Chichester’s Smoke Fairies are back in their home city for the new Festival of Chichester.
“We are doing it as a duo, which is something we have not done for a long time,” says Jessica Davies who first started singing with Katherine Blamire when they were at Chichester’s Bishop Luffa School.
“We normally tour with our band on the road, but we are stripping it back, which will allow the old-style Smoke Fairies to creep through!”
The pair are currently working on their third album, a follow-up to their 2010 debut Through Low Light And Trees and Blood Speaks two years later.
“We have just finished the first half of the album, and we will be going back to do the second half in July. We have just been writing lots of songs. Hopefully it will come out in January. It’s a long time, which is quite frustrating, but things need to be mastered and you need to get the artwork done. And apparently January is a good time to release an album. It’s a good lead-up to the festivals, and people are over Christmas and want something to occupy themselves with!”
The girls haven’t got a title yet: “We are just waiting to see how it turns out. Naming an album can be quite tricky. I guess it is the first thing that people see, and the title can be quite indicative of the album. For the first album, Through Low Light And Trees was a line from a song, and we thought it was a very atmospheric description that captured what was on the album. Blood Speaks was the title of one of the songs on the album and was quite punchy and felt right as the title.
“The first album was 2010. We had done singles and EPs before.
“That was the first time we had gone into the studio and sat down and recorded an album properly. It takes time to find your sound and be confident and put everything together on as album. Bands start off with singles and EPs –and then an album once they get more relaxed in the studio.
“By the time we got into the studio with Through Low Light And Trees, we were pretty satisfied with what we were doing.
“But we are doing the latest album in a pretty different way. For the first one, everything was planned; we had rehearsed everything. But with this album, we are a bit more disorganised which has left room for a bit more creativity. It has left more room for ‘Now what am I going to do?’ whereas with the first one, it was more ‘This is what I want to do by the end of the day.’”
The sound is still developing: “We don’t really identify with any one genre. Our first album was very blues, very acoustic, but we have not really played acoustic guitars for about four years now. It is moving on all the time.”
Jessica and Katherine have known each other since they were 11: “We started singing when we were 12 or 13. We were not called Smoke Fairies, but we were definitely singing together as a duo and formulating harmonies and writing songs – though what we were writing then was maybe a bit strange!”
They became Smoke Fairies in around 2000: “We were driving around Chichester. We had just learnt to drive and we were going down the country roads. It gets misty on those country roads, and Katherine said ‘The smoke fairies are out tonight!’ We just thought that it was an interesting image.”
For the Festival of Chichester, they play St John’s Chapel on July 9 at 8pm. Tickets on www.festivalofchichester.co.uk.