ABOVE: FIONA JANE OF WOMAN’S HOUR. PHOTO BY HELEN BOAST
It seems strange that any story about siblings making music together wouldn’t contain the phrase “family band.” But Fiona Jane and Will Burgess swear that until the advent of Woman’s Hour (their shadow-pop band that also includes drummer Josh Hunnisett and bassist Nick Graves) they never once thought of working together.
We’re lucky they finally did. While the London-based quartet has only released a handful of singles to date (including the hypnotic opening salvo “Our Love Has No Rhythm“), their style is already well developed. Painting their stripped-down pop songs in an elegant gray scale, the Woman’s Hour world is one of cocktail hours, slow dances, and an unspeakable sorrow, hidden just below the surface.
Jane and Burgess braved a wet London morning to join Interview for a conversation about all things music. Over a hot cup of tea in a crowed café, the brother/sister team told us about beautiful flaws, hitting their stride, and finding peace. They also provided Interview readers with an exclusive stream of their single “Darkest Place (Oceaàn Remix).” (Find the original here.) Woman’s Hour is currently at work on their debut full-length.
AGES: 27 (Burgess), 25 (Jane)
HOMETOWN: Kendal, Cumbria, England
CURRENT CITY: London, England
PARENTAL SUPERVISION: Fiona Jane: We definitely didn’t grow up in a family where we were singing all the time.
Will Burgess: Our parents probably regret now giving me a guitar for the first time. “What have we created?” [laughs]
Jane: Get a real job!
BUILDING THE BAND: Burgess: She wanted to sing, and I wasn’t sure.
Jane: He had never heard me.
Burgess: Eventually it got to where I brought the guitar around to her flat.
Jane: It just grew from there. It never felt very felt thorough. It was just something that I was intrigued to see if we could make anything that sounded nice.
FINDING THE GROOVE: Burgess: [The band] started off a bit more goofy, really. I don’t want to say fun, but a bit less thought out. “Our Love Has No Rhythm,” when we wrote that, that changed everything. There hadn’t been much evolution until that point. That just seemed to be a massive step up.
Jane: It encapsulated everything that we were trying to achieve. In terms of what we wanted in a sound. More than that, we never thought of the music as songs. It took us a while to develop our sound. With “Our Love” we got to this moment, where this was the sound that we wanted. These are the sounds that we want to use that feel really comfortable.
BOUND TO REPEAT IT?: Jane: If you don’t know what’s been before, how can you ever create anything? I’m skeptical as to if anything’s entirely original now anyway. It’s very difficult to create something that has never been thought of before conceptually or made into something.
PERFECTLY FLAWED: Jane: What we’re most interested in is the things that go wrong. The unattractive side of ourselves. I suppose in that sense, that probably that is reflected in the melancholy side of things… I’ve been in London for quite a long time now. I remember absolutely noticing all of my flaws because you don’t have your community around who know you and accept all those flaws. You’re quite vulnerable in that sense. That’s something that we haven’t mentioned. I think a lot of our artwork and our sound is about displaying vulnerability.
CRAVING CONSISTENCY: Burgess: What I would love is if people heard a single down the line or something, and knew it was us, that it was our song. Even walking into a record shop and seeing a cover and thinking, “That looks like something that they’ve done.” As long as they’re not like, “Oh, it’s boring and obvious.” Fingers crossed!
SERENITY NOW!: Jane: [“Darkest Place”] is very much about living with the mistakes that we make. Well maybe not the mistakes, but realizing in a way that you can only change yourself. No matter how much you want to make a situation a certain way, you can only change yourself.