Music Q&A:
Winter Mountain

The Radio 2 favourite plays Hagglers Corner, Sheffield, 16 Nov and the Castle, Manchester, 19 Nov

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What informs your music and songwriting?
I Swear I Flew was an album that emerged from a time in my life when my personal world was radically changing shape. My grandparents had both sadly passed away within a few months of one another, my bandmate split and an extremely significant relationship I was in came to an end. I had been living in Ireland but once those things occurred I moved back to Cornwall to start over. However, the music doesn’t necessarily reflect the gloom or heaviness of the situation. Instead I prefer to infuse my songs with a genuine goodwill and positive, loving vibes. I don’t dwell on what was lost, more celebrate what was so great about that time.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
Significantly! Winter Mountain began as a duo. Myself and Irish songwriter Marty Smith met on a train that was heading southbound from Chicago to Memphis. A few months later I sailed to Donegal in Ireland and that’s where Marty and I started to write songs. From there, we began gigging, got signed and made our first record on folk legend Cara Dillon’s Charcoal Records label. After Marty split in 2015 I made the decision to go for it on my own. I put my heart and soul into writing some new music, and put a backing band together to tour and play the festivals. I’m so glad that I did – it’s a blast!

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Writing songs for my next record. I have spent the past year in Cornwall. I’ve been making the most of the wild beauty and wide open spaces so I’m not short of inspiration. Plus I’m enjoying writing with the band in mind.

What’s on your rider?
Port, rum, Jack Daniels, Coke, a few cartons of beer for the lads and Monster Munch.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Too many embarrassing experiences to mention! My surreal experience is a bit of a name drop: I got to open for Seal a few months ago at an open-air show in Cornwall. We were stood backstage after my set when Seal began talking about what it was like to play the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley in 1992. He told us about the atmosphere, the energy of the crowd and how he became friends with Bowie. I was totally silent, star struck. Then he said: “Excuse me for a moment.” He closed his eyes, raised a microphone to his mouth and sang the words “But we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little … CRAZY.” I heard his voice echo out across the beach, the crowd roared and he walked on stage. What a dude.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Black Dog by Zeppelin, Message in a Bottle by The Police or Heroes by David Bowie.

What’s your worst lyric?
One of my first ever song was called You Make me Feel Alright. The whole thing was terrible. It was full of rhymes like “Go to a place and I see your face, it’s staring through the rain, driving me insane, so I look up at the sky and try to fly, ever so high.” I wrote it for a girl who I was at school with. I wrote the lyrics out and gave them to her at lunchtime. Later on I overheard her and her friends reading them out in the playground and laughing raucously. I was mortified! There’s a story about embarrassment for you.

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