Family band Wildwood Kin who are composed of sisters Beth Key and Emillie Whiteside and their cousin Meghann Loney are a UK based folk trio from Exeter, Devon. Stunning family harmonies blended beautifully with gorgeous melodies and well written lyrics, Wildwood Kin are one of the most sensational folk/Americana acts around.
Wildwood Kin have caught the eye of many key people within the industry including the brilliant Whispering Bob Harris who invited the girls to play on the Old Grey Whistle Test Reunion in 2018, a privileged many would have loved to have been a part of and one Wildwood Kin greatly deserved.
We caught up with Wildwood Kin last month to discuss playing on the Old Grey Whistle Test, performing for Riverford Veg (yes it’s a thing), playing summer festivals including Black Deer, A Perfect Day and Nibley and much more.
Hello Beth, Emillie and Meghaan – how are you?
Hey! We’re all well thanks!
How has your week been? What have you all been up to?
We’ve had a week of sibling time in Derbyshire where Em lives, myself (Beth) and Em went to Alton Towers with our younger brother but I got horrible motion sickness so wasn’t as fun as it could’ve been unfortunately haha! Meg’s been doing some wood work and preparing for a wedding she’s playing drums at so all quite random really!
How has 2022 shaped up for you so far as you have a very busy schedule? Making up for lost tour time no doubt?
Yeah we’ve got a lot of festivals in this year which is really nice, but we’ve spent the majority of our time writing really and trying to get songs together for a new release! It felt a little slow to begin with but now we’re in festival season it feels like things are speeding up again and we have our tour to look forward to in September as well! We’re in the process of recording lots of demos when we can which has been really fun.
Tell us about some of the festivals and shows you have this year? Firstly, you are at A Perfect Day Festival which is the first year of that, how did that booking come to be and will you be watching any acts when you are there?
Yeah we’re really looking forward to Perfect Day Festival and it’s in our home city too so that’s always really nice. We’re hoping to see our home crowd there which will be lovely. We think the organisers were looking for a local band to open the festival so they must have contacted our agent to see if we were free and of course we wouldn’t have turned it down. Yeah we’re definitely going to stick around to watch the rest of the acts. It’s a great lineup!!
Because we’re in a bit of an in between moment in the band at the moment we haven’t got a lot of ‘well known’ festivals in the diary but we’re looking forward to all of them, we love exploring new places and meeting new faces. Our next festivals is Black Deer in Kent in June and that’s one to look forward to for sure!
We have also noticed that you will be at Nibley Festival which is close to us, really close so I hope we can go. What do you know about the festival and again, will you stick around for any acts?
Ah is it! That’s cool! We honestly don’t know a lot which makes it all the more exciting turning up for the first time, we’ve had a look at the lineup and social media pages of course and it all looks exciting! Yeah it’s not too far away so i’m sure we’ll stick around for a bit! I believe Perfect Day is the following day so we won’t want a late night.
How do you prepare for festivals vs your own headline shows? What do you do differently at a festival?
Festivals are more often than not shorter sets. It doesn’t change a lot as we usually put in a big production rehearsal before the season begins and we run through all the songs and make sure we are confident in them. Festivals can be a little nerve wracking sometimes especially for our sound engineer as we don’t get sound-checks so we’re never quite sure what our in ear monitors will sound like, but festivals in a way also feel a lot less pressure as we are mostly not the main act so if something goes wrong people just move on to the next band and it isn’t such a big deal if you know what I mean ha, but when you know people are coming out for you especially it does pile on the pressure a bit. We wouldn’t necessarily call ourselves performers or entertainers so there always feels a bit of pressure to keep people engaged at festivals especially as people might not know who we are, but we hope the music speaks for itself!
Do you get more nervous at festivals as is more of an unknown crowd as opposed to a show where people have come specifically to see you?
Weirdly it’s actually a lot easier to play to new crowds. I’ve spoken to a lot of musicians who have said the same. I think it comes down to us wanting to be authentic, but when you’re performing to people who’ve known you all your life like your family and close friends I guess you want to stay true to who they know you to be. I think with audiences that come back time and again I think there’s sometimes a pressure to up your show from the last one I guess, but also our fans are amazing and we know they’re there because they love what we do even when we make mistakes or when we do the same set list again and again. But yeah I touched on it in the question above a bit but there’s always more pressure doing a headline show than a festival.
What do you like best about festivals apart from playing of course?
Exploring the festival grounds, meeting new people and trying out the food that’s on offer!!
You supported The Wandering Hearts in May. How did that come to be?
We’d met them a couple of years back on the Americana music circuit and we’ve also written with the same guys they have so there were a few mutual connections. We really got on with them, they’re all so lovely and I think our music compliments theirs so hopefully we can do a good job of warming up for them!
On socials you have stated that you are working hard on new music and that is why you have been so quiet. Can we know anything about what you are working on? Perhaps who you have been working with? Anything?
There’s not a whole lot to say at the moment, we are taking our time on the music this time as previously it felt a little rushed and forced and a lot of the songs that ended up on our previous releases we felt weren’t ready or we weren’t exactly proud of so we just really want our new music to feel really authentic to us so we are taking things slow. We will definitely be doing some co writes in the coming months but it’s early stages, but we do really love what we’re writing at the moment and we really can’t wait to share new stuff. There might be one or two new songs we’ll be sharing over festival season to try them out!
What is your goal per album? Once one albums release is over, what do you aim for with the next one?
I think we hope our sound develops and matures with every release. We’ve played the demos to a couple of people who’ve said it feels a more mature Kin sound so that’s what we’re aiming for! Like I said above, we really want to be proud of the music and happy with it as we will be playing and sharing it with people for a long time! We don’t want to end up with something that people love but we don’t because then we can’t fully put our hearts and souls into them. Authenticity is really important to us on all levels.
How do you decide on album titles? Why did you decide for the last album to be self titled?
I think it’s quite common to choose a name based on one of the album tracks, like our first album we felt ‘Turning Tides’ felt most appropriate for the collection of songs. Our previous album ‘Wildwood Kin’ we felt was more of an introduction to our sound, as with the previous album we were a little unsure about who we were as musicians and our sound. It was like saying to our fan base, this is more us.
Tell us about the Riverford Kitchen experience because I didn’t even know they had a kitchen. Is that open to the public? Was the show a private party or public show?
Oh yeah it’s amazing! Definitely visit if you can! I believe it is open to the public but you may have to pre book to eat at their restaurant. It’s worth a visit for a special occasion. Everything tastes to fresh and amazing!
We played there before our last album release. ‘The Times’ were coming to review us and we needed to create something worth talking about, so we did a set in a lovely yurt tent and then had dinner with our fans at the Riverford Kitchen. It was super special actually!! Everyone had to pre book a ticket so it wasn’t necessarily a public show. It was so fun and special! The headline in The Times ended up being ‘The Pop group who get paid in vegetables’ haha.
We made a little vlog from it that you can find on our youtube or Instagram.
You went on a European tour in 2020. Was that just before everything shut down? How was the tour and did you have a favourite place to visit? If so, why?
Yeah that was so much fun! We were on tour supporting ‘Boy and Bear’ who are an incredible Australian band. It was a couple of weeks before we went into lockdown so it was very weird to come off that tour into a time of nothing, but for us we really needed the rest after years of doing probably too much.
I think collectively one of our favourite places to go was Utrecht in the Netherlands. It’s like Amsterdam but less touristy. It was our first visit and it was so beautiful & the venue (Tivoli) had the best room sound we’ve ever played in. It was really fun to drive around together. We were knackered by the end but we saw so many amazing places.
Let’s go back in time a bit. We watched you on the Old Grey Whistle Test – how did that come to be and what was the experience like for you?
Yes, so Whispering Bob who is an absolute legend had invited us to do one of his ‘Under the Apple Tree’ sessions a couple of years back and he really loved our sound, so following that he awarded us with an Americana award in 2017 and was a massive supporter of our music on the radio.
When he asked us to be part of the Old Grey Whistle Test comeback show we were absolutely blown away, we thought why us! It’s amazing to be part of the list of greats who played on that show. It was nerve-racking performing on live tv but the experience was one we will never forget. Every year they replay it on BBC Four and we get new fans every time! We will always be really grateful for that opportunity.
What video was the most fun to film and how much creative involvement do you have in your videos?
Good question! We probably all have different but Never Alone was most enjoyable for me. It was really chilled and low pressure. I just had a really nice time walking over hills looking down at the valley in this random spot in Bolton, singing along to Never Alone haha! Our Taking a Hold video was pretty fun too but I think I was a little self conscious during that process as it was one of our first big videos.
We didn’t have as much creative involvement as we would’ve liked. Honestly we probably dislike more videos than we do like. I think we like the homemade style videos a bit more as they just feel more authentic to us. I think going forward we’ll definitely take more of a lead with the creative direction.
Where was Never Alone filmed? Did you have people watching or did you have the place to yourselves?
Ah yes as I said above, it was filmed in Bolton. It was in such a random place, it was tucked behind a cricket club. You wouldn’t know it was there unless you were a local. It was such a great spot!! We did some other shots at the studio of the team and in a random forest somewhere. It was a great day! Thankfully there wasn’t any audience around to make us feel weird haha!
What song of yours was the most challenging to write? Or the longest? Rewrite anything?
Hmm it’s hard to remember looking back.. but I remember Turning Tides really took a long time to write. The song is about using our words to build up others and also about the importance of communication and I remember we were really stuck on it for a really long time. I think we thought it was probably because we weren’t practicing what we were wanting to write about ourselves so we were like ‘maybe if we get better at what we’re trying to get across it will all become easier’ I can’t remember there being a click moment but it did take a really long time.
We’ve definitely taken parts of previous unfinished songs to help complete newer compositions. Before we were signed to our management we used to play this song called ‘Steadfast’ which we did really love but we ended up taking the chorus from it and making it more minor and it became the chorus for ‘Taking a Hold.’ Another unused song we took the bridge from and put it in Signals. That happens pretty often.
Who is the first person to listen to your music?
New music? Probably our family members, or our manager!
What song of yours is each of your families favourite?
I think ‘The Valley’ is a family favourite. It touches on a lot of deeper meanings and spirituality. The softer songs where the harmonies are shown off a bit more are always our famille’s favourites.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Getting through festival season and hopefully getting some studio time booked in and making some plans for releases! More writing too!
Thanks for chatting to us!