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At the heart of English folk
Ange Hardy

Exclusive interview: Ange Hardy

Freshly-formed duo Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater come to Cecil Sharp House on Wednesday 2 March. We had a chat with Ange to find out more about the new project.

You and Lukas had played together on quite a number of occasions before officially becoming a duo. How did you come to the decision to make your partnership official?

Lukas played double bass on my last two albums and we’d done a couple of gigs together in the past - but until the Esteesee tour (“Along the Coleridge Way”) in October last year I’d always been a solo artist. 

I got Lukas on board for that tour because I knew if I wanted to recreate the album sound on stage I’d need a second musician; the songs were too big for a solo show.

By the end of that tour I’d realised that having someone else on stage was a totally different experience!

Lukas must be one of the hardest working musicians in the country; you only have to look at the number and calibre of musicians he works with either as a live performer or a recording artist to see that. 

I didn’t want the opportunity to pass by so we decided that recording a duo album and touring it straight away would be a great idea!

Steve Pledger also joined us for that tour quite a lot, so we’re really excited to be able to recreate some of that sound in Cecil Sharp House.

How do you find playing in a duo compared to being a solo artist?

For me, on stage, it’s totally different. I feel a lot less exposed which gives me greater freedom to take some more risks and push myself even further. 

It’s also a different sound - the music we can produce with two guitars at the same time, or with harp and double bass is something that I simply couldn’t ever do as a solo artist.

The biggest change in dynamic is the way I use my loop pedals; in the past I’ve had to use them to a far greater extent than I do in the duo - with Lukas’s second guitar, double bass and backing vocals I’ve got a lot more musical freedom to concentrate more on my vocals.

The dynamic is also so much more fun! There’s someone else on stage to banter with, and there’s the unknown element that I never actually know what Lukas is going to say or do next!

Your creative output is pretty impressive, having released an album a year since 2013. Is this down to hard work, a fertile period of inspiration or both?

Thank you, I think it’s mainly just hard work and a stubborn determination to succeed!

As soon as I finish recording one album I’m already thinking about the next. I’m always writing. If I had my own way I’d pretty much just live in the recording studio and release 1 or 2 albums a year every year!

I think you’ve got to constantly evolve, experiment and push boundaries. Increasingly I see live performances as the best place to try out new songs, especially as there’s now nearly always someone in the audience that’s already seen me at least once already in the last few months!

As a songwriter, how do you go about finding the right balance between the introspective and the openly relatable?

I’m not sure I do… I just write down the songs when they come to me. Take our new release - By The Tides. I didn’t set out to write a relatable song but I saw an alternative Christmas message from the father of Aylan Kurdi and the words and melody started to appear. Lukas came over and put that incredible guitar piece together, and the song happened.

Much of my older material was very overtly autobiographical, though I’ve moved away from that a bit now.

We all hear music through the ears of our own experience; so introspective music can still be very openly relatable. It’s just that different people may relate to it differently.

What have you been listening to recently?

A lot of very good music - it’s been an incredible year for releases! The Young ‘uns probably still feature at the top of my iTunes most played. Then Kathryn Roberts, Nancy Kerr, quite a lot of Sam Kelly too at the moment. I’ve also had Songs of Separation on repeat these last few weeks. Oh, and the new Jim Causley album! That’s a real keeper too! And Gigspanner! Lots of Gigspanner - just saw them live for the first time and they were amazing!

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

We’ll finish recording Findings, and then we’ve got a selection of folk festivals and concerts. In October we’ll release the album and have a pretty intensive tour. Then, well, we’ll probably start planning the next album!

There are already at least two or three other album ideas in the pipeline… I’m just not sure quite which way we’ll head!

There’s more life left in Esteesee too, there’s lots of ideas floating around about touring that show nationally with a slightly bigger band, there are also ideas on the go for school lesson plans to help introduce people to Coleridge in different ways.


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