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

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Timing is everything in music. In finding that elusive groove, a song that becomes an encapsulation of a moment, just for a moment. The Woven Project’s stunning new EP, Let Beautiful In, makes art out of the fact that those moments are not always linear, and that the life of a song – let alone an eclectic musical collective – can be a kaleidoscope of moments that move backwards and forwards.

But as the Woven Project’s central duo, Brian Barnes and Brian Batey, noted, Let Beautiful In may not have happened at all: “We played a couple of gigs after lockdown, and we just didn’t enjoy them. For one there were technical things went wrong, and also no one turned up… So we were thinking of giving up, shelving things again. We spoke to the label, and they suggested we go and record some of our songs. We didn’t even have an idea of putting the EP together, but it went so well that we decided to bring in some musicians that we respect. So we planted the seeds, but it’s an amalgamation of a lot of artists.”

It feels like the EP is the start of something. It’s like a reboot of the Woven Project

That amalgamation has given new life to a roster of diverse and emotive songs, crafting a sound that evokes Elbow at their most cinematic. At the heart of the EP is the spectral 44; written over a decade ago, the song gradually builds drone notes over a simple piano riff, the vocal lines melding, the song sounds as though it is pulling in and out of focus as vocal adlibs over the subtle timbral changes of the riff. “44 was a song we always loved, but in the band we were playing with at the time it didn’t really work. It was a song we always wanted to get back to.” Though the song was made in a different time, it has remained central to the Woven Project’s sense of themselves. “That song was a way for us to get back playing again…it sort of tuned us in together again. So although it’s an 11 years old song in the writing, in giving it to new musicians, it’s brand new.”

This isn’t playing an old song in a new context, it’s making a new piece of music through the dialogue between past and present. The EP is reflective; echoes of other times, other places, resonate throughout it. Maybe it would be easy to hear this EP as ‘nostalgic’, a retrospective of a lost (or never heard) oeuvre, an imagined history, looking backwards, perpetually. But that isn’t the case. With the addition of new musicians, a generousness of the central duo to give over ownership of musical material to their collaborating artists, there is a vibrancy and a sense of the present in their work. As the duo remark of their creative process: “When we’re working with new musicians, I’m a big one for the energy of the people that you bring into your circle if you want to be creative. It feels like the EP is the start of something. We got offered some gigs we always wanted to play. It’s like a reboot of the Woven Project.”

The Woven Project – as a temporarily crystallised ‘band’ – will be performing at festivals and gigs over the summer, but always have an eye on the sanctuary of the studio, and the aim is to record further tracks as a collective.

The Woven Project release the Let Beautiful In EP on 26th May.


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