When you aren’t working on music, do you guys hang out for fun?
Because we’re family we know each other so well and we would all say that we are the best of friends. More recently it’s been harder to hang out when we’re not working because we’re all living in different places now but we do try and make it priority to do fun activities together; go and see a movie or a band play or play board games, go on walks etc. We have actually made that our aim for 2020 to spend more quality time together outside of work.
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
Our musicality we hope has been the biggest growth for us aswell as our confidence on stage. We really wouldn’t call ourselves natural performers and being on stage is something we never felt natural about, but since we’ve toured more we’ve become more and more used to the experience and try to focus on the audience and what they’re taking away from the performance and the songs rather than us feeling a pressure to “perform”. We would say the elements that remain the same are our love for harmony arrangements, rhythm, our collective sense of humour and our awkwardness when being interviewed haha!
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
We find joy in all the different seasons of our music. Recording and writing is a special time to learn about ourselves and to really dig deep which is very hard but very important and we see value in that. But collectively we have grown to love festival season most because it mainly entails being outdoors, playing to new people and having a lot of fun. It’s quite a freeing time for us and we look forward to festival season every year!
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues lately? How is your current tour going? Where are you looking forward to playing at next on this tour?
We don’t often get to play church or cathedral venues but we feel that our sound and harmonies especially really lend themselves to the acoustics of transitional church buildings. It’s also part of our heritage and faith to perform in places like these and so when we get to play in these venues it always feels special and natural for us. Our favourite venue on album tour was probably the Thekla Bristol; its a boat venue in the Southwest and we love playing there because it’s so different and always has a great atmosphere!
In February 2020 were supporting a band called Boy and Bear on their European tour which is very exciting! We will be visiting places we’ve never been to before so we’re just so stoked about that and having a platform to play to new audiences!
How do you think that social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
As much as there are some negative aspects and falsity to social media, we always try to be our true selves when it comes to presenting ourselves and our music on these platforms. It is great for portraying creativity with pieces of artwork and photos to represent and give context to our music and it really helps to support single or album campaigns and promote what we’re doing and the concepts behind them. There is a real sense of community online if used correctly and we do love to keep in touch with fans and read personal messages from those who have reached out to us. It does however get harder and harder to keep up to date and respond to all the messages. We have to set a boundary in place for that otherwise it can become all encompassing. But generally we feel that our social media platforms are very instrumental to creating a presence and connection with our fans and we’re grateful for that!
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today?
It is a very frightening time for creatives politically. Especially in the UK, there’s not a lot of government support or recognition at all for any creatives we feel. It is so important and such a massive part of people’s lives and well-being having something like music or art to turn to when the world is being flipped upside by greed and empty promises, yet we often feel like as creatives we’re standing on our own. We do believe that other countries are better at giving recognition to creative people especially the self employed and freelancers of this generation so we have to hope that one day our nation will catch up and do the same. For now we have to join together and support each other in the meantime; create close-knit communities who support each other and encourage each other to keep going. Despite all this we do have an important role in using our platforms to bring good news and hope to the people around us and that’s what keeps us going knowing that there is still purpose in what we do regardless of what’s going on politically in our world, and actually be the ones to sing and write about important issues and bring awareness through what we do.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music? Who would you still love to work with?
Growing up we listened to a lot of James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby Stills and Nash (a real mix and many more) They’re all inspiring in their song arrangements and melodies and we have always loved singing their songs because of this. However we don’t usually deliberately try to create similar sounds to musicians that we grew up listening to as we want to always focus on honing our own sound and being true to that first and foremost. We do appreciate comparisons and they’re very complimentary which is lovely but we have always struggled to pigeon hole ourselves to a specific genre or category because we really draw inspiration from so many different genres without even realizing. We would love to sing with James Taylor one day- that really would be a dream come true!
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
We hope people who hear our music continue to take away a message of hope and peace when they listen to our sounds and that in our lyrics we can speak into people’s lives who are perhaps struggling with identity, and let them know that they are loved and have worth and that they’re not alone. We struggle with believing these things personally sometimes but we know it’s true and we want listeners to find that truth too. We hope that we always come across as approachable and authentic, and that will always be our aim for as long as we write music and after!