When did you first get together?
Anna - We decided to start making music together pretty much as soon as we got together at the very end of 2013 but we didn’t become a duo until the end of 2018. I had to push Leo a little bit, but in the end he gave in and Birds and Beasts was born in Germany during a snowy winter in the woods.
Leo - It is true that I was a little reluctant at first but once we started singing together I realised that there was something in the way our voices combined. Once we started to think of ourselves as a band it soon grew and became our main musical focus. We first performed in front of an audience at Anna’s family reunion at a farm in Germany, there was a medieval stone chapel in the courtyard and we practiced some songs in there where the acoustics were pretty magical.
How would you describe your music ?
Leo - Classic and memorable pop music, we are influenced by zoology as much as we are by psychedelia and electronic music.
Anna - We take our audiences on a journey. We think music should be fun; sing-a-long feral rock n’ roll and sharing our love for the animal kingdom with music…
Leo - Yes, although it is fun we do like to make humans feel misty eyed about animals as well…
Anna - Although the pigs seemed to enjoy it when we played the pig sanctuary gig…
Leo – Ah yeah, and the dog joined us on stage too!
Where do you get your inspiration from ?
Anna - We do a lot of dog walking on the Yorkshire moors so those surroundings are inspirational to us. We also watch a lot of nature documentaries! There are so many interesting and strange animals that we think it is a lifetimes worth of inspiration.
Leo - We are always gathering source material, second hand bookshops are great. My latest purchase is a history of carnivores called ‘The Velvet Claw’, it was an old BBC series. I already plan to write a song about the enormous cave bears that lived in Europe during prehistoric times.
What part of the process do you like the most. Songwriting? Recording? Performing ? Or meeting the audience?
Leo - The initial excitement when you discover a new song is pretty hard to beat. However, all have their merits, we love exploring sounds and creating in our studio. Performing is also a real buzz and we love chatting to people after a show and have met some amazing people. Inconclusive answer from me!
Anna - They are all very enjoyable for different reasons. Personally I enjoy recording the least, as it means shutting the outside world away for a little while and living in a little studio bubble, but I love the end result. I prefer performing and meeting people!
You are both writing songs for your next album describe what you are creating ? Is it similar to Entwined or different?
Anna - We are starting by recording some old favorites, and will incorporate some more electronic elements; samplers, sequencers, synthesizers. Entwined had a lot of actual drums instead of drum machines on as well as some everyday items used as percussions like a glass on Turn with the Tide, we will just start exploring and see what happens!
Leo - We do have a lot of songs that didn’t make it onto Entwined that people want to have a recording of. It will be nice to be able to direct people towards the new album when we are asked ‘Where can I hear the scorpion song?’ ‘Can I get a copy of the tune about the spider?’. Sound wise we have been on a journey over the last year learning how to use some new technology, we are always going to have our songwriting as the core of who we are but it is exciting to see what we can develop. The other day I made a beat using just chopped up samples of a gorilla. Don’t expect an album full of that sort of thing but the possibilities are endless!
Anna - We are writing so many new songs it is going to be hard to select which ones will be on the record.
Recently you launched an electronic version of your album Entwined, is this something you are always going to do with your albums? You recorded it at your studio was it fun to do?
Anna - We think that this was a bit off a one-off special occasion, as the album originally came together pretty quick. It then evolved into the electronic set and we really wanted our fans to be able to listen to that at home. It was fun recording and filming it, it also really helped us prepare for the recording of the new album.
Leo - Most people have only heard us do Entwined in quite a stripped back acoustic way, when we recorded the album we didn’t think about how to replicate it live and just played whatever instruments we thought suited the song. Using the drum machine and sequencer was a way to use fuller arrangements live. The Entwined songs work well both ways but this sort of became its own thing and we just wanted to share it!
You have a a gig on the 23rd of January at the legendary Green Note in Camden with Ellie Ford. Are you looking forward to playing in London?
Anna - We are very excited for this one, having played Romeo and Michele’s (one half of the The Magic Numbers) night there last July, its amazing to return and play there . Also big fans of Ellie and her harp, so this will be a lovely evening.
Leo - It is great to be going back to this lovely venue. This time we will be playing a longer set. Choosing between songs is like choosing between children.
Doors open at 7pm.
Tickets available here - https://www.greennote.co.uk/production/ellie-ford-birds-beasts/
Listen to the bands
(c) images by Nic Chapman