After being utterly spellbound by their Long Division Festival 2021 performance, it struck me as a no-brainer to reach out to Leeds-based pop-folk duo, Sunflower Thieves, for a catch-up. Here goes…
RECORD WEEKLY’S INTERVIEW WITH SUNFLOWER THIEVES
Hey hey, how are you?
We’re good thank you! Super, super busy but all good stuff. Thanks for chatting with us.
Not at all! Introduce us — how did you meet and when did you form Sunflower Thieves?
We met at nursery, were friends throughout primary and secondary school, and started singing covers together at open mics and local events.
We branded and started the Sunflower Thieves project not too long before Lily left for uni, but probably actually started believing in what we were doing as a sustainable project just a couple years ago. It was around the time we released our third single, ‘Hide and Seek’.
You’re based in Leeds now — what are your favourite things about the city?
Hyde Park Book Club is probably our main haunt, so that has to be up there with both of our favourites — top-tier vegan cake, the cosiest, most welcoming space and you’ll always find lovely friendly faces there! Venue-wise also, Brudenell and Oporto have also been a big part of our Leeds life so far.
We both studied at Leeds Conservatoire and the music community born out of the uni is one of the best things we’ve benefited from through being here. There’s also a lot of greenery within and around the city centre, which makes us feel at home, originally being from Derbyshire.
What do you get up to in your spare time, when not making/writing music?
Spare time? What’s that, haha? We both work a lot, but we do love what we do.
Lily is a live sound engineer, gig rep and an assistant at a social enterprise, Come Play With Me. Amy is the Local Lead for Sofar Sounds in Leeds. She’s also involved in Babywoman Records and does some freelance music PR work with some other artists.
We’ve both also taken on some songwriting mentorship work over the last year, so lots of different stuff! We’re lucky that we both have jobs in the music industry and we love what we do.
On actual days off, we both enjoy getting coffee with friends, heading out for walks along the Meanwood Valley Trail, baking/cooking vegan goodies, going to gigs and getting cosy with a record on.
Who would you say has influenced your sound the most?
Wow, this is a big question… it’s hard to say because it’s definitely changed a lot over the years.
Phoebe Bridgers has influenced our sound a lot; we have been very inspired by her production and lyric-writing in particular, especially our third single, ‘Hide and Seek’, onwards. She has a way of saying things in the simplest fashion, while breaking your heart in a way that we’d not heard anyone do before. And she’s just an all-round boss.
How have your latest gigs been? Where have you played?
To be honest, they’ve been so so great since coming back from radio silence. We had one of the best gigs EVER in September, supporting Flyte on their first UK tour date. Flyte are one of our favourite bands in the world, and Billie Marten was there too, which was super-special as we are big fans of hers!
We also organised and curated two really special shows at Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds, with funding from Leeds Inspired, celebrating our exploration of collaborations over the past few years. We invited some of our wonderful and insanely talented friends that we’ve written/worked with over the pandemic (Heir, Vraell, The Howl & The Hum, Elanor Moss, Green Gardens, Piles of Clothes) and they were absolutely magic. We got to perform some of our new songs for the first time at these shows, in such a beautiful space, and that definitely felt like live music was finally back.
Live at Leeds was a big highlight too, because we had such an enthusiastic audience (and a queue out the door!). We also had a lovely support show recently at Laylow in London with George Glew.
You’ve been up to loads, congrats! Talk us through your latest release.
We wrote ‘Sirens’ with two of our best friends, Tom and Sam, who are in Leeds band, Heir. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s a song about friendship, and the beauty and necessity of being needed by someone. When things feel overwhelming, tuning into a relationship or friendship with someone who needs you can keep you grounded and you both moving forwards.
Can you share any other upcoming news?
‘Sirens’ is the first track from our debut EP, ‘Someone To Be There For’, which will be out next year! We’re so excited. Also, the video for ‘Sirens’ will be out on 24th November, so definitely keep an eye out for that.