Stephanie Phillips is a London-based freelance journalist and content writer, specialising in music, race and feminism.
Gloom pop darlings Stealing Sheep have been on the indie gig circuit for a few years, but after signing with Heavenly Recordings they are ready to release their debut album, Into the Diamond Sun. We first discovered the three-piece a few years ago when they organised an eco friendly bike tour across the north England – any band that wants to put the pedal to the metal and ride on two wheels is a band we want to know about.
Stealing Sheep’s songs are like the smoke from the camp fire we’re sure they gather around every night; they bend, twist change into new and wonderful shapes. Their songs evoke images of a lone marionette or a disused fairground ride; beautiful, mysterious and dark. Stealing Sheep chat to us about recording at the legendary Abbey Road studios, downloadable sheep and a potential boat tour.
Could you explain who’s in the band and what you do?
Becky plays synths, Emily plays electric guitar and Lucy plays drums. We all sing and write the songs together.
You’re getting ready to release new single ‘Shut Eye’ – what can you tell us about it?
We recorded this song in Liverpool as part of our debut album, it’s about people and getting people together to try and change things for the better. We gathered lots of friends to sing the chorus with us and try and capture that feeling of togetherness. The song has grown over time as we started playing it on our second UK tour with Emmy the Great last year. It’s evolved musically based on these shows and how the audience has reacted. We also played in live at Maida Vale for Rob Da Bank and also for Mark Riley in sessions and every time we’ve recorded it in different ways and discovered more about the song. We worked with an animator in New York over Skype to create the music video and get across its meaning to people in a visual way too.
What can we expect from your album?
Our album is a journey – its title Into the Diamond Sun helps to visualise the music as we produced it in a way that alludes to magical unknown lands of the mind. Our producer Sam Crombie helped us to record the songs in a particular way with unusual processes and hopefully captures the mystical charms in the music.
What is the writing process usually like?
We have lots of different approaches. Sometimes melodies come out when you’re riding your bike or on the train and you bring them in and try to orchestrate some musical sensibilities to the lyrics. Other times we jam out patterns and rhythms until a song evolves from it. We are always experimenting and trying to capture new energies in the process. Often we change our location for writing because this effects the style and atmosphere of the songs. Nearly every song on our album is written in a different place.
You recorded your single ‘I Am the Rain’ at Abbey Road studios. What was that like? Did you discover any lost Beatles tracks?
This was our last single and we were invited to Abbey Road to record a song. At the time it was just a little piece of music that we hadn’t developed, but, this raw quality and freshness came through in the session and it steadily became our single due to DJs choices, not our own.
Do you have a favourite song from the record or a favourite song to play live?
We really like playing ‘Genevieve’ because it gets people dancing.
Who are you currently listening to?
St Vincent; we supported her in Paris and are now addicted.
How would you describe your music in one word?
We first heard about you when you were doing a ‘Batteries Not Included’ tour of the UK where you cycled from venue to venue to play acoustic gigs. How did that tour go?
It was amazing. Hopefully we can do it again one day, we’re really into cycling.
How did the idea of the ‘Batteries Not Included’ tour come about?
We just wanted to find a way of getting to gigs that didn’t harm the environment and didn’t cost any money.
Do you have any plans to do anything like that in the future?
We are always thinking of innovative unusual ways to perform and tour, we’ve thought it might be cool to go by boat next time.
An obvious question but how did the name Stealing Sheep come about?
Ha ha! My Norweigen friend, Gunhild, was back home for the summer. At the time a politician wanted to legalise the free download of all music online. A death metal band called Enslaved stole his sheep and the headlines were ‘downloadable sheep’. This just happened to become our name.
Do you have any live shows planned?
We’re going to Istanbul after Sound City next weekend, then we start a European tour in Milan and then a UK tour in June.