Artist Name: Sunflower Thieves
Song Title: Two Halves
Genre: Singer-Songwriter Pop
Release Date: 07.09.18
Sunflower Thieves – Two Halves
“After fifteen years of friendship, Leeds-based pop-folk band Sunflower Thieves are a strong “soulful sisterhood” (LeftLion 2018) nurturing a unique sound.
The much-anticipated debut EP, Hold the Storm, released in February 2017, combines rich harmonies and honest lyrics to soothe the mind. Each Sunflower Thieves track is hugely personal to the songwriters, hence the intimate atmosphere and sincere performance you experience in watching them.
One year on, the brand new single Two Halves, released in September 2018, is no exception to this and will be the soundtrack to your autumn days. Both singers, guitarists, and keyboard players, in live performance, Sunflower Thieves are storytellers, and their friendly chatter invites you in, in between the captivating stories of loss, friendship, and hope, portrayed through ethereal vocal harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. Since being joined by their band, Sunflower Thieves have taken their bigger and brighter sound to many festivals across the country, from YNOT Festival to Dot To Dot Nottingham to How The Light Gets In, and even overseas to Maiwoche in Osnabruck, Germany. Whether it is performing as an acoustic duo at Sofar Sounds gigs, or as a band at their own headline shows, you will immediately warm to Sunflower Thieves.
– Dean Jackson, DJ, BBC Introducing East Mids.
“Sunflower Thieves have never been bolder as a four-piece with a bigger, brighter sound and accomplished collection of songs.” – Nailed, Belper Independent News.
“There’s more than a little of The Staves in the vocal, an innocent coming-of-age to the lyrics, and a beautiful pastoral naivety to these shy but confessional songs”
– Storge, Derby Music, Arts, and Culture website
“Their songs were as hauntingly beautiful live as they are online, and they’re well worth a watch if you’re a First Aid Kit fan.”
– LeftLion Magazine, Nottingham.
Share your life story with us.
Sunflower Thieves began as an acoustic duo, gigging in and around Derbyshire, where we (Amy and Lily) grew up and went to school together. From a young age, we both learned piano, and Amy took up the flute and Lily took up the trumpet. We grew up in families who are passionate about music and musically active themselves, in lots of different ways. We attended concerts and festivals with our families, probably primarily within the folk and singer-songwriter. We began playing at local open mics together, and as we received more and more support, and grew in confidence, we played gigs in our own right. We were very fortunate to grow up in a vibrant, creative community that had a lot of time for young, ambitious creatives. We were encouraged to write our own songs, and eventually ventured into gigging in Nottingham, where there is a thriving music scene. Nottingham has been a huge support network for us, and we went from strength to strength and were offered slots at the Bodega, other support slots, including for Cattle and Cane, and festivals such as Dot to Dot and Splendour Festival. We released our debut EP, Hold The Storm, in February 2017 and subsequently were joined by a drummer and bass guitarist. We organized a short UK tour, played at YNIT 2017 and Derby 2Q Festival 2017. Lily has just graduated from Leeds College Of Music with a Music Production degree and Amy is currently at Leeds College Of Music studying Songwriting. Lily produced our single Two Halves.
Discuss your songwriting.
We often write the skeleton of the songs separately, and then polish them and compose harmonies and instrumental arrangements together. In doing this, we voice record ideas and bounce them back and forth between each other. All of our songs are inspired by people, events, or situations that have moved us, and many discuss heavy, heartbreaking subjects, which we try to convey in a lighter, more positive tone. We both play guitar and piano and often swap and change during performances.
List the names of those that have supported you so far in your music career and use this opportunity to thank them.
Dean Jackson, BBC Introducing East Midlands Sam Heaton, Danielle Sorsby, Jess Hopkins at DHP Nottingham, James Oldrini, Our parents!!! Leeds College Of Music Ian Evans, IME Nick Simcock, Dead Young Records/High, and Lonesome Sofar Sounds Maiwoche, Osnabruck, GER.
Narrate your experience while recording in the studio or while touring.
Our recording and production process has been very DIY. We have Leeds College Of Music to thank for the use of the facilities. We demo our own tracks and send our work to our peers and people around us to improve as we go along.
Elaborate on your future projects.
Following the single release, we will be putting out a live band performance video shot at Prospect Studios in Bradford. This is exciting for us as we don’t currently have any live band footage up online. This will be followed up by a stripped-back, live acoustic duo version of Two Halves, shot at YHA Coniston in April this year. Next, we intend to release a follow-up single within the next few months. We also plan to get back on booking festivals and gigs for the coming year as we went a little quiet during the preparation for this single. We hope to play more Sofar Sounds gigs in 2019 and also play more live performances abroad!
Tell us what you are doing to increase your fan base.
We keep all of our social media incredibly active, and as interactive with our fan base as possible. Our next step is maintaining and increasing interest in our new merch, which will be available within the next month. We are collaborating with independent artists, to release unique merch targeted at our fans. This includes tote bags with hand-embroidered designs, each one different from the next. We will be ordering more badges, and are working on a limited run of upcycled T-shirts to customize with our own designs, whilst supporting various local charities. Performing in more new places, particularly with Sofar Sounds, is helping to spread the word about our music, and inspire new songs.
Tell us that point in time you wanted to give up on your music career.
This is not something that happens just once. Being surrounded by inspiring, unique, motivated, and extremely talented musicians and creatives can often be hugely motivating, but can also have the opposite effect. Every musician goes through more and less creative patches. In addition, dry periods when there are fewer live performances to be done, fewer bookings being taken, etc., can be demoralizing. I think there has only been one moment since being ‘Sunflower Thieves’ that we have considered the idea that we may not carry on with it. This was during the crossover time in which Lily was in Leeds and Amy was in Derbyshire, with a place secured in Leeds for the next year. We knew that this would be a make or break for us, through how we handled both being in the same place. It was either going to be forgotten and left behind amongst other things, or we would put 100 percent effort into the project and get results. However, with our determination, organization, and passion for what we are doing, we have worked hard at it, and are so proud and excited for this release. We have made huge progress in one year, and are excited to continue with this, at the strongest and most motivated we have ever been.
Go into detail on how you make your instrumentation or melody.
There is no set way in which we set about writing a song. We are always collecting and editing lyrical ideas, and are inspired by events and people around us. This leads to determining the mood, structure, and direction of the composition. We often write the skeleton of a track, core chords, and progression, and then revisit specific areas which require more interesting instrumentation or removing unnecessary sections.
Tell us your complete understanding of music licensing.
We are members of PRS, PPL, and the Musicians’ Union. These are all super important to us as we are protected, supported, and encouraged by these organizations.
Tell us your favorite genre of music.
This is impossible to answer haha! I suppose the majority of the music we listen to fits into ‘pop’, but this goes into all sorts of sub-genres i.e. pop-folk, singer-songwriter, pop-country, etc. We listen to a lot of different artists, and often share new discoveries with each other. Being in such a musical environment, naturally, people around us are always recommending and shouting about new music, which is what we are most excited about. Independent, unsigned musicians who are doing it their own way! We will always be particularly excited for female acts, as we hope for a more equally balanced industry.
Tell us the theme of most of your songs.
Each song has a specific meaning… We have released 5 songs in total.
Breathe – a friend tragically passed away after a house fire, and this song was a reaction to this.
Oh Wait – about miscommunication within a friendship leading to a breakdown in the relationship.
Time To Choose – the difficulty of being in a place between friendship and love, and the struggle of opening up to someone, despite knowing every detail about them yourself.
Spark – this song began as a song about our musician journey and ended up as a song about love/friendship.
Two Halves – about being there for a friend who is vulnerable.
Elaborate on this song.
Two Halves is about a friend who lost her memory following an accident. The song is about offering a safe space for this person, who is rebuilding her life, and as you rebuild your friendship. This meaning is not explicit in the lyrics of the song, much like in our other songs, and we look forward to seeing how people interpret it. We feel we have captured a light tone, and positivity in the situation, as a friend would strive to do.
Discuss digital distribution and streaming.
Digital distribution and streaming allow us to generate revenue from our hard work, is a fantastic way for new artists to get discovered, and for us to discover new music. Our music is much farther spread than it would be without it.
Tell us numerous ways that artists can boost their revenue.
Merchandise, sponsorship, releasing music regularly and rereleasing i.e. singles on an album or creating remixes/acoustic versions, vlogging/fan interaction, touring and playing live function gigs, commercial/collaborative songwriting.
Tell us your opinion on self-training and enrolling in an educational institution to study music.
Being in musical institutions has been hugely motivating for us. We were initially inspired in one-to-one music lessons, and have both progressed through music institutions.
Lily attended Bilborough College in Nottingham, and Amy attended Confetti Institute Of Creative Technologies, also in Nottingham, before moving on to Leeds College of Music. Being completely immersed in creative networks is the most inspiring thing, and has opened up many doors, ideas, and aspects which otherwise would not have been considered by ourselves. However, we both play guitar through mostly self-tuition and have had only a handful of singing lessons each. We believe there is no set way to study music, and there is no necessity to do so through an institution, as this method does not suit everyone. We know many people who excel in their creative area, who did not follow this route. Stay true to who you are, this is the best way you will learn, and the happiest way you will improve.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
Sunflower Thieves. Unfortunately, there is no fun story surrounding the choice of a band name. We just really like the contradiction of the pretty, positive image of a Sunflower, alongside the darkness and negativity of Thieves. We did ask for requests from our followers at the time, but it only felt right that we design our own name, which creates an image, a brand. We feel it suits our music down to a T!
Go on at length on what it takes to write a hit song.
We are still learning! We strive to learn more about the most effective and successful songwriting but are very aware that ‘hits’ are not necessarily what we are after for Sunflower Thieves (depending on your definition of hit). Every time we write, we increase the efficiency of our songwriting process, as well as the quality of the result.