Q&A: Wayward Jane

Tell us about your band, Wayward Jane, and your plans for 2017?

We started up a few years ago after all meeting through the Edinburgh trad music scene. Dan and Sam already had an Americana-influenced band going, various people left or moved away and Rachel, Michael and Becka stepped in. The music we make is rooted in a love of Scottish/Irish session music that we’ve been surrounded by and played together over the years but increasingly draws influence from the American old-time/bluegrass traditions. We’re interested in how the music travels back and forth and how we can be part of moving it forward. 

So far we’ve done a few successful tours through Britain and Ireland and have some exciting festival appearances lined up for 2017 (including TradFest, Southwell Roots Festival, Moniaive Bluegrass Festival and Square Fest). We’re also working on material for a second album.

Which other performers/musicians have been your main influences?

There’s a whole range of influences going on behind the scenes. Dan is a jazz and funk fiend and listens to a lot of Cory Henry, Vulfpeck, Lake Street Dive. Rachel likes gypsy jazz, twisty Klezmer melodies, old school RnB and anything with a fiddle in it. Sam loves high tempo Northumbrian pipe music, preferably ringing out from the top of a windy fell in Kielder. Michael is a straight up old-time nut and only listens to music that has clawhammer banjo and lots of fiddle droning. So that’s everyone from Tommy Jarrell, Bruce Molsky and Rayna Gellert through to Anna and Elizabeth, Foghorn Stringband and Cahalen Morrison with Eli West.

Wayward JaneWhat inspires you when making music together?

We have a lot of fun making music and being fairly silly together. Often the most inspiring thing is taking an idea to the group e.g. teaching them a new tune, letting go of it for a while and then seeing where it settles. It usually doesn’t sound anything like you’d imagined. For example with the old-time music we quite often each hear the beat falling differently within the tunes but it can work out really nicely when you let that happen and go along with someone else’s interpretation. It sometimes doesn’t work out so well but then we’ll just turn it into a silly song and put it in the bag for a late night session down the road.

Which bands or artists from the contemporary Trad music scene, in Scotland or elsewhere, do you rate most?

There’s a lot out there. It’s nice to hear when other Edinburgh bands are doing well, like Dallahan for example. Anna & Elizabeth are amazing – their mix of beautiful harmony, trad old-time instrumentation and visual art is inspiring. It’s great to see two young women doing so well in a scene, which has been historically dominated by men. It’s always exciting to hear what Lau are putting out next and we reckon they do a good job of keeping things moving forward, taking the music in the direction they want it to go (even if it takes a while for the audience to catch up!). Catriona McKay and Chris Stout are also very inspiring, using all those different timings and Northern melodies makes their music really stand out. Then there’s always Fred Morrison who we love and get a lot of mileage from his Outlands CD when we’re on the road. We could carry on….

Have you played TradFest before? Are there any other acts on the programme you’d recommend seeing?

Rachel and Dan played last year with their outfit Dowally as did Sam with another group called Gillespie & Wolfe. If we were going to buy tickets to other shows at TradFest this year (and we have) then we’d go and see Anna & Elizabeth and Lankum (formerly Lynched). That Four Nations night at the Biscuit Factory also sounds really good!

What does Tradition mean to you?

Tradition in this context could mean music that is rooted in a place that it has a historical connection to. The exciting thing for musicians playing with tradition is that the edges of what are often thought of as distinct traditions are actually blurry. They change and get all mixed up as people move around, taking their instruments and songs with them. I think this means that for the new generation, in an era of unprecedented worldwide connection, tradition will become increasingly hard to define. But then that doesn’t really matter, does it, as long as we’re still making good music?

Wayward Jane are on Wed 3 May at 8.30pm

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