Sister dream-folk duo Charm of Finches are gearing up for the release of their new album ‘Staring at the Starry Ceiling’. Jordy asked the girls some questions whilst at The Push on work experience.
How did Charm of Finches start out? What brought you to work together?
Well we are sisters so we have sung together since forever, singing harmonies in the bath, jamming out on the toy piano when we were really little. We started off in a trio called The Highway Sisters with our friend Bel busking outside the local organic shop. We sang a capella three part harmonies, old American folk, particularly songs from the film “O Brother Where Art Thou”. Then in Grade 6 Mabel picked up the guitar and started writing songs and by 2014 we were making our debut EP for Mabel’s Year 8 major project.
What is “Staring at the Starry Ceiling” about?
“Staring at the Starry Ceiling” is our first full length album with ten songs on it. The album is very much a journey starting out with a light, whimsical feel but through our single Sky Watching starts to head into a dark, moody territory exploring themes of longing and sadness draped in lush strings.
What can fans expect from your debut album?
Our last EP was more of a representation of how we sound live whereas this album is much more of a studio record with lush strings, Celtic-flavoured fiddle, layers of vocal harmonies, lightly plucked guitar, a splash of banjo and even a sprinkle of hammered dulcimer. We play every instrument on the album, except for hammered dulcimer played by Andy Rigby, flute by Georgia Dillon and percussion by Nick Huggins, have written and arranged ourselves (which we are rather proud of) and are so excited to share them with the world!
What was the song writing process like for the album?
Some of the songs were written up to 2 years ago, where others were written within the period we were recording the album! As a result a lot of the songs are about different things that happened in our lives but the songs still glue together pretty well since a lot of the songs have similar themes and feels. The song Lost Girl was written a week before we went into the studio to record and we decided we just had to record it and it ended up being a perfect bookend for the album, a short little afterthought.
Who are some of you main influences?
Our all time favourite band is First Aid Kit. They inspired us to record an EP when we found out that they recorded their first CD at the ages of 15 and 17. We are also really inspired by Sufjan Stevens and Agnes Obel. Both of them are arranging geniuses; their arrangements are so intricate and beautiful, and so soulful. We think it’s so cool that both artists produced their own music and so Mabel decided to co-produce our album with the amazing Nick Huggins. We also really love a lot of local musicians such as Rowena Wise and The Mae Trio.
You won the Darebin Music Feast Songwriter’s award for your song “Paper and Ink”. How did that feel to win that?
Unbelievable literally! All of the artists were amazing and their songs were so awesome we believed we had no chance. When the judges went off to decide we drank super sweet, fizzy voice-clogging drinks, not thinking we would have to perform the song again (the winner plays the song at the end again). When they announced that we won we were a mixture of shocked and incredibly excited. Whenever we feel like we can’t possibly write a good song, it’s nice to think of this because it feels really reassuring and we feel understood and appreciated.
What was it like supporting Clare Bowditch?
Singing with Clare Bowditch at the Corner Hotel was probably one of our most exciting on-stage experiences. Looking out onto the packed crowd of absolutely lovely people and having Clare there, who is the most lovely woman ever – was really wonderful. At the time it was the largest audience we’d ever played to so it was incredibly nerve-racking but in a good way.
After that we supported Clare at The Flying Saucer Club which was such an honour!
What was it like working with Nick Huggins? Are there any other artists/producers you would want to work with in the future?
Nick Huggins was the perfect person for us to work with. He is everything we could have hoped for in a producer: relaxed, kind, honest, hilarious and super skilled and experienced. We felt like he really understood our music and how we wanted the album to sound and we worked as a great team to produce something that we are really proud of.
Our dream is to support First Aid Kit, Agnes Obel, Sufjan Stevens, Aurora; the list goes on and on!
What are some of your goals for the future?
Write more songs, make more albums. engineer and produce our own stuff, Ivy wants to learn to how be an ace banjo player!
Our goals for the future is to tour internationally, and play folk festivals overseas and hopefully support some of the artists on our dream list!
Do you have any plans for a national tour this year?
Yes, well, we are playing a launch here in Melbourne on 6th August at the Wonderland Spiegeltent in Docklands, then up to Sydney for a launch at a cute little venue called The Newsagency. Literally an old newsagency shop. We are also planning a Parlour regional Victoria album launch tour, so stay tuned for that!
Check out Charm of Finches' Facebook page for upcoming gigs and more!