Interview Stealing Sheep: ‘It’s A Business, We’re Working Towards Building A Career’

DIY speaks to Lucy Mercer about artistic development, licensing songs to adverts, and living off heritage.

Merseyside trio Stealing Sheep have used 2012 to showcase their debut proper, ‘Into The Diamond Sun’. Following on from earlier collected works ‘Noah & The Paper Moon’, this LP sees the group develop their sound into a much more cohesive set of songs. We talk to Lucy Mercer about artistic development, licensing songs to adverts, and the misconception of Liverpool living off its heritage.

From an artistic point of view, how different has it been to release a ‘proper’ debut record in ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ as opposed to a collection of earlier recordings (‘Noah & The Paper Moon’)?
We have had a lot more time to work on our ideas for ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ so it seems like we could portray what we had to say a bit easier, or more successfully. ‘Noah & The Paper Moon’ felt like a patch work of songs that we all put in. It just feels like the next step forward.

Does creating a cohesive album as opposed to a collection of earlier material deliver greater satisfaction?
Not a greater satisfaction, I’d say it was equivalent because at the time of bringing out ‘Noah & The Paper Moon’ it was so exciting and we we’re all proud of what we had achieved. ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ was the same but we we’re all more focused on what we wanted.

How would you say you’ve developed from that earlier material to ‘Into The Diamond Sun’? Where have the biggest changes taken place in your writing processes?
The biggest change was having the time in the recording studio to work into ideas. For ‘Noah & The Paper Moon’, we pretty much recorded each track in a different location. By going through this process we found out what we liked about the different approaches to recording our music, the way we wanted our instruments to sound, the people we enjoyed working with etc. ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ has more time and refined ideas in it. We’re also a lot more used to each other’s writing processes and so it was easier in that way.

You’ve recently had a track (‘Shut Eye’) liscensed for a Hollyoaks advert. Do you think licensing continues to pose something of a thorny issue for musicians as a whole? In your estimation how fractious is the relationship between income/licensing and artistic credibility?
I don’t think you can be too precious with things like this. It can be seen as selling yourself short or the likes of but we’ve also benefited from the exposure and also tapped into a new crowd. As dry as it seems, it’s a business and we’re working towards building a career. I think it’s a great way to get your stuff out there.

As a band hailing from Merseyside, is it galling that the area is perceived to only be trading off its past? How stifling is it to new music attempting to break through?
This has never been a problem for us. I don’t think we fit into that box because our set up is so different to the classic Merseybeat formula. Nor can I see it has stood in the way of our friends bands either. Maybe the curse of the Merseybeat is becoming a myth.

In your experience what state is the Liverpool/Merseyside new music scene like at the moment? Who are the artists you really rate/can relate to?
The music scene in Liverpool is thriving at the moment. Almost every night there is another amazing band to see. A lot of our friends put nights on as well so we’re all in the loop about things like that. There are some great venues as well, like Mello Mello cafe, which is where we recorded most of ‘Into the Diamond Sun’, and The Kazimier just around the corner. There’s some brilliant bands as well like All We Are, Dogshow, The Flamin’ Mamies, Jimmy Lightfoot and the Deciples

How difficult a job is it for a city and its musicians to balance acknowledging its past yet at the same time not to be seen to be living off it?
I don’t think there is much of the ‘living off it’ aspect still going really so I don’t think it’s difficult. It is good to acknowledge the past but we’re in the now, so there’s no need to dwell.

If you could identify the one thing you’d want people to get out of the new record, what would it be?
Journeys and discoveries.

What does the rest of 2012 hold for you? What are you most looking forward to?
Green Man festival! Gigs in the sun. New people. Hopefully the rest of this year will bring more discovery and good times and the beginning of our next album!

Stealing Sheep’s new album ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ will be released on 3rd September via Heavenly Recordings.

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