Gary Painting and Kate Beresford are Northampton folk duo Crybb, who have just released mini-LP Fortune And Folly.
Since 2016 the pair have been very active in Northamptonshire, playing shows and releasing the album Aubade in 2017, and now return with the Kenneth J Nash-produced follow-up. New Boots asked the pair some searching questions.
How did you guys get together?
We first met around 2010. We were both playing with other bands at the time, and really liked what each other was doing, so discussed collaborating at some point in the future.vGo forward to 2015, we both had young children; me triplets and Kate a little girl. As the stay-at-home parents we both needed a valve/hobby to relax, and so through sheer determination to overcome lack of sleep and a need for folk in our lives, Crybb was born.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences do you feel?
A lot of people tell us that we are unique and we have our own sound. I would say we are warm, melodic, engaging, upbeat and thoughtful. Contemporary folk, but with ‘Traditional Sensibilities’. Our influences are vast and varied between the pair of us, but include Show of Hands, Anne Briggs, All about Eve, Bert Jansch, Suzanne Vega, and The Dubliners.
What was the reaction like to your first album, Aubade? Were you happy with how it turned out?
We were blown away by the positive response Aubade was met with. We garnered some great reviews and gained radio and podcast plays, it still sells well as we reach new audiences. Yes we’re both happy with what we accomplished with Aubade. Playing live at folk clubs and events allows you to establish your sound, so recording the album ‘as live’ gives you a real picture of Crybb, and it is the better for it. There is no way to overstate the personal achievement we feel in completing our first album together.
Tell us about this new release, Fortune And Folly.
It’s produced by Kenneth J. Nash. We owe him a huge debt of thanks for this album for doing such a fantastic job.
It started life as just one song, and pretty soon we had four tracks for an EP. That was our original intention. Kenny said he heard ‘more’ and a fifth song was forthcoming. This was in November, and we were hoping to have the album finished for January when we played at The Great Knight Folk club in Northampton. Kenny was still encouraging us to write more. He said he heard an album at least. He was right! And there’s still more to come!
Lyrically you say you have used Northamptonshire as a source of inspiration. Could you expand on that for us please?
This album is written and inspired by stories and places from within Northamptonshire. The original first song came to us from an interest into our own history and where we came from. Having moved here from Kent around 2008 I [Gary] have fallen in love with the county that I now feel is home. Kate is originally a Finedon girl who was in Dolben House at the village school and so research discovered the extraordinary story of William Digby Dolben, the subject of our song and perhaps Northampton’s first ever sea shanty!
‘Downtrodden’ is based on the shoe industry when mechanisation was brought in to replace most of the home studios that were previously used. ‘Eleanor’ is a love song from Edward the 1st to his wife Eleanor of Castile. It was inspired by the Queen Eleanor Crosses in Northamptonshire and, in particular, the Hardingstone cross that is sadly in such a sorry state of disrepair, as anyone passing it can testify. ‘Lyveden’ is about Lyveden New Bield, an Elizabeth building that was never completed. It is partly where the ‘Folly’ element in the album title came from. We’ve used it as an analogy of best laid plans that, through circumstance, do not play out in the way we intended.
Our only cover is ‘Too Close to the Wind’, written by Stuart Marson, which we were introduced to by our friends Cherrington and Ward. It follows the story of the Culworth Gang, a notorious bunch of robbers and thieves who plagued the south of the County, “From Daventry down to the southern byways”, as the song says. ‘Lighthouse’ is an instrumental. Its inspired by the Lift tower, which I [Gary] can see from my living room window. It’s like a beacon for me, it means “I’m home”. ‘I Am’ was written around a John Clare poem. John Clare was known as the Peoples Poet, having not had the formal, private education like many of his contemporaries. He spent a large amount of time in the Asylum at St Andrews in Northampton, and struggled with mental health all his life. This poem was in response to someone corresponding ‘How are you?’ to him.
‘Meadow’ follows the last Abbess of Delapre, Clementina, as she tried to stop Henry the VIII from taking the abbey as part of the Reformation, taking wealth and land away from the Catholic churches as the Church of England came into being. The fact that she held him off for quite some time is remarkable, and deserves to be recognised.
We were very aware that there weren’t many trad/folk songs attributed to our county. We wanted to change that. We wanted to sing and show people; this is your history, these are your stories and they are worth celebrating and being proud of.
What are your live shows like?
Growing! (LOL) Our shows are quite upbeat, harmonious, melodic and personable. We get a great response from people hearing us for the first time, as well as those that regularly attend our gigs. Many people have preconceptions as to what folk music is. Many times it’s because they have never really heard any. Hopefully we leave them wanting to know more.
Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded acts?
Northamptonshire has a huge repository of talent! You name it, you can find it in the town. We’ve been concentrating more on folk clubs this last six months or more, and are currently a resident band at the Wurzel Bush Folk Club in Rugby every Tuesday, so haven’t been around the circuit for a while. We play at the Great Knight Folk Club in Northampton whenever the opportunity allows, and appeared recently at Kontra Roots in Earls Barton.
Fellow Northants acts that we love are, amongst others, Straw Horses, hazeyjane, Kenneth J Nash, Chris Duckett, Mark Gill, TuKay and Ryan and whatever guise Ross Alexander plays in (Humble Bee, The Abrahams etc.).
What has been your favourite Crybb moment of the past year?
We supported Merry Hell (Folking.com Awards 2018 Best Live Act winners, 2019 Folking.com Awards Best Band nominee) at a couple of gigs recently. Their talent is outstanding and their enthusiasm is infectious. We found ourselves right at home; fantastic audience, and buzzing with energy and achievement.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Ninebarrow Releasing The Leaves on CD. Fantastic musicality and vocal harmonies. I tend to stream an album before purchase, and then continue to stream once purchased. Last one I streamed would be Anthems to the Wind by Merry Hell.
What is your burning desire for Crybb to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We hope to continue to grow and make new friends and fans. We are humbled by how far we have already come, and grown as a band, and we both want to push and see how far Crybb can take us. We want to continue flying the flag to champion Northamptonshire and its stories, and to bring more of our kind of folk music to our county.
Fortune And Folly is out now on Old Hotel Records via Bandcamp