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

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I love the delight in discovering, by chance or fate, beautiful sounds that resonate deeply. One such recent discovery for me has been Dutch singer-songwriter Catch The Sparrow’s delicately delivered, richly narrated songs.

That such spellbinding vocals and sparse orchestration exist in a time of daily global turmoil seems incongruous. However, taking a beat, time to breathe and be present is a welcome way to observe the world from a fresh perspective.

Catch The Sparrow, the pseudonymous folk project of Suze Terwisscha van Scheltinga, both as a solo performer and collaboratively, began formation when she was an undergrad in the Netherlands studying jazz. “I studied vocals at the conservatoire there and while I was doing that I realised that I was really interested in Baroque music. But that’s not really something I could study in the Netherlands itself. So I started doing some research towards the end of my studies there, whether I could study abroad somewhere and that brought me to Newcastle.”

Despite Brexit and the pandemic Suze soon moved and found herself holed up in the UK, following her graduation, enduring various lockdowns and remote study whilst undertaking her Masters. Encouraged to explore the traditional folk of Northern England and the Celtic regions, her focus on narrative and storytelling led to uncovering music that melded well with her own contemporary approach to songwriting, particularly in the song Farewell/Here’s The Tender Coming, an evocative union of two songs created across the generations.

Its five tracks are a finely layered, poetic ode to her new hometown

Her music is also informed by the limitations Suze and her housemates experienced during lockdowns. “We just went for long walks through town, kind of exploring our surroundings, the best way we could at the time. Obviously moving to the North of England, you get an idea of the history, it’s kind of such a shame that that a lot of people ignore this place, because it’s wonderful.”

Also teaching herself the intricacies of home recording and production, she began writing in earnest. It was only after finishing her Masters that she got to know people she’d met online in person. “There’s quite a lively folk scene here. I’ve been getting to know people more and more. A lot of people I worked with on the EP I met in person or through other people at the Uni, like the person who produced the album, David de la Haye,” and fellow local contributing talents Ceitidh Mac on cello, Andy May on Northumbrian small-pipes and harmonium, and Mera Royle on harp. Suze elaborates: “Sometimes you just have to be bold and ask people that you don’t actually know.”

On the EP Winter Flowers as a project, she says: “It’s very satisfying to just finally release it. Finishing is a way of ending something.” Its five tracks are a finely layered, poetic ode to her new hometown, crafted over time. Soaring melodies beautifully capture a heartfelt love of the landscape’s expanse, gloom and all, and the strong character of its people, past and present. The winter cold is given icy clarity, tiny flowers thriving despite the snow. Never was there a more apt metaphor for a region as hopeful as ours.

On Thursday 15th December you can savour a live performance at St. Andrew’s church. Expect an intimate and at times fragile sound that harbours bigger ambitions and deserves to be heard far and wide.

Catch The Sparrow releases Winter Flowers EP on 2nd December. They play St Andrew’s Church, Newcastle on Thursday 15th December.


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