Modcast #189: Woman's Hour

This week marked the release of 'Conversations', the intimate debut album from graceful pop four-piece Woman's Hour. Named after their nation's beloved female-focussed news and culture show on BBC Radio 4, the Kendal accented group have covered a lot of ground with their glacial body blows and striking monochrome visuals. Keyboardist Josh Hunnisett puts together this playlist of artists that inform his swelling textures, as he discusses the band's family dynamic and powerful visual aesthetic.

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How did you celebrate the release of your debut album Conversations? Was it a huge relief?

We went for a delicious Vietnamese meal with our nearest and dearest, perhaps a few too many drinks followed! It was less of a relief and more a total sense of realisation and acomplishment. To physically hold the record was a very emotional moment!

Which track on the album are you most proud of?

I feel equally proud of all the tracks, so maybe I can answer with a favourite: Reflections. This track really takes me somewhere else when listening and playing.

What were your aspirations when you formed the band?

I don't think there has ever been a clear goal of what we want to achieve, but instead a sense that making music is what we want to do with our lives right now. I guess we aspire to connect with as many people as possible, as we have done ourselves with so many great bands and artists.

How relevant is your English identity to Woman's Hour's sound?

I wouldn't say that it is particularly relevant to our sound apart from Fiona having a regional accent! We live in an incredibly inspiring country on so may levels, so I guess the freedom we have to create is the most essential tool our country gives us.

Two of your band mates are siblings - vocalist Fiona Jane Burgess and guitarist William Burgees. That must create an interesting dynamic. Is there much rivalry between them?

It's more like having four siblings in the band! We behave very much like a family unit: supporting, fighting, loving, competing, all things which make for a strong tight knit group. I think the way Fiona and Will's voices combine is incredibly special, which in my mind comes directly from being from the same blood. Sure rivalry lies there, but only in a positive way as they are both striving to create to the best of their abilities.

Your cover art and music videos have such a powerful and uniform aesthetic. What degree of input do you each have in their direction?

Fiona takes the reins with the art direction, of course we discuss and are very aware of all the concepts, but she is force behind this aspect of our work. She works closely with photographers Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin and they have a very good creative connection which I feel real comes through in all of our visual output.

Which other contemporary acts do you think combine music and visual art well?

FKA Twigs is great example. Her aesthetic is very focused and original, which translates into her musical output. She appears to be very in control of her project and I really respect this in an artist.

It's an extraordinary climate for releasing music, considering the ever evolving ways in which we consume music and the volatile nature of the recording industry. What is it about these times that excites you the most? What is it about these times that frustrates you the most?

I am excited that there is such a huge output of music, consistently, around the world. I can access it at the click of a button and then then have it delivered direct to my door! The music could have been made by a 17 year old writing in their bedroom or by a 68 year old that is still rocking and discovering themselves in a wicked studio. I can hear it all.

The downside to this is perhaps the quality in the music and the transience of styles and hype. To build a career as a musician/artist you must be prepared to toil and take the blows as they come. Most don't see their second record and I think that the internet and the hunger for the "new" is to blame.


Brian Eno - Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills)
Delia Derbyshire - Liquid Energy (Bubbling Rhythm)
The Art Of Noise - Moments Of Love
Inc. - Careful
HTRK - Soul Sleep
Garcons - Re Bop Electronic
Grace Jones - Pull Up To My Bumper
Marlena Shaw - Woman Of The Ghetto
Skyy - Call Me
Toro Y Moi - Causers Of This
Darkstar - Hold Me Down
Squarepusher - Gong Acid
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Baby

July 17, 2014 at 3:10pm in modcast



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