Updated: Jul 28, 2021
The Liverpudlian Chats To Stealing Sheep Band Member, Emily Lansley, About Life & Creativity During Lockdowns, Headlining A Festival This Summer & The Depth To Lyrics
I met with Emily Lansley of the experimental Liverpool electro-pop band, Stealing Sheep. We met on an exceptionally warm day at the bustling Bookbinder on Lark Lane for a coffee.
The meeting started rather amusingly, as I found a table inside by the window, I however, did not realise that Emily was directly on the other side of the window, at a table sitting outside. After sending a text and realising where each of us was, I made my way outside and was warmly greeted by Emily.
'lyrics can be - they're quite sort of revealing, aren't they?' - Emily Lansley, Stealing Sheep.
The sunshine was illuminating the street beautifully and bringing out the vivid colours in the leafy, densely populated suburbs of Liverpool. We sat looking out onto the street which was brimming with the buzz of cars, various storefront renovations, shoppers, and people getting brunch and coffee.
After chatting for a little while and ordering some delightful coffees from Bookbinder's attentive staff, we thought why not just get into it and record the conversation.
The Liverpudlian Chats To Emily Lansley (Full Interview):
The interview is available through both the written article which you can read below, and through the audio recording available through YouTube and other platforms like SoundCloud, which are embedded in this article. You can listen to the full, nearly 13 minutes of relaxed conversation, with the rich sound of the life of the city in the bustling suburbs of Liverpool, as the backdrop to Emily and Peter's conversation.
Emily Lansley (Stealing Sheep): Right, are we going?
Peter Eric Lang (The Liverpudlian): Yeah, right, so, we're going. Hello. I'm with Emily from Stealing Sheep. This is The Liverpudlian and we're just gonna be having a little chat about the upcoming stuff that's going on. So, are you okay Emily? Just general, how are you? Are you good?
Emily: 'Yeah I'm really good thanks. It's nice and sunny.'
Peter: 'Yeah it is, it is lovely. We're at The Bookbinder cafe on Lark Lane and we're just having a coffee and a nice chat.'
Emily: 'Outside in the sun.'
Peter: 'Outside in the sun. It's very warm but it's lovely out. We were talking before, we were saying, how's lockdown been over the last year? Has it been sort of good? Bad? Like, has it been good for creativity or a bit of a hindrance or...? Anyway, go on Emily, you were saying?'
Emily: 'Okay well, I was saying that you know the whole Covid thing has been, obviously really bad, but at the same time it's been kind of good because the band, you know, we've been working for ten years solidly, pretty much. You know, we've been working really hard so it's kind of like, a well deserved break for us. To just have some time, one of us, one of the band [members], Bex [Hawley], had a baby.
We've all sort of just had a bit of a break really, and actually it's kind of helped us creatively. We're working quite differently than we used to, and it's given us a bit of independence, from each other but also just to go away and try and figure out as individuals our creative pathways if you know what I mean? Cause we're all quite, we work quite differently but we have to find a kind of way to match up when we do, do things.
So, anyway, yeah, I think it's been really good. I've felt like, personally I've just had time to not be tryna write stuff for things and be panicking or... feel like it has to be a certain type of music, or, "it needs to be poppy" cause then the label will like it, or it needs to be a single.
It's just been kind of doin' exactly what I fancied doin', and actually that's been really creative and I think that it's made it a bit more of an enjoyable process which is kind of what you want it to be. No-one's gonna [want] music that written under some kind of shroud of doom. I don't know how that would inspire other people, you know?'
Peter: 'Yeah, cause I think a lot of your songs are very, like, relaxing and mesmeric. You can get lost in them, and I think that's the thing, if you're to try and rush what you're doing. I think you wouldn't necessarily get the same end result.'
Emily: 'We have rushed many times (shared laughter).'
Peter: 'It just shows the talent.'
Emily: 'But then we've also spent time on things a lot as well, so it's a mixed bag.'
Peter: 'Yeah, it's finding that happy medium innit?'
Emily: 'Yeah - exactly, yeah, yeah.'
[Light Night & Lyrics]
Peter: 'You recently did Liverpool Light Night [performing Song Machine], was that you're first? Possibly your first performance since lockdowns?'
Emily: 'We did a couple of weird online performances and we made little videos to put out of us playing all separately in our own houses that we put together - that was on Glastonbury.' ...
Emily (Continued): ... 'But yeah it was the first proper live gig that we did as a three piece and that was for Light Night, and that was really cool because it was a theme. The theme was play, obviously. And that was so exciting cause the idea was we'd get the audience or the public to write the lyrics for the music, so all the words that are within that tune were sent in on the hashtag "play is" and people would write whatever "play" was to them. So we sort of worked that into the music.
That was just a really fun way of working because also lyrics can be a bit of a... they can be quite like, hard work, cause you're putting quite a lot of yourself out there with lyrics and also you just cringe at what you've said and you're like "I don't feel like that anymore", or you just don't have the words to say what you mean, you know? I dunno all kinds of reasons why lyrics can be - they're quite sort of revealing, aren't they?'
Peter: I think they definitely are and I've thought that before now and I think, I know a little bit of a tangent. But you know Dodie Clarke? The singer? She said about it were you can sing about things and say stuff in the past but you're perspective can change over time. That's not always, that doesn't always define you, like the way you're feeling were five or six years ago, but yeah, it's interesting.'
Emily: 'No, totally yeah - exactly.'
Peter: 'And I think yeah, lyrics are quite a revealing thing, aren't they?'
Emily: 'Oh yeah and if you're feeling really depressed or something, your lyrics are like then really depressing and you just go "oh sorry guys I feel in a really self pitying number here" and then you can try and change it, "can you help me make this a bit more positive?" (Laughter) Or you feel too positive and you write something really cheesy and you're like "oh god sorry!"'
Peter: 'It's like heart on sleeve kind of thing isn't it? So you did stuff livestreamed, and then you did Night Light, is it Night Light? Light Night! Sorry!
Emily: 'Night Light? (Laughed).'
Peter: 'I always get it confused! I'm always like Night Light or Light Night. And you enjoyed that? So you all enjoyed that together?'
Emily: 'Oh yeah it was really cool and that was the different kind of, erm... also the process was quite different cause like, Lucy [Mercer] mainly wrote the music for that and we worked with Amy Codwaller, this brilliant visual artist who did all these really gorgeous rotating shapes and made a really good visual identity for it. And then Bex, she was organising all the visuals so we had it in this - did you see it, actually?'
Peter: 'I did watch, yes I did watch it.'
Emily: 'We where in this room and it was quite sort of all the visuals where quite space and everything. And then you know, so me and Lucy rehearsed and worked on the music together so that was quite a different process, cause normally the three of us are just working. So we're doing it a bit separately and that's quite unusual, quite a new thing for us, anyway.'
[Working As A Group]
Peter: 'Which of you...? Do you all contribute different things? Like, do one of you think more of the lyrics? Or, like the performance aspect or is it more, like a collaborative kinda?'
Emily: 'It's more collaborative. But you know sometimes one person will probably, potentially have a really strong idea for something that we'll run with and try and support, and then sometimes it will be like loads of ideas that we've all accumulated over the course of a few months that can kind of come out in one big reveal if you like (laughter).'
Peter: 'Yeah, no, it's very cool.'
Emily: So it's quite a collaborative, it's pretty collaborative, and then like you say for instance, some of the music for instance we might write separately as individuals quite a bit so we all, we tend to have like more of an identity of a song type
You know were I'd write a song and all the lyrics, Lucy would and Bex would and then we might go "oh we need a bridge here could somebody a bit of something for that" or we'd still ask for help or assistance with it in some way. And then you know write our parts on each others songs, so you might show someone this is kind of what I want it to be like, but you'll do your thing which will be more interesting.
So it's kind of, more interesting when it's collaborative I think in the end. But you also wanna have a bit of integrity with where a song's coming from. You know like "it has to be... they're all minor keys and I want them to stay that way" (laughs) do you know what I mean?'
Peter: 'Yeah! It's really, I think it's really cool, and... (both laugh) sorry, just the hustle and bustle of the street.'
Emily: 'Yeah, it's nice isn't it?'
Peter: 'It is, it is lovely, and it's erm... so you all bring something quite different and unique and you're still quite all happy to stick to your guns with stuff which is I think quite a good, quite good traits to have, really. Isn't it?'
Emily: 'I'd say so. I mean, I think so? I mean there's like... it's worked for us. We've had our ups and downs but it's worked for us in general you know. I think we've all learned to be a bit more free and easy about things as things just change a lot.
Or one person will do something that you don't expect and you'll go "Oh, didn't think of it like that. Actually yeah that's great." So I think we're quite a flexible gang, really. And learnt a lot through doing that together.'
Peter: 'Well, that's really good.'
Emily: 'Yeah (both laugh).'
Peter: 'I'm just enjoying listening to you talk. It's just, it's very interesting. And like...'
Emily: 'Thanks (both laugh) I'm getting really big headed now. I'll just start talking all day and won't stop (both laugh).'
Peter: 'So you'll be playin' at FestEVOL. You'll be playing alongside other local talent as well...
Emily: Yeah I'm really looking forward to it.
Peter: It's quite exciting the line up, you've got the likes of Pixey...
Emily: Can I just look at that line up?
Peter: Yeah, you can look up the line up, if you like?
Emily: Cause I've looked at it and I was really interested in one particular person that was playing.
Peter: There was Kelly Lee Owens? Working Men's Club?
Emily: I think it's Kelly Lee Owens that I'm really excited to see.
Peter: Yeah, Pixey's playing, she's great. Honey Motel, Eyesore And The Jinx. but yeah, Kelly Lee Owens is one of the headlines as well. Co-starring with with yourselves.
Emily: Getting quite a lot of women. Trying to get a lot more women out there. I think, I hope.
Peter: I'm sure, I have a feeling it was FestEVOL - I've done enough on it - I think it was them that said they wanted to try and ensure it was more of a balance, were it was a balance of male and female performers.
Emily: That's what you want isn't it?
Peter: Yeah, so it's not over-proportionate with just exclusively more make artists. And yourselves, you're quite vocal in a really positive way about female empowerment and female voices, and re-balancing it. I think that obviously comes a lot through your music and the people you work with.
Emily: Yeah, yeah definitely. And you know we've done quite a lot of projects now that kind of to encourage more women to create more sort of peers for women, to feel like they can... and not only women, marginalised genders - people who feel there's a massive gap, so huge.
We're doing a project at the moment called Infinite Visions, and did quite a lot of research on statistics about people of colour or women in the industry. Just how huge the gaps are - just massive.
Just even looking at Kerrang Radio plays like ninety-nine percent male acts on it. I mean, that's just mental isn't it. So we've done the projects at the moment which is what that Stock Footage one is about. It's not about, it's just that we've done a project that's to work with more women and marginalised genders to help have some impact to help bridge that gap a bit is what we do to create more work for women in tech and in the arts - especially the tech cause that's kind of a little bit, often completely male dominated. And I think just encouraging that and trying to show people can do that, that's helpful hopefully, we hope.
Peter: It's a good amalgamation of stuff -
Emily: I felt like I was just waffling then.
Peter: No, no it's good points and I think it's really valid. It's been really great to hear everything that you've been saying and I think like you say, you can listen to Emily and the rest of the Stealing Sheep chat on Stock Footage as well.
Emily: Oh yeah go and check it out guys, on Stock Footage!
Peter: I'll tag that in the article slash the posts as well so you can go and listen to their interview. Cause I think you guys have got so much interesting things going on and so much to say, it's really good to give it a platform and definitely hear it and spread the ideas and that.
And just to finish up saying that FestEVOL will be taking place on Saturday the 7th of August. Stealing Sheep will be headlining, alongside The Tea Street Band, Working Men's Club, Kelly Lee Owens and other local acts like Pixey, Honey Motel, Eyesore And The Jinx.
Emily: It sounds ace.
Peter: It should be good - it's I think it's from one in the afternoon til one in the morning. I think it's on the Friday and the Saturday [correction: Saturday 7th Aug for Part 1 when Stealing Sheep are performing, and Saturday 14th Aug for Part 2], the Saturday is when yourselves will be playing.
Emily: Oh yes!
Peter: So you can get your tickets online now. I've been Peter Lang - The Liverpudlian, and I've been with Emily from Stealing Sheep, and I've really appreciated your time - thank you so much.
Emily: Yeah, thanks for chatting to me.
Peter: Okay, alright, thanks, bye!
When & Where Is FestEVOL?
Emily will be performing along with the rest of the Stealing Sheep on the 7th of August 2021 at the Invisible Wind Factory for the FestEVOL All Dayer: Part 1.
TICKETS are available online.
FestEVOL is presented by EVOL (Club EVOL).
Invisible Wind Factory,
3 Regent Road,
City of Liverpool, L3 7DS,
Liverpool City Region, UK.