Five Questions … Said the Maiden
SF: So how did Said the Maiden get together?
StM: We all went to secondary school together ... many years ago, and sang in school choirs and shows together. We all went off to different universities, but came back to Hertfordshire where we discovered our mutual appreciation of folk music. Group holidays with our friends gave us opportunities to sing and play together, and eventually we became regulars at Redbourn Folk Club. After a few visits we finally plucked up the courage to stand up and sing a couple of songs. The folk club actively encouraged us to learn more songs and keep performing ... and so we did.
SF: Where do you find and source songs/tunes and how do you write new material?
StM: We generally sing songs that we have heard live and enjoyed and feel we could arrange to suit our own style and voices. Sometimes inspiration comes from YouTube, or CDs, but mostly from live gigs we have been to. We haven’t done a lot of song writing to date, but hope to do more. Jess tends to be the lyricist, then she’ll bring the material to the group and Hannah and Kathy put the tunes together. Inspiration comes from anywhere: fairy tales, boring days at work ... all sorts. We have also taken traditional lyrics that don’t seem to have a tune any more and put our own music to them.
SF: What did you learn from touring with the legendary Dave Swarbrick?
StM: Dave was a fantastic mentor, and we feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work so closely with him. He gave Hannah, who plays violin, some great advice on general technique and gave the whole group tips on how to improve our stage presence and confidence in front of an audience. We really felt, and Dave agreed, that we grew a lot as a band throughout the tour and came out of it much improved due to the whole experience. It was the first time we’ve been on a tour, so we learned that we can tour, and survive it, and have fun!
SF: Is it difficult to balance work/jobs and your musical careers?
StM: At times it can be really hard, but it’s always worth it. We all have very different jobs and very different timetables, which can become frustrating when planning things. But it usually works out OK. It means that we have to limit the distance we can travel during the week, and use up the odd day of annual leave to travel. We’ve had a few mad dashes after work, and occasionally get to venues by the skin of our teeth. We’re very reliant on good traffic conditions! It’s a nice escape from the day-to-day grind. Sometimes it feels like we’re living a double life: travelling around the country to sing over the weekend, and then sitting back at our desks on Monday morning.
SF: What next for Said the Maiden? Is there a new album on the way?
StM: We are currently working on a new EP, which is due for release in December. It comprises four tracks, two recorded in front of a live audience and two produced and mixed by Stu Hanna of Megson fame. It has been a really exciting experience as we have previously produced and recorded our own material with the help of friends and family and this is the first time we have worked with a professional producer. We feel he has really added something to our sound and can’t wait for people to hear the tracks. We also shot a music video to accompany one of the tracks and have been working with the fantastic Elly Lucas on the CD artwork and photography. We are hoping to build on the work we have done on the EP and begin a new album in the near future. In the meantime we are hoping to continue much as we did in the past year with lots of gigs and festival appearances. We are also in the early phases of an exciting new collaborative project, so watch this space ...