Preview : Sesiwn Fawr 2016 : Jodie Marie & Matthew Frederick
One of the most intriguing billings to be found in North Wales festival lineups this summer is the appearance together of two established Welsh songwriters, Jodie Marie and Matthew Frederick, at Sesiwn Fawr.
Both clearly have enormous talent individually - Matthew Frederick's is showcased in the songs on his solo releases (a live album and EP - both excellent, with Americana and blues influences evident) and his role in Climbing Trees' output; Jodie Marie's displayed in two albums - a 2012 folk/pop debut, Mountain Echo, nominated for the Welsh Music Prize, and which drew a comparison with Carole King from The Independent, and last year's acclaimed Trouble in Mind, which has more blues and soul sensibilities discernible than her debut.
An itch of impatience and we decided to catch up with Matthew Frederick to find out more before the event, and he graciously found time to answer our questions, whilst, if we are being honest, provoking an even greater interest in what is in store:
How did you meet Jodie Marie, and how did your song writing partnership come about?
Climbing Trees ended up on the same bill as Jodie for an Oxjam event in Cardiff at the tail end of 2014. I hadn't heard any of Jodie's stuff before that night, and I'm pretty sure she hadn't heard any Climbing Trees, but we both really liked each other's sound and got chatting. I invited her to be a guest on my (extremely low-budget) TV show 'Staylittle Sessions' (see below) a couple of months later, and after filming we both stuck around for a couple of hours and had a crack at writing a song together. It turned out to be a pretty good one, if I say so myself...
That is good enough for us! You have quite different styles - how has that been reflected in what you have written?
I'm not sure that our styles are that different, really. Perhaps on the basis of our recorded output so far that's a fair assessment, but I think we're both quite open-minded in terms of what we listen to, what we write and what we perform live, and there's never really been a discussion about what kind of sound we want to go for - we've just started writing and are happy to see what we end up with. There are blues influences, soul influences, country influences, and one song in particular is almost power-ballad-esque. In a good way, I must stress.
I am glad you added the reassurance. What can we expect from your performances at Sesiwn Fawr?
To be completely honest, I don't think either of us have thought that far ahead! We've both got so much going on with our various projects that our performances together are almost a chance to switch off from that and just have fun in each other's company. We spend as much time laughing and drinking as we do writing (if not more), but we'll try and keep both the laughing and drinking to a minimum on stage. I can promise you that.
Will you both be performing your own material too?
That's the plan. The small number of gigs we've played so far have worked well with either myself or Jodie doing half an hour or so of solo material followed by the other before we round things off with a set together. It's nice, and it gives us both a chance to do our own thing and let the crowd get to know us before we team up at the end. The Sesiwn Fawr crowd will have seen Climbing Trees over the past couple of summers, but it's my first one without the rest of the band, and I don't think Jodie's played Dolgellau before either, so it's a chance for us both to win them over. Jodie's a Welsh-speaker, so she's on to a winner already!
Do you have plans to release an EP or album together?
Eventually, I suppose that's the aim. At the moment I think we're both just enjoying the writing process, meeting up every couple of months and seeing what we end up with. It's definitely something I'd like to happen a little further down the line, but all in good time. They're timeless songs, so there's no particular rush. We've been asked that question quite a bit over the last year or so since we've been writing and performing together, so it's good to see that there's an appetite for a release. We shall see...
And so we shall - and not long to wait for the next, much anticipated, live instalment.
You can find out more about Sesiwn Fawr (Dolgellau, 15th - 17th July) from the event website, or our preview - which includes a playlist, which on its own should be more of a convincer than anyone would need.
MATTHEW FREDERICK I Fall / Home (Live)