The 405 meets Mary Epworth
Ruth Barnes presents The Other Woman on Amazing Radio every Sunday evening 7-9pm - a new music playlist made up entirely of female artists and female fronted bands. Here's what happened when she met recent guest Mary Epworth over ham, egg 'n chips in an east London cafe to talk about her debut album, Dream Life.
"I am the new Pat Benatar, all about the power ballad!" Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band’s album Dream Life is out now on Hand of Gloryand is an absolute joy of a record.
We met about four years ago when she popped into The Other Woman as it was then on London's Resonance FM. It's fantastic to finally hear the results of so much blood, sweat and, no doubt, tears for Mary and musical partner and co-owner of Hand of Glory Will Twynham.
It's self produced, self funded, self everything and an absolute labour of love. Paying the bills anyway they could to get the album made, including Mary's turn as an extra in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
"For a long time it's been a team of two, now it's an actual team. It's brilliant but it takes a bit of adjusting." Says Mary on having PR people, playing radio sessions, conducting interviews and keeping tabs on the rave reviews that are rolling in. They are no longer alone: "When you're working on finishing the album, you're just thinking about finishing this thing and the idea of it coming out is a far off goal. This is new to me, it's my first record and I'm going to enjoy it I think..."
Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band have picked up fans in all the right places. Performing at a Sandy Denny tribute at the Royal Festival Hall earned her a glowing review in The Guardian, she's a recent single of the week on Shaun Keaveny's BBC 6 Music breakfast show and yours truly, we've been stalking her every move: "There have been cheerleaders about it, now it feels like the dots are being joined up, I hope! Now we find out we have supporters lying dormant that we didn't know we had."
Despite the name, the core of the band "is a fluid thing," she says. "Really Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band is me and Will in some format. We've been working on this for years... I shouldn't really say that," she laughs, "I should be pretending I've just formed and sprung from nowhere! We've been doing this quite a long time now, I'm glad it's getting to a point where there's a tangible thing."
Mary Epworth has always been staunchly independent, well so I thought: "I'm not a DIY warrior, it's more a case of if nobody else is doing it we're going to have to do it... it means nobody else is telling you 'you can't do this you can't do that'. I'm really very very stubborn and Will's really stubborn too, there's not much chance we would have worked very well if we'd been guided in that way."
Already known as a nature lover, posts on Facebook can range from pictures of a recent mushroom picking expedition or "I saw a stote!" Mary explains: "I'm a big nature nerd, always have been, my family are really. Once you notice those things you get really obsessed with it. There's always something happening, some little bird up a tree and you're trying to work out what it is. Also it's free. which is very important when you're a struggling musician, it's free!"
Unlike the British folk greats she is often compared too, it's not specific to the English countryside, however that's purely a financial restraint: "It's the only countryside I can afford to be in! I just really love the natural world and landscape. I've been to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, that's beautiful and they end up in the songs. I'm also inspired by the West Coast, California and things... there are so many places I'd love to go, I'll have to see where life pans out really." Roll on the World Tour.
A keen and well known lover of progressive rock and psychedelic folk, Mary gave us a musical tip from the distant past: Ramases, a six foot plumber from Sheffield who has inspired both her and Will. "In the late sixties he had a Messianic awakening and realised he was the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Ramases and made an album with 10CC as the backing band. Another album (without 10CC) called The Glass Topped Coffin has been a huge influence and inspiration."
"Do you want another one? The Bee Gees, first album, enough said!"
This interview was broadcast on The Other Woman on Amazing Radio - hear it here. Dream Life is out now on Hand of Glory.