In this industry it can be hard for many female folk singers to really make a name for themselves without just being branded as yet another singer-songwriter.
However, every so often there are a couple of standouts who by taking risks can really cause a stir – thankfully Josephine Sillars and Jo Whitby aka Laurence Made Me Cry fall under the latter catagory.
Having both spent time making music between Glasgow and the Highlands, the pair can be easily placed under the same bracket, however each offer their own unique twist on the genre making them ideal co-headliners.
Hi Jo and… Jo, how are you looking forward to your joint headline show? Can you give us a little insight into what you have in store for us?
Whitby: I am looking forward to it so much. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s Jo and Jo! I used to get called Josephine at school so I see it as destiny that myself and Jo should be putting on a show together. We haven’t discussed it yet but I think, as well as the music and poetry, there should be some improvised comedy and juggling.
Sillars: There will absolutely definitely be improvised comedy and juggling haha. But yes, I am excited about this night. I really love Jo’s music, and it’s actually pretty ridiculous that we’ve never been on the same bill. The night we’ve got planned is an ‘evening of lyrical enchantment and acoustic-y goodness’. For any fans of music with emphasise on words and storytelling, then this is definitely the night for you! Very excited about having Finn LeMarinel and Michelle Fisher on the bill as well. They are both excellent performers.
You’re playing at a venue that since opening just over a year ago has championed a huge amount of Scottish artists. What is your opinion on the Scottish scene at the moment and who are your favourite artists?
Whitby: I think the Scottish scene is like a beautiful cacophony. There are just so many fantastic artists coming out of the country from different musical backgrounds. It’s impressive and exciting.
Sillars: The Scottish music scene is complex to say the least. It’s brilliant in many aspects; in that it’s literally overflowing with talented artists and that there are countless opportunities for musicians available (everything from access to Creative Scotland funding and festival opportunities such as XpoNorth), however it’s not perfect. It’s important to remember that the music scene is extremely competitive, and sometimes, especially for younger musicians, it can be a really tricky thing to navigate. However, I doubt there is any music scene out there that is perfect, and for a small country, the Scottish scene is pretty inspiring to be a part of. I think at the moment my favourite artists are obviously the incredible Laurence Made Me Cry and Finn LeMarinel, and also probably Declan Welsh, Chrissy Barnacle and Emma Pollock.
Whitby: As far as favourite artists go, well, it would be rude not to mention the musical goddess that is Josephine Sillars, obviously. Finn Le Marinel is a legend. Damn, I like so many folks right now. Niteworks, The Ramsico Maki Maki Rocking Horse, HQFU, Breakfast Muff, Robbie Flanagan, Granny Green, Joyce Delaney and of course Kathryn Joseph, RM Hubbert, Rachel Sermanni, Emma Pollock, Jo Mango… so many more that I’ve missed out.
Being both originally from the Highlands how do you feel living away from the main belt has affected both your music and musical career?
Whitby: Ah, I wish I was originally from the Highlands. I grew up in Bristol, England but spent a considerable amount of time living in Wales before moving to Scotland. Of all the places I’ve lived so far I think Scotland has had the biggest impact musically. At the moment I split my time between the Highlands, mainly around Inverness, and Glasgow. Glasgow has a thriving music community; it’s so welcoming and vibrant. I love it. In Inverness I’ve experienced being part of the traditional folk scene, which has definitely rubbed off on me. I’ve never been so busy since becoming an adopted Scot so career-wise it’s been brilliant.
Sillars: I’m from the Highlands! I’m hardly ever back actually, I really love living in Glasgow. I definitely think living in the central belt has affected my musical career in that, a) I met my band here, and b) population wise, there are more musicians in Glasgow than there is in Inverness. Both cities have a wealth of talent, but Glasgow’s scene is just so much bigger which means in the years I’ve been here and I’ve been forced to up my game when necessary and push myself harder. It is always nice to play home gigs though.
Question for Sillars: The last time I saw you play was at The Glad Cafe supporting Declan Welsh where you mentioned you were trying to come up with a band name, have you had any ideas?
Sillars: Yes. We do have a band name, but it’s a secret for now. I’ve got a few things in the works regarding the band actually – and one of those ideas will be premiering at The Hug and Pint. I’m doing this show as a solo show, so I’ve been keeping quiet about it, but I’ve recently been working with my friend, local filmmaker, Fraser Coull to bring a big visual element to live shows. I’ll be testing driving these cryptic ideas on the 19th!
Question for Whitby: Really cliché question but as your moniker Laurence Made Me Cry is one of my current favourites could you tell us how you came up with it?
Whitby: It’s really daft. I was reading a newspaper article years ago about the TV show ‘Changing Rooms’. Laurence Llewelyn Bowen had designed this really awful room for one of the participants of the show, so bad it made the woman cry thus the headline ‘Laurence made me cry’. I just had to use it as a band name!
Your music is both quite personal as well as lyrical focused – where do you find your inspiration?
Whitby: I tend to be inspired by what’s happening in my life, I like to observe what’s going on around me. I’m also interested in mythology, folklore. I love a good story.
Sillars: I’m kind of the same, just by whatever is happening around me. I tend to use songwriting to channel how I feel about things in my life and the lives of the people around me, so most of the time they have a strong story telling element to them too.
Is this joint headline show the beginning of something new? Can we expect a collaborate sometime in the near future?
Whitby: We’ve talked about doing a tour together and I think that’s still on the cards at some point in the future. A friend described Jo as being very sensible and focused, y’know, like when she’s got something to do she’s totally on it, so I think touring with her would be awesome. Maybe having stuff planned out is a Jo thing? I’d love to work on a musical collaboration with Jo too. That would be sweet.
Sillars: Aw that’s nice. I’m going to put ‘sensible and focused’ on my CV. But yeah, we have been chatting about doing a tour together for ages, so hopefully that will come about in the future! I am also up for a musical collaboration.
Lastly, what is your favourite animal and why?
Whitby: I’m really into herons at the moment. I get really excited when I see one. When I’m in Inverness I make sure I head out for a walk along the Ness Islands to see if my favourite heron is there. I’m not sure if it’s a he or a she but it always seems to show up when I’m feeling a bit down or in need of reassurance. Honestly, I feel like the heron is my spirit animal. In a new song I’ve written I mention one hand being on the land and one in the water – this is a reference to folklore regarding the heron, they are seen as being comfortable in places that are neither here nor there, they exist in the now. That’s, like, really profound. Hah!
Sillars: Dragons. Because they are cool.
You can catch Josephine Sillars and Laurence Made Me Cry co-headlining The Hug & Pint on 19th July.