INTERVIEW: Amy Thatcher & Francesca Knowles | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Georgia Claire Tyrie 

There’s a calm at work. You can feel it from the early stirrings of their song, This Town is Big Enough for Both of Us, as the duo’s unified, soothing vocalised oohs and the long breathing sighs of Amy Thatcher’s accordion bellows float over Francesca Knowles’ metronomic snare snaps and rimshots. As the instrumental crescendos into a final chorus of accompanying synths you’re being held tightly and reassured. It’s a beautiful introduction.

This song comes from the pair’s debut album together Emergency of the Female Kind and as scene setting goes it’s a fine way to hear their musical collaboration working like a Swiss watch. Talking about the album together with Amy and Fran reveals there are big social, ethical and cultural themes throughout. Issues concerning women, as in title track Emergency of The Female Kind, as well as motherhood in Anyway Back To Me are intertwined with wanting to inspire wider compassion for each other, (A Little More Compassion and Power To the Loser), as well as for society and its future (Start Giving a Fuck).

The album came about following lockdowns and the enforced downtime from playing with their respective groups. Amy reached out as Fran elaborates, “I had an email suggesting that I joined her new project…Amy had tunes already together that she had imagined drum parts on. So, we met up and started jamming and then just began adding instruments.” Amy adds, “We hadn’t played together before, and I initially thought a third person maybe involved too but between us we realised we really wanted to see what came out [of just us]”.

you have to have trust and faith in your own abilities. It’s natural to second guess that process at times

During their time together Amy’s project became more collaborative and each person played to the strengths of the other. They were reinvigorated around the thought of creating and playing their music live. They experimented with the initial musical ideas. “We would mess around just because we could.” Fran suggesting arrangements, both rewriting pieces, while recording sessions and coalescing the music, and themselves, into the sounds that have become Emergency of the Female Kind.

This mix, which at first glance may seem sparse and peculiar (accordion, drums, synths and occasional singing but with the creative freedom of mixing jazz, glitchy beats, lyrical folk styles and much more), results in intense, energetic compositions.

Having partly funded the album using Kickstarter I ask whether that brings extra pressure to the mix, to ‘deliver’ an album. Amy partly agrees, but adds, “It’s like any art, you know, you have to have trust and faith in your own abilities. It’s natural to second guess that process at times”, and she’s equally sure that pairing with Francesca has allowed them both to, “Divvy out tasks that fit each other best.” Supporting and relying on each other has by osmosis found its way into the music, at the heart of so many themes on their album.

Whilst it’s clear the intent is to put female issues front and centre, they’re never hectoring, merely reflecting their own personal experiences and accountability. For the music itself, most importantly of all, there is a joyous humanity, pride in identity, playful disregard for genre definition and an inherent hope. Both Amy and Fran see more collaboration happening together in the future and as this album testifies that’s a very exciting prospect.


Amy Thatcher & Francesca Knowles release their album Emergency of the Female Kind on Thursday 9th March, with a launch show at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle upon Tyne featuring support from The Rheingans Sisters.


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