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Q&A with Humm

Since 2018, Humm have been captivating audiences with their deadly combination of melodic finger-style guitar, lush, ethereal vocals and rich harmonium drones, creating genre-defining tracks that are mellifluous yet anthemic, capturing nature, folklore and Cornish fairytale in every song. They were recently chosen from hundreds as one of four acts to visit, write and perform at Sir Paul & Mike McCartney’s childhood home, 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool as part of The Forthlin Sessions.

The duo are inspired by a plethora of artists from Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell to Eels, Radiohead and XTC, which has helped them to untie traditional and contemporary styles, carving out their own signature sound. The importance and presence of nature is at the heart of Humm’s music, with conversational melodies and wistful instrumentation bringing their earnest lyrics to life.

The band Humm.

How did you both meet?

We both met at our first day of university, studying commercial music at Bath Spa. We bonded at a house party over the Beatles and a lot of folk artists - when then bumped into each other at a Richard Thompson gig at Bath Forum and it became apparent very quickly we had very similar interests in music and to start writing music together felt almost like a necessity!

How did you come up with the name "Humm"?

It was actually chosen by a friend of mine just before university as we attempted to start a band together. It came from the name of a town in Croatia named “Hum” which I believe is still the smallest town in the world. Once we started university and Carys and I started writing songs together I carried on the name as it fit perfectly with our vibe, adding an extra “m”.

You were recently chosen to be a part of The Forthlin Sessions. Can you tell us a bit more about the experience?

This was an absolutely surreal experience! We were fortunate enough to win a competition, set by the National Trust, to visit Paul Mcartneys childhood home. There we were given a private tour and then set free to write a song inspired by the building. We met Mike Mccartney who was incredibly funny and we learned a lot about his beautiful photography. The song was performed, recorded and live streamed across youtube by the National Trust. We also have made very close friends with the other winners and it has just been brilliant to have participated in.

I know that environmentalism is at the heart of who you are as a band. How do you work to incorporate those themes not only into your lyrics but the music itself?

We have always made an effort to write about a range of topics, and we find it crucial to keep our lyrics interesting as well as meaningful and purposeful. Our songs often tell stories inspired by traditional folklore and worldwide themes but at the centre of these stories environmentalism often has a strong hand.

As climate change is often at the forefront of our minds regardless, it's nearly impossible for these themes to not come into play as we tell stories surrounding nature and the environment.

In terms of the music itself, as with our new single “Danced Alone” we like to keep things raw and fragile, much like the ecosystem we are all a part of.

Our song “Mother Nature’s Lost Love” heads towards a very dramatic climax much representing the (current) fall of our world and environment.

I personally feel that an acoustic guitar (particularly in low D tuning variants) adds a beautiful earthy, soily feel to a song.

What was the writing process like for your new single, "Danced Alone (who I am when I'm in love)"?

The song was initially inspired by The Kinks, to be specific the song “Afternoon Tea”. Once the chords and melody started to cement it only took a few days for the chorus line “So I danced alone and started to make sense of who I am when I’m in love” to piece itself together by chance. The sentiment of the song shortly followed as we started to make sense of the chorus line. I had written some placeholder lyrics for the verse and sent the song to Carys, who rewrote the verse and improved the song immeasurably. The final section of the song was then written together.

Who, or what, has most influenced your music and artistic style?

This may sound strange but Carys has incredibly inspired and influenced me with my songwriting. Although I was huge fans of artists like Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, John Martyn and Bert Jansch it was not until after I met Carys and was inspired by her passion for folk music that I started to write folk songs inspired by these artists. ~ Arty

I agree with Arty, although so much inspires me (the beautiful planet, my lovely friends and family) - Arty has inspired me to be myself, to create the music that I want and to never limit myself. Meeting someone who shares nearly exactly the same influences as me also really helps because I feel like any ideas I have inspired by unique or left field musicians will always be understood. ~ Carys

What are you listening to currently?

Geese’s new album and follow up EP has been at the forefront of my spotify playlists, alongside the new Wilco album “Cousin”!

I have also recently discovered Jun Miyake and I am fixated with his “Lost memory theatre act” trilogy as well as his movie soundtracks.

Randy Newman is another obsession and I am heavily learning his very long and colourful catalogue of albums, my favourite being his first, self titled album.

In general across the past year I've been delving deep into, and developed a strong passion for, the beautiful guitar music surrounding the Sahara - N’gou Bagayoko, Amaria Hamadalher and Tamikrest particularly stand out to me. ~ Arty

I’d roughly describe my music taste at the moment as outspoken, angry, queer and feminine. I’m listening to so many artists but have a few main ones on repeat.

Nickel Creek’s new album ‘Celebrants’ has been on heavy rotation since it came out. Nickel Creek was one of my first folk/bluegrass/americana loves and I will forever love this band.

I am really into my Indie-pop right now and am absolutely loving everything from ‘Fizz’,‘Chappell Roan’ and ‘Olivia Rodrigo'. Indie-folk artist Madison Cunningham, who’s breathtaking tracks like ‘Hospital’ have also been living in my brain rent free.

60’s and 70’s folk is always on constant rotation in my playlists however, with my love of Joni Mitchell’s album ‘Hejira’ always trumping everything. ~ Carys

The band Humm.

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