DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: Warrilow | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists that we have right here in the north east. This time Rhys Bethell, aka Warrilow, tells us more about the ups and downs of releasing his work.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?

I play under the name Warrilow but my Sunday name is Rhys Bethell. I hail from a little market town called Retford, lived in Sheffield for about 10 years and moved to my new home, Newcastle, in 2013. I feel like I’ve finally found a home in the North East; after everything the Geordies have been through in their history, it’s surprising that they’re some most genuine and welcoming people I’ve ever met.

What inspired you to first start making music?

I don’t think I was inspired, I think it was just inescapable. I was raised with music everywhere, whether listening to my mum sing whilst fronting blues and folk bands; my dad introducing my to the likes of Nick Drake, the Incredible String Band and John Martyn; and playing old folk songs with my step-dad. So I didn’t really have a choice! I’ve been pretty lucky with my parents.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

My influences change all the time, but consistently I come back to a few people. Two Gallants write some of the best lyrics and guitar work I’ve ever heard. I think James Taylor really influenced me to put down the plectrum and pick, same with John Martyn. But songs influence me more than individuals and some of my favourite songs are written by Fairport Covention, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Kate Bush, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Little Dragon, Regina Spektor, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills and Nash… sorry, I’ll stop now.

How would you describe your sound?

I like to call it ghost-folk. This sort of came from a song I wrote based on an old folk song called The Unquiet Grave, which is about a lovesick posh-boy who won’t leave his dead girlfriend’s ghost alone. I play folk-inspired stuff like this song, but it’s not trad enough to appease proper folkies and it’s a bit too folky to just be acoustic music… so I pretentiously invented my own genre… ghost-folk!

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?

There’s a lot of lads and lasses with guitars about in this city and they’re pretty much all intimidatingly great at what they do. The local music scene is fantastic up here – full of talent an genuine people – and I try to fit in as much as I can to keep people coming to watch, but I hold true to English folk as much as possible. The folk scene is massive up here too, but folkies don’t often come out of the sessions and folk clubs, so I take a little of what I learnt from them to the gigs that I play for something a little different.

“it’s not trad enough to appease proper folkies and it’s a bit too folky to just be acoustic music… so I pretentiously invented my own genre”

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by Warrilow?

Poor jokes, a bit of chat, maybe a token song on the tenor guitar to show off that I can nearly play another instrument and my songs. Usually I throw a cover in, which I try to change up as much as possible. See Just Around the River Bend from Disney’s apologist romp Pocahontas on my YouTube profile.

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?

None, at the moment! I’ve just released an EP called Chief – my first full band, studio recording – and pretty much put all my eggs in that basket, forgetting that I’m supposed to promote it. I’m terrible at the management side of things, but keep your eyes on my Facebook page. I tend to hover at places like the Barca in Gosforth, Lola Jeans in Tynemouth and my extra special favourite, SurfCafe in Tynemouth.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as an artist?

Without a doubt, getting Chief funded on Kickstarter. I recorded Chief at Loft Studios in February, after years of trying to get the money together, but had no money to print it. I turned to crowd funding, and it was funded in three days. Massively happy.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?

This kind of relates to the last question, but finally getting Chief together. It took actual years, whether because of money, the distance from a friend’s studio that I started at and other things life tends to put in your way. Because it took so long, I’m now ready for the next one…

What else have you got planned for the future?

Record the next EP and perhaps an album. I haven’t taken playing all that seriously in the past as I struggle with confidence, but as Chief has had so much attention, I think I ought to pull my finger out.

Keep up to date with Warrilow’s gigs and future releases on his Facebook page. 

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