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Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010
Introducing: Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell
By Joanne Carruthers
BBC Tyne

Lucy Farrell and Jonny Kearney
Lucy and Jonny will be playing lots of festivals over the summer

Delicate, haunting and heartbreaking are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the music of Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell.

The Newcastle-based duo, who have just released their first EP, met while studying folk and traditional music at Newcastle University.

Jonny won a prize for his song-writing while there, and most of the material they perform together is their own.

They have supported The Unthanks on tour and look set for a bright future.

Melancholy

Somehow, their songs manage to sound haunting and soothing at the same time.

Softly-paced, the tender lyrics and harmonies lull you into a quiet sense of calm.

But, relatively - and refreshingly - new to being interviewed, they still find it difficult to describe their own sound.

I think we do try to be chirpy between songs because sometimes they're so [sad]
Lucy Farrell

"It's melancholy, isn't it," Jonny says.

"Well, I don't know," Lucy disagrees, "maybe thoughtful?"

And, after a long silence: "Should we ask Paul [her housemate]?"

After some more thought Lucy says: "It's kind of odd for us because it becomes a little bit ingrained.

"I think we do try to be chirpy between songs because sometimes they're so [sad].

"I suppose it depends what mood you're in how it hits you."

Jonny adds: "It's kind of folk but the aspect of song-writing in it makes it slightly not - and what we're doing now is just one style of what we know we can do."

Good friends

As well as singing, Jonny plays the guitar, piano and ukulele and Lucy the fiddle, viola and saw.

Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell
The North Farm Sessions EP was launched at Live Theatre

They say it was a basic love of songs that first brought them together but that in combination they "make something new".

So far, Jonny has written most of their tracks but Lucy's also started writing and they've begun trying to devise new material together.

However, they say it can be hard to switch into work mode sometimes as they are good friends too.

Jonny, who was awarded the Alan Hull prize for song-writing at university, says he finds inspiration everywhere.

Even overheard snippets of conversations and drunken ramblings can turn into something. He gives a recent example:

"This woman was so drunk she was incoherent and crashed through a table.

I have to feel the song's my own, that it's honest and in some way linked to my own experience
Jonny Kearney

"The last thing she said was 'the artists and their dreams' and I just thought that sounded really nice and I might write a song with that line in."

The Unthanks

The key for him, Jonny says, is that a song has to feel real when he sings it.

"I have to feel its my own, that it's honest and in some way linked to my own experience."

Both musicians admit to still getting nervous before they perform and say they often don't decide their complete set until they're on stage.

Supporting The Unthanks on tour has been a highlight of their career so far.

The connection with the Mercury Prize-nominated band has helped raise their profile and The North Farm Sessions EP was produced by The Unthanks manager Adrian McNally.

Becky and Rachel Unthank. Photo: Alex Telfer
The Unthanks are headlining a stage at Evolution 2010

McNally and Rachel Unthank even sing backing vocals on one of the tracks.

Jonny and Lucy will be supporting The Unthanks again later in the year as well as playing lots of festivals, including Cambridge Folk Festival and End of the Road in Dorset.

They say as far as the future is concerned their main desire is just to make good music.

And, with glowing reviews from such diverse outlets as The Guardian and MTV, it looks like that could well happen.




SEE ALSO
The Guide: New and unsigned bands
11 Mar 10 |  BBC Introducing
New name and sound for The Unthanks
04 Sep 09 |  BBC Introducing

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