Episode 1 - Rachel Elliott Transcript

Episode 1 - Rachel Elliott: The English Folk Dance and Song Society and youth involvement in the folk scene

[This is an edited auto-transcript of the podcast. Although we have tried to make sure it is all accurate be aware that there may be occasional errors in the transcript.]


Welcome to this podcast about participation and access to folk singing in England. My name is Joanie Bones and my name is Oliver Cross. I am primarily a folk musician these days. I play harmonica and Hurdy Gurdy But I also sometimes bring electronic instruments into my practice. I am disabled, and I'm also neurodivergent. And so, increasing access to music, and especially to folk music, not just for disabled people, but for all people is a pretty heavily vested interest of mine. 

I'm Joanie bones, I'm a singer. I sing unaccompanied folk song in the traditional style but I use experimental percussion. I use a loop pedal, and my performances are very performative with a lot of storytelling and people joining in. My mother is from Iran. My father is Jewish and I grew up in London. I recently realised that I too am neurodivergent and I am queer. So again, I'm not exactly your stereotypical folky and have a real deep-seated interest in trying to engage as many people as possible from as many backgrounds in this art form that I truly love. 

We are doing this as part of the Access Folk research project, which investigates ways to increase participation and Diversity in Folk singing in England. The project has just released a first report about the barriers people experience in, getting involved in folk singing, and this podcast will explore this further through interviews with some interesting people in the folk scene. If you want to look at the report yourself, you can download it for free on the project website. The link is in the podcast description.


For this episode. I interviewed Rachel Elliott, the trailblazing education director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, the national organisation for folk music in England. I asked her about the involvement of young people in folk music in England today.


So the first thing I'm going to ask you is the simplest question of all, who are you? And what do you do?


My name is Rachel Elliot and I am the education director at the English Folk Dance and Song Society,


Wonderful and can you tell me more about sort of what your job entails within that?


Yes, it entails a lot of things essentially, I've got overall responsibility of the English Folk Dance and Song Society's learning program, which includes the National Youth folk Ensemble, it includes lots of activities at Cecil Sharp House, our choir, our adult learning, it includes London youth  folk ensemble. Our Inclusive Folk program for learning disabled young people, the Folk Education Network, which is a national network of folk educators that runs events around the country. Our dance development activities, producing learning resources, working with schools, working with music hubs, running all kinds of creative projects and essentially that is it, and advocating for folk music and dance, in particular within learning and participation


Your current practice and your work connects a lot with young people, and communities of young people. What sort of barriers and challenges frequently come up with the young people you're working with? Is it actually accessing folk music, whether it's song or dance or instrumental?


Yeah, I think the the main barriers are probably with the young people that were not working with. Which is obviously the absolutely vast bulk of the population. So say the barriers for most young people is , they don't know what folk song is they've never been exposed to it; and they don't have good access points for it; or they'll have very, to be honest, negative views of what it might be, you know, "folk, that old stuff that we're not really interested in", so it's attitudinal barriers. I would say. Yeah. So obviously we've done a lot of work with our online Resource Bank and we have an incredible range of really high-quality folk song resources for different ages of young people and sectors of education, including disabled young people and those in SEND school settings. So we're trying to sort of make high-quality inspiring, engaging relevant resources available and then, you know, deliver projects where we can. The biggest project we were able to deliver was the full English back in 2012, 2014, which was quite a large scale project. So, and it's working in partnership. So, we've worked with the Model Music Curriculum, we worked with the ABRSM with their new online classroom 200 resource. So, we really try to work with sort of bigger partners that have a wider reach in terms of reaching educators and young people. So think. Yeah. The way to summarize, it's lack of knowledge, lack of exposure and it's also prejudice.


I suppose this next question is kind of putting you on the spot a bit .


That's fine.


I hope it is not too much, but what would you sort of say, so certainly within the sort of circles you work in, what do you say the current state of progress is in making folk more accessible? And what do you think is the sort of next steps on the path?


I think there's a lot more to be done. I think there's some really good work going on in different places. If we're talking about young people, if we're talking about more broadly, then I think the growth of the community choir movement is fantastic, and it has a really important part to play in all this because there are more and more Community choirs and, you know, some of them are singing more English, let's call it that repertoire. I mean, our own choir is a, we feel ,is really important part of that. So Cecil Sharp House Choir, you know, for example, they're going to be performing in Trafalgar Square at the Feast of Saint George. They have a really Innovative sound. They've got a very highly skilled choir leader. I think this is important. I think the people leading this need to be really good at what they're doing. So, we're fortunate with Rose Martin. She's a brilliant choir leader, she's selecting an interesting repertoire and thinking about that, and how its framed, and how its presented. So, it's quite a big deal for us to be able to do that. And then they'll also be performing at a Young a free outdoor Festival in Kings Cross in the summer. So we're trying very much to sort of Reach people who are not already involved in folk. Much as it's very fun, singing at folk festivals and it's very gratifying and our choir love it, It's basically reaching people who already love folk so it's not really helped move it forward as much. So, we're very keen as much as we can to get as high profile as we can performing in non folk setting. So, we're reaching a wider range of people to try to draw them in


As you have the National Youth folk Ensemble, would you say that there's, for instance, a call for something along the lines of a National Folk Choir?


Possibly. I think, what you need to know is that when we were setting up the National Youth Folk Ensemble, we did a really careful consultation exercise. So we put a lot of energy into asking the sector what they thought and that report is on our website and the whole mapping exercise that we did. I think yeah, we need to think about that but then also equally we were able to start the National Youth Folk Ensemble because there already were instrumental groups in existence like Folkestra and the Fosbrooks  and so on, and we just spoke to them. So we were able to build on an infrastructure or an ecology that was already there. Whereas I don't see that with folk singing. Having said that there are lots of youth choirs and some of it they will sing is folk repertoire.


So, would you say then the sort of call for creating the atmosphere of folk song sessions, but more catered towards young demographic, sort of family groups instead?


Yeah possibly, I mean I personally would like to run some really exciting projects using folk song and with other genres and in partnership with other organizations and really do some Innovative stuff. I just don't have the resources to do it, but that's what I'd like to do. I'd like to, kind of, explore some models of how this could work because I think, yeah, it's sort of R&D [Research and Development] in a way and approach it, very creatively. Obviously, you know, one of the reasons we start the Inclusive Folk project is because we all know there are barriers to Folk for disabled people and particularly learning disabled young people and those with complex needs. Absolutely. So that, you know, We're very glad that we've done that and it's really flourishing and we want to build and we want to do more of that work. That's, that's really important to us and yeah, like I said, I would love to do more creative folk song projects with the Resource Bank and we did a great project in Essex, and that was commissioned by Essex Music Education Hub, and we worked in schools across Essex and it was a really creative and exciting project and, you know, we created great resources for them to now use within their county. So I'd like to do a lot more of that and it is resource dependent. So that's the other, obviously part of my job is contributing to getting the resources to do these things and it has to be said, it's getting harder and harder to achieve funding. Because funders are not particularly interested in any genre, they don't really care, what they care about is the sort of social outcomes or, you know, and particularly focusing on people in need in some way or people in challenging circumstances. So you know, that's an interesting thing for people in folk to think about, you'll be rare to find a funder who's actually particularly cares about what.. well there aren't any that care about folk, particularly they don't necessarily care about any genre of music. It's what that music is going to do for the participants, how it's going to help their lives. That's the way sort of kind of funding has definitely moved. You know, as our society becomes more unequal, then charitable funders are looking to plug those gaps in different ways. And if folk can fit into that and I think it can,  that's a wonderful thing about folk singing. It's about telling people stories, and it can give voice and creative folk [song] writing is a fantastic vehicle for young people to express themselves. So that's the kind of thing. I personally would like to be able to do a lot more of. So yeah, there we go. I think that's it's been a pleasure to talk to you Oliver.




That was so interesting.


It was


It sounds as like, she's done so much work across so many platforms to really try and get folk songs to be taken up more widely. And yet to hear of the struggles even within the institutions.




That we think of, that I thought of like "oh they have like big pots of money and they can they like..." no, it's not the case. It's a struggle.


I think the first thing I latched on to, probably because of my work in sort of music education, is the idea of funding and how the shift has gone from a focus on Excellence or the sort of idea of Excellence, to actually the benefit and effect that it has from the social point of view. And for the community point of view, especially when the focus for funding is moving towards inclusion and making Society more equal. I think that's a very interesting thing and I think that ties in quite a bit to some of the other issues that we'll be discussing it later episodes. For instance, the fact that in a lot of folk ensembles. Are you get people from those specific demographics? For instance, you have some folks ensembles which are very much white middle-class already, a family background in folk music. There's not really a lot of diversity in there. From what I can tell. what's, what are your thoughts of this sort of thinking?


I mean, I also was really struck by what she said about funding because I think I had in my mind this idea or belief that the English Folk Dance and Song Society themselves were a funder, now of course they do get out funds but I had  not made, hadn't understood that actually, they have to receive it from somewhere else first, and I was really struck, like, by this understanding that, "oh, there's nobody out there, specifically caring for folk music in England". And that's quite a thing. I think to sit without, like no one's out there is kind of really, kind of, supporting and thinking like, "we have a remit to make sure that this genre of music, which is, you know, traditional in this land is supported". Yeah I  feel quite sad actually about that.


It's definitely an interesting subject to discuss. And I'm not sure entirely how I feel about it myself. It is very interesting what she said about yeah, the very foundation for a lots of this education, a continuation of particularly the traditional folk song being in singing groups, especially how, you know, a few generations ago. It was you know part of the education system to have various folk songs actually sung and taught to Children. The older people the older generations in folk groups, and singing groups will have grown-up singing. A lot of these folk songs because they were part of what they learned as kids, you had some books newspapers, you had the teaching of singing in schools and indeed, there is still a little of that today, but I think I find it very interesting that the responsibility for carrying this tradition is now with these groups rather than you know, education system


Yeah, I mean, my dad talks about the National Song Book, and I remember years ago, I actually managed to find a copy of it on eBay, the Nationals Song Book, which all kids in England had, and I was at folk club last night in London and actually one of the songs, the group sang they introduced the saying, every, it was a Scottish woman. She said, "everyone in this audience who is English , will know this song", I didn't know it. I had to be taught it, "of a certain age" because, you know, we didn't have that in Scotland. So it's a really good point. The National Song Book and the fact that there are all these young people, like she said, I really struck me, she talks about lack of knowledge, lack of exposure and prejudice and it reminded me of two things. One is, about a month or two ago Eliza Carthy was on the radio. She said something, she said, you know, as far as she's concerned access to folk music is all about, just making sure people have exposure and she said in her experience, there's no one once you stick them in front of a folk band, they don't like it. And I had to think to myself. "You know what Eliza I wish that were the case" because I was remembering a couple of years ago, I have three very musical nieces and nephews, they've, grown up and, you know, in the kind of yeah, they're very musical and had access to a lot of music education. And I sang them one of my favourite songs. Do you know the song? The King of Rome


I do know the King of Rome


The one about the pigeon?


I do. I live in Lancashire. I cannot not know something about pigeons.


Oh well, and isn't it a fine song? I'd like to know some other songs about the pigeons, please tell me all of that. But this is the only song about pigeons. I know the King of Rome and about a carrier, a racing pigeon. And I sang it to my niece's thinking, you know, they will be so moved by this extraordinary moving story of the love between a man and his pigeon. And at the end, the eldest knees, she just burst out laughing and, you know, I was a bit mortified but I got over that. And when I sat with myself and I thought, what's going on here? Why is she, why is she laughing at this song? I realised she will have no experience of such a subject matter as being kind of subject matter for a song. You know, the story song that we are so familiar with in the folk tradition for all those young people and older people who aren't familiar with it. It's pretty weird to start with. It's not what then what they used to. So, I think her point about exposure to folk song, different to folk music because she makes an interesting point about, you know, there seems to be a lot of much more uptake of instrumental folk music, but you know we are interested in hearing how we get these songs out there. And yeah, I was just really, you know, it was interesting to realize that folk songs, the way songs are presented and carried the, you know, the ballads without a chorus. I remember singing a song recently to a pal that she was like, "oh, it'd be much better if you stuck a chorus in it".


I think is quite interesting what you said about your nieces, because I think there's that kind of ties in with my experience a little bit because I first heard that song when I was quite young and for me it had a sort of family connection because my, my my granddad actually used to keep pigeons when he was younger, long before I was born, but he used to keep it when keep it just when he was younger and it was very much I think that was more commonly done particularly in the north. So I think it's quite interesting because you've also got this thing about songs and subject matter. You know the majority of almost all of the folk songs that we have you know the the latest that we have for a lot of them are, you know, late 19th century early 20th century and so there's a sort of cultural background to those songs as well, that I think would be lost on younger people.


I'm aware there in terms of young people and folk music. What are we talking about young? Because when I go to a folk club in London, which is a City full of young people, millions of them literally, I'm often the youngest person there and I am 43, but you know going back to Rachel's interview when she's talking about the community choirs, the club I found in London with the youngest attendance, is actually associated to a choir. So there's a choir called the Morris Folk Choir and they run a monthly folk club and it has by far the youngest attendance of people of any folk club I have been to and also, I have noticed that the clubs were the younger attendees seem to be run by younger people as well. And when I say young and I am talking about people kind of in their forties and because I know when I was in my early twenties and I was wanting to get into folk singing and I came to London at that point and I went, I got really excited and I went to these folk clubs and I was quite stunned and saddened by to discover that there were mostly people in their sixties then, they're a lot older now. And, and it is the same now. And at that point, I think, if you haven't been to, you know, some people, they go to college and they said they go to UNI and they do. It felt good degree and so, they're really network there. But if you're actually just someone who wants to do folk singing because you love folk singing and you're younger than let's say, 60, it's very easy and not to mention all the other barriers that you've already mentioned. And that we're going to talk about a lot more in detail in the other episodes.


It's hard to kind of find a place that one feels comfortable. You know.


It is a sad situation in that we are slowly seeing the numbers of people and folk groups decline, of course, because of that sort of aging population. And if if we can manage to remove some of the other barriers on the sort of intersection or level with folk music then hopefully with a wider sort of range of musicians out there and a wider range of groups out of people doing folk music out there. It's my hope that more young people will be able to get in there because folk music, sadly institutionally can be so exclusive. You know, it's hard to get other adults into folk music, let alone young people I suppose.


And I was encouraged by, we were both at this really great Symposium recently in Sheffield as part of this project and there were a fair number of youngish people and they were, they were pretty cool. And then I have to say, you know, folk music, at least in the last few decades hasn't necessarily been associated with being pretty good, like cool and hip in terms of even what people look like. These things do matter, don't they? And it was great to see people like Maddie Morris and George Sansom and people who they just look really cool, you know . It's alright for Eliza Carthy because you know she's got her blue hair and she looks really Punky. But in a way I think you know with her lineage you could probably get away with anything if you're if you're if you're trying to become established in something, I think for a long time the folk scene or the folk singers that make it you know the women all  have... This is my impression as a kind of you know dark-haired low-voiced Londoner, ... like the women all seem to have long hair and these high nice voices, and a bit of me, just goes like "uugh,  where's like, where's the grit? Where's the grooviness?" And so, yeah, I do feel like there is some people coming into it now, who are really darn cool  and I have to say that I'm excited by that.


Yeah, I agree.


This podcast was presented by Oliver Cross and Joanie Bones and produced by Esbjorn Wettermark and Rowan Piggott. It was funded as part of the Access Folk research project at the University of Sheffield with additional funding from the University's Public Engagement Development Fund.

Episode 2 - John Kelly Transcript

[This is an edited auto-transcript of the podcast. Although we have tried to make sure it is all accurate be aware that there may be occasional errors in the transcript.]

Podcast episode 2

Transcript • 2023-05-31 14:58:16 +0100


Welcome to this podcast about participation and access to focusing in England. My name is Joanie bones. And in this episode all of us speaks to John Kelly, a disabled musician and Disability Rights activists Oliver. You were really Keen to speak to John what was it about him that you were so Keen to have his voice on the show and disabled musician myself, I have worked


In disability Arts Community for a number of years now. And I've been fortunate to work with John for a number of years now. And when it comes to experience of being disabled Within the Music Industry, there are few people who have as much experience as job for issues surrounding access attitude. And the social model John is actually a very knowledgeable person when it comes to disability studies especially when it comes to music and the


The Arts. He has produced a degree course for the social model of disability, which is one of our founding theories for disability studies for the most part. And he's also just a really good person to talk to on the subject of music and musicality, not just as a musician in general. But also as a folk musician, particularly, with his London, Irish heritage great. Well, I'm really looking forward to hearing what you guys talked about.


So, I am joined by musician. John Kelly. Hello. John. How are you? And I all of our. It's great to be here. I'm really well, that's a fantastic to hear. So, let's begin by asking you a simple question. Who are you and what do you do? Simple question. Who are you? They such a complex and deep meaningful question. Who are we are


I'm John Kelly and I'm a musician. Singer-songwriter. Yeah. I live in London, Irish heritage family and I play bespoke instrument which is a guitar named The Kelly Koster. Yeah, that's me. See, it wasn't a tape. I suppose I gave you the superficial answer. Wonderful.


And so, as far as I can tell, you've been at this for a number of years. Yeah. Can can you tell us sort of how you got involved in music and particularly folk music? How I got into music was just natural, I think because we all sang, you know, songs all the time, listening to records and then chin for in the course, then without instruments, she's quite common in Ireland, just vocally and then my school.


Teacher, whose music teacher got me singing in different thing that we should do this. Like thing, we visited old people's homes in Kingston where I was at school and they used to get me singing all the Irish stuff and I can do lovely you know, the score my introduction into folk music. Consciously is actually really recent if I'm really honest and it was a bit of a realization that it's what I kind of liked.


It's why I listened to, I'd always listened to stuff. Like three. Funny actually Genoa. I'm Pete Seeger's Little Boxes. Yeah, that song. I listened to it over Christmas and I realized that it was a it was a song that my dad used to sing to me, when I was a kid obviously unconsciously. I had sort of Folk Music. I obviously traditional my life. I didn't consciously come into as a musician and so I got involved with folk Expo and that was probably about


Out best part of 56 years ago, when I sort of realized that some African three ways. One, I liked songs that had an authenticity about them in terms of a story and Truth, something about what's going on in our world or whatever. I didn't realize them but I realize now that I kind of like the tradition of songs that have a longevity and a story to them and they've gone down the road and changed as they go.


All along, I really like that. And the other thing I think drew me to sort of folk in terms of authenticity, is being able to do it in your own voice. I've always liked singers who sing in their own vernacular. So I'm not a purist in terms of just purely into folk. I mean, I was really into my punk and my scar and so singers who sang in a London or an English accent appeal, to me more than English singer who sang in a American accent.


Just give the voice. So it was all those sort of three strands that brought me to folk. Yeah, so it was really long. Answer of big shorter from now on. He was a very, very good answer John. There really is nothing like a song with a history. Yeah but actually those are forth. There was a fourth point and that was kind of realizing that the bit about songs that say narrative, when I started to read about some of the Blues and folk singers, I kind of did like I got 100


Woody Guthrie's autobiographies or biographies on Audible and I just listened to it over and over again. I listen to it about three times because there's so much in it about his view on why it was so important to sing songs about change and songs that had a life. And we're about real things and that sort of cemented for me, that it was. All right, right into folk Expo and saying, because I don't want it to help. I wanted some help with my own career. I wanted to


Take it to a different level. Yeah I thought maybe I don't know if I fit in the folk world but then I was welcomed with open arms it was lovely. Yeah the the world of folk there's a very broad spectrum and you have a little camps but all together. It forms one very interesting, whole that welcomes all sorts of people. Yeah of course being a disabled musician and working for as long as you have a music, can you tell us about that?


Any of the barriers, you might have faced getting involved with music, whether that's just from a general point of view or whether that's specifically from the perspective of the actual world of music and the attitudes in music and in fact, music as well. I suppose, the first barrier was a unconscious barrier that, I just didn't realize had happened to me. And so, I grew up, but I went to segregated school and to a special school.


Where the curriculum wasn't as important as perhaps. It might be another people's education experience, we did do education but it was wrapped up in other things like Physiotherapy and exercise and I didn't realize it for long time, but there was like this big educational theory that was about happiness and education, not just being about turning you out to go out to work but actually enjoy life and be happy and my school kind of had that kind of ethos so in


Anyways, I'd brilliant music teacher because she did teach us lots of songs and actually when I think back lots of older issues particularly very talented at seeing you know, Cockney song. And so I had a big repertoire of Cockney songs but I didn't learn the specifically out read music or I didn't learn anything, you know, education or academic sense around music. So I was all self-taught so I suppose that was quite a barrier to me now.


Like wish I could read or have a bit more musical Theory than I do. Particularly, when I'm jamming with others and I'm trying to explain. No, this bit goes there and it's not as long where it goes, you know. So I don't have that, I'm growing it with my experience, but I'm not as academically musical as I'd like to be technically growing up. I was in sort of punk, bands, and Scar bands, and I didn't have any barriers in terms of meeting other musicians. I was really


Be lucky that I was quite outgoing and I could connect and make friends through music. You know, it was always music that I was able to, you know, non disabled kids might not come and approach me to start with. But then I might ever, I had no particular band t-shirt on us and then I'll and I'll be able to connect and then they could see that actually, although, my body was different, actually had the same interests and passions. So, in that sense, I didn't have any barriers in terms of developing links with music


Actions in fact that's what actually make things stronger for me, I was really lucky that, you know, I've got mates now that I've played with, since I was 14 15, my drummer has been a long-term 8 for over 30 years, we've been playing together. So, in that sense, there have been no barriers that way, but obviously we had the physical access barriers in terms of, you know, I was liked around like a speaker everywhere. Logged into the van and carry around and at the time I


You mind it because it was the only way we get to Gig. If I say, well actually, then you need to accessible. I'm not going to go in there unless it's accessible. We would have never have played never have played. So I suppose there was no sort of barriers. But yeah the folk access report was very interesting because I thought it got the social model in terms of the physical access stuff. But overnight in preparing for this interview, I went through my notes again. I thought the thing that I don't think come across in the report,


it's the stuff that and it's really hard to put your finger on because it's not overt Prejudice or fears, but attitudinal stuff. I don't know if we missed lots of bookings because people didn't want a wheelchair user on the stage or thought it was too hard because they'd never tell you. And over the years, I think attitudinal barriers are paid equally as far as the lack of accessible Studios or spaces, but it's a lot harder to prove because it's like an unconscious thing.


But on the whole, the kind of attitudinal barriers that we experience our kind of very hidden attitudes of fear and actually you're prejudiced, you know. Yeah. Actually that we're not quite as good and people don't say that to your face. I just don't book you because they think you're going to be harder work and you're not. So I think there's something was bit under played in the report because it's harder to prove. Yeah, you know, you kind of easy to understand the physical access stuff, but the attitude will stuff I think.


Is something, I'm conscious of, but it's hard to pin it down and say it was at that moment. Although it was that person that said that, you know what I mean? Yeah, no. I completely understand where you're coming from when you're working and you're on the receiving end of things like, microaggressions, whether they're intentionally lat. Yeah, and you know, as soon as it is challenge, then there's big apologies and we didn't intend, we just didn't think about it. And, of course, as we know that still discrimination,


It's still oppression. It still means that we do experience. He barriers but they're just a little bit more subtle from the conversation we've had so far. I think I hope I'm not consuming by inferring the answer. I do have to ask would you say that your political beliefs inform your songwriting and your musical practice?


Yeah, I go. Yeah, they do. There's no Gail. Yeah. As an artist, my experience of disability and being Irish and you're coming from working-class background, I guess interestingly my most popular song, you know, the ones that people see as protest e or political whatever. But when I did the album as you know we explored a couple of other different fields and different songs and I really like them. And so I write about all sorts of things and was really interesting.


That the whole thing about the folk movement being dominated by the left socialist thing. And then I guess that might have attracted me to it more as a long person because I've got that sort of leaning towards Community belonging, and those sorts of things rather than self quick Get Rich, make money out of it. Kind of artist. Yeah, I think everything we do words, you use a political values and beliefs are about one in a better world, I think, unless you're a nasty person.


Person. Yeah. You know, if you're a nice person you want good things for other people. You want to happiness and you want the world to be nice. My music is definitely, my gigs are about that. Give people a good time, either. Best that can be on stage. Yeah, also not realize, it's probably someone better in the audience and I am. He's all out there. There's many more artists than I was ever aware of, and that's because I've looked of immerse myself in a bit more, and I find a new people everyday, and they're much more talented than I am.


My thing, you know, young people have got a technology that I didn't have, and I'm making amazing sounds with it and I'm always playing catch-up. I mean, I really like it really puts a bit of a tingle down my spine. When you say you've been playing for ages, it's quite a nice feeling to know that I've done that. I've got a story, but I constantly feel like bloody hell. I'm still learning the day. I stop learning about music, it's probably the dad. Give it up. Yes. You know what I mean? I'm always feel a bit of a novice. There's always something. I don't quite know how to


make it work and because of my creativity and because I believe creativity is things like access access is creativity in action. Yes, it's in built in it's in my blood. Yeah.


I've worked with John for a few years now and is fantastic. I as well as just a fantastic musician and activist so it's always good to talk with him about this stuff. So the first thing I want to say is about the social model of disability. It's quite an important idea within the realm of disability studies. So basically the main idea is the disabled person itself is not disabled by their physical condition or neurological condition. They're


By the lack of access that's available within Society. So for instance, if I'm having to use a wheelchair for a particular day, I'm not disabled by the fact that I'm in a wheelchair, I'm disabled by the fact that there isn't a ramp up instead of steps or there isn't a lift I can use or various things like that. This might be relevant is we do know? He speaks though. Again, this is focusing on the physical side of accessibility and of course, where he so eloquently talks about


it is the attitudinal barriers. He does mention in a bit of the interview that wasn't included about just how the classic folk venues above a pub downstairs in the cellar. They're quite classically inaccessible actually. Yes, that that was well, the police I was gonna make the, the sort of another one of the big barriers sort of, in disability on making music is the venue's themselves. Because like you said, you've got the Pub's, you've got your clubs, you've got your basement bars, there's no real access ability, and a lot of venues


Part of the larger, more expensive venues, you know, I've been to maybe two or three venues that I would find completely accessible for me. When I'm at my lowest level of mobility and the majority of those have been Opera Halls, basically modern built Opera Houses and they're not the sort of venues that we're going to be usually performing in as Folk artists. I would say you made a really interesting point about accesses creativity and that's something I really


Remember from when I worked myself with a disabled man, and he was so creative and he said that all disabled activists are inherently creative because they've had to overcome barriers one thing. It's making me think I think in common with our other guests on the podcast. It's you know, when someone has to face something that other people don't have to face. It was one way to say I'm saying it's creativity, but it's also takes up energy, doesn't. It's like we have to


Think about and address issues that other people just don't need to and it probably along the way an awful lot of people turn away or a discouraged because of that additional effort that's needed. But yeah, it's interesting. What you were saying about your people being worried about the effort either because of course you have to provide access. Now it's being written into the law slowly and against a lot of resistance, but it is slowly going into the law. And, of course,


As John said, what is finding is that a lot of people are actually just not looking in, because they're worried about the effort that would have to expend providing access, but it's really not that hard at all once you get to it. And, of course, they'd ever tell you why, they just don't book you. So a lot of the barriers are there even before you get to the venue. Yeah. And I feel like we should talk about, you know, attitude on this stuff because of the fact that John really mentions that's what's not talked about so much.


Ouch, but that point you just said about the not booking you I was talking to a singer up an atom by the other day and she's doing some really right on women. He's songs and she said, they're not getting booked again. And people are saying things like you sang Out Of Tune. It's like no, she didn't sing afternoon. She's singing about subjects that the venues are finding uncomfortable. So, you know, The Gatekeepers of the venue's is important and the report talks about that and it also talks about information and thinking about, you know, how important


It is that venues give clear information about the access in your experience. The venue's generally give good information about like there are steps or that kind of thing or not, it's a proper mix. As to the information we get about a venues access. Sometimes you have really good information. Sometimes we have little to no information and so when we get there where you have to deal with things like extra steps that


Proper facilities. Sometimes the smaller you go with a venue, the more difficult, it can actually be to actually gain information on how accessible things are going to be. So while the things I wanted to touch on is that job did say he had read the axis folk report and what are the things that he did say, is that he thought that the report could have been more intersectional in its findings and it's assessments.


And I think, especially in this Covenant economic and socio-political climate, you are a lot more likely to have various things crossover. If you're disabled like with a lot of minorities, you're more likely to experience poverty. You're definitely more likely to experience issues with health and of course with John in particular there is a crossover with various identities because he not only mentioned that he was working class, but he also bench


That, you know, he's London Irish. So his family is Irish. And so, I think that also has had an impact on sort of how he got into music as well, because of that sort of musical tradition that comes from Island. You mentioned earlier Journey, that that was a point. I did when yeah, Oliver when we were listening, I was just really struck when he introduced himself. He says you know, he got


Got into music because his family sang and he talked about, you know, in Ireland, there's this tradition of just singing, no instruments needed and it actually made me remember. So in the Years between me, giving up wanting to be a singer and coming back to it decades later. I worked a lot with pregnant women and young families and Oliver, it kind of broke my heart there in all that time. I heard a woman sing a lullaby to her baby once.


And I just realized that that singing together, you know, we have all these wonderful things, we can press play and play these music to our little ones. But but I know for me it was my parents singing me lullabies that actually kind of inculcated me. It was like you, I've heard the word transmission, it's like a transmission into singing and into song.


And In some cultures that still really living in other cultures, and with the technology, it's it's maybe, you know, becoming way Lester.


So, thanks for listening to our podcast today. Next episode, I speak to Marie Bashiru. Ooh, an ethnomusicologist and musician who has a research project out there called British folk music where are all the black people, which is an amazing podcast in itself and a forthcoming paper. So really look forward to speaking to her and hope you can join us then.


This podcast was presented by Oliver cross and Joni bones and produced by a Esbjorn Wettermark and Rowan Piggott, it was funded. As part of the access folk research project at the University of Sheffield with additional funding from the University's public engagement Development Fund.

Episode 3 - Marie Bashiru Transcript

[This is an edited auto-transcript of the podcast. Although we have tried to make sure it is all accurate be aware that there may be occasional errors in the transcript.]

Podcast Episode 3

Transcript • 2023-05-31 15:23:21 +0100


Welcome to this podcast about participation and access to folk singing in England. My name is Joanie bones, and my name is all the cross. And in this episode, I talk to Marie Bashiru. Area is a musician who herself makes music. That's a Melting Pot of Folk, Soul, and indie rock. But she's also an ethnomusicologist and has done research leading to a podcast.


Cast called, where are all the black people about the blackface Minstrel. See, and its enduring influence on British folk music and talk to Marie about representation about her vision, for the future of Folk Music in England and a bunch of other fascinating things to do.


I'd love to start by simply asking you about your musical background and how you got interested in. British folk music. Yeah, thank you for having me. But it's really lovely to sit down and talk to you on this subject matter because as you know, I have talked a lot about it to other people in written form in the podcasts. Yeah. And it's in


Sing because I think my first relationship with folk music was definitely a subconscious relationship through my upbringing in the UK in England and London specifically. Definitely first associations were folk music would be Nigerian folk music? My family of Nigerian Heritage. So I grew up listening to Nigerian folk in my house often on Sunday mornings. And my mom was not working and, you know, be at home doing the housework and, and at parties and just the part of, you know, just the kind of cultural


Fabric of our lives and then growing up. Definitely not not having a relationship with English folk music in terms of tread folk, but I think more so contemporary folk kind of singer-songwriter acoustic sort of iterations of it. And I think, for me, it was probably one of the more helpful vehicles to tell stories versus I think my other love sort of like, you know, I'm being parp and unpopular, you know, is of course, a really great vehicle for storytelling. Right? But


But it not being so much about the performance but more very much about the storytelling, which is what folk music for me was. And then yeah went to UNI studied folk music. I did music at goldsmiths in London and Southeast London did a bit of Folk Music study there and then fast forward. However many years. I remember not being super excited, about studying folk music and uni English folk music because I didn't have any real kind of connection to it you know in terms of the kind of traditional and The Roots Focus


They will give it like lofty reading material like electric. Eden, was actually the first book that we weren't, you know, was on the reading list by Robert Young. And I remember buying that book buying a brand-new, never reading a page of that book and then and then ended up probably giving it away to charity. And irony, was that fast forward have many years. That was the first book that I went to. When I started my research with the English dance and folk song society and I was just like, wow, that's this is such a full circle moment, the very


Thing that I kind of was repelled is a very thing that I'm now being drawn back to without the same reluctance and actually within it a passion in it. And a real curiosity for what I do not know, it was really has a lot to say about my own story and you know the story of the people who come before me. Yeah. On the, on the British, I was particularly within the medium of Folk Music, which is such a cultural foundation. For the way we understand our past present, potentially our future. You're here. Younger kind of


Artists say things like, oh, you know, we need to have equal representation. So for example, as many women as men, all right, like we need to have all the genders represented but at the same time but the same what to say, but we don't want to just be included because we're a tick box, exercise, what are your thoughts about that? Like about the importance of representation of people of different ethnicities. And then there's like, oh, but we want to be there for art, not for what we represent. I think intention behind everything is


Is really what defines primarily like the action. And so if you do have a well-informed, you know, intention and approach to leveling the playing field, then, of course, do what you need to do and do it. Well and of course, is always going to be to some extent a tick box exercise because that's what's needed. We need to be able to tick the boxes. You know figuratively to be able to say we're doing the work. Well, we're doing it as it should be done.


We're doing it to the best of our ability and this is how we're measuring the work, right? It needs to be, if there's a goal and he's been measured measurable. Otherwise, how do we know we're meeting the standards that we're selling for ourselves? I think it's so funny. The conversations about representation that we hear a lot more of now that we're having more of because it really is kind of like, well, duh, of course, people want to see themselves, you know, reflected in what they watch and what they hear. And, you know, in media and entertainment like of


Is because we want to feel like we can relate to the people that we are enjoying, the people who we are connecting with in some sort of way. Whether it's their story, whether it's Talent, we want to be able to fill up when we can connect to that relate to it. And identity plays, a big part in that particularly with folk music, it's like there's a reason why don't see many black practitioners and folk music. There's a reason why you don't see many from about British here because you know it's different different parts of the world. Obviously there's a reason why you don't see British


Indians and British folk music, English folk music. There's a reason why you don't see Pakistani Bengali. There's a reason why it's very strictly white with dominantly white because there's no representation. There hasn't been there hasn't been that diversity of stories within the English folk Hannon that no doubt existed representation is like for me it's a kind of like der but at the same time it's like actually wait hold on like yeah it really does matter because if I don't see people that look like me doing something, I'm also going to think well


Well, you know, I don't belong in that space. What place do I have? They're not necessarily like for me I'm a little bit of an oddball word. Tend to go in spaces when it's like me. Like I've like know why can't I do that thing? Like I think I can do that. You know. I think I can do that thing. I think I would like to change things here because I feel like we should all have access to the joy of music, every form of music, you know, the joy of every type of like Lesley activity and Recreation, like it shouldn't be reserved for a group of


People who have been historically privileged to enjoy it. I think it's free for all but most people, you know, I'm including the nurse to representation, absolutely has a profound impact on us in the way in which we engage, with certain things and certain industries. And yeah, I think it's a very important conversation to have the folk Community is known for how welcoming and you know, it's very community-focused like it's looks community-oriented way, everyone's welcome, you know, if you love folk music, you're in, but


But the reality is when you belong to a group of people who aren't seen very often, there's this kind of experience that we have where we're not treated like relics, but we're treated like artifacts was like, they don't understand us and we're so other did culturally societally? Was that the way that often? Why English, people example, white people who don't have a lot of affiliation with Fina other races or ethnicities, the way that they will interact with you as if


It says if you are not like them and that there's something about you that they're never going to quite grasp and it's almost like you're some sort of vessel of like other nurse that they need to try and learn from. But because you're so other your to be enjoyed like from a distance and observed, I can artifact in a way and I know it sounds really strong and that's not to say that that's something that everyone experiences. But it's this kind of idea that because


Of the way in which you kind of been canonized in the sense that you're always experience from a distance and so it never allows you to fully connect with the people that are literally a right there in your immediate proximity. For example within like English folk music can be a KV for example and you could be the only black person there and can't speak for every Kaylee. I've observed K. There's never really participated in one myself. Yet I'd love to but you know you are going to get especially like you know the older generation I would say


Maybe not so much younger generation like gen Z and maybe like, you know, early Millennials you are going to get this. Oh, we've never experienced you here before. You know, we want to experience you in a sense where you're not really relatable because you've really been quite other dude. You've really been quite distant. They're not seeing you as the human who you are. They're seeing you is a representation of something. Yeah. Yeah you do feel a little bit. Like I love being here like


I see myself having belonging and I thought a sense of home making this music because it makes sense. This is you know, the British Isles has been my home, you know, has been my family's home but at the same time that feeling of home still comes with a bit of a condition. You know, a condition of you're never going to really four hundred percent at home because of the fact that people don't always see you belonging as the same way that they do. Yeah, you know, Angeline Morrison in your podcast because you do it in.


to view various musicians and different ethnic backgrounds in your podcast, various folk musicians and she talks about exactly that that conversation is so important and I realized in conversation with some as you know ethnically British white folk musicians that I had been carrying this assumption that all these white people out there, built feel, this sense of belonging that me with my next racial Heritage and not a drop of British blood in the don't, and it's only in starting these conversations with people of


British ethnic Origins have I started to realize that the, it's not necessarily the case, I was talking to Sam and James Gillespie. Wonderful musicians and the brothers, Gillespie. I don't know if, you know them, they're from northumbria. I like a Heartland of English folk and they sing these songs like rooted in the land and I had an assumption. So they must feel this this it in like this this belonging, you know, just in their bones and was only until he came to them, but they said actually,


Absolutely don't feel like you belong here and they told me about, you know, their fractured letting you know, their history, you know, they would from, you know, the gallic parts of Scotland and other parts of England and I thought. Oh, so I've been assuming something that doesn't necessarily exist and actually this suddenly opened myself up to this realization that identity in Britain is fractured and complex, been actually nearly everybody. And so I realized that in a way, maybe what I needed to do was to decolonize my own.


Own mind. I love that phrase, decolonize your mind decolonize, my own mind, about kind of identity, and ethnicity and race. And I wonder what your affections are about that. I think, I think that it's really, really beautiful and it's necessary, you know, when I think about even just the Black Mountain photo in Appalachian Mountains, America and you know how these are descendants. So, even the ones that originally came that were transported by the transatlantic slave trade and you know, characteristically, you always


Where these slave groups landed music was a very vital method to be able to reconcile them being taken from the physical place of home or belonging to a, you know, a foreign land where they had to create a new relationship where one way or the other, there needs to be a sense of belonging for them to survive and I think belonging is critical to human survival, to be honest. And that's why we create different ways that enable us to be able to


to connect with ourselves with the like immediate surroundings with like, you know identities. I love the idea of that I did this residency with Nest folk Collective a couple of years ago, and we went on this nature immersion Retreat, led by Sam, Lee actually who's a notable figure in the folk scene. Amazing Storyteller musician, educator, and activist and it was incredible, like it was life-changing and the whole point was to bring people who


Haven't really had a relationship, you know, nature with physical surroundings in that sense like the outdoors, you know, and historically, that's people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. People you know from the AME backgrounds and it was just like wow this is how some people live. This is how people move and enjoy like, you know, nature like it was like a whole nother kind of Avenue of expression and self-realization came through that experience and you know we did, right?


You songs and write poems and do like night walks and basically, we were just big kids. Again, I just think for expression, you know, you mentioned that you write songs, you know, through the land, that your songs come through the land, you know, and if you didn't have that, how big of a piece of a puzzle, if not, you know, all of it would be missing if you didn't have that. Conduit, if you didn't have that Foundation, if you didn't have that kind of vehicle to be able to express your identity, your, you know, yourself, your emotions, your feelings, tell your stories, and maybe,


That's what we need to start doing, you know, maybe the way in which we can actually bring and widened the access to folk song is by actually inviting people to be able to connect to their stories, through nature a way in which we haven't been able to access before because I feel like when I don't go out, it's tough with my creativity. And I don't think that's a coincidence. I think being outdoors is like a fundamental ingredient to having that kind of like full expression.


To be able to like really kind of clear that channel of her. This is who I am and these are the stories you know that I have to tell. So so what would your vision of Future Folk for brand? Be English folk, let's say English, we've been kind of using the words English and British. We had a little chat before we hit the record button about this. I said a bit about how they access folk project is about focusing in England, but the you in your podcast had called it British folk and so I've kind of been maybe using the word British where


I normally these English, but, um, yeah. What was your vision for a future of English? Folk music be given? All you just said, I mean, that's a big question, isn't it really free for really, you know, cycling back to what Angeline Morrison said in the podcast about feeling like Gillis the folk Community being welcoming and like, one of the most welcoming places but still not quite feeling that sense of like home that acceptance on a


Kind of like cellular level. I would want black people to feel like they belong to English. Focus on to the point where we are writing folk songs. We are part of a new generation, New Wave, or new time, even a new Revival of English folk song where we're seeing were visible were being heard through these songs as living here you know as having been here and like being here, because it's like a kind of it's an archive. It's a historical Archive of


Lives of people live and the times of which they were written and historically and you know of course there's a lot of like fictitious and you know, like yeah it's not all it's not always biographical, right? But if we're not contributing to the, you know, the English folk Canon as it is today, then it's another cycle of being forgotten. It's another cycle of being invisible of not being recognized and existing only in these kind of predefined spaces. But for me, it's like the vision would be


B-black, Britain's being able to access all spaces, you know, it's like no kind of prohibitions to really what is a really beautiful art form and Community as well that does actually stretch Beyond writing and singing a song on a guitar. It's like going on a nature immersion retrieve, you know, and experiencing the Stillness of a forest you know, at like 11 p.m. without the fear of, you know, like ax murderer or something like, you know, in the Cotswolds somewhere. And


And being able to roll around in the grass and like be a big kid and just not feel any way about it. Like, why am I doing this? It's like, why am I not doing this? It's that I feel like it extends Beyond just singing songs. I think it's an identity thing. It's how we should be allowed to exist, you know, in the world that we have helped to create, and we want to be seen, having created and being created. And I also like the idea of disturbing folk communities, you know, within like black communities because it's just like, why not? And it


Has to look the way that it and so looks with English folk music and when I say that like it's such a heavily cemented because they ideology and reality, it does feel really out there to imagine it being any other way. When I say English folk scene English folk music. It's really hard for me to picture it being any other way and that's why we have to first envisioned and create something that does look another way. Otherwise it's just not going to change.


Very fascinating and very thought-provoking interview with Marie Bashir and their leaves me very interested and I'm guessing it leaves you with a lot to say Journey. It does be, you know what I want first is to ask


You are about as a White English person. I know you do have a little bit of safari do in your lineage way back and you have some Irish in your ancestry but the kind of things where he's talking about as a white bloke. In England, are these things that you thought about at all? Yes, actually, I've looked a lot at the representation of various minority demographics, within a range of media and it's particularly difficult.


Sometimes to find folk music, particularly folk song as inclusive especially when because of the history of Britain. So many songs revolve around things like you know, the British Empire colonialism various acts, that happened with that, you know, not just in terms of slavery and racism. But also in terms of, for instance, the Jacobite rebellions and imperialism on a more local level but there's definitely


Definitely lots to discuss especially when there are folk songs talking about, you know, historical events, various Heroes within the 18th and 19th centuries. Frequently extolled in many songs, particularly if their Naval or military and that could be difficult to reconcile especially with what we know about some of those Heroes today, including, you know, links to the transatlantic slave trade and various


It's like that there are some deeply racist and xenophobic elements and sometimes that can be hard to reconcile With Your Love of Folk Music. You love of tradition. Yeah, so even for you as well as a white person you are. I know you are a very deep thinker and you think about these new things, a lot in fact, throughout sort of the folk Traditions, not just in folks old by things. Like folk dance, you know, we've got stuff like the bay cup. Coconut has pretty much the last Boris done.


Kissing group in the UK to use black face and they refused to stop using it. And so there are still issues within the folk industry that need to be addressed. Yeah, it's great immense. And the blackface minstrelsy because that is what the heart of Murray's research is all about, and I really recommend anyone who hasn't listened to her podcast. Will leave a link. Please have a listen, it's fascinating. I mean when I was talking to Marie, I guess what I was really.


Interested in was the similarities and differences between expose the experiences of black people that she's talking about and my own experience. So, I am my mother is from Iran. And my father is Jewish and and yeah, I think there are so I think the greatest similarity I would say between what she's talking about. She's also quoting Angeline Morrison. Who last year, brought out this stunning album called sorry.


Songs folk songs are black British experience that I think the greatest joint theme is about belonging belonging as experienced you know, both Angela and myself by the sounds of it. We have a real sense of belonging to the song. I mean I literally remember listening to folk song and my experience was this is my home. Like, literally the word home is what I experienced when listening and singing British folk song.


But then there's the belonging to the scene, the institutions to the to the social side of it and I suppose what's obviously different between some of that Angeline on the res experience and mine as someone who could pass for a white person. I don't know what people see me as you know I'm certainly not black is that I realized that my sense of alienation or difference, I think was possibly mostly internal.


But then there's the belonging to the scene, the institutions to the to the social side of it and I suppose what's obviously different between some of that Angeline on the res experience and mine as someone who could pass for a white person. I don't know what people see me as you know I'm certainly not black is that I realized that my sense of alienation or difference, I think was possibly mostly internal.


Was the first person to be born in the south in my family for pretty much over a century. And so I remember coming back up to Lancashire known to my first couple of folk groups and I remember feeling really unsure if I could sing songs about, like, kosher or from a Lancashire perspective because I was from down south. And instead of localized English culture, there is sort of an idea of a north-south divide as well as divisions among the various County.


He's in Britain and I can just remember being in the folk group. I'm wondering if I could see this stuff because I was in Northern and I know it's not entirely the same, but it's definitely feels like part of the conversation around belonging. Absolutely, I'm quite moved to hear. You say that Oliver because historically I mean I think what I realize now more than ever is that this presentation of a national music, English folk song, it is in many ways, a myth know, historically regions.


Are so important before the car before trains regional identities were so important even languages. So in other parts of the British Isles, we have well, even in within England, of course, there was Cornish. You know, we have different languages spoken within this very country, and it's very easy not to pay that any attention. The more you look into what is English folk song? The More You Realize. Wow, there's so much here, there's so much difference within that genre.


Let's talk a little about Marie's naming of instead of using stuff like English folk song British folk song instead what's behind it. Because of course British folk song is actually broken down into more diverse of national Traditions. You know what? Yeah, it's so interesting. You ask that because I asked Merida and what I gathered from her answer was basically it was to do with this deep sense of discomfort.


That I think is so prevalent around at an English. So really her research, this is my understanding that her research was about, English folk music and English folk song. However, there was a sense of unease around this term and there's just so much there. I think about englishness like you. We said in the last episode, with John Kelly about how there has been a link between nationalism in a right-wing politics and folk music in certain contexts.


And englishness is just so problematic. That is true, it's an interesting balance to strike because is problematic term sort of englishness, but I would also say that there would be a problem particularly, for the people of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to be lumped in as British tradition. Absolutely. Yeah. I agree having lived in Scotland for so many years. What I find really interesting is right to the end Marie says, you know, it's nearly


Impossible to think of English folk song, being taken up by, by black communities, in England. Because there's such an entrenched connection between the kind of white, Colonial, history of, of England, and this music, you know. And she says it's very, very important that we envisage a different future but it is hard. It is hard to think of black people and people from other ethnicities feeling as comfortable and


Of the Saints music. There are some artists at the moment. So you know there's a co-ed Breakaway cure coin, amazing concertina player and singer. He's black. There are some, I guess Role Models out there but still very few Angeline Morrison. Fantastic, fantastic singer. I'm so, so taken by a music, tell me what I found interesting, when I was speaking to friends about this, they didn't get it. And I had this situation when I was talking to some people and some of the institutions in Scotland, his when I was talking,


Talking about people of other ethnicities and races singing folk music. They could only see it through the lens of people of other ethnicities and races bringing their instruments and folk music into British folk song. So we had like the imagined Village project I think was a thing of Billy Bragg and had Tabler and all sorts of different instruments and and to say no no we're talking about black urban kids singing English folk song. I'm Not talkin about black urban kids do.


Doing other kinds of music and like that that they would actually sing English folk song. It seemed like such a strange concept that some people couldn't even get their heads around it. You know, I think I shall ask what I'm gonna bait. I think I'll also point out that the way that colonization of society works is that they create a myth a false narrative or monolithic culture Bell. That's how National identities are often built as the idea of a model hit cop.


You always do variants taba, these sets of things that make somebody definitely part of this group of this culture. But people forget that actually, particularly with Britain with has been quite a diverse place for hundreds of years. Probably more, you know, people have been moving around the world a lot longer than we like to think of our they haven't always been Provident. They have been there and to say that a group of people have no place being part of a culture.


ER, it's just absolutely wrong because if they're a part of our society and that societies culture, inherently shifts and changes. Even if even, if that Society tries to push back for whatever reason, that's still a change in their culture, they just change from being more accepting to more than a phobic. Yeah, and, you know, just to end on this,


Beautiful thing there, he said, which was again not included in the snippet which is and I asked the something like, you know, what do you think, qualifies someone as being able to sing English folk song? Do you know what she said, humanity. And the next episode, we shall be speaking to my key. Kenny a fiddle player


From the Liverpool region, and we will be talking to him about class, disadvantage Regional perspectives and English and Irish folk music.


This podcast was presented by Oliver cross and Joni bones and produced by Esbjorn  Wettermark and Rowan Piggott, it was funded. As part of the access folk research project at the University of Sheffield with additional funding from the University's public engagement Development Fund.

Episode 4 - Mikey Kenney Transcript

[This is an edited auto-transcript of the podcast. Although we have tried to make sure it is all accurate be aware that there may be occasional errors in the transcript.]

Podcast Episode 4

Transcript • 2023-05-31 16:04:18 +0100


Welcome to this podcast about participation and access to focusing in England. My name is Joanie bones, and my name is Oliver cross. And this episode, we shall be talking to Mikey Kenney. Any a Liverpool style Fiddler with Irish heritage, and we shall be talking to him about cluster, disadvantage, Regional perspectives, and Irish, and English folk music, just before.


We do that all over Liverpool style Fiddler. I've not heard that before, can you say a little about that? So the way I remember it from what Mikey said to talk, he gave to recent event earlier this year was that the her pool style fiddle, playing is a mixture of English style fiddle playing with Irish stylistic influences? That is specific to the livable area due to its long history of Irish migration.


Do you know what that is? So interesting because something that I think is so important in this whole understanding of this topic is that, you know, folk music has never been cemented in stone. That is always Incorporated influences from other places and it's really exciting to hear about one that's happening in this day and age, right? I'm really excited to hear what my guess to say.


Nothing more. I think I might be Kenny, i-i'm a fiddle player. I'm from Liverpool and that plays a big, big role in my identity. I grew up sort of playing violin. When I first started learning through the school and then I had lessons driving sort of classical tuition, but really, what I'd always wanted to do, was to learn.


Traditional music and the means for doing that when so easy. So a lot of who I become has been shaped by, how hard I found it to get into doing what I wanted to do, which was play traditional music, be that English or Irish. I eventually settled into playing a lot of Irish music around the pool. Because my dad would always have a diverse music playing around the house. So, yeah, my identity as a fiddle player is very much rooted in the Irish music that is popular around.


Book. So yeah. After that I went on to study at Lancaster University and my degree was in musicology, so I became more and more interested in the sort of academic research side of things as well as performing after graduating, I went on to tour. A lot started playing fiddle for the bands and other people back then I was playing my own music was more in line with what I thought would get me somewhere. So I spend a lot of country music and Bluegrass and some more sort of commercial.


Take some on my own psychedelic mind I guess. And then I started to feel less afraid I guess as a fiddle player and started to realize that I didn't have to just if I wanted to sing, I didn't have to play guitar because then it was that if you wanted to sing you you must also play guitar. So so I ditched the guitar and started singing with the fiddle and then started becoming more and more comfortable using that voice as a way of Performing. And then I've gone on to do a lot of


Work in education because of how passionate I am about this idea that that I wanted to give to a lot of younger people were. I've wished I could have had when I was growing up, and don't get me wrong, I had a great tradition and a great opportunities, but never down the pathway, the particular genre of music that I wanted to jump down to what extent today. Do you think a Young Person's family background influences, their ability to access folk singing, and folk music or just Folk?


Akin General. Well, I think I thinkwell has a huge part to play in that. That's one of the really obvious factors whether somebody can afford an instrument or not. A lot of the time of the first big step is that the instruments that push at school are often instruments, that can seem on affordable at first like a violin. These things are probably a lot cheaper now than they were then because their mass produced in factories. So it's less of a great responsibility. Now for a parent to decide if they're going to buy one but it's still a lot of money, you know, I think a cheap entry-level.


Um, is probably about 150 pounds now and that's one of the standard instruments that are being pushed at school. Those kids could probably borrow one, but I've encountered situations where kids can borrow on of Ireland, but they can't take it home, so that's not going to get them anywhere at all. So, Finance is a big factor, its private tuition as well. It's like, almost like an essential. If you want to really take it, seriously, you can only get so far with those 15 minute sessions once a week. Unless, you are completely devoted to practice at home,


Often that takes a great deal of encouragement from a tutor. Obviously, a big factor is our class and the way that you are viewed in happened to me as a child, that certain parents of a similar background up to. I was from thought that particularly for a boy to be playing violin was almost like a betrayal of class if that makes sense like that. I should have been playing football, not playing the violin that it wasn't the pursuit that a boy growing up in my situation would be so


So class is one thing and it, you know, we always think of the Enemy being the people above that class but actually it can be just the people within the same social class that can put the detergent up from wanting to if you kids at school and all you makes playing footy and you want to play violin. You find a lot of those kids don't speak up and they just go along with it and play football. So, one of the big factors is about, is about changing that purchase. Well, one of the great things about the work that cultists to is that the entropy will lesson, which you go to every week, you'll be enough about two hours.


And the cover charges about pound on the door and they get that tuition again might have changed since I've been away from the bulb mm. Yeah it makes it accessible and that's why I think there's a great attendance there. But it does also mean that you encouraging a particular demographic and they're usually the kids that can't afford the private lesson. So, yeah, I think there are two main factors that I can see of opening the gateway to, to challenge, all of those different factors. Yeah, it's always a real big.


Point when people talk to me about traditional music is that there's always this comparison drawn, probably because I play in both tradition between English music and Irish music. And the way that the music is viewed, people always want to ask me this question, why is this such a great attendance within the Irish music scene of young people wanting to continue to play and you know our people continuing it all their lives like a path that they continue to walk with us. The English folk scene is feels like it's a bit more hard. It's a bit stifled.


Not necessarily A Viewpoint that I will completely agree with but I do see where that point comes in. And I think it's quite handy for answering this question. So I think the way in which music is viewed here is quite different. It's almost like if you're a child and you asked to learn an instrument, a parent here often would see it as not a worthwhile Pursuit, unless you were going to develop it into a career or unless you're going to go to university with it. Unless there was some higher escalation in what you were.


Doing with it. Whereas in Ireland, it just seems to be almost like a language. It's a tool used to bring communities together and for communities to use to stay engage with one another. So there's this deeper connection to what purpose music serves. Whereas I feel like here and I'm not talking within those communities who use music because everybody who uses music already, all these families who already use music already know the true value of it. But I'm talking about many an education or


In say, there's a non-musical family note parents in the family, or sibling plays a musical instrument, and one child in that family, suddenly turns around and says, I want to learn this instrument often. The response of the parent is that there's no point in doing that unless it's going to become your career path. So already, you've got this huge huge responsibility to achieve this goal, which often is unrealistic. You know, it's very, very difficult to obtain any level of success in a musical career.


We're so you instantly burdening a child or a teenager or, you know, young person with this. Almost impossible request that for me is one of the factors that inhibits somebody's progress in that folk path. If we're talking about English folk music, I think that's one of the biggest things that needs to be sorted promoted that music can just be a thing that we do as a hobby as as an interest, as a way of communicating with each other, to set up these groups and communities


I'd say the biggest factor in keeping people, engaged will be to make sure that sessions are accessible, that the popular, that the promoted that dances are accessible that music in general is spoken about as something to be enjoyed. Not a goal to be attained or achieved. I think it really for me feels like the thing that can stop a person dead in their tracks and think, or I'm never going to do this. I'm never going to get there. So I'm just going to give up and never go near it again. If you


What is well at the way that the grading system works in classical music, the abrsm. Yes, one of the problems that I have with that. And one of the problems that I had with that because that is the very first thing that you lumped on. If you're a kid, who turns around and says, I want to play music and if your family doesn't really have any other musical affiliation any connection, the very that first thing that they do is go to the school and say, look my kid wants to learn music. Next thing happens, is you get put in with a peripatetic teacher and first thing they're likely to do is start to


talkin about abrsm grades. Let's try and work towards your grade 12, big difference in that world to traditional music and folk music is that it's a very isolating solitary / folk, and traditional music is all about sharing music, with other people, you might eventually play with an orchestra or something. If you continue down that road with the great but that the very first stage, you're being given an objective that you have to go and Conquer completely alone.


And feel like that's the only thing that needs to be promoted a lot. It's okay to just do something as a way of having something to enjoy a little to people, not because you've got to win a trophy, or a certificate or anything at the end of it, but just because it's great fun to do. And I think in Ireland, and I'm with cultures, they're very good at that. And that's why that there's a great success with the promotion of Irish. Traditional music. How do you think we can?


Increase access to folk music for young. People beyond what we're already doing as a community. One of the things that I've been thinking about with regards to increasing the attendance at the Lancashire, you folk Ensemble. Is the same question really is, how do I encourage the young people from across Lancashire to be engaged in the Lancashire? You folk Ensemble? I think, the first step is that public engagement of to go out and to perform and for people to see it as something that they would like to.


Participating We join in with so things, like folk clubs are good and useful. Things problem is, they don't always feel like the doors are open because they've had a membership for very long time. And and I do know that there will be people who totally disagree with that, but the obstacles aren't created by those people. The obstacles are created by the person who's going, there might be afraid to attend. They might they might feel anxious about going there. They might feel if they go and then they were encouraged to sing that there will be


he's shy and it's a bit scary. So again, it's one of those things you hear people saying, why don't you just come along and say, well, you have to make it less scary. You'll remember that I spoke at this conference in Preston and one of the things that I spoke about was how I feel like in order to break through that fear, we have to take the Academia out of folk. It serves a purpose, but its purpose isn't the entire time. And one of the big things that I encounter quite a lot


If I may have played a tune or all my life and some guy read about it at the volumes Memorial Library, two days ago and he will start telling me. I don't know this tune that I played for 30 years, and there's a musical knowledge, a musical understanding that you carry, and there's words, and I feel like a lot of the time folk Club, spoke environments at one of the biggest obstacles that people will encounter when they begin, is they're bombarded. Would


It's in facts and information and most of it isn't actually vital to the continuation of the tradition in Ireland. You can go and join a session and you won't get bombarded with the knowledge unless you ask for it, you know? But I feel like it's a very English thing that it's become an academic Pursuit and that can be the determined. So for me it's like when I'm trying to promote language who you folk Ensemble, the last thing that I want any young person interested


Stood in it to feel is that it's going to be like school like a history lesson. Yeah, I want them to feel like they're going to have fun and enjoy playing music. A lot of the time a child or young person as come into that situation. In the very first thing that they've entered that room for is because they desperately want to express something inside himself. And if you're all you're doing is expressing fact from 200 years ago. Yeah, they'll just want to go home. So I think that that's the best way to promote us to go out there.


Do it. Don't bombard people with history think of inclusion and how you might include, someone don't make them feel afraid and don't make them feel like overwhelmed or that. You are a Titan of academic knowledge on folk music over them and are this tiny little thing. You've got to make them feel that warm equal footing in. You've got to that's the word of real work needs to be done. I think in them definitely


Following the light Over the Horizon into mountains of mystery to attempt. That was a very interesting interview at with Mikey caddy there. And there were a lot of interesting subjects to talk about so I see.


Just, we just dive writing, go for it. I've got unlike you, I've got a whole massive list of things. I'd love to chat about, I think the first thing we need to talk about is the sort of inaccessibility, certainly from a financial point of view to music education, especially in school first says, Mikey Kenny's Own Story. Yeah, the fact that he had to actually work quite hard just to convince his parents to get him of eyelid and then I have lessons because there's the idea in a lot of communities, especially those from different economic backgrounds.


That is the prevailing idea that you should only really start taking music lessons, if that's going to be a career choice. And especially when you asked that stage of life in school, you don't there's a reason that you're taught to range of subjects because you don't really know what sort of career you're going to be going into. I'd say that one of the reasons why so much of they classical music said and indeed. So much of the popular music scene. Increasingly Dow is populated more and more by sort of middle too.


Upper class musicians because they had the economic background growing up, which they could afford to pursue music as a hobby and then decide later. Oh, I'd actually like to do it professionally and so they had the advantage to do that because they'd had the education and the lack of pressure to actually turn it into a lifelong career. We go back to singing as opposed to instruments because as Mikey mentioned that he's involved with instrumental youth Ensemble and is Rachel Elliott mentioned when you spoke


To her about two, aliens education, director at the English, folk dance and song Society. There are actually a lot more, instrumental opportunities for young people in folk music, the vocal opportunities, despite the fact that singing is free. You know, I remember, when we spoke to Rachel about this, I was just really strapped. I was like, golly, there's no group singing opportunities for young people, and I just had a quick Google there because I was trying to think, like, oh, what is there out there? For young? People who might be interesting with


Is free, right? And I remembered folk Works who are based up at Sage gateshead and I did a quick Google of folk Works Junior Summer School. They've got to Young people's programs one from I think from nine till 18, it goes Encompass and I thought, oh, great, they're doing a summer school, this year, great. But I looked it up and all the tutors are instrumental to users in a no way. Want to negate what you're saying about the importance of wealth for accessing instrumentation. But there's also this thing that there aren't the groups out there to


Support young people who want to do singing which is free. There are adult choirs, I just looked at the morally College quite folk choir in London that's been 19 years plus. So there's different barriers even if the singers as well, it's interesting what you say there because while sticky is technically free in order to be good at it. A lot of the time, you need to go and have lessons of those often paper testing lessons. I'd like with so many other instruments. The focus is as by Kelly said on examples.


Like the abrsm or the Edexcel board and as he said, it's a very lonely isolating and solitary path. And there's so much of a focus on certain pieces. You need to learn certain techniques, you need to learn, it's a very sort of predetermined pattern. Go for my experience. You know, I primarily in folk music playing the harmonica and the hurdy-gurdy neither of which have any actual grades in Eddie boards like the abrsm. And so I wouldn't be able to necessarily take


That's two Orchestra. I wouldn't necessarily be able to pursue that as a graded assessment and it's the same with singing. Especially when you go through paper to take lessons, from seeing your, usually put down a certain route, the most quote, unconventional that you go with that. Sort of singing is singing for musicals at even that is based off a very classical sort of technique style of using your voice and that could have a very big impact on.


On what you're saying and how you sing it and can sometimes put you completely at odds with what you want to be doing and once again it costs a heck of a lot of money. So all of that sort of contributes to our think isolating whole groups of people from the possibility of getting into folk music and I think especially without getting too political they withdrawal of, certainly, government can support for a lot of Arts organizations that a lot of Arts teaching in.


Rules, it puts people from low-income bracket bolts and the majority of students actually at a distinct disadvantage for getting into music and people who have say, high income background. And so it means that we're getting a progressively sort of decreasing demographic and fewer voices and fewer different perspectives in music as a whole, not just in folk music, but the music has a hole that does really run the risk of having


a long-term detrimental effect, I feel like, but I think it's also worth acknowledging that. Whilst a small number of people who sing folk songs, will go on to train and to sing professionally and sing solo as a genre folk singing. For me, anyway, is about ordinary people coming together and singing regardless of how. Well in inverted commas basing in a way, I see it as the ideal forum for all voices kind of the


opposite of what you're describing. I mean, a good old chorus song. Where everyone sings along is amazingly participative, like an equal space where all voices are welcome. So, maybe that needs to be brought back into Focus to counter some of what you're describing. Oliver and I think what he said about the difference between the Irish tradition and the English tradition is fascinating. I mean, I'll talk about this in a later episode, but with the Irish and Scottish Folk Traditions, particularly because


Of a history of Oppression and aggression. From England, there has been a buildup of cultural identity through traditional music to the point where it's in almost every household, this cultural identity. That's tied to the folk music and the traditional music and traditional tunes of the traditional songs and the traditional folklore. It's a part of their national identity and so you're a lot more likely to get in the household.


And to have it just be taught by just growing up in the household. Absolutely. Like we said, you know, if most of these, the faces that folk singing happens, nowadays are basically adults faces in England because we don't have that, you know, it's kind of still a living tradition in Ireland. Certainly, I was over in the west coast in November and, you know, multiple pubs. Basically, you know, certainly The Village. I was next to a village next door, they all had sessions going on. Listening to Mike, you made me think a few things about being a singer. So I'm a singer. I'm


Not in instrumentals. And I've often found even at a session in a pub, you know, that often, instrumental sessions it, but not so much in Ireland. I felt like in Ireland. There's more of a like, a sing. It is welcome after session, and everyone really respects the singing. But actually, I can't think of a session, but I'm not aware of songs and the instrumental music being so melded in England, and you got experience of that, Oliver knows, definitely board. The second grade


To tune sessions and song sessions but definitely found a lot of the places I go. I've definitely found it easier to sing in a session wasn't necessarily just play tuning the session and sometimes vice versa that might just be my own experience with the north really. Maybe is it might be another thing I tell you something Mikey blowout which I was so grateful for was gender. So in this podcast,


Cast series, we haven't specifically spoken to anyone who's kind of main expertise or experience is around gender. We've got, you know, we've had this ability, we've had race and ethnicity but I was really aware. We haven't focused on gender and it really was just to do with constraint. And I think also, the fact for me, I think it's an allowable kind of exclusion because there are so many wonderful people working specifically around gender, by which, I mean issues of gate basically being a woman or female. So,


Got thanks vote for feminism, fantastic podcast and organizations like Esperance. And there's a bit Collective up in Scotland and others too. And so many female artists are currently like mining the cannon and critically appraising it and in their performances I can't think of a performance. I've been to recently where a female singer is not been talking about the issues of content material there. You know, and there are non-binary voices out there too. Which


Is great. And one of our interviews that, you know, the lunar tractors Claire is non-binary, but Mikey brings up the issue of actually being male and that for some of his class, being a boy, wanting to play the violin or the fiddle is generally considered. Just like totally not cool. I really appreciated that inside. There were definitely a lot of restrictions depending on what sort of social class background you come from. There are various ideas about who plays


music who plays what instrument and stuff like that. And definitely the sort of acceptance of learning an instrument being just what kids do, definitely increases the higher you sort of go up the sort of social class structure. Of course, you're right. There are also totally gender-based roles in terms of instruments. I remember walking into a session recently and it was just like an army of female. Fiddler's, it's quite extraordinary, probably less. So maybe in the folk


In the classical to have the violin associated with being a woman. Yeah. And and then there's a whole thing about drumming, which is interesting. Okay? Here's something I'd really love to talk to you about because Mikey makes this really amazing point about how folk song folk music in the English tradition has become so academic certainly can't deny in my experiences of that even at the folk clubs I've been going to London you get these really long feels about you know this that and the other


And he says, in an island, no, a bother you with that information. Unless you ask for it, I'd say it probably has something to do with the folk revivals because I would be saying, you know, the folk tradition. So I carried on and Irish Cochran, Scottish culture for a very long time. And in a way, it was very much less interrupted because of that. Because of the different ways in which each country established its sort of national identity of cultural identity. And because of the Advent of the Industrial,


Just real Revolution Britain I mean England didn't feel that it needed to necessarily preserve its sort of traditional music as part of its cultural identity until the folk Revival. Whereas in Ireland, it kept going strong through the folk process for significantly longer. And so, as a result with more of a need for collecting in England, definitely seems to have become more of an academic Pursuits. And don't get me wrong, it is absolutely fascinating.


And I loved it. I personally can't get enough of it, but I do think that especially when you're first coming into, but music can be very daunting and very jarring to actually come into this and have no idea of what's being referenced, how it's being reference, you know, not knowing what the valid index is. And it means that you are two distinct disadvantage and the fact that with a lot of children, with lots of songs, you have to get actively digging the various archives and libraries to actually


We get the tunes at the emphasis on getting the oldest version of the tune and it can be a real barrier. Sometimes to actually feeling like you have legitimacy within the world of Folk Music. If you don't have this academic or in some cases, pseudo academic background to your work, just on that point of, you know, seeing the oldest version or something like that, I've mentioned previously, the Morris folk, but because it's a folk Club in London, that is makes my heart sing because it's got, you know,


Lots of people under the age of 40. So we cooking who really young and and its associated with a choir. And what I discovered is that the younger people coming in singing, They Don't Know About, You know, they're coming at this quote fresh, which is perfect and wonderful and no need to be anything else. And you know what? They're mostly singing, Korean poll worker and I just think there's such a wonderful thing for that like that because Korean folk songs they're so Timeless and yet they're so Folk.


But yeah, they're contemporary. And that's what these people have heard of. And they can only sing Korean polar, and they sing beautifully and with heart and I don't feel like there's a need for anything more. Like I'm really happy for people to enter through the Contemporary stuff and his and sustain are in a way, it should be up to them when you know, if they choose to learn more about the history of it or not, but the thing I was going to say that that I think is slightly edgy, but you and I funnily enough, I think we're allowed to talk about this because we Are Who We Are.


So you've talked about the folk Revival and how this, you know, involve people collecting songs basically. And I think there's still a legacy, you know. Today there's still a legacy of people who enjoy that kind of activity the archival stuff and there was a guy at the folk Club, I was at the other night, literally writing down every single song if that was sung, and that's going to be published on the website, which is fine, but when you, and I were a folk event recently, I couldn't help, but notice that around me. I


A fair number of attendees mention, the word neurodiverse, and they were mentioning it in terms of themselves and their identity as being your diverse Oliver. You are neurodiverse. I recently came to quite astounding discovery that I am neurodiverse. Just thought it's an interesting thing to realize, is there something going on here? I I would definitely say that even more academic side of folk music because of the sort of Interest, a lot of the oh diverse people.


I'll have, if your audio device, you are more likely to go into the academic side of things, you know, afraid that I'll be the folktale with is also neurodiverse. And I know other yo, diverse people in the folks said I wouldn't say the majority of people, there are neurodiverse, but I think there is definitely another for neurodiverse. People to go down the academic to go down that historical Rabbit Hole of folk songs, stories behind them, and the meanings behind them. I think my last point about that there was going


Back to what you were saying that that compared to other genres folk music in England, has this academic history from the time of the collection forward. So I think that's when I think about this, it's just a little question in migraine of like is folk song, More intrinsically engaging. In the English context, the neuro-diverse people than other genres are is because it has this history of the collecting and the songs. And it's like it's part and parcel of


In the street to this one reason Ireland, it's not in Ireland. It's about singing in the pad singing in your home's, playing the fiddle, whatever. I mean it was. John Kelly wasn't. He talks about how he grew up with, just singing in his house. That's how we got into music because he himself is also of an Irish tradition. So that's my little, I just be really fascinated, you know, to hear maybe you know maybe someones doing some research right now about your eye diversity and different musical genres. That's definitely probably worth looking into to kind of end the discussion the slide.


Invited out there are places where young people can access affordable. Basic education places like Kabul to us in Liverpool. I believe there's one in Cambridge, and I believe there are other places it exists. I mean, I'm just going to add this one point Oliver that. I think this is what standing out for me that there seems to be a lack of song based opportunity for young people, and that this would be an amazing thing to address. You know, I wonder if


Access boat project with its four years. Remaining can do something about that could that feels really important?


Next episode we shall be talking to the duo lunar tractors and we shall be talking about there's your honor or broken folk and also about gender and sexuality in folk music. Thank you for listening and we hope to see you next time. This podcast was presented by Oliver cross and Joni bones and produced by Esbjorn Wettermark, and Rowan Piggott. It was funded. As part of the actress, folk research project at the University of Sheffield with additional funding from the universities public engagement Development Fund.

Episode 5 - Lunatraktors Transcript

[This is an edited auto-transcript of the podcast. Although we have tried to make sure it is all accurate be aware that there may be occasional errors in the transcript.]

Podcast Episode 5

Transcript • 2023-06-27 15:13:17 +0100


At this episode contains a reference to a suicide attempt. If you want to skip ahead or avoid it, the reference comes about 10 minutes, 15 seconds. That's 15 into the episode and lasts about 20 seconds.


Welcome to this podcast, a podcast about participation and access to focusing in England. My name is all across and I'm Donnie bones. And today we're talking to the lunar tractors who are clear and Carly Claire and Carly are a queer, couple, who just got married, congratulations who created their own, genre of folk broken folk, which they going to talk about their album. This is broken folk was one of modos top 10 folk albums of 2009.


18. And they've both got the experience of a lot of those minority experiences. Claire is non-binary and partially sighted and mentions. They've had various hard to diagnose neurodiverse, stuff in their own words going on. Was Carly has mobility issues and openly discusses their PTSD, as well as the constant presence of misogyny that she like, all women have to navigate and all of this informs, their really visually different. I would say approach to folk what


Thing and how they perform. So when they perform recently, they've had the progress pride flag on stage in the middle of their set Claire often wears. Clothing, that may generally be understood to be female and they both wear some of these kind of what look like crazy, colorful cookie costumes, but actually they're actually modeled on traditional folk costumes. So fascinating couple fascinating amazing. Musicians, let's listen to what they have to say.


Now, the time.


Welcome Charlie and Claire. The lunar tractors. It's great to have you here on the access folk podcast. Yeah, you're on tour at the moment. Yeah we are mini touring? Yeah, I run a big some workshops over the last few days. They were a little bit below energy today. That's fine. Absolutely fine. However, you are as perfect you aware of the report. I know you've had a brief look at the report. I'd love to know where your musical background says like


It's your musical background and how you both got into focusing because we started working together and we trust each other and we don't criticize each other. We just make it for us, you know, that we're less worried about someone telling us that we're not doing it, right, or being made fun of or, you know, being attacked in in either in the verbally or, you know, like confrontational way. We're just in a way, it's kind of punk music in that sense, that it has a kind of built-in. f*** you attitudes that we're just doing.


It for ourselves whilst also being incredibly sensitive and Center. Your tender along your way. Have you interacted with what we might call the folk scene in, anyways? I mean, I guess the short answer is no. I think, with our first album, we encountered the kind of push back of the traditional folk scene somehow that sort of definitely was like the jury's out. We don't know if we trust these lat. You know, they've come in here and they're breaking up our songs.


Singing them in ways that maybe don't read rise or like the using drums. We definitely got told by a couple of places that we drums are not fair play there because it's, but which was like, okay, if you were to look beyond the his guitar and which is, there's a lot of women predominantly that we playing drums in every culture in the world, 2,000 years ago, 2000 years ago, tell us that it's not folk just felt kind of absurdist and because we've finally, I think,


After so long of doubting ourselves in different relationships in different contexts we were suddenly allowed to be like, no, okay we're doing the right thing, let's just do it, let's just keep doing it. So on keeping doing it and allowing for that trust and that's not to say that we're not critical of what we do in critical of each other sometimes of trying to make it better. But that criticism I think that's that distinction, isn't it? You still have to be critical of your work and where it sits and how it's working or not, how responses.


I mean I don't think even the word critical as useful anymore. Hmm. I mean, you know, maybe not Donna haraway and has had some great things to say about that. Basically the idea of we listen and if it sounds right, it's detailed like we try really hard but in terms of criticism it's the critical thing that's not there. This pleasure is what we're looking for with. Yeah. And about the somatic as well because it feels right and it feels has to feel right because that's sometimes it isn't about pleasure. Sometimes it's about a hell of a lot of pain and being able to


Is that all sing into those spaces when we say she, when we enter institutions that are cold and hard. And very, very unfriendly to people for anybody of difference, which is let's be honest. Anybody other than the privileged very well off white male, but I'd love to touch a little bit on a few other things. Because when I first looked at your stuff, the first thing that came to me, was these guys are fun and I was like, oh, folk and fun and not that common beg.


Fellows, right? Like not obvious. You present yourselves, visually so much. Just fun and I wondered. Yeah, I'd love to talk to you about folk and fun, poking fun. Well, I've been a clown probably just a natural clown for my entire life. That's how I dealt actually, with a lot of the PTSD stuff. That's how I was dealing with terrible relationships. And abusive stuff is that my clown just came out and got to hang out with an audience and got some nice responses. And it allows I think other people to feel the


Fun. When you really just diminish in a way older the, or you, you lean into the fear and you lean into the Ridiculousness of yourself, your abs, your own absurdity, and you allow yourself to laugh at yourself and then each other people go. Oh, that's okay. And then, we're often told that isn't it? That people like, oh, but you allow me to feel like I can be myself a bit more as well. And that's also, we've really identified lately. We did a project called beyond the binary, which was looking into queer history.


Of pantomime, a music hall. And we kind of realized II grew up in the world of pantomime actually, so saw a lot of peculiar. You just see a lot of different representations of what gender is as well with my first crush being on Suzi Quatro but that sense of the Absurd. And us actually being we've realized one of the things we do is a kind of modern-day musical act, it's a double act, we do the banter but it's not like we're all this was back. If we found this in this book and this is there's a different kind of


Coach for us, but it's not that it's purposely different. It's just, this is what we're like, where this stupid wear, this silly, you know, that and we've got, I think to the point where we're like, well let's not try and censor ourselves, that's it. Yeah. And I think also there's this great show on at the moment called making Mischief, Compton Vernon Workshop, which is a show of folk costumes and it's been in all the press and stuff and part of that show, like if you really look at folk culture, it's about the carnival. You know, it's about play.


Quite a dangerous kind of place sometimes playing with fire literally but it's about getting dressed up and absurdity and costumes and color and wildness and and that you doesn't really come across with the whole like that. It's another song about a lady who drowned or my acoustic guitar you like that's great but you know that they're lovely. But that's that's not that's not where we get few got you know if you go to like a Folk Festival it's loud and colorful and people are moving around and you know making weird faces and


You know, allowing themselves that sense of License to be absurd and silly and grotesque and over expressive. No. Because we're so used to be filtering. Our own expressions and our own sense of. What do I appear to look like right now? I have no sense of that, really? But I've been told by face is very expressive which always meets for me with a feeling of like, oh yeah, I know it's really expressive, like, how can you make yourself less? And particularly as a woman, the marsh Ryan constantly to make myself less emerged actually.


Lee a clown that everybody fell in love with because I was like, I was trying so hard to be less, I was physically diminishing myself on stage so much that the audience looked at me even more because I would like, why is she hiding what you doing? You know, so that it just, you can't help it. We can't help it. So I think that father, yeah, I think fun fun is it word for it? But in a way it's also as much about horror, you know, it's random and freedom, it's about Freedom basically and it's about that sense of the carnivalesque as opposed to the middle class. Don't be too much.


Make weird faces, don't dress in absurd ways, you know, like play the play, the proper folk music because I mean, obviously, like the folk Revival in the, you know, the 1900s folk Revival was very, very, very middle class. And was very much about nationalism and identity and all this b*******. So, for us, we like to think that Al folk music is a bit more, like medieval folk music rather than a bit more Farrell. Yeah, bit more Harold smellier. Yeah, what I'm hearing is that you guys actually a bringing in so many of these things that the doors have been closed bum bum and and your


Left with most people, not even knowing we just accept, like other folk. Music is x, y and Zed, not realizing the bigger historical picture, and it's like, you're throwing open the doors going no performance. Grotesque Cabaret. This is, this is so in a way you call your genre broken folk. But you're like me, you're not. What's broken, is what I'm getting listening to you. You're kind of in a way, they're healing, the reintegration, the bringing the parts that have been banished back to something much whole ER perhaps. Yeah. And I think


Think it's not even that that's necessarily a choice. It's like, this just has to happen, you know, this is a necessity for us to be able to keep breathing to be able to not, you know, like I have tried I have attempted suicide on a number of occasions every time I've failed but I have attempted like I have tried to end things because it's like, how do you continue with this? And I'm not even dealing with, you know, I'm not dealing with massive issues of difference. Like, my accessibility I appear pretty able-bodied. People don't generally see some of the


Other issues and you know, I'm not a person of color. Although a lot of people are like, oh, where are you from? And all this sort of stuff is, you know, I'm dealing with very few access issues actually, but still just as a woman, you're very aware that you're up against so much which then if we're trying to be our best selves and we're trying to create as you were saying, you know it's so it's so moving to hear you say that you know 20 years it's taken you to find your way back to this and to this feeling of trust and belonging and allowing and accepting of like know this


Is what I really love doing and I'm going to do it anyway. It takes, it takes like lifetimes for us to go. Okay. Yes, we can. And we have to now we have to, if we're, you know, that's why I feel very strongly as a creator that that's just one of my only real good things to do in the world. Apart from trying to be as kind as I can and open and tolerant and is to just do what we do because it helps other people. We hear so many people who say to us, we really identify with what you're doing. We then.


Allowing ourselves to do things a bit differently because it has to be done otherwise. We're going to just go back through the same meal for everyone constantly, we got to move it on. Lots of people's has come up to us and say oh I really want to do singing now and that makes us incredibly happy. That's the whole point that we don't want to be the only people who are making music. You know, we want everyone to feel like whatever sent, you know, just makes sound for the love of sound. It doesn't have to be pretty, or it doesn't have people using the right sound. It doesn't have to be technical. It just make the sound that feels right at that time.


I'm and that's what actually this reminded me when you were talking about the somatic and that's from me. Also, one of these Beauty about what was our Baseline when we made this project and we turned it broken folk because we didn't feel like we fit into the other categories of Folk Music anyway but it's about the body me coming from a point of always being a dancer and a clown and the body percussion kind of element so and Claire singing that those basic elements. We have we carry them around with us all the time. You know, if we're not allowed to just


Ass and use those things. And, I mean, some people in some countries are not even allowed to use their bodies and their voices, you know, they're not even allowed to expand their minds, you know, the limitations that are put on us through the structures and the systems and their so damaging and just a, with his dancing in circles project that we're now just starting to deliver workshops on and is also going to be the third album. So it's, it's kind of this weird coexistent kind of project to discovering, what the songs are while playing them out live. And also teaching people about body percussion,


Voice work and encouraging from the very beginning. This doesn't have to be the sound that you maybe think we want to hear. Just let that ugly sound out. What is the sound of that dissatisfaction and that discontentment and that pain and that distress, you know? Yeah, we're allowing other people need to hear and see those things because they help us feel our own feelings. You know, when someone else's really singing about grief and Trauma, it's a healing thing. I guess the other thing is about expectation and body kind of build the barriers. And I guess, the thing about the Broken Spoke for us is that we explicitly.


Italy needed to be broken. It's always broken. And being broken is a good thing, you know, when things become pure. And that's also the problem in the kind of like holistic, Oneness Purity crowd that, you know, any difference or trauma is seen as a kind of stain, you know, as opposed scape as opposed to something, you know that your scars are an important part of you and have an interest and beauty of their own. And being broken, is the condition of Folk Music is constantly, broken and fragmented and fractured and constantly Crossing


Boundaries and National or linguistic boundaries and in a way that's why broken folk rather than pure Folk which is that's not our scene, okay, that I feel that. I mean, that's a very political act, what you're naming because some people in the folk scene or in the folk, yeah, genre do present themselves as authentic or having Authority and that's by its nature, exclusive to everyone else who doesn't have whatever they may have through their history or where they happened to be born or whatever. So I love that you're pointing out know.


It's not a pure whole I guess is the opposite of unbroken, it's just not true. It's not true kind of pointing out that it's a myth. Yeah, it's a fiction or Purity is a myth and when you stop remembering that, it's a myth. Sometimes a very beautiful myth. It's a historical. And if you stop remembering that it's a myth, you you slide into fascism whether or not you think that you'll socialist or whether you're not that you think that you're accepting or you know ecological or whatever you tell yourself, that's the direction of fascism. But


I think that's also what you just used the word whole that wholeness which is also for me like since realizing that through trauma through PTSD and life experience, then I am a bunch. I am like an assemblage of various fragmented Parts. Like there are different parts of me that come to the table at different points, that counteract each other, that absolutely beat each other up, or whatever. And if we can realize and acknowledge and accept our fragmented selves, then we would probably be much better at relating to each.


There's well because I've got, you've got that critique as well. Oh yeah, there they are. Silly bastard. But yeah, we've got to let them in. We've got allow them to come to the table. See if we've got you something useful to say and maybe slightly repurpose their job role into something really useful for us going forward, you know. But we're so obsessed with this, like old. But I am one pure, I feel like being born in the late 70s growing up in the 80s 90s and going it was got this. All this kind of new age like I've got to be one whole being I'm really not so instantly you feel floor?


Lord and wrong and there. How do you how do you work through that? Yeah, I mean so being born with only one eye and and also being you know, not binary as I now I'm able to describe it. I didn't have that word back then, but I definitely have the sensation of like, oh, I'm not a boy, but I'm not a boy. I seem to be one but I'm not a girl, you know, I'm just like cats and dogs. I'm a fox, you know, I'm not, I'm not one of those things and just being like, I've never been able to claim that sense of wholeness for


self and just doing a lot of thinking and some therapy and also a bunch of studying and just being like that sense of the assemblage and that sense that we're nothing without our microbes, you know, we don't function without we're a community. You know that the body everybody is a community. Everybody is an ecosystem of different parts. And if you have fixed boundaries and one closed kind of pure thing, it's that's death, isn't it? That's not a living system. So I guess I mean, that that rhetoric impurity and is something that we strive


To reject, not only from the right but also from the whoo crowd. So you've talked about how you kind of haven't ever gone down the folk Club, focusing root. So I'm really interested to know where you play and what kind of audience know who are the lunar tractors audience. A big chunk of our audience are people who really enjoyed folk music. The last time, it went all weird, and then re listening to that, they see us and then they're like, wow, I went back and listened to Legion Leaf again or I went back.


And listen to Jethro Tull again. However, you know, I went back and listened to if, you know the incredible String Band or whatever it is that they listen to. And it's just as good, it's just as good as when I was listening to it in the 70s. So a lot of our audience like that it is true. I think that was a kind of that. Always, a starting point. I think that's kind of the first wave of the people that really get obsessed with what we do. I mean, we've called you and tractors because we attract crazy people. So generally crazy people are quite a big amount of the people as well, but also we have the gift of somehow hypnotizing. Toddlers, toddlers.


Alyssa. Like this is drugs. They just like Mainline it. They're like watching you slap your body and they're just like they can't get enough so Toddlers and their grandparents, I like our first demographic. I mean, it's not that we don't want to play folk clubs we really do and actually we've been invited a couple of time. The problem as well with folk clubs is that they tend not to have much money and so for us to pay for the diesel and to travel to go to do a show like this is our livelihood, you know, especially now that my University departments got shut down and we all got fired. You know. This is what


So if someone's like we've got 50 Quid for you, we're like well you know, good but we can't come for that and we have played some folk festivals. We almost got booked for a couple of other folk festivals but then I think some Booker's are worried about Their audience, they're worried that Their audience are going to go. This is too weird. This isn't folk they worried about the people who complain and they shouldn't worry about the people who complain. But what's funny is that then we did last year we did Timber Festival which isn't renowned for its to Folk Festival but apparently they asked all of the customers


and apparently there was a kind of unanimous, lunar tractors but we need them to come back. We really, really enjoyed them. So I think it's also about the people who are programming giving a little bit, a little bit more faith in their viewers in the audience's. That actually the audience is do want weird stuff, they do need stuff that shakes it up a bit. You know, you can watch a lot of beige but then there's also like, there's a whole rainbow out there as well, so I think that's a lot about people who do program work and to how do we talk to them about? It's actually useful to take a risk.


You know, it shows the diversity again of just approach, you know? Why are why are they not doing that? And if you are fearful of what they might think, that's exactly what they're somehow where you get instantly.


my troubles now, Blossom on the tree,


I don't know about you olive oil but for me care and Carly's approach to folk is so inspirational. Yeah. I I think they're really good. I think they can be quite fresh on the folksy and it's good seal that it's good to hear their perspectives. One of the themes that I think every single person we've spoken to in this series Oliver has mentioned is that they had to go on some kind of personal journey to get to a place where


They felt able comfortable confident to play folk. So whether it was Mikey, Kenny just saying that he thought he'd like, get further if he played in other kind of bands, you know, I don't Bluegrass and different kind of music or it's someone like the lunar tractors, basically saying that they had to do a lot of inner work and they said they have each other right because there are a couple they have each other and they don't care anymore, what other people think but it took them a long time to get there. And this is something that I think is this thing to sit with that if you have some kind of minority


Aryans different from the mainstream, your journey to feeling comfortable, and confident is longer. Well if there's a journey for Assad and the for so many people, it means you're just never going to get there. And I suppose this is what this project has to understand that it's not just making spaces, okay? It's like all the psychological barriers along the way to feel acceptance. Yeah, I would agree with that. I think it's also interesting. I'm sure Luna.


We incorporate into their practice. You know, they're not just looking solely at English. Folk, Irish Australian, Eastern, European, and Eastern European Dance. All sorts of types of singing and music and also quite contemporary stuff. It's not entirely. What a lot of people would expect necessarily good smoke, but in my opinion, it is within the Canon of folk and it is within the remit of fight music, doing in some ways, a lot of traditional musical they do do.


Music as well. They just stylize it in a more contemporary fashion and it works and it's good and it fits in. I think something that they are very aware of is both this approach. I mean I guess it's a very psychological approach of a embracing the wholeness of an individual you know all the different parts they talked about but this is also what they say actually results in people coming up to them and saying hey we now


I feel like we want to sing. I mean, there's access vote project that this podcast is part of is all about trying to get people more involved in singing. And what the lunar tractors are telling us is that kind of by being their whole selves on stage and by using the whole voices to express their, the whole breadth of The Human Experience. People feel like there's a place for them and I just think that's really interesting. I think I mentioned in another series that, you know, sometimes I thought that the folks


Scene is very little, use the term vanilla, you know, it's pretty straight the folk scene and I don't just mean sexuality, why straight is pretty straight? And, of course, that excludes so many people because it was John Kelly, wasn't it. Who, when you spoke to John, he said this wonderful thing which I hadn't really thought about. He said that when you really think about all the people who the report focuses on and the consultation group focuses on so people with disability issues people from different genders as sexualities,


People from different races and ethnic backgrounds, people were various political and religious beliefs. We're not talking about minority, we're talking about a lot of people, but it's true, it's a bit ridiculous. How people don't realize that the sort of Social and demographic minorities, even a bit of the loan is actually quite large. I mean, I don't know the exact numbers, but for percentage, disabled people alone in the UK consists of a flea 20% of the population. So it's a


lot more than a lot of people think. Yeah. And certainly in London, I don't know what the current ethnic mix of London is but I can tell you, I'm often the only white person on the tube sometimes you know and I'm not gonna have a drop of British blood in me. So yeah, we're talking about the reality of society's makeup versus this pure myth, that Claire is talking about. So a friend of mine, who's an incredible tradition Bearer up in the northeast of Scotland, a woman called Madge. Bray has a phrase, the woman's visceral and


This is what talking to Claire and Kylie made me think of because when you think about maybe some of the folk song, traditions of Eastern Europe. So I'm thinking of it. Maybe Georgian on Bulgarian song, The Women sing with these incredibly grounded. Voices, they're often quite deep very resonant and so different from the tradition of female singing in Britain, we certainly have some wonderful singers that have certainly provided me with a lot of inspiration. So June, 10,


Normal water said, you know, these wonderfully kind of mature sound in deeper women's voices, but the woman's visceral as something that has been cut out of the history of being English. Basically, we heard clearly talking about this idea, that drums aren't folk and then somewhere else, she talks about standing up and they discover do the, you're the drummer, the woman's the drummer and there's Prejudice around the female drummer but historically in most traditions in the world are many Traditions, drumming was in fact,


Female Pursuit. And over time, it has dropped out of the folk tradition. This is the phase of stuck with me, the woman's visceral, that includes access to grief. The includes, you know, the highest and the lows that include all that personal stuff that traditionally was considered as females and they bring it back in people, love it. In the next episode, we shall be speaking with Fay healed and Espeon better Mark of the


The access vote project and we shall be talking to them about intersectionality and access folk. It will be great to really get to pick their brains about the background behind the access vote project as you can join us, then


This podcast was presented by Oliver cross and Joni bones and produced by Esbjorn Wettermark, and Rowan pigott. It was funded. As part of the access folk research project at the University of Sheffield with additional funding, from the University's public engagement development planned.

Episode 6 - Access Folk Team Transcript

[This is an edited auto-transcript of the podcast. Although we have tried to make sure it is all accurate be aware that there may be occasional errors in the transcript.]

Podcast Episode 6

Transcript • 2023-06-01 15:16:27 +0100


Welcome to this podcast about participation and access to focusing in England. My name is Joanie bones, and my name is all across and today we will be talking to dr. Esbjorn Wettermark and Professor Fay Hield about the state of access within the Folk industry today, Esbjorn and Faye. I love access folk project at the University of Sheffield and they both have many years experience,


Variants of the folk scene as musicians and organizers and educationalists and so it's pretty cool to have them with us today. How are you doing today Esbjorn? I'm good, thank you. Yeah, me too, little bit of a cold. Sore sounding a bit gritty but thank you for joining us. So I'd love to start with kind of I guess a definitional question which is really about your use of the word folk in this project because I certainly came across an issue when I was in.


Interviewing a friend. So part of the project was something called ask a friend and we were asked to interview friends who don't have involvement in Folk Music, Folk singing to understand their thoughts about focusing in. And I discovered that this person, I chose it because I knew I thought she didn't do any folk singing in her. Understanding of the word, did loads of folk singing Because she sits around fires and strums a guitar and plays Radiohead covers. So when my head I was


Very much thinking traditional song. So they maybe you can start us off with telling us a bit about what folks on is in this context. Yeah, massive can of worms and that is one of the first questions everybody says. So what, how are you defining it? Because nobody can Define it or rather everybody can Define it and everybody's definition is either subtly or vastly different to everybody else's. So, in this project, we are in no way trying to Define what


What folk is because that's just a thankless endless task. And yet if you're doing a project with folk in the title, you have to have some kind of understanding of it. So it's been really complicated in this project. Our approach has been for the first year to be trying to gather other people's views. So for the first year, we've really tried to not determine what it means to people because we're trying to understand what it means to other people rather than putting our definition on it, but lots of people have been


been asking us for a definition of what the project is about. So we did come up with the kind of scope statement about folk and how it relates to this project, not at all, how it is universally used. So in this project we're looking at kind of participate, tree community-based singing around people's heritage's and potentially with a focus on people that consciously align themselves with something that they think of as Folk.


Because as an academic, you can call All Sorts different things, folk singing, or well, as anybody. You can describe anything as focusing a person sings. It's folk music but of course you need some limitations. So that's where we've kind of drum circle. There's a scope statement on the website. We've spoken to a number of people for this podcast and they've all come from different, backgrounds, and different perspectives, and spoken about, a lot of different things on a lot of different issues with access to folk and their


Course all fit together quite a bit. How do we make sure the discussion around access and folk remains an intersectional practice? So this report of even talk about the referred to in this podcast and which is, this discussion comes out of it was based on a number of Consulting groups, which were groups that met four times. Whew. This is shorter to discuss issues relating to one subject and the subject we chose that method simply because that's how data tends to.


I collected in England about people's experiences different things. So there should be about gender tends to be about race and these things. So we follow that model but also very aware, they did not. That simple people are not only fitting into one of those boxes and we saw that very clearly with these groups because a lot of people signed up to multiple groups that participated in multiple groups in, was more to find an angle. Because even if it's similar issues, when you have one subject worker,


Around. You can kind of address it in different ways and what we came up with was that really quite subtle changes really could make a difference for all those things. So we try to create a little basic list of best practice advice that could really make a change across the issues people have, and the kind of backgrounds people come from, and how that affect them. But it's a constant thing. And it's difficult as well, because you could have just have one massive group of say, we go to talk about all issues and the risk then, is that


Very intersectional, but it also very difficult to really get down to the details of where the issues are. They'll say do you have anything else to add on that? We talked to lots of parties. So no we did talk a lot about it and it's mainly Logistics. Yeah, it's beyond says, you've got a question and there's so many ways to probe it and it's our job to sit there and go. Okay, so how do we actually do this with people and in the group's intersectionality came up in discussion all the time. So I feel quite like the points


Are there were rubs, it got raised within the groups, but the fact we had those sort of title circles around the discussions meant that we still had Focus. So yeah, it was a practical logistical way of doing it. Not trying to Silo people into different groups, just a mechanism of getting something done in that case. I'd like to sort of bring the focusing on to some of the individual categories we are looking at and let's start with or the biggest questions that are being asked about folk clubs and folk roots and all.


That stuff about how do we get younger people into folk music? For instance, a lot of young people seem to be most likely at the moment to come into the folk music industry through organizations like the National Youth folk. Ensemble and Regional folk groups may be less. So but when consulted they seem to favor More instrumental folk music rather than folk song and folk singing. So the question I guess I'm trying to ask is where are the folk singers of tomorrow going to come from without


Sort of radical change taking place. And if it does take place, what will it look like. So, for young people playing instruments, there's not so much of a leap between how instruments are taught in school generally or how youth music ensembles work generally to how folk music education works. It's not a massive leap. But first of all, there's far less singing taught in schools these days and there aren't sort of after school singing Club.


Herbs to the same number as there are for multi-instrumental clubs. So for kids to get into singing at all is harder and for kids to get into folk singing, which doesn't happen in the same way as after school singing Club. You know, it happens in pubs its individual solo singing. It's totally different or a lot more different than instrumental group playing. So yeah, it is difficult. Where are the singers going to come from? That's another question because people love to sing and we are a singing Nation. People still sing?


Birthday parties. They still sing in the pub. They still seeing a football matches rugby matches. People do like, singing. People are joining Community choirs in huge numbers and that includes younger. People not just older people that are the Mainstay of the folk scene as well. So, yeah, that is the big question of the project really is, how are those people that are folk friendly, singing friendly? How do we help them fulfill what it is that they want to do? And what we know is a brilliant thing to do.


Do how we answer that do come back in 5 years. My guess there is a lot of work having been done with instrumental music as you said Oliver and there is like a whole kind of funnel in the system at the moment we can all focus on balls and smaller focus on balls that feed into the opportunity to play in the National, you focus on but which is all instrumental in the reasons for being instrumental, has to do with multiple thing. It's, it tends to be easier to combine a lot of people, a lot of different.


Current instruments together to do something instrumental without it becoming acquire, which would the risk of only using singing. And also, there are different funders for dedicated, singing activities, more and sambal playing. But if that's doing a lot of work in this and both say, and I have been involved in organizing youth Ensemble, such a regional levels as well. I think the idea that we were wrong, but as they said, like come back in five years and maybe we have some more ideas on how this


Actually play out in focusing. There is another thing there about the difference between music and song. Obviously, is words and there's a lot more meaning held in lyrics than in musical sound, or vo different kinds of meaning. I should say, because lot of meaning in sound as well. So, for younger people to align themselves with a repertoire, it has to speak their politics, it has to speak their meaning. They have to want to sing those songs. And from the young people that we've spoken to, in terms of the traditional,


Twas, they love it, absolutely love it. They totally get it, it speaks to them. They love that sense of Heritage and history and excites them in exactly the same way, excited focusing as for Generations. But then when they go into a singing context, the kinds of repertoires that the people are singing there, and the ways that those people behaving, that's the bit that turns them off. So, I think there is something interesting around, like, what messages are being said, and whose voices are being heard in the act of singing as well.


So it's not just about accessing it, it's about what you do when you're there as well. And what that makes me wonder is about the role of the institutions, not the folk institutions but the venues and the radio and whatever cultural institutions are out there, putting on promoting music. So we, you know, in the podcast, we've talked exclusively to artists but the report actually focuses quite a lot on venues and promoters and Booker's. And actually, it seems that the first order of change level, that the findings that


Consulting group's came to what actually you know these are changes that are more about the people putting on music and presenting music to the world did make rather than the artist. And when you were describing that Faye this basically completely different cultural setting than currently exists. You know? I was thinking well you're not going to get that quickly you know you can't change a monocultural focusing to Multicultural focusing. Is there something more about just changing where folk music happens? I think the


Has been my thought change from the work. I've done previously to this project is that we talked a lot about how can we get young people into the folk scene? And I'm viewing a little bit like the social model of disability, which takes the owners away from the person with a disability to sort it out to society to sort it out. So rather than saying how do we reach them and get them involved, it's more, what do we need to change to make them feel comfortable when they're here? And that hasn't really been looked at


To my knowledge, you know people talk a lot about promotion or how we reach them. How do we get them in here and then think you know where early stages in this project? But I suspect because we haven't looked at it the other way around that might be why it's not being as successful in large numbers as people want it to be as a huge desire to get lots of different kinds of people in. But there's a lack of understanding about what might need to change for those people to feel comfortable. And I think also one reason


The venues and kind of De places where folks singing happens took up such a big part of the discussion groups discussions. The discussions about what can be done with highlights this that it is kind of creating spaces where people are comfortable. And of course a lot of participatory folk singing happens at four cups or at venues of various kinds and therefore, I think that's why a lot of the suggestions in the report


it ended up being about venues which makes sense. I think the definitely things to be said, therefore General approach for artists and for other people as well. But the places and how we encourage those places to maybe they're make changes, or maybe encourage organizers to choose places, which are not what has been in the past and see if that makes a difference. So this kind of ties in sort of a personal experience of things that I've heard from people and it seems like


Efforts to preserve food. Particularly preserve folks singing that can often be a bit of pessimism around the idea and its prospects, especially from the older generation sometimes. And at least one interviewing that I spoke to ask me to not ask about their favorite folk song or that C-section but more about their favorite tune session or their favorite tune. So other way to the ads with bated breath. So what I'm asking is basically is the battle for


oh singing already lost. I think you've nailed it in the question. There's so many different facets to what focusing is. You've got to answer that 20 different ways so the repertoire is held in archives, it is not lost, it's not going anywhere. That's fine. Folk clubs, individual folk clubs closing. That is a danger, the events that are currently happening. Some of them might close, some of them will produce, some of them are already closing, so if it's a drive to say,


Save the existing folk clubs. I can see there's an argument that that could be lost if you don't get new organizers in and change things radically. But the act of people singing songs that are meaningful for them around their Heritage, in groups of people for fun. I don't think the battle for that is lost, but they're different things. Are we preserving a management structure? We preserving a repertoire, and we preserving a meaningful practice. So yeah, I'd say,


It's a meaningful practice that I'm interested to preserve. That's a very good answer to a very complicated question and that is suppose. That's the other reason I did the project that I started, you know, I said about the black lives matter thing but this was also around brexit. So people were struggling with what it meant to be English and how they could comfortably still aligned themselves with belonging to this country that was undergoing a massive political moment and I firmly believe place.


Lace is really important to people all over the world, people celebrate, where they're from, it helps you, with your sense of identity, helps you be who you are and there's such a Negative feeling around aligning yourself with the place. And I'd love folk music to be able to help people with that. For me, that's the important thing is helping people access. Something that is theirs and seeing it in a way that isn't a negative connotation to be to celebrate being English in some way. So, well, it was just as you were describing place.


Is important and you will also you've talked about the definition of this project. Folk song is about Heritage and I'm just wondering if you can, actually explain what you mean about that. Because when I hear you talk about place in Heritage of someone from a non ethnically, British origin, a bit, me goes like, oh hang on a sec, you meaning Heritage in terms of ancestral heritage. So I can't do that here or are you actually saying, wow, you know, everybody here has Heritage in Britain or in England by


by virtue of being here and about connecting to place rather than a historical connection to place. So that's a really complicated thing. Yeah, in our scoping statement, we address that as Heritage being both of place and of familial Heritage. And I think this is something that will get unraveled through the project when you start a project like this, it's almost like, people expect you to have all the answers before you started it, and then there'd be no point.


Point in the research. So number one yes it's a really interesting thing. Number two, everybody's got different perspectives of what should be part of it as opposed for my academic perspective, what I'm interested in is the music in England and how people relate to that and feel about that and when they make music that makes them resonate with that sense of place. Because not all music does that. So people can have very vast musical practices, they might


Going to church choir, they might sing football match, their might go to a folk Club, when are they sort of conscious about that? Being part of their Heritage? As if the musicologist, you would take all musical practice as part of this identity formation, as somebody that works in a practice that labels itself folk, which puts the sort of automatic sticker of this is Heritage music that isn't her ditch music. It gets really complicated. So I think that's all to be unraveled, to be honest. Why do we put the label of folk on it? Why aren't we just do music?


I'll practice and I think people on the outside wonder that sometimes. So I think that's certainly all to play for. I'm interested to know a little bit about where the project goes from here and if specifically you've taken on board any of the feedback from this year and the Consulting group's and taking it forward and if so in in your is it changing how you're planning things. So that was the whole design of the project. Was that in the first phase we would collect as many ideas as many perspectives.


Elves, as many understandings of what the issues are from people who practice focusing and don't practice focusing in as possible to get all that knowledge to work out what the problems are rather than face. A healed sitting in her office, deciding what she thinks is wrong. So, I really wanted to get away from that. So that's been the point of this first year and the next phase, basically, we're going to be looking at all those findings. I've got a board. We've got 13 people, ranging from CEOs of big.


Important companies like after sore black lives in music Drake music and we've got audience members got disabled, audience members and promoters from the folk scene. So we've got activists people involved experts from outside the focusing but they have a perspective in. So they basically I'm a funnel. I'm taking all the things that people have said. So far from the ask a friend interviews, we're about to launch the survey and the Consulting group's Translating that into understandable messages given


That to the board. The board are then going to prioritize. What we spend the rest of the project focusing on, because obviously all the issues are important, but we are bound by budget and time. So it's their job to decide what this project can achieve. And then for the next couple of years, will focus on trying to achieve some of those aims and we're doing that through action research. So that is process of going, okay? Here's the problem. Let's dream up a solution. Try it out. What happened? Did it work? Did it? Not look and then try a few different


Things. And then by the end of that hopefully will have a load of understandings about the impacts of different kinds of interventions and then we can share those and other people can do them or not. That's the plan. Thank you so much for a and SVN for well for everything for the project in itself and for joining us on the podcast. And it'd be really exciting to hear how the project develops. If people want to get involved, how can they do that? I can drop us a line. We've got email address. Access folk at Sheffield, Stacy


UK or googlers and find the website. There's a contact form on the website. We want to hear from everybody all the time, either with your ideas or feedback on what we're doing as well. It's we're very much trying to incorporate it into the community of the communities. Gravel grass is so green. Such beautiful flowers ever seen.


I really enjoy how much Bay and it has been have really thought about these issues for so long. And it's so eloquent in their discussion around the issues. How are you feeling at the end of it, all Oliver, I do feel that institutionally the folk Community still has quite a way to go, and there are steps that can be made to improve access to folk music and particularly focusing, but it feels like


We have taken steps towards at least recognizing the issues that are endemic when it comes to said access. Yeah. And I suppose I'm remembering what they said that, you know, in a way the folk Community, it's a community. I think she used the word ecosystem rather than an institution that I do understand what you mean. In terms of these practices that have grown up at the time, it was certainly massively enlightening for me when I was at the Symposium as part of the conference to really understand how new


Knew just how knew most of these practices are, you know, realizing that what we may consider The Unbroken lineage of English. Focus on is just basically two generations old as its presented. Now in terms of going back to the second Revival but I think you know we've spoken about this there's even people who are really well regarded as having folk histories in their family. It's usually two generations old and that's really helped me understand.


That kind of, it's up for grabs. I remember Marie Bashiru is saying no she heard ideal that focus is free for all free for all. And I suppose we've been talking in this series about how to make that aspiration and reality.


This podcast was presented by Oliver cross and Joni bones and produced by a Esbjorn Wettermark and Rowan Piggott, it was funded. As part of the access folk research project at the University of Sheffield with additional funding from the University's public engagement Development Fund.