Updated: Nov 7, 2018
Kitty Macfarlane has been making waves in the folk world for the past few years and her debut album Namer of Clouds, released on 21st September, has received wide critical acclaim. Kitty’s bringing her poetic lyrics and intimate vocal to The Verdict on Wednesday 7th November for the very first time. She’s supported by local act Caleb Harris.
Namer of Clouds is an absolutely stunning debut, can you tell me how you're feeling a month out from its release?
A bit of a relief! We started recording in April, and it's been a bit non-stop since then. It was a really immersive experience making the album, and it's a surreal feeling being able to hold a copy of the finished product.
You've had great critical acclaim, how does it feel to feature on Radio 2's folk show and receive high (well deserved) praise in well respected publications?
Mark Radcliffe and the BBC Radio 2 folk show have been really supportive of the album so far, which I've really appreciated. I've been blown away by the response the album has received from publications like The Guardian, The Observer, The Financial Times, Mojo Magazine... I was even invited to guest-present Tweet of the Day on BBC Radio 4! It's funny when you make something like an album, because while you're writing the songs, recording them, producing them – they're yours. But as soon as you release it, those songs are no longer yours, they're anybody's, to interpret as they will. It's a really special, liberating feeling.
How did your musical journey into folk music begin?
I started learning the guitar at the age of 11 with a fantastic teacher who really inspired me. He got me learning songs straight away, I think the first ones included a Norah Jones number, and Streets Of London which got me into fingerpicking. I gradually gravitated towards folk music, although I don't play many traditional folk songs - nearly all of what I play is my own music. I remember seeing a concert with Scottish folk trio Lau at my village music club when I was about 13 and was massively influenced by their sensitivity on stage.
Geography and nature play a monumental part in your work, how does your environment translate into lyrics and sound for you?
Growing up in rural Somerset with a great love of the outdoors led to a fascination with the phenomena of nature, from the starling murmurations on the Somerset Levels, to the epic transatlantic migration of the eel to our waterways. I'm particularly interested in not just writing about nature, but about how we as humans interact with it. I think that the natural world can create moments of incredible human connection - it's a complete leveller; we're all reduced to the same, wide-eyed incredulity when stood before the endless discoveries of the natural world.
Why did you chose to call the album Namer of Clouds?
In 1802, a man called Luke Howard invented the names for all the different cloud formations (Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus etc) at a time when the skies were unknowable and untamed. He created the universal language of the skies, and I wrote the song Namer Of Clouds (which gives the album its name also), using Luke Howard as an example of mankind's need to claim control of the natural world, to make sense of our planet.
You've used "found sounds" throughout the album, will you bring some of this to your live shows?
I wanted to feature some of the sounds from the actual places and people that inspired the songs on the album itself, so that it was more of a collaboration between myself and the wild. We borrowed a fancy portable microphone and headed off all over the place recording rivers, bird song, waterfalls, Italian seamstresses, waves crashing, chaotic waterfowl... I'm currently experimenting with the idea of working it into my live set.
What can we expect from your show on Wednesday?
I'm really looking forward to playing at The Verdict on Wednesday 7th, I love playing in venues with a bit of atmosphere and intimacy, where you really feel like you can connect with the audience. A lot of my songs have stories behind them, and I'd say that the stage chat is as much a part of the show as the songs themselves. It'll be me and my guitar, and I'll be playing songs from my album and more.
You can see Kitty Macfarlane perform at The Verdict on Wednesday 7th November. £12/£8 https://www.wegottickets.com/event/452853 with support from local act Caleb Harris.