On Friday 03 October, the Maltings stage played host to Kathryn Tickell & The Side. Kathryn is an internationally renowned musician, specialising in the fiddle and the Northumbrian pipes, and along with Ruth Wall, Amy Thatcher & Louisa Tuck, they channel their diverse musical experiences into a powerful new sound. The Side stay true to the spirit and essence of Kathryn’s own Northumbrian folk tradition whilst unleashing the talent and creativity of each individual musician.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Kathryn a few hours before she took to the stage. Below is the first Maltings podcast, a recording of our chat with Kathryn and also a track entitled ‘Stonehaugh’ from the brand new album ‘Kathryn Tickell & The Side’. Fell free to stream or download the podcast to listen to at your convenience. We hope to bring you more podcasts in the future, giving you an insight into the inspirational people that enter your Farnham Maltings.
Here are some highlights from our conversation with Kathryn:
How did the recording of the album come together?
Some of the tracks were pieces that we’ve been playing since the bands been together, so some of them we knew very well and we just all went into the studio together and played them at the same time. Nowadays, with new recording techniques, people tend to record in bits and not to record all together, but I think you lose a bit of the “feel” of it, so we just went in and played.
It does (change). I look back, I used to go on tour when I first left school, and I was playing solo, and I was going on public transport, there was no mobile phones, I was going around playing folk clubs, just this 18 year old girl with a set of northumbrian pipes wandering round the country. I did end up in some very strange places. Looking back on it, I’ve had a couple of close shaves but it was quite the apprenticeship.
Do you think the mainstream modernisation of folk music has helped the genre as a whole?
I don’t really know. It maybe that some people get into Mumford and Sons or something and go “oh, I quite like banjos” and then go and find something else. Through those bands maybe they come to see other bands which they might not have come across, which is always great. I think that sometimes it’ll go the other way as well. People that are brought up with traditional folk music, like I was, they might hear that type of music and go towards that. So it works both ways.
Were your parents into folk music?
Yes, though they wouldn’t know it was called folk music. That was just the music that their families listened to, and the same for me. I grew up, I didn’t realise I was playing a weird instrument or that I was playing a strange type of music, I just thought I played music. I thought everybody knew about northumbrian pipes. I hadn’t seen a clarinet or a trumpet until I went to high school, but northumbrian pipes and accordions and things like that were really common.
What makes a good gig experience for you?
Theoretically it would be when we all play really great and there’s that thing about the music, but actually, it needs the audience and the band to be in sync and for there to be some communication, some 2 way communication. It doesn’t matter how great you play if the audience is sitting there quietly and politely applauding and you feel like “do they really want to listen to this?”. Conversely, if the audience is going wild but you know you haven’t played so well that’s not great either, so you need both.
What was the last performance you saw and really enjoyed?
This’ll sound really naff but it’s not meant to be! There was this huge event up in Gateshead near where I live to celebrate the great north run. There was all these celebrities and local heroes, and Mark Knopfler was there, and he played ‘Local Hero’. We were there in the afternoon for sound check, and he just got up and played it. It was on the banks of the River Tyne, and I was stood backstage and Mark Knopfler’s playing ‘Local Hero’ and I was looking across at the skyline of Newcastle over the River Tyne. I’m such a northerner that just the skyline would set me off, but hearing that, it was amazing. It was really powerful. There was a few people wiping a tear from their eye actually.