by Sarah Fletcher, Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String
Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String was born of a move between continents, a 24 hour trip between us and our family and friends, a new climate and culture, and unrestricted time together, just ourselves and Lloyd’s guitar. Three years on, we have developed our own brand of alternative rock, varying from soaring indie clean tones to heavy distorted ones, and we produce all this on our own in a one bedroom flat in Southampton, UK, a base 16,356 kilometers from our hometown of Adelaide, South Australia.
Listen to the EP while reading the text.
We are Sarah and Lloyd Fletcher, a husband-wife rock duo, both born in Adelaide, South Australia, but taken to the other side of the globe by Lloyd’s work. Both of us had been musical since a young age, but our backgrounds were wildly different.
When we met in high school, aged 15 and 16, I was listening to my Mum’s classical music and my Dad’s prog rock, plus folk that I Irish danced to as my main hobby. I sang in choirs and took vocal lessons but I was always told I had a folk or musical theatre voice and wasn’t really encouraged to sing anything more modern.
Lloyd was learning piano and listening to good old Aussie rock like Powderfinger and Grinspoon. When he first made me a mixtape CD I really wasn’t into it; these more gravelly male rock voices didn’t sound like good singing to my uninitiated ears.
Thirteen years later when we got married, I had started to listen to ‘Lloyd’s’ music with him, and it had grown on me enough that some of my favorite songs were his new favorites Birds of Tokyo and Dead Letter Circus, yet I still brought out some Bearded Gypsy Band to dance to on our wedding day.
Lloyd made the change to guitar in late high school and started to play some of the songs of his favorite bands, but in our early university years, neither of us were doing much music anymore. I’d been discouraged by the years of being told I couldn’t sing modern songs by both singing teachers and friends, and Lloyd had just got so absorbed in his studies and other hobbies.
It was my adult Irish dance class that I was teaching that reminded us both that we loved music. We started to play some folk songs as part of our performances and Lloyd, not wanting to be drawn into the dancing, took up the Irish whistle so he could play the music instead. We had a couple of fun years playing and singing as a group with family and close friends from dance who were like family to us too. And then everything changed.
Lloyd and I had both done PhDs, as you do when you’re nerds who love what you study at university. Lloyd was determined to make it in the
research world, and research jobs were few and far between for new graduates in Adelaide. A tough several months later, he got an interview on the other side of the world, in Southampton UK, and was offered the job immediately.
So we prepared to uproot. Taken away from everything and everyone we knew, we bought Lloyd a very special Gibson guitar (‘Rosie’) and sat in our tiny one bedroom flat with nowhere to be but with each other. Compositions just started flowing out of Lloyd, and words weren’t hard to find for me with so many mixed emotions flowing.
We started to wonder if there was some way we could record what we were doing. Having no idea where to start, we bought a USB microphone and a little cable that went straight from a guitar headphone amp to the headphone jack on the computer using a converter plug. We played and sang into open source software Audacity using earbud headphones and adding bits of the Irish whistle through the microphone which we had to use noise removal on because they were so full of air.
Our music was a strange blend of rock and Irish folk with Lloyd playing traditional Irish tunes on electric guitar and the whistle appearing in indie style rock songs. My singing was frequently interrupted by the sound of cars or voices going by on the road right under our window. Lloyd was heard to utter such things as “People in our street just shouldn’t be allowed to drive *@!%ing cars!”
Two years later, we are still recording in our tiny one bedroom flat, but with many good lessons behind us. Lloyd has had a steep learning curve studying mixing techniques and researching more suitable gear for a little home studio. We have Presonus Studio One and a Lewitt large diaphragm condenser mic.
Only the vocals are recorded with a microphone, so the sounds from outside are less of a struggle, though we are known to yell at each other not to boil the kettle or do the dishes, since our kitchen is just across the room!
Bonding and Developing
Our music has been a great source of ongoing bonding between us and a link to home. That’s why we keep it just the two of us, despite the fact that we need some tech to perform our current style live (Lloyd, unfortunately, does not have eight arms to play all the instruments he plays on our recordings).
The lyrics I write are inspired by stretching ties across the world, stories, and nerdy reflections. Our style is constantly developing and is becoming an alternative rock sound with some heavy sections and soaring melodic vocals. I don’t think we’ll ever stop learning and changing the sound we produce, but we are settling into a style where we combine clean and distorted tones within songs, creating contrasted sections.
The latest Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String EP, Reasons to Exist, was released on December 26th, 2018 and has been well received at two live shows and a series of local radio appearances during our Christmas visit home to Adelaide.
So where will our journey lead next? We know we want to perform live in our second home too, and that we’d like to produce an acoustic
EP revisiting old material next year in addition to an all-new heavy rock EP. Really, we just know that we want to keep making music as an outlet for emotions, a bond between us and a link to the people we love around the world and that we want to keep going on this journey together.
Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String
Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String, Category: Artist, Singles: Reasons to Exist, A Rose for Nothing, Lifeline, Paper Boats (Remastered), Top Tracks: A Rose for Nothing, Which Way, Erraticism, One Line, Wordsmithing, Biography: Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String is a heavy rock duo from Adelaide, South Australia, currently based in Southampton, UK, where we live with our family of musical instruments., Monthly Listeners: 39, Where People Listen: Adelaide, Prague, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Houston
Reasons to Exist on Bandcamp
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4 thoughts on “Between Continents: Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String write rock music from across the globe.”
Beautifully written Sarah ….
Such an interesting human insight.
Thanks. That’s the purpose of this blog: Giving digital music its face back