Following their critically well-received slot as the opening act on Tubular Bells For Two’s UK tour last autumn, Gypsyfingers now embark on their first ever UK tour, with a brand new single, Half World, released to coincide with the dates. A week before they set off on the road, The Mumble caught up with the band for a wee blether.
Well hello Gypsyfingers I hope we are all well! First question to Luke I thought I should clear up the Oldfield question first! Just how cool is your dad and what was it like to grow up the son of a Legend?
LUKE: Dad is cool in a very down to earth way. He has never enjoyed drawing attention to himself or being in the spotlight and to me he is just my dad. I think people have some preconceptions about what it must be like to have a famous musician for a father but its not like that at all for me. My parents separated when I was very young and whenever I used to go and see Dad we would usually spend some time in the studio. For me it just seemed like a very normal thing that my dad was a musician. When I saw him perform live at The Albert Hall in 1993 was perhaps the first time I realised that my Dad wasn’t like everyone else’s Dad!
What age were you when you first saw the Exorcist?
LUKE: I was 14 and I stayed up late with a few friends to watch The Exorcist in the dark and were all pretty spooked by it. Obviously the music was very familiar to me though so it didn’t have quite the dramatic effect it must have on most people.
What does Dad think of the band?
LUKE: He doesn’t listen to a lot of music as he is always writing and creating his own music but he likes Gypsyfingers and is pleased that I have revived his old studio – Tilehouse Studios – where he recorded Five Miles Out, Moonlight Shadow and other records in the 80’s. We record Gypsyfingers there and I produce other there bands as well using lots of nice analogue gear including tape machines.
He has obviously been a major influence on all of you. Do you still work closely with him or are you a completely separate entity?
LUKE: Victoria started Gypsyfingers as a solo project before I got involved so Gypsyfingers is definitely a separate entity from Mike Oldfield. Obviously I grew up with his latest releases – the Blue Peter “Sailor’s Hornpipe” Theme Tune is the first one I can remember – and I saw him play live several times so the influence on me is probably pretty strong. Everyone in Gypsyfingers has slightly different tastes in music, which I think is what what makes Gypsyfingers sound interesting. Victoria prefers classical and dance music; Pat loves 60’s and 70’s rock and my background is in rock and folk so there is a healthy melting pot of musical tastes and ideas between us.
Do you believe that Gypsyfingers’ star is ascending?
LUKE: It certainly feels like it is! Victoria and I recorded our debut album “Circus Life” as a duo and it took a while for us to find the right musicians to play live with who could help us translate the album to be performed live. We had a great tour last year supporting Tubular Bells For Two and playing some fantastic venues and shows. The reaction from the audiences and press on that tour was brilliant so that has really spurred us on. We are now working with a booking agent and we want to keep the momentum going behind Gypsyfingers and to get our music out to a wider audience so we have our first UK headline tour starting on 26th April and we are currently booking more shows for later in the year.
With the launch of your new single, forthcoming gigs at The Isle of Wight Festival and Hyde Park and the recent success of ‘Belle Voci’ reaching the voice finals. Do you believe that it is now your time to be loved by the masses and are you ready for Superstardom?
LUKE: Our new single “Half World” picks up from where a song like “Circus Elephant” on our debut album “Circus Life” left off and shows off a bigger sound thanks to Pat and Simon who play drums and bass on the record. We really hope people like it and we hope that we are taking folk-rock into slightly new territory with it. Our live shows are getting better and better and more opportunities keep coming up for Gypsyfingers. The important thing for us is to keep putting music out and playing shows as long as there is an appreciative audience. If that leads to superstardom then that would be fantastic and yes we would be ready for it.
This question is for everyone; opening last year with Tubular Bells For 2 must have been immense. How do you keep it real?
LUKE: We had a great time on that tour and it was an exciting opportunity for sure. We are all good mates so its always fun being on the road with Gypsyfingers. We had Simon’s partner Sally Low with us on tour taking amazing photos so the tour was beautifully documented. We like to have a few beers after the shows to hang out and wind down. Funnily enough during that tour Victoria and I drove the van while Pat and Simon took the train, which they really loved. Thankfully none of their trains were delayed!
What is the one thing that lets you switch off, be you and help keep your feet on the ground?
LUKE: I meditate a few times a week. It really helps to keep me grounded, particularly when things get a bit stressful. I also have a lovely bedlington-whippet called Bonnie who is constantly reminding me of the simple things in life.
What is your favourite moment so far with the band, was there one precise moment when you thought we have got something here! Or has it been very much a natural progression and you have realised what you needed to take you to the next level?
LUKE: When Victoria and I started working together we didn’t have any rules or deadlines so we were able to experiment and find a sound that we liked and that we thought was interesting and fresh. From the start it has been a very organic progression. In 2014, quite soon after we released “Circus Life” we were offered a gig opening for James Blunt in Warsaw by a Polish promoter. The offer was very much out of the blue but it made us realise that we must be doing something right! It was a great opportunity and we rose to the occasion playing in front of 6000 people, selling lots of CDs afterwards and returning the following year to Poland for an 18 date tour!
How have the guys got on joining the band? I bet it was strange at first; Victoria and Luke were already very established, did you go out and actively seek the additional and members. They ‘rock’ let’s go get them or was it some kid of audition?
LUKE: Victoria and I were playing a few acoustic gigs here and there as a duo and we felt that our folky acoustic set didn’t reflect our studio sound, which is more textured and ethereal. I posted on Facebook asking if there were any drummers or multi-instrumentalists who would be interested in joining Gypsyfingers and Pat Kenneally replied saying that he plays drums and keys sometimes at the same time, which we thought would be perfect! I had met Pat on a recording session previously so I knew he was a talented musician and that we would get on so we went to see him playing with another band so Victoria could see and meet him. We had a rehearsal and it just worked Pat has been an integral part of the band and a great friend ever since. Finding a bass player was more tricky! We had three bass players before we found Simon Hedges, who used to be in a great grunge band in Bristol called Airbus. Simon hadn’t played bass for 15 years since he left Airbus but we were having a beer telling him about how our bassist had spontaneously combusted (by suddenly moving to Japan) and he piped up with “I play bass!” and he was the perfect fit. He is currently working in Brussels for the BBC so we have our fifth bass player Tali Trow playing for us currently, who is also a real asset to Gypsyfingers bringing an extra layer of vocal harmonies with him.
Is there anything that you actually suck at?
LUKE: Probably lots of things! Being vegetarians we are all terrible meat eaters but I think that is a good thing.
You all seem super talented and can all play multiple instruments and Victoria can even sing while playing everything! Who is who in the band?
VICTORIA: We can all play a bit of everything! Our arrangements vary according to which song we are playing. Pat plays drums, piano, keys and he sometimes sings backing vocals as well. Luke plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar and sings, mostly backing vocals but sometimes lead.
LUKE: Victoria is the lead singer and she plays piano, acoustic guitar and french horn. Tali plays bass and sings backing vocals.
Who is the funny one, who keeps you going when things get a bit serious?
LUKE: Definitely Pat.
I really like the preview of the new single ‘Half World’, can I ask who wrote it and what is it about?
VICTORIA: Thanks so much! I wrote the original demo when I was playing around with guitar and came up the opening riff – the song just came naturally from there. The lyrics were inspired by recent stories about migrants. People and families forced to make the decision to flee their homes, the painful journey, inspired to survive by the hope of a better life. I have no idea whats that’s really like, I can only imagine. The song title Half World and lyric “my worlds been halved” illustrates the sense of loosing almost everything you knew and dreamed about… including loved ones. It was great taking this song from my demo to the band and then recording it in the studio. Once we played it through as a band on tour the form really took shape and that rocky guitar solo outro emerged. I think the song demands it, and its a lovely contrast to the breakdown vocal section. The march like drum rhythm is symbolic of marching footsteps, and the momentum of the song reflects the long relentless and arduous journey. Luke’s production and direction really helped to bring that to life, and adding the mellotron was fun too!
What are you looking forward most to the Isle of Wight festival or Hyde Park and why?
VICTORIA: I can’t choose… both are amazing festivals and well known to us, and we are incredibly lucky and honoured to be taking part in both!!
LUKE: They will both be great but Isle of Wight maybe has the edge for me because of its history and also we might get to stay on and check the festival out.
You guys are set for a very busy year any holiday plans or is it all just work, work, work at the moment and where would you go if you had the time?
VICTORIA: We are super busy at the moment, and love every second of it but we realise its important to step away sometimes, take a break and come back to projects with a fresh pair of ears to make sure you are doing good work. Getting out of the studio is essential but holidays and breaks are always spontaneous. I hate making plans in advance as I often find it heart-wrenching having to leave my instruments behind. I’d love to travel round Iceland for a month or two, maybe convert a bus into a little studio and just travel and record along the way… and then carry on driving round the whole wide world for a few years!
GYPSYFINGERS – UK TOUR APRIL / MAY 2018
26/4/2018 Manchester @ The Peer Hat: BUY TICKETS
27/4/2018 Edinburgh @ The Voodoo Rooms: BUY TICKETS
28/4/2018 Glasgow @ The Hug & Pint: BUY TICKETS
29/4/2018 Durham @ Old Cinema Laundrette: BUY TICKETS
4/5/2018 Birmingham @ The Cuban Embassy: BUY TICKETS
5/5/2018 London @ Sebright Arms: BUY TICKETS