Meadowlark’s Daniel Broadley tells Big Issue North about the Bristol duo’s super-quick rise to fame, their love of experimenting, and why their sound will always come straight from the heart. They play Fallow Cafe, Manchester on 30 Sept.
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
We were once described as “avant-pop”, and I love that. I feel like it sums us up perfectly. At times our songs are beautiful, at others melancholic. Kate and myself have different influences – she loves pop music and I love ambient and electronic – and together that creates harmony when we write our songs. It can never be too much like something that already exists because the other person’s influences pull it away, creating something unique and exciting.
How have you evolved as a duo over the years?
So many bands do all their teething behind a closed door, and when you find a “new” band it is often revealed that they were developing for a few years before that moment. We, on the other hand, launched so soon after meeting each other that all of our growing pains happened in the open. We’ve experimented with different genres and different live setups. Perhaps at the time it felt messy, but looking back, it’s what got us here. All that experience has made Meadowlark what it is today, scars ‘n’ all.
Were there any alternative aliases before you arrived at Meadowlark?
No. We met in the winter of 2012 and launched in early 2013 – it all happened so, so fast. There was a possible alternative name though, Field Fare.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We are currently experimenting with the way we play live. For so long we’ve had to have extra members on stage with us to be able to play our songs like they are on our records, but with the technology musicians have access to these days we’ve come to realise that there are ways of playing those songs as a two. Now we both play drums, bass, piano and guitar in our live show.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
I think people believe they can fast track their way to success if they cut corners or pull the wool over the eyes of their audience. But I think people can always tell when something is genuine and honest. That’s all we’ve ever strived to be. We aren’t in it for a quick buck, we just want to create songs with heart and meaning that people can connect to and listen to time and time again. The rest is all a bonus.
What’s on your rider?
Wine! I wish there were more interesting things on this list but a bottle of dry white is the way to Meadowlark’s heart.
Tell us about your worst live show.
A few years ago we got put on the bill for a multi-venue festival in Newquay (I won’t name which one). Venues across the town hosted shows throughout the day, and there was one stage on the beach (that blew away, which sums up the festival quite well). We did our set stripped back in a small pub and while we were playing one of our most heart-wrenchingly honest songs, Family Tree, which is all about Kate’s family, a riot of drunk shouting guys spilled into the bar. Their football chants literally cut Kate’s voice off in the room and she couldn’t help but burst into laughter at how ridiculous that moment was. I don’t think we finished the song in the end. I’m pretty sure the crowd of guys just shouted Wonderwall at us until we came off.