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Spotlight Interview With Jon & Abbie

Indie folk duo Jon & Abbie recently released a double single and both songs create an atmosphere that has the ability to wash you away.

"44 Days" is the first of the two songs and it's musical swelling neo folk songwriting style is descriptive and colorful. Drums suddenly kick in and the song becomes a sing along of sorts. Like a drinking song a group sings in a pub before closing time.

Beautiful and vibrant, they quickly enable you to begin seeing things being talked about with a quirky honesty.

The second of the two is called "Road Bike". The song tells a personal story and brings and almost Simon & Garfunkel style harmonies build up and you can float with the song as it plays.

A wonderous set of tracks cinematic enough to want to sit down and talk with them about how this all happened.

RAG: Okay let's start with "44 Days". The song has a folk feel with a little theatrical undertone and some 90's alt-pop feels. Where did this come from?

JON: I think the theatrical element definitely comes from my recent obsession with John Grant. I find his sass inspiring. He's such a great performer.

ABBIE: For me, I think it was being at home during lockdown. Having spent so long in the city, returning back to the countryside subconsciously reminded me of all the music I loved when I was growing up. Being back in my teenage bedroom definitely brought back some old flames in that sense.

RAG: It seems like there is some real classic rock influence in these tracks. Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

ABBIE: Writing-wise, Stevie Nicks has been a huge influence, but also, Neil Young, especially his album ‘On the Beach’.

JON: I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock because of my Dad - Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Who, The Doors. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some influence when I sit down to write, although I didn’t expect that to come across in this release!

RAG: How did this all start for you?

ABBIE: We have often wanted to make music together, but never really had the time. Over lockdown, we both found ourselves with a lot more time on our hands, and we needed something creative to channel our emotions into. I sent Jon a guitar part in early April and he sent it back as a song, within hours. I think we both realised there was something special to explore, and I started writing more lyrics. Soon, we had a whole EP. Every track except for Still Life were written while we were apart, and I think that’s a really unique and exciting way of making music.

RAG: You managed to create a great musical accomplishment with both "44 Days" and "Road Bike". Is there any advice you'd give to other aspiring artists trying to get themselves heard?

ABBIE: I think first and foremost you have to have a strong sense of belief in your own music, and then hope that others can relate to your experiences. We obviously put some work into the promotion side of things, but for me it’s all about self belief. Gigging is obviously really important and something I have done a lot with my main band ‘Maud’, but when faced with a lockdown, we had to think a little differently. For me it was about making something vulnerable and honest, and then seeing where that took us.

JON: My main advice is to write regularly, and often. If you feel something, write about it - you never know what it might turn into.

RAG: What's next for you? Anything in the works even now?

ABBIE: Yeah! We're gradually warming up to the release of our lockdown EP project, 'Still Life'. One more single - the title track - and then we're going to release the whole thing.

RAG: What are you guys doing when you're NOT working on music?

ABBIE: Teaching English in a school in south London! I think my love of literature plays an important role in my songwriting, as some of the songs on the EP started off as poems. When we were writing this EP though, I spent every day in the garden with my family; writing, thinking, grieving and processing, so I am grateful for that time before term started again.

JON: I work at the SSL HQ just outside of Oxford as an engineer and product manager. Working in the audio industry has been a great opportunity for me to immerse myself and learn about the production side of music. I’ve been learning to mix and master tracks, as well as write and record, and I’ve been applying everything I’ve learnt so far since I decided to start releasing music with my band ‘Pylon Heights’ around this time last year. So, to summarise: when I’m not working on music, I often work on music.

RAG: Did you play live before the pandemic? Are you planning on live performances when the time comes?

ABBIE: All the time! We were playing regularly in Cambridge venues such as The Portland Arms and The Blue Moon (which has become something of a second home to us). Cambridge has a great music scene, we love playing with other local bands Lemondaze, Grassroof and Goldblume.

JON: I haven't played live much before. It was my plan to get onto the open mic circuit this year, although that might prove a bit difficult. There's still a month left of this year, mind. A boy can dream.

RAG: Did this release come out how you expected?

ABBIE: I definitely didn’t expect the response it has gotten! I have never really written lyrics this personal with the intention for them to be heard, so it felt like a bit like walking out naked in front of a crowd of people when we released ‘44 Days’. Hearing friends quote lyrics that you remember writing in your notebook is a bit surreal.

JON: Honestly, I didn’t have much of an idea where any of this music was going when we first started working on it. ‘44 Days’ in particular was a bit of a wildcard, and I used it as a bit of an opportunity to play around with my vocal delivery.

RAG: Before we go, is there anything you'd say to fans of the music?

ABBIE: Thank you! The process of writing this EP was very cathartic, so I hope everyone listening can sense the love and heart that went into building it - especially during a time when everything was so uncertain. We are glad that there has been something positive from the whole experience!

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