Shorelark

Georgia Morgan Turner and Finn Collinson together are Shorelark, a contemporary folk duo drawing on a wide range of influences and unusual instrumentation to create fresh approach to British traditional music.  The duo will open the Grapevine stage at Ipswich Music Day on 3rd July so we caught up with the elusive duo at Snape Maltings where they were taking part in an Aldeburgh Young Musicians workshop.

How do you feel about playing our stage at Ipswich Music Day? 

GMT: Yeah, always looking forward to it

FC: Very much so. I’ve spent a lot of the last seven years I guess in Ipswich and I was at school in Ipswich, just left last week, I went to school, I guess, just opposite Christchurch Park, so I know it very well and I’ve been in Ipswich on the day of the music day before, but I’ve never actually been to the music day itself, so I’m very much looking forward to it.

Is this your first time at Ipswich Music Day?

FC: Yes, it is for both of us, yes

GMT: Yeah, I live in London so I don’t know much about Ipswich and other northern gigging opportunities.!

Why the name Shorelark?

GMT: It was the first name that we found that wasn’t rubbish, so we thought we’d go with that one.  It was actually Finn’s Dad who thought of it and since it’s a bird you see quite a lot around Aldeburgh, we thought that would be appropriate.

So it’s like a personal meaning to you?

FC: Well I guess it’s just a nice word, I think we came to the choice it was the best name for us.

You realize what we’ve got to do now, when we’ve finished here.  Outside to find a Shorelark and take a picture of it. 

FC: Good luck with that, I think they’re quite rare.

What drew you to folk music?

FC: Well, for me, folk music is hereditary. I was brought up surrounded by folk music, particularly Scottish folk music.  My mum did a lot of research and sort of studied Scottish Gaelic song around the time that I was born. I heard a lot of that music when I was young but for me, in the last four or five years I’ve really started doing a lot more English folk music, there’s all sorts of fantastic songs and tunes out there.

Your music ranges from Brazilian to Baroque and recorder style?

FC: Yes. There are a lot of parallels between the different styles that we play.

GMT: I come from a completely different background musically. My family is very musical but I have a lot of jazz musicians in my family and my granddad is slightly obsessed with Brazilian music and passed that down to the rest of my family.  I was just interested in folk music and wanted to get involved with it and I think you can definitely hear the marriage of influences in our music.

Can you tell me about the instruments you play?

GMT: Yeah, guitar and voice and now Finn has to read his nice long list.

FC: Yeah, I’m predominantly a recorder player so I guess away from Shorelark, I play a lot of Baroque music, a lot of early music and of course lots of folk music, on that it’s quite unusual to do folk recorder, folk whistle, folk flute, folk pipes, of course, but recorder is more of a rare one, so I quite like that and I also play the mandolin as well as the bouzouki.  Its originally Greek and it’s sort of found its way over to Ireland I think originally and then has become used in British folk music.

GMT: I play a mean shaky egg as well.

Do you find them difficult to tune?

FC: Yeah, that was quite difficult one when we were recording, wasn’t it.

GMT: We do have a duet that we’ve only performed once but it’s a duet for shaky egg and recorder, the two most underrated instruments in the music world.

Your EP, that you released in September, Longwayes For Six, was released as a ‘pay what you can’ system, why did you do that?

FC: I think, for us it was just a way of getting our music out there.  At that point, we weren’t really looking to make loads of money, anything that we make is obviously fantastic but we recorded the EP more as a way of getting people to hear our music, so yeah, but just having it online so people can download it for free, if they wish, is, I think the best way of doing that.

GMT: It’s funny though, because  a lot of the time we’d see some people who’d be quite generous and pay like £10 for the album, we got really excited and then we realized that quite a few of those people were members of either of our families, but you know, that’s where it all begins.

What’s been your most exciting achievement to date?

FC: FolkEast was a pretty good gig, that was I think probably only our 3rd gig  playing there and we’re playing there again this year, with the duo and obviously with Aldeburgh Young Musicians.  We think it’s a fantastic festival.

GMT: FolkEast was pretty good. We do think it’s a fantastic festival, I really enjoyed it last year, I’d never been before, Finn’s been quite a few times but it’s been a first time experience for me.

And you’ve been quite a few times?

FC: Every time I’ve been, I’ve been playing.  Last year I played with Shorelark and the year before I played with Tilly Dalglish, who I’m also playing with on the Grapevine stage at Ipswich Music Day this year.

You met at Aldeburgh Young Musicians what drew you two to work together to become Shorelark?

GMT: Well, we have these things called open house weekends.  Any of the young musicians can send an email to Colin, who runs AYM and just say about trying something new.  We can send an email around to get anyone who wants to come and join us and usually we won’t have an artist with us unless Colin decides to email someone and bring them in  We originally had about 10-15 people coming folk day and it ended up just being 3 people. Then we realised that actually we really liked the music we were making as a small unit and then we basically branched off into Shorelark.

You’ve played at Barbican Hall and you’ve played at Cadogan Hall, was that a good experience for you?

GMT: Yeah, it was an unforgettable experience, it’s definitely, I think, wherever else I’ve played, that gig at the Barbican Hall will definitely be the highlight of my music career, just because it was an important moment in my life as a musician.

FC: For me, Cadogan Hall was a very different gig to the folk stuff because I was playing a Suite For Recorder And Strings by Gordon Jacob and I played that with the London International Orchestra, I believe that’s what they’re called, so that was more of a contemporary, classical style, but it was very enjoyable.

What’s the workshop here all about – could explain it more to me?

FC: Well, I guess we do all sorts of different stuff, different types.

GMT: Yeah it’s really hard to sum up what we do as a whole, because every single course is so different.  Some that stand out have been jazz courses with a group called Led Bib. We have done music performance, film music. The composers were scoring big orchestral pieces to clips, there’s been one based on the Chester Plays of the 15 Signs of the Apocalypse, where we made a set out of scrap metal, which was insane.

FC: To add to that, my favourite was a course with Bellowhead a couple of years ago and we played over in the main Maltings Concert Hall as one of the Snape proms, that was probably my favourite AYM experience.

Have you enjoyed your experience here at Aldeburgh?

FC: I don’t want to speak for us both but I think, certainly for me, I would be a completely different musician if I hadn’t come here and done these courses, I’m listening to a much wider range of music, I’m performing a much wider range of music and I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve got so many contacts now in the music industry, so many great friends that I can play music with.

GMT: I think it really gives you a faith in your own adaptability, even if you are open to different music styles before you come, sometimes being faced with: OK we’re going to play jazz now and you’ve never done it before but 1,2,3,4, everybody in!  The first course you come to it’s just like ‘oh my god’, I have no idea what I’m doing, like I love the music but I’m terrified. But then the more you do it, the more you think, you’ve practiced this and no matter what they throw at me, I’m like, ‘no I have the ability to absorb it’

Do you think that this workshop course is beneficial for young musicians?

FC: Oh, absolutely. I’ve certainly not ever come across anything quite like it really and any young musician who’s up for being a bit creative and getting stuck in with loads of different music, I think should give it a go, it’s fantastic.

GMT: Yeah, I think it’s one of the best organisations for young musicians out there.

What would say has been the most fun thing that you’ve done?

FC: The most fun? You’ll be waiting a while for this answer. I think, for me, probably playing with the Bellowhead was my favourite experience that I’ve found through AYM. I think there were about 35 people on stage and as you know, Bellowhead are one of the most crazy bands in the world, or were sadly.

It was one of the craziest musical things I have ever done and it’s a shame I won’t ever get to do it again really. It’s always amusing when somebody is singing a folk song and they get two verses in the wrong order, you know, somebody who was unnecessarily murdered in the previous verse, suddenly is back and fighting with somebody.

GMT: So many to choose from.

When do you get to rehearse?

GMT: We have a gig and we sometimes rehearse the day before but most of time we just rock up on the day and go, when we’re sound checking, we will run over things a little bit and then rely on our memories really, well, we’ve both got pretty good memories, lyrics always stick in my head.  We’ve had quite a few times on one of our songs that it’s just got too many verses, where the gap between the verses, the instrumental gap has just gotten longer and longer and longer and Finn’s looking at me, like ‘ are we okay? Is this happening?’ and I’m like thinking furiously and then it’ll be the light bulb moment and after like 16 bars, in between, we’ll go back and do it.

What’s it been like working with the Young’uns?

GMT: Amazing. They’re lovely as well. I think they were surprised about us as well, I think I’ve noticed quite a few times at AYM.  They got a bit of a shock when they give us a creative task and that’s what AYM excel at, if you give us things, like arrange this like…

I’ve really noticed that they’ve been trying really hard to learn from us as well, which is always so gratifying to see from adults and professionals. We’re a bit of a handful aren’t we, at times, quite enthusiastic.

FC: Yeah, I think they’re probably one of the best folk groups out there at the moment and such great people.

That’s the thing about the folk scene, it’s very rare to meet anyone who isn’t a genuinely lovely person.

They make fantastic music as well and we’ve learnt a lot from them about how to approach folk songs, something they’re very keen on, is telling the story and the music that goes with the song should be telling the story as well as the words and the tune.

It’s very pleasing, when musicians come and work with us and they are really genuinely appreciative of our input and our way of thinking and I think The Young’Uns have definitely been very crazy.

You’re playing at the FolkEast stage, as part of Aldeburgh Young Musicians…

FC: FolkEast is my favourite festival, I’ve been to a lot of festivals and there’s something about the atmosphere that makes you just forget about everything else that’s going on and just focus on the music. It takes a lot to create a festival or an event that does that to you. I definitely got that last year and I’m sure I will again this year. Becky and John, who run the festival are such lovely people, they’ve been very supportive of us as Shorelark and as AYM as well. Yeah. Can’t wait.

GMT: They’ve taken us under their wing haven’t they?

For people that aren’t really into folk music,would it be something you would encourage them to go and see?

FC: Oh absolutely, I think going to a festival is such a fantastic thing if you’re not very familiar with a particular genre.  There are so many different acts, each doing a different thing with folk music, you know bands like The Wayward Band, who are doing crazy 12 piece dance tunes, bordering on rock in some instances, then you get, you know, nice sort of intimate performances, by the likes of solo artists, duos.

My favourite touring artists in the world, is going to be a duo called Gilmore and Roberts, Georgia will tell you, I go on and on about them but I think they’re fantastic and I was really, sort of, pushing Becky and Jon to book them, I’m sure that’s not the only reason they were booked but I’d like to think it would. So yeah, there’s so much going on there that you can sort of find the different sounds within the genre that you like.

Thank you very much for your time and it was lovely to talk to you.

Image © tonybell.PHOTOGRAPHY
Image © tonybell.PHOTOGRAPHY