Leo learnt violin and piano as a child before teaching himself guitar playing along to Beatles records. Anna sang in choirs in Germany before becoming a goth and getting into rock music.
How did the duo Birds and Beasts start?
We started playing music together so we could spend less time apart from each other. When we met, Leo was off playing gigs with a few different bands and we started singing together at home at first. We wrote the first Birds and Beasts songs whilst visiting Anna’s parents in Germany, we were staying in a log cabin in the forest and ended up snowed in with a log fire, acoustic guitar and some nature documentaries on the telly. We wrote about five songs in a couple of days and just ran with the theme!
Why did you call yourselves Birds and Beasts ? How would you describe your music?
All of our songs’ are inspired by animals. They are written to put the listener in the animal’s position. We try to focus on the things that make us the same as animals; our family lives, our struggles, triumphs and determination. We like our songs to be easy to connect with and relatable on a human level but they also have another layer of meaning which the listener can connect with. We find the animal kingdom is a massive well of ideas, we can draw upon, but we like to keep it all relatable to the human experience too. We love a lot of different genres of music – folk, pop, rock and roll, blues, jazz, reggae.
Your new album Kozmik Disko is out next Spring, what is it about and did you enjoy creating it?
We have been experimenting with electronic music and learning to use drum machines and sequencers as part of our live shows. The album was built around pre-existing songs we had written that we then orchestrated using technology. The songs cover quite a wide range of styles and subjects – from scorpions walking miles and miles to find a mate to ants’ self sacrifice to protect their communities from disease.
Dancemaster is a great title for a song, where did you get the inspiration from and I am loving the new upbeat style coming through, is this here to stay?
The lance tailed manakin is a flamboyant bird that uses dance to impress potential mates. Two males will team up to perform a dance which will lead to one of them mating if it is judged to be impressive enough. However, this approach means that only one of the males gets to mate, one is dominant and the other the wingman who plays a supporting role. So this song is sort of dedicated to those friends who help us to be our best, it is a song about teamwork essentially. I think our style will continue to be fairly fluid, the song dictates the sound and for a song about dancing it had to be pretty upbeat!
You have supported and played with some amazing people over these last few years, tell us about these experiences and how they have shaped you as artists?
We have met, shared stages and supported some really inspirational people. Being musicians requires a lot of self-belief and that is something that you need to top up from time to time to enable you to keep going. We still have people who follow the band who saw us supporting Miles Hunt which was one of our first higher profile support slots.
We still remember hanging out with Michele and Romeo from The Magic Numbers, when we played their night in London at Green Note. We were so nervous, but hearing them say nice things about our set afterwards was a big boost. During the lockdown we have shared some online bills with some fantastic artists including O’Hooley and Tidow who are big favourites of ours. We have quite a few online double bills up our sleeves so watch out!
Who are you playing with next?
We first met Dan Sealey from Merrymaker at a big Christmas gig in Halifax Piece Hall for Loafers Presents. The show was in an amazing vintage tent and was headlined by Chris Helme. Dan was playing with Merrymaker and we got on well so have put together a double bill with him online which is this Saturday, live from our Facebook page. We haven’t played with Plumhall before but have connected with them online and really enjoy their music, that is a big honour so we are looking forward to that online gig on the Saturday 19th of December. We have a gig pre-booked (before covid 19 hit) with Carol Hodge who is someone we also admire. We were originally meant to be playing in a venue with her but it has been pushed back a couple of times due to the pandemic. There is a chance we might find a way to perform live in a venue but we are also prepared to take that one online if we have to as well. You have to be flexible in these times we think!
What has this year brought you as artists? And has it changed you in anyway?
We actually love just staying and writing music and we have had more time to do that which has been great, it is also a great distraction from the great existential fears which surround all of us at the moment. There are songs that have come out of the lockdown experience that would not have come into being without those events. We are sure a lot of great music has been created by many artists during this time. It is also a scary time though, the industry is facing so many challenges and we have to try and work together to make things happen. Leo stopped his day job as a teacher just before lockdown started which was unfortunate timing as we faced a lot of lost income from cancelled gigs. However, we are fortunate that we have been able to take some things online and that we have our safe and warm home studio to keep the creativity rolling in.
Where can we purchase the single /Album ?
We have launched our own webshop over on www.birdsandbeasts.net, our debut album, Entwined is available there as well as our pre-orders for Kozmik Disko and links to download our Dancemaster single in our bundles.
Go to Birds and Beasts website for all their links & gigs www.birdsandbeasts.net