A family trio – two sisters and their cousin – Wildwood Kin formed four years ago while in their mid to late teens. Their extraordinary debut album Turning Tides entered the UK charts in the top 40 and whilst it borrows from early folk influences, not least in their hypnotic three-part harmonies, it delves deeply into other genres, featuring both electric and acoustic instruments and boasts inventive electronics and spectral atmospherics.
Guitarist Emillie Key, her bouzouki/keyboard-playing sister Beth and their drumming cousin Meghann Loney all sing, swapping leads on original songs, and joining forces on harmonies that have remained their trademark. Their sound has matured at speed and their confidence caught up with their talent. From their simple beginnings at a pub near their native Exeter, to a powerful live band inspired by the likes of Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons and Fleetwood Mac to the force of nature they are now, Wildwood Kin have become one of Britain’s most exciting and intriguing new bands.
Now with three radio 2 playlist singles under their belt, a recent signing to Sony’s Silvertone label and to Peer Music Group for publishing, a debut album that entered the charts in the top 40 and numerous high profile live appearances, the band are embarking on their first headline tour and recently headlined a magical night at a sold out Exeter Cathedral.
The BBC featured their performance on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury as one of the BBC’s festival highlights of 2017.
In their symbolism-laden lyrics, you’ll hear a range of inspirations from their love of the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to their upbringing in a progressive church in which music was instrumental. In the joyous blend of their voices, you’ll hear three young women who found themselves through writing songs and whose purpose is to inspire and empower their listeners.
Wildwood Kin had self-released just one EP when they caught the ear of BBC Introducing and began getting festival bookings and tour supports. This shortly led to the girls joining forces with their manager Sarah Woodward, who played a major part in helping the girls evolve their sound and grow in confidence, whilst also connecting them with likeminded industry and media contacts.
While still unsigned, last summer Radio 2 fell for their glorious, tribal drums-driven debut single, Warrior Daughter, and after being presented with The Bob Harris Emerging Artist of the Year Award, they were invited to record a BBC Introducing session at Maida Vale studios. Impressed by their unique sound, presenters Jo Whiley, Mark Radcliffe, Steve Wright and Jamie Cullum all declared their love for a band who had only just begun to believe that music could be their career.
Late last year, on the strength of a pivotal show at London’s Union Chapel, record label approaches came flooding in. Wildwood Kin went with Sony, which made them its first signing to the newly-revived Silvertone label. By then, Turning Tides had been written and recording begun at Middle Farm in Devon.
“Making the album was a huge learning process,” says Emillie. “We had no idea what we were capable of and we constantly surprised ourselves. We went in to the studio not knowing where the boundaries were and discovered that, of course, there aren’t any. That’s what we found most exciting.”
“We started recording the album in London,” says Meg. “But we grew up in the countryside, so when we discovered Middle Farm Studios in Devon, a converted barn with woodburners, we felt at home the moment we stepped inside.”
With the aid of producer Jamie Evans, with whom they had recorded Warrior Daughter, Wildwood Kin started stepping further away from their folk roots. Emillie took up electric guitar, out went the tambourine and in came synths, ambient sounds and tougher drums.
“Some people advised us not to change our style, but we were determined to experiment,” says Beth. “We love folk, but we’re also fans of Sigur Ros, Radiohead and Explosions In The Sky. We didn’t want to take the safe option. The aim was to find a sound that reflected the music we love, but was ours entirely.
Wildwood Kin were already at work on Turning Tides last year when Seth Lakeman asked them to collaborate on his album Ballads Of The Broken Few, on which they feature on every track, working closely with producer Ethan Johns.
“It’s a bit daunting to be on a major label and we had concerns they might try to change to us,” says Emillie. “But we soon realised after meeting the team that we had nothing to worry about and we are really excited for what’s to come.”