INTERVIEW: The Horse Loom | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Christian Alderson

This month sees a long-awaited burst of live activity from Northumbrian singer/guitarist Steve Malley in his Horse Loom guise, the beautifully melancholy solo project that follows his years in bands like Crane, Kodiak, Dark Northumbrian and The Unit Ama. It’s great to have him back, but why so long since the debut Horse Loom album (six years and counting)?

“Life.” Malley says succinctly. “After several decades where I was able to balance my work life with my love and passion for making music, I found myself unable to apply a great deal of time to it. However, I have long realised that it is an essential part of my life and forms a huge part of my identity.” So should we expect a new album any time soon? “I have had the material for the second album ready for some time and will be recording it this year. It doesn’t take me very long to write and I prefer to record in a ‘live’ way so that doesn’t take long either. For argument’s sake, let’s say the first album took 100 hours to write and record (it didn’t take that long), this one will most likely still be done in that amount of time, but that time is spread over several years!” Malley is a keen collaborator and has one hell of an address book, “[the new album] will still be me and the guitar at the heart of it, I am hoping to have some other musicians play and expand the sound and textures of the record.”

there is a wealth of traditional music that is full to the brim with sex, death, murder, love and everything else life has to offer

The Horse Loom seems quite a departure from bands like the post-hardcore Crane or avant rock trio The Unit Ama, and I wondered if Malley considered himself a folk artist. “No. I am a guitar player. A guitar player who sings at best. For me, people like Martin Carthy, Cath and Phil Tyler, Lucy Farrell, Alasdair Roberts, all the pipe players, fiddlers and singers occupy a space that I sit outside of. I love to sing and play traditional music from Northumberland, but I have not grown up with it or submersed myself in it or studied it or learned it in the same way.” And what does folk mean to him?  “I am a fan, but it’s a tricky question. I couldn’t honestly tell you what folk is. I just know that there is a wealth of traditional music that is full to the brim with sex, death, murder, love and everything else life has to offer, sitting waiting to be discovered. Dick Gaughan has talked about the way the music travels on the tides, back and forth between the UK and USA and Africa and so on. I like that. I like Dick Gaughan.”

And what of Dark Northumbrian (the Border folk super-collective Malley convened a couple of years ago)? “I LOVE playing with those people. They are all incredible musicians – truly some of my favourite on the planet today. This terrifies me, but – HEY! – they said yes to playing.” As ever, Malley explains, life and diaries get in the way, especially with a group of that size. “I can say this – I know that band is good. REALLY good. I can say that because that is not down to me and is therefore not boastful. If more people could hear and see us play – who knows?”

The Horse Loom plays The Cumberland Arms on Thursday 12th April.

 

 


 

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