Exclusive Interview: 5 minutes with Snowpoet

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Snowpoet are an ambient jazz duo currently based in London, UK. Initially conceived through deep musical connections, the pair consist of vocalis Lauren Kinsella and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson with the later addition of Josh Arcoleo on saxophone, Nick Costley-White on guitar, Matt Robinson on piano and Dave Hamblett on drums.

After releasing their debut self-titled album in 2016 via Two Rivers Records, the band have rippled through the UK jazz and indie scenes, capturing the hearts of many with their texture driven brand of jazz influenced ambient folk. In early 2018, Snowpoet found residence at Edition Records, releasing their highly anticipated sophomore album Thought You Knew. The band are currently on a European tour to promote the album, leaving behind heavy trails of elegance and grace everywhere they go.

We caught up with Chris Hyson of Snowpoet on studio patience and ego death:

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

That’s a big one. Well we got together as a band in 2012 and have been working together ever since. It’s been a beautiful journey so far. Our second album out on Edition Records has been warmly received so we are delighted!

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It’s a mixture of both really – through the writing process and post production. Sometimes there’ll be a harmonic progression, other times there’ll be a piece of text. Sometimes melody, harmony and text emerge together when we are writing or after the track has been recorded. It’s a process that’s growing organically.

What’s on your current playlist?

Strobes – Brokespeak
Paul Motian – Garden of Eden
Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
Björk – Utopia
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowel
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

One of the vital parts of being a musician is playing for new audiences or playing for people who are already familiar with your music – both are really exciting and very humbling. Equally hearing live music and going to gigs are important for us. It’s hard to describe in words how fundamental the relationship between the band and audience is.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

That’s a hard one. it’s a process again. What’s important is our reference points for sonic ideas and exploration, whether it be compositionally or from a production view point. We experiment with colour, texture, form, narrative and how to bring all these elements together in a song. It can be a long process sometimes from start to finish but we have patience with each other and we take our time.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

We turn up, set up, lay down the bones/fundamentals of each track we’ve planned to record. Then we spend a good while on the vocals, trying out different microphones and effects. We then get creative and start to colour in.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Rather than there being one moment, it’s the accumulation of years of hard work over time and making important connections with other people that inspire you and that you want to make work with.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Hmm.. Spare jack leads, deodorant and a laptop charger! The usual suspects.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Magic Lantern
Native Dancer
Both have albums coming out soon – check them out, they’re amazing!

What gets your creative juices flowing?

A single malt scotch.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

A few bits and bobs include Selmer Super Balanced Action Tenor, Fender Telecaster and deluxe reverb amp, Strymon pedals, Ableton live, Custom built vocoder, Ludwig downbeat drums and Bosphorus cymbals.

Any side projects you’re working on?

All six of us work in several different projects in the UK and Europe.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

It’s all a process where you keep learning new things. We try not to let the ego take over and when there’s an idea we work on defining and refining what it actually is.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

We continue on our Thought You Knew Tour with performances around Ireland this week then in March – May we are in Colston Hall, Bristol (Mar 16), Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, CCA in Glasgow (April 29), Double Bill with Olivia Chaney at Turner Sims (May 11), Kings Place album launch (May 10) and Millennium Centre, Cardiff (May 12). Later in the year we’ll be in Poland and with some other European dates announced soon.

Snowpoet Upcoming Tour Dates:

8th Mar – Ballina, Ireland – Arts Centre
9th Mar – Dublin, Ireland – Spectrum Festival
10th Mar – Meath, Ireland – Solstice Arts Centre
11th Mar – Wicklow, Ireland – Tinehely Arts Centre
19th Apr – Birmingham, UK – Hare and Hounds
29th Apr – Glasgow, Scotland – CCA
4th May – Derry, Northern Ireland – Derry Jazz Festival
5th May – Sligo, Ireland – Calry Church
6th May – Waterford, Ireland – Coastguard Cultural Centre
10th May – London, UK (Kings Place, Album Launch)
11th May – Southampton, UK – Turner Sims (DOUBLE BILL with Olivia Chaney)
12th May – Cardiff, UK – Millennium Centre

Order Thought You Knew LP by Snowpoet

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