North London 5-piece, Firefly Burning create impressionistic music – part art-folk song, part minimalist chamber music. Evoking sounds of Sufjan Stevens, Steve Reich and Kate Bush, the band draws on avant-pop, experimental folk, classical minimalism and Javanese Gamelan to ‘paint sound pictures and take the audience in myriad directions at will’ (For Folks Sake). With eclectic tastes and a background in free improvisation, the band encompass strings, piano, synthesiser, electric guitar and gamelan, centred on close vocal harmonies echoing of William Byrd and The Beach Boys.
Writing all their songs together as a 5-piece, in 2015 the band released and toured their second album ‘Skeleton Hill’, garnering critical success for its rich tapestry and originality. They are currently completing a new album for release in early 2019.
Firefly Burning are James Redwood, Sam Glazer, Jack Ross, John Barber and Bea Hankey.
Here Firefly Burning share their top tips for aspiring musicians…
John’s tip. Try to cultivate artistic relationships amongst your peers. These are the relationships that will last through your career and will provide much needed support as well as, potentially, opportunities and inspiration.
Bea’s tip. Soak up all the inspiration you can, explore different styles and don’t limit yourself. But also take your time to question, explore and discover your own musical voice. Who you uniquely are as a musician/songwriter/performer.
Sam’s tip. When I was younger I never considered a career in music. I thought that my peers were so much better than me that I didn’t stand a chance. But whether or not you ‘make it’ as a musician is not just down to talent and hard work, it’s also about whether you have the resilience and persistence to keep on going through the (mostly) unglamourous existence of a freelancer, and keep hold of your love for music making.
James’ tip. Taking time out to rest and reflect is a strength and not a weakness. I spent the first ten years of my working life going flat out and it’s taken me another ten years to accept that I’m only human and that sometimes it’s ok to take a break and, in fact, I’m going to work more effectively having had some time away from the project. Sometimes walking away from the piano or computer feels impossible, but you’ll be glad you did.
Jack’s tip. Embrace the things you find difficult as wholeheartedly as you embrace the things you find easy. Whether you are singing, playing an instrument or composing music, there are a bunch of creative and technical skills like rhythm, harmony, phrasing, sound production, tone colour, texture, improvisation sight reading, etc… that will be important to keep exploring as you grow as a musician. All of us sometimes justify why we’re not going to bother learning how to do something because we don’t need to for whatever reason (“I don’t need to learn to read music because I have a good ear”), but the more rounded your skill set becomes, the more comprehensive your musical toolbox will be, and the more varied the projects will be that you can jump into.