My first blog for Belles and Gals and I bring you something very exciting indeed…a Q&A with Red Sky July the hottest UK Country band around! I managed to catch up with the ladies and Ally after the launch of their amazing new album ‘The Truth and The Lie’.
First of all, a big congratulations on your stunning new album ‘The Truth And The Lie’ which I am a HUGE fan of. How long did it take to get it all together?
We really wanted to get this record done as quickly as possible so as not to lose momentum, and we had said it would be ready in 3 months. But we had the luxury of recording in Shelly and Ally’s studio so we could take time to get every detail the way we wanted it, and so the process ended up taking about 6 months. Charity
How did you all meet?
Ally and Shelly were introduced by friends at their record labels. They were sat next to each other at a music awards ceremony, when Shelly was in Alicia’s Attic and Ally was in Texas. I met Ally when I was in the Alice Band and Texas were performing on The National Lottery. I later met Shelly through Dave Rowntree (drummer from Blur who I was in a band called The Ailerons with) and we writing together for my solo project. Shelly also had a solo record she asked me to do some duets with her and we discovered that we liked singing together.
Ally had been interested in Bluegrass music and had started to come up with some song ideas. The first song that was written for Red Sky July was from a riff that Ally emailed to Shelly and she wrote a melody over it and thought it would sound good with a two-part harmony so she asked me to sing on it too. That little idea became ‘Morning Song’, and Red Sky July was born. Charity
Individually you have are all prolific in your own rights, what would you say each of your proudest moments to date are?
There have been lots of amazing experiences in music over the years. The first time I heard myself on the radio was one, but one of the most memorable moments for me recently was when we were supporting Sheryl Crow, standing onstage at the Royal Albert Hall last year playing to a full house of around 5,000 people. Charity
My proudest moment was hearing myself on the radio for the first time when I was 19. Ally
Proudest moment was finishing the first Red Sky July record with Rory Carlisle in Bristol. It was such a long road to it with Ally so poorly, it felt like the biggest accomplishment… like we’d won a war. Shelly
Shelly, you have collaborated with some wonderful people! Who would you say was your favourite to work with (other than Ally and Charity of course!)
I love working with other writers and artists and I’d definitely say the calibre of artists that write has gone up tenfold, rather than just sitting in a room saying what you don’t like and taking a split its actual collaborations now where you really get a sense of the artist. I write with my partner Ben Adams in a production company called ‘Alchemy’ alot we feel really comfortable with each other and have a good rapport when a new artist is in the room. It’s always a great laugh too.
I love collaborating with Simon Byrt he’s an analogue guy, great musician, writer, producer he keeps it real, we do some of the stranger music together. Beth Nielsen Chapman is a great person to write a proper song with. We are probably as mad as each other, so it’s quite intense but it keeps it mixed up. Artists wise of late I’ve loved writing with the Ward Thomas girls they’re so talented and literally could sing anything and it’d sound awesome. I also love working with Disa Jakobsdottir she’s so free as an artist and innovative, when we collaborate we drop all the rules… it feels like being a kid again. Shelly
Ally, a few years ago you recovered from a brain aneurysm. Has this changed the way you look at life?
The brain episode really changed the way I approach life now, I really appreciate just being alive and even walking down the street feels like a blessing. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m back playing guitar like it never happened. Ally
Charity, you were/are a part of the group The Alice Band, how do you find Red Sky July differs apart from the music genres?
I feel a lot more comfortable in my skin now in Red Sky July than I did in The Alice Band. Some of that is probably due to the fact I’m more experienced now in music and in life… When I was in my twenties, I think my whole world revolved around my ambitions. In some ways, that’s what it takes to get anywhere in the music industry, but that ambition ate me up and resulted in some big sacrifices in my personal life and relationships. Now, especially after Ally’s aneurysm, I see how important it is to live in every moment and appreciate the people I love. The Alice Band was my first experience of the music industry and I had what turned out to be unrealistic expectations of going on the road with my best friends and making millions. It was an amazing opportunity but was also hard on us. Audrey and Amy and I are better than best friends now, more like sisters in the way that we are connected by that experience. I had only just learned to play the guitar then and every gig I was just so scared of screwing up that often I didn’t enjoy it so much. Now with Shelly and Ally in Red Sky July, I just try to enjoy every minute of making music with them and I usually do. I want us to make millions but my happiness and definition of success isn’t tied to whether or not that happens. As long as we are making great music I am happy. Charity
Where do you get your inspiration from when writing your songs?
We write the lyrics based on our life experience because that’s what we’ve got to work with, or we make up stories that have an attraction for us. The melodies or phrasings sometimes can get inspired by other music we like, or they just seem to get blurted out from the ether or when we are jamming around a chord progression. Charity
Any tips for a beginner singer/songwriter like myself?!
Just find your own voice, don’t try to be anyone else. Ally
Interview conducted by Becky Lawrence