Interview by Jo Whitby
Imagine a warm summers day, relaxing in the garden with a glass of wine and in the company of good friends… sounds good doesn’t it? These are the kind of images that floated across my mind when listening to the London based folk group Skinny Lister on their myspace page. It’s interesting to note that many of the lyrics refer to winter, perhaps singer and songwriter Daniel Heptinstall was wishing for brighter days. I caught up for a quick chat with Daniel via e mail…
Cat On The Wall: How and when did Skinny Lister come about?
Daniel Heptinstall: Skinny is basically a bunch of friends. We’ve done various musical things over the years, with each other, and others, but Skinny is the coming together of all of our influences and musical passions. Prior to Skinny, Max and myself often gigged around playing foot stomping Jigs and Reels, while Sam was often found drunkenly belting out sea shanties in the old Cricketers pub in Greenwich. Max and Lorna also have a proper cross-generational family folk band heritage – their father George Thomas often joins us onstage for a tune or two. Skinny Lister was a natural progression.
COTW: Who or what triggered your interest in music and what was the first instrument you picked up?
DH: The guitar was my first instrument. My interest was initially triggered by desperately wanting to be Buddy Holly, so guitar was the natural choice. The simplicity of his three chord songs was also a big plus for a beginner musician.
COTW: Was there a particular event or song/album that influenced you to play folk music or was it a natural progression for you?
DH: It’s always been there with me. Even when I’ve been involved in none folky projects. I would say that James Yorkson’s ‘Year of the Leopard’, was quite inspirational, and an album that helped make me want to take my folky side more seriously. My priority has perhaps shifted from trying to achieve some sort of commercial success to simply trying to make songs as beautiful as I can.
COTW: What are you views on the future of the music industry? How do you think it will be possible for artists like yourself to make a living from music? What has been your experience so far?
DH: Doing it for the love of it is always a good starting point. The general feeling is that performing live is where the money is going to be. The live experience is something that can’t be downloaded.
COTW: Do you enjoy performing live? Any memorable experiences that you can tell us about? What was one of the best gigs that you’ve attended as a member of the audience?
DH: Performing live is one of the main and most enjoyable aspects of what we do. Some of the smallest gigs, where we play acoustically without a PA, can often be the most enjoyable. I maintain that the most enjoyable gig I ever attended as an audience member was David Bowie at Glastonbury festival in 2000. Amazing!
COTW: What are you listening to/reading at the moment?
DH: With Spotify it’s something new every day. Today I’m listening to The Unthanks and reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
COTW: What are your plans for the near future?
DH: We’re gonna be spending a bit of time recording and we’re planning to release an EP of new stuff. We’ve also gonna be gigging about the place over the summer, including slots at the Isle of White festival, Winterwell and Camp Bestival. Other dates will be going up on our myspace page as they come in. Looking forward to it!