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Blackbird Peregrine Getting to Know #07 - Published: 22nd July 2015 - - Words & Questions: Jamie Downes -

Blackbird Peregrine - Jassy Gabriel (Vocals / Guitar) and Alice Siwe (Vocals / Guitar) - featured on Volume 4 of our Beautiful Songwriting series; the Swedish duo's debut release, Dreams Can Fly (Mar 2015) enchanting listeners with a striking mystical atmosphere. A Lonely Ghost Burning was lucky enough to catch up with the pair, who, full of plenteous amounts of enthusiasm and excitement for their work, revealed a little about their process and much about their personalities and friendship, along the way telling a barely believable tale of fate and disclosing, entirely unabashed, just how much their fledgeling project means to them.

I think it’s really important to be good friends as well - not just colleagues.

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The Interview

How did the two of you come to form a band?

Alice: It was on a website where you can find band members.

Jassy: It was me first, and I was going to go solo, but then I decided I would like to have someone with me, so, I decided to go for a duo.

What prompted you to make that decision?

Jassy: Well, I felt a bit alone, and I didn’t want to feel that way. It was like, “I really want to do this with someone; it would be much more fun”, and I’m a big fan of harmony singing, so I thought the two of us would be perfect together.

And Alice, was it much the same for you?

Alice: Yeah, I was actually looking for someone to play with. I was at work, just browsing around on the internet, and I found Jassy’s advertisement. I was like, “Oh, this sounds interesting”, so I just wrote an email.

Jassy: At first, I thought she wasn’t that serious…

Alice: I was very stressed at work, so I was just, “Okay, a quick message.” [laughs]

Jassy: [laughs] She wrote a very short message. When she sent me this recording of herself, I listened and was like, “Oh my God! I must have this girl; I must meet her!”

Were there any other applicants?

Jassy: Yes, a lot of them. I wrote that I would prefer girls to play with, but some guys messaged me too, and they were like, “I know I’m not a girl, but I’ll message you anyway.” [laughs]

Had either of you been involved with other music projects previously?

Alice: In school. We both went to music schools for three years, but I’ve never been in a band before.

Jassy: I’ve been in a band before.

Alice, having not been involved in a recording project before, how big of a jump has it been for you?

Alice: Quite a big jump, but a very fun one. I’ve longed for someone to play with. It was like, three years ago that I graduated from my school, so I’ve been playing on my own, mainly at home. So, I was like, “I want to meet someone that I like playing with.” It’s been a very fun jump.

The name Blackbird Peregrine is an intriguing one – where did that come from?

Jassy: [laughs] Well, first of all, I really love birds. I have this real obsession with birds; I really like them, and I like that birds symbolise freedom, in a way. And, I love the song ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles. Peregrine… well, I was just googling one day, and I was like, “Ah, what sort of bird should I choose that would suit with blackbird?” I noticed that it consists of nine letters – both blackbird and peregrine have nine letters each – and it sounded cool together and I was like, “Why not?” Blackbird Peregrine; it sounds a little bit mystical.

It worked out well with regards Google too – search for Blackbird Peregrine and your band is the top result!

Both: Yes! [laugh]

So, what is your writing process?

Alice: It’s different. We’ve written separately, and we have also started writing together now.

Jassy: Sometimes I can wake up in the middle of the night and just start writing because I came up with this really cool melody and I have to wake up and just record it; write down the lyrics that I have in my head. Or, when I’m taking a walk, I feel inspired by nature, or the people that I see. Sometimes I don’t have any inspiration at all.

Do you find it difficult to bring your ideas together?

Alice: No, I love all her songs. [laughs] It’s crazy, but I’ve really loved all of the songs that she has written.

Jassy: I love her songs too, so I’m a big fan of her.

Presumably you connect to each other’s work quite quickly then.

Both: Yeah!

Alice: And we… I don’t really know how to say it in English, but we build up our ideas. If I’ve written a song, and I send it to Jassy…

Jassy: We help each other build up the songs, so they become more complete.

In terms of your process, what is the greatest creative obstacle you face?

Alice: I think when you’re so self-critical… I’m really self-critical, so that has been my biggest obstacle.

Presumably it helps to have a musical partner to help get you through that?

Alice: Yeah, I’ve grown very much since meeting Jassy.

Jassy: It feels, really, much better and relieving. It feels really good to have someone beside you to share your problems and everything.

What is the most important element to you about any song that you write?

Jassy: I think it would be the harmonies. It’s very important; it’s our thing.

Alice: Yeah, very much.

Jassy: Also, the guitar is very important, because we’re both guitarists. She’s classically trained, and I’m more electric.

The music you’ve released thus far has been very atmospheric. How intentional and important is this to you?

Jassy: I really wanted it to sound atmospheric – a lot of reverb – because I wanted to have that feel; a little bit foresty.

Alice: Yeah, like walking around in the forest. Weren’t you inspired by Lord of The Rings?

Jassy: Yes, I was quite inspired by Lord of The Rings, actually. I was watching it a lot.

Is there a particular mood you tend to be in when you begin to write?

Alice: Before, I had to be a little bit sad, but now I’ve learned to write also when I’m happy. So, it depends, but I have to have some kind of inspiration. I just get a feeling like, “Oh, I’ve got to write a song.”

Jassy: Same here.

Alice: A feeling, or maybe you just see something or hear a song and get inspired.

Jassy: For example, sometimes I just see that it’s raining, so I’m like, “Ah, I have to come out and sit on the balcony and write something”, or at least try.

How does an intense period of writing affect your mood?

Alice: Maybe I get a little more non-social. I’m in my own little world. I want to be alone.

Jassy: Yeah, I’m not really a party person. I prefer to be at home and make music or something like that.

Was that on your mind when you put up your advertisement?

Jassy: No, I was only thinking that I wanted a person who’s on the same level as me, musically; who could sing in harmony, play guitar and also write songs, preferably, even though it’s fine if I write myself if she can’t write. But, since she can write, it’s much better.

What motivates you to make music?

Jassy: Well, we’re really serious with our music, so it’s quite a motivation to just come out and play as much as we can and get some kind of response and recognition, because we want to spread our music.

What do you daydream about?

Alice: The music industry. When you really, really want something and you know that it’s hard, it’s kind of frightening in some ways… but that won’t stop us. [laughs]

What are you most fascinated by?

Alice: I have to say music. There’s so much good music, and it’s like it never ends. There are so many songs in the world, and you can keep writing new ones. You’ll never get tired of music, and it’s going to be around for, like, ever, I believe.

Jassy: Yes, I think that’s the wonderful thing with music; it’s always there, whatever you do. In my old school where I studied music, we also had dance, theatre, arts – and they removed almost all the others, apart from music. Music is so important to everyone.

I read that you’re both really into photography – is that right?

Alice: [laughs] Yes. That was also kind of strange. We started talking about what we like besides music… Photography.

Jassy: And tea! And tea! We love tea! [laughs] We were making tea when you called.

Both: [laugh]

If you could photograph any scene or setting to represent Blackbird Peregrine, what would you choose?

Alice: We like to take our photos in the forest.

Jassy: Something more nature-ish. We made our cover art ourselves – did you know that? … [laughs] “Did you know that?”

Alice: [laughs] “Did you know that?”

Jassy: “Did you know that?” [laughs] … And we’re going to make our next cover art ourselves.

Alice: It’s like we always try to be in with nature. It doesn’t have to be the forest; it can be the ocean or anything.

To what extent do you feel that your music defines you as people?

Alice: Our music is really personal; it’s many of our own life experiences.

Jassy: So, it kinda defines us a lot, in a way. Sometimes, it’s too personal and we don’t feel like playing it live. It’s like the people see through us. It’s like, “I know you! I know what you’ve done!” [laughs]

You’ve only just started playing live, so what’s that been like?

Alice: Both of us are pretty used to performing, since we went to our music schools, but it’s something else, finding your own gigs and playing your own music. That’s the biggest step, but it’s really, really fun.

Jassy: It’s a little amazing because it’s our own music and then we get responses from people like, “Oh, I love your music!” and I’m like, “Ahhhhhh!” [laughs] It’s amazing.

How easy has it been to get the type of gigs that allow you to best showcase what Blackbird Peregrine is about?

Alice: Quite easy, actually.

Jassy: We’ve been getting gigs that we didn’t fix ourselves. They contacted us, and it was quite amazing because we were wondering how they found out about us.

What kind of live environment do you prefer?

Jassy: An intimate setting would be preferred, because our music is something that you’d like to listen to in an intimate place. So, quite close to the people in the audience, because it’s really focussed on the harmony and the voice. You want the people to concentrate and listen very carefully.

How do you feel your personalities are reflected in your work?

Jassy: I think it reflects a lot. When you write songs, it’s true; it’s genuine; it’s us. And that’s the good thing about songwriters. We write the songs ourselves and we don’t have someone to make it for us. We’re not pop-stars here. [laughs] We have the control and I like it.

Putting the lyrics aside, how much does the music represent you?

Alice: Sometimes, when I write songs, I just play some chords that I really like, and I realise it’s mainly the same chords… It’s hard to explain, but do you know what I mean? I have my favourite style; I like a special sound.

Jassy: Plucking is her thing.

Alice: Yeah, I like plucking.

Jassy: As for me, I like plucking too, but I like solo things; bluesy stuff on the electric guitar is my thing. How much it reflects us…

Alice: A lot, I think.

What does Blackbird Peregrine, as a project, mean to you both?

Alice: Really, really much.

Jassy: It means a lot.

Alice: That’s the only thing I want to do right now.

Jassy: This is the biggest goal I’ve ever had in my life. This is my life…

I get the impression, from what I’ve read previously and from talking to you now, that you have become very close, quite quickly.

Both: Yes!

Obviously, that has got to help you in achieving your goals.

Jassy: It really helps.

Alice: And we want the same things.

Jassy: I think it’s really important to be good friends as well – not just colleagues.

Alice: Yeah, because it’s really personal and we spend so much time together.

Jassy: Yeah, so we should get along quite well… Not cat fight! [laughs]

How do you feel the project is developing?

Jassy: Very well.

Alice: Yeah, very well. We met a…

Jassy: Oh, yes! You’ve got to tell him that! [laughs]

Alice: I was going to send a text message to myself – we have two covers on YouTube, so I was going to send one of the covers to myself, just to see that I could open the link – but I wrote one number wrong, so someone else got the message. He replied and was like, “Oh, nice.” I was like, “Thank you. Wrong person, but thank you so much.” He was like, “Is that you singing?” And I said, yeah – me and my band-mate. He was like, “Wow; you’re so good! I work as a producer, mixing engineer and songwriter.” He lives like one hour away from here and was like, “I would really like to work with you.” So, we have recorded our new EP with him and he has produced it, so it was really crazy.

Jassy: [laughs] Insane! And he’s really good.

Alice: He’s really, really, really good, and he likes our music, and we love the things that he does.

Jassy: He’s half-British, and that’s why we’re telling you that.

Alice: And we love England!

That is a CRAZY story!

Jassy: [laughs]

Alice: It is! [laughs] It’s like we’re making it up.

Jassy: We couldn’t get over it for months.

Alice: Yeah, we were just sitting there with the message, like, “Whaaaatttt?” I thought at first that he was some crazy guy who just said he was a producer, so the first time we were supposed to meet him I was a little nervous but…

Jassy: He’s really good!

So, you mentioned England – do you have any intention to tour over here?

Both: [laugh] Yeah!!!

Jassy: Oh, my God!

Alice: I would love it!

How Soon?

Jassy: As soon as possible, but now is a little bit.. We have things to do here.

Alice: But we would love to tour there.

Jassy: We’ll see. Maybe this year sometime.

Finally, style-wise, how will your next record be different from Dreams Can Fly?

Alice: It is different.

Jassy: Quite different. Pop. Blues. Folk.

Alice: We still have a folk sound, but more pop.

Jassy: The melody is a little bit more pop, but harmony-wise, it’s folk-ish.

Alice: We have electric guitar and drums. So, a little rock.

Sounds great! I can’t wait to hear it.

Alice: Yeah, me neither!

Both: [laugh]

Thank you for your time!

You can keep up with Blackbird Peregrine via their Facebook and Instagram pages and grab their debut release, 'Dreams Can Fly' over on Bandcamp.

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Blackbird Peregrine featured on...

... our fourth Beautiful Songwriting compilation. Free download (and streaming) available from Bandcamp & Noisetrade.