Today we are chatting to award winning (Best Folk Album- 2020 Independent Music Awards) sister duo Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes from Melbourne, Australia who form the chamber indie folk band Charm of Finches. They have recently just released their brand new single Gravity which focusses on the dangers of ‘toxic positivity’. I wanted to find out all about the new track and the upcoming plans for the rest of 2021.
Hello Charm of Finches nice to meet you! Tell us a little bit about your style of music?
Some have described our music as baroque folk, which implies an eclectic borrowing from a variety of folk music traditions. It’s really just another label for chamber folk. We very much identify with that genre, but we are also very contemporary. We incorporate cello and violin, as well as guitar, banjo, ukulele, piano and occasionally glockenspiel. If our music was a novel, it would possibly be “Wuthering Heights”!
You are sisters as well! What is it like working together?
It’s great working with someone you have known your whole life: we’re not scared to give each other constructive criticism. We also live together, which is very handy for spontaneous songwriting sessions and obsessive home recording.
How did you get into music?
We grew up in a musical household, where our mum taught choirs and is a musician. We also listened to a lot of folk music from Appalachian songs to Bob Dylan to Celtic tunes. We would go to amazing folk music camps where you get to play music all weekend, with other music-obsessed kids.We recorded our first Ep when we were 11 and 14! Mabel had been writing songs for a couple of years and we met a producer who offered to record them. From there, it’s been a seven year roller coaster fun ride of folk festivals and recording new music.
Who do you find your inspirations?
Our all time favourite musician would have to be Sufjan Stevens. We love everything about his music, from his lush production, heart breaking lyrics and perhaps especially his particular style of musing over the minutiae of life and distilling them into an emotion. We also draw inspiration from fine art and films. We love making our own music videos and in fact consider it an intrinsic part of our work as artists. Styling and creating these mini-movies is great fun and so artistically rewarding.
Tell us all about your new single Gravity? What inspired the song? What is ‘toxic positivity’?
Our good friend, who is a Sociology lecturer, said this song was about “toxic positivity”. Though this was the first time we had heard this term, we immediately related to it. We wrote this song as a push back against the idea society purveys that if you only try hard and believe in your dreams, you will get what you want. This is such a trap, as we have both discovered in our own lives, in our experience of relationships and also dealing with a dear friend’s life threatening illness. Being told you are solely responsible for your dreams, and then conversely, if you don’t achieve these, that it is your own fault, is definitely toxic and damaging.
What is the most challenging thing when it comes to producing a record?
Every album has had a different set of challenges. For this album, our third, we are actually working remotely with our producer Daniel Ledwell, who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. We are recording everything ourselves at home and sending him files to mix. We have regular Zoom meetings, often for us quite early in the morning to catch him before he goes to bed! It’s been quite challenging being our own critics when it comes to vocal takes and knowing when we are happy with a take, and knowing when to stop trying to get something “better”.
Also let’s talk touring – will there be live shows coming next year? Do you have plans to come to the UK as well?
What a time to be asking such a question. We have just gone back into a snap lockdown here in Melbourne, Australia, after having played interstate (in Australia) for the first time in a year. We do have intentions to tour the UK and Europe mid next year, fingers and toes crossed!
What is one of your favourite songs to perform live?
We really love playing our song “The Bridge”, which we released on our 2019 album “Your Company”. It is quite challenging vocally, but also fun, and has “belty” harmonies. Ivy plays violin and ukulele (not at the same time). It is quite an emotional song, being about an experience when we encountered a group of young people grieving at a bridge where their friend had tragically jumped off for fun and passed away. We were shocked to hear about it and wrote this song that night. The experience especially resonated with us at that time, as it was almost exactly the first anniversary of our own friend’s passing away.
How have you been keeping creative during lockdown? Has it led to lots more songs?
Last year we had a long Lockdown. We were fortunate enough to take part in an online global project called Global Music Match. We were in a team with 5 other bands, and spent about 2 months collaborating on music and videos to share online with our respective audience. It was very fun, kept us super busy and we have made lifelong friends out of the experience. We also had quite a bit of time to both listen deeply to new music, like Adrienne Lenker, and of course, there was time to write new songs for our album.
Our site also is about improv – in a music sense, what have been some of your favorite improvised melodies that you have created and been able to use in songs and why?
Our songwriting process intrinsically involves a lot of improvising. Of course, when we write together, we will improvise melody upon melody until there is one we resonate with and can build on. When we perform live, we don’t so much make up new melodies, but we are constantly discovering new dynamics within the performance,
What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
There will be a few more songs coming out. We have started to play live shows again, and have really enjoyed collaborating on new performance projects with other Melbourne artists. Occasionally we even sing back up vocals for a few acts, which is very fun, without the pressures of being the principal artist. We are in pre-production for yet another music video- this time inspired by film noir. The album will be coming out in October, which is super exciting too!