Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Eight questions with Hickory Signals

(c) Days in the City
1. Who are Hickory Signals and where did the name come from? (a short introduction)  

We’re a folk duo from Brighton - Adam Ronchetti and Laura Ward. Laura sings and between us we play guitar, flute, cajon, shruti box, various shakers, cymbals and other noise makers including a glockenspiel designed for children. We make new music inspired by old music, so play a pretty much even split of traditional songs we’ve re-arranged and original songs we’ve written ourselves. Inspiration comes from not only old songs and lyrics but also poetry and stories. When we first started playing together in 2014, we referred to ourselves as Bagmen because we carried so much paraphernalia to each show. Then we decided that was probably only funny to us and so came up with Hickory Signals whilst sitting on a bus. We are now considering setting up a dating site for lumberjacks: Hickory Singles.

2. This is the point where I’d usually ask about the recording of a recent release… do you have an EP or album in the pipeline?! If so, where/when was it recorded and when do we get to listen to it?  
Yes indeed! Back in 2014 we released our first 4-track EP and in about two months, we release our second EP (6 tracks this time). We recorded it at our friend’s studio in Kemp Town, where were lucky enough to have Ian Carter of Stick in the Wheel produce it for us. It will be ready in November but you can get a sneak preview of the title track, ‘Noise of the Waters’ (an arrangement of James Joyce’s sea-inspired poem) on our website.

3. Who is your audience and how do you connect with your fans? Any crazy, fun, exciting stories are very welcome.  

We attract a heady mix of trad enthusiasts who watch through slitted fingers as Adam pulls out his cajon, ladies who love a natural red head, younger people coming out as folk-curious... and our parents. Together we form a little South Coast menagerie and we couldn’t be more proud and grateful. We used to be in a folk rock band together called Laura Ward and the Risen Road and we’re incredibly lucky that a lovely cohort of Risen Road fans have stayed with us and now count themselves as Hickory Signals fans. To thank them (and anyone else who loves live music) we run monthly live folk/acoustic nights at a beautiful venue in Shoreham By Sea called West Street Loft. We love them, the audience seems to love them... there’s a lot of love in that loft. A few months ago, we asked them whether they thought we should buy a cat. They said yes and now we have a beautiful orange ball of fluff named Cognac!

4. You were hand-picked by JINNWOO to support on a couple of the dates on his upcoming album-release tour, how do you guys know each-other?  

We played alongside Ben, aka Jinnwoo, at a ‘Folk Rising’ show at Cecil Sharp House back in 2015 and were immediately spellbound by the rawness of his sound and the emotion he fills each song with. After the show we got chatting and realised we live a couple of roads away from each other in Brighton. Since then we’ve become bosom buddies; playing, recording and drinking together at every opportunity. We’ve actually just recorded an album together under a new folk revival project by the name of Bird in the Belly.

5. What can we expect from your performance at the shows in Brighton and London? Will you be performing as a duo?  

Others have described our live set as haunting, cinematic, atmospheric, un-rushed and detailed. We just hope to get the guitar in tune and hit the right notes. We’re (beyond) happy playing just the two of us, experimenting with how many instrument and tuning changes we can make during a 30 minute set, but we’re hoping our buddy Tom Pryor will join us with his violin for at least for the Brighton show. Tom’s fiddle features on both our recordings and his sensitivity and musicality make him an utter joy to play with.

6. What does your dream gig look like? Are there any artists you’ve love to support or collaborate with?  

We could support Christy Moore at Vicar Street in Dublin, come out of that gig and drown, satisfied, in the River Liffey.

7. Having run your own monthly live music night in Shoreham for a couple of years, do you find that the experience of running shows affects your performances?  

Good question! We’ve really worked hard to cultivate a night which is well-attended where the audience can expect a great quality evening and the artists are paid for their work. The nights have also presented us with an opportunity to meet and learn from some amazing musicians and songwriters. When it’s your night, you’re really aware of the audience’s experience and the importance of being warm and engaging as a performer. Also, we’ve had to master the art of compering which has done wonders for our between-song patter...

8. What does the rest of the year hold for you, and looking towards 2017?  

We’ve got a run of nice shows coming up over the next few months. As well as supporting Jinnwoo in Brighton, London and Norwich, we are playing the Bermondsey folk festival in September where we’ll play alongside the Bara Bara Band and Stick in the Wheel. We’re also supporting the Astrakan Project at the Harrison in October. Aside from gigs, we’ve got the EP coming out in November and we’ll be continuing to work on the Bird in the Belly project with Jinnwoo. Next year we hope to release a full-length album and then... maybe supporting Christy Moore at Vicar Street? Maybe not.

As mentioned above, Hickory Signals support Jinnwoo on his upcoming headline shows in Brighton, Norwich and London over the next couple of months, kicking off with a free entry, donate on the door show at Brighton's The Blue Man, info and tickets for all three shows here!

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