Meet: The Intriguing And Blindly Brilliant Snow Ghosts

Steve Gullick

With three singles already released to the world from the band’s forthcoming album ‘The Fell’, Snow Ghosts are set to unleash one of the best albums of the year. We caught up with the band to find out a little bit about them before they release that album.

Give us a potted history of the band

Ross: Hannah and I met working for a music publisher in London around 2008. We both had common threads to our interests and music tastes but also big differences, so when we started writing it became something else altogether. We first released an EP on Black Acre but then soon joined Houndstooth where we have released music ever since.

Oli: I joined in 2014 as a last minute violinist for a show at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen and we got on great so was very happy to become a permanent member.

Who inspired you to start making music

Oli: I’ve learned a few instruments since I was young but I started wanting to make my own music when I started developing my own music tastes. I think Nirvana was the first thing I heard that I felt like I could realistically teach myself on guitar. 

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

Oli: There are too many to narrow it down to just one! Different records inspired different parts of my musical journey. In the context of Snow Ghosts, it’s probably a mixture of the film scores of composers like Jóhann Jóhannsson and experimental heavy bands like Old Man Gloom. In both of these examples the space in between melodies is as important as the core parts of the arrangements. 

Ross: I couldn’t narrow that down either! John Peel’s eclectic radio show had a big influence on me though. Our music is inspired more by folklore, history and trying to elicit an emotional response from the listener, rather than a genre or an artist.

If you’re trying to explain whom you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say

Ross: Epic melancholy 

Oli: I think Ross summed this up in the previous question too, but we did once overhear our set being described as Game Of Thrones Dubstep at a show.

Tell us about your forthcoming EP

Oli: The idea for The Fell came about quote some time ago. We’ve had a mini-album, LP and EP come out since we started talking about it. It came from a conversation between Ross and Hannah about Ross’s hometown of Weardale and grew from there. 

From our Bio:

“The concept of The Fell as a living thing was there from the beginning” Explains Ross. “That imagery provided the overarching environment” Hannah continues, “which then left us encompassed by human, floral, faunal, mythological, folkloric and magical elements to explore as and when we approached each piece. It was a chance to completely immerse ourselves in another world, its history and perception through other inhabitants.”

The Fell is also a liminal or ‘thin’ place. Bog land preserves organic remains, like time capsules, a quality that made it a special place to prehistoric people. These relics serve as starting points for new stories and songs. Folk tales talk of the metamorphosis of animals into people and back again which talks to a deep rooted ambiguity of where people begin and the land ends.

“The moorland fell looks beautiful, wild and desolate.” Ross continues. “From certain places you can look in all directions and see no obvious signs of humanity. Yet it’s a completely man made landscape. We used it as a multilayered metaphor, containing stories of the interaction between humans and nature which express themselves in folklore.” 

The arrangement too is multilayered in its approach. 2019’s colossal ‘A Quiet Ritual’ contained a score for a full orchestra and the ancient Carnyx. ‘The Fell’s’ instrumental arsenal consists of esraj, dulcimer, daf and bodhrán drums, violin, guitars, and a variety of synthesisers. Whilst equally vast, immersive and other-worldly, these tools are used to create intimate, personal stories. Sharing a mutual influence of the shadowy elements of folklore and the heavier side of experimental noise, a disparate array of reference points and this extensive collection of instruments combines to form Snow Ghosts’ bewitching and often intoxicating sound. 

The bulk was written in our old studio in the Southeast of England which we called The Castle due to the fact it’s part of a renovated castle grounds. 

Where can we get hold of it  

Oli: and all the regular streaming services 

Tell us how you write

Ross: There is normally an overarching theme that we all try to fit our ideas around. The ideas we all have individually are brought together into a mixing pot then honed to fit what we are musically trying to convey. 

Tell us about your live show What would be your dream gig

Oli: Our last performance was a filmed session at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios with a String Trio. I’d love to do something like that again in an unusual venue.

Ross: Yeah I’d love to do that again. It was special to hear John Kenny play the carnyx with us, it’s a sound and instrument almost lost to the mists of time.

What can we expect from you in the near future

Oli: Our 4th LP ‘The Fell’ will be released on Feb 24th 

Tell us your favourite records that are rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo

Oli: I’ve really been enjoying  ‘Mutual Dreaming’, an album by a Norwegian artist called Sea Change, Peter Talisman’s ‘Lord Of The Harvest’, and as of yesterday Caroline Polachek’s new album. 

Pre-order the album here

Find out more via the band’s Website or Facebook

Check out the band’s track Prophecies, below:

Previous Track: Snow Ghosts - Prophecies
Next News: Iona Zajac releases debut studio single Rubbish Jubilee produced by Rod Jones (Hamish Hawk, Idlewild) ahead of SXSW appearance in March

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