A Blaze of Feather is a one-man indie band from West Cornwall with a new album release called Labyrinth. I spoke to band member Mickey Smith about the album, being a musician during the pandemic and what he might be planning next.
How would you describe Labyrinth to someone who might not have heard it? What sort of vibe would you, as the artist, say it gives off?
Mickey Smith: I would describe it as pure West Cornish energy straight from the heart.
What are your key influences? Are there any artists that stand out as really inspiring to you and your work?
MS: Yeah, lots. Obviously, I work with Ben Howard really closely. He is a massive source of inspiration all the time. He’s always pushing himself creatively. He’s just incredible to be around. And the other guys I work with in the band – their playing affects me in a way that I can’t really put into words. Lots of other artists inspire me – lots of female artists over the last couple of years: Bjork, Lauryn Hill, Kate Tempest – people like that. Amazing humans.
What was the process of creating Labyrinth like?
MS: It was a real mind trip – a lot of time on my own in a really isolated place. I set myself the task of pushing myself creatively and not really leaving anything behind. It took me down some interesting rabbit holes. I’m glad to get out of my own head now.
A Blaze of Feather has an interesting aesthetic that I really like. How did you develop that?
MS: I’ve always worked with cameras of all kinds since I was little and music and visual imagery kind of go hand in hand with me. It’s a natural extension of the music. I tried to work a lot, for the record, with film. I find that if I have physical interactions with a medium it kind of gets me out of my head and into my surroundings and I’m not going as crazy, so I’ve really enjoyed that, the tangible feeling.
You mention being into cameras since you were little – have you always been musical?
MS: Yeah, definitely. My memory’s pretty vague but I definitely started gigging from a really young age. I was lucky enough to have my mother’s partner at the time, who’s a full-time musician and saw a little spark in me, say “right, you’re coming out with me and you’re playing in the band”. From a really young age I was out playing shows wherever, all around between Cornwall and London from a super young age. I definitely know playing live pretty well.
How have you been feeling about gigs being pretty impossible to arrange at the moment?
MS: It’s been really strange having that taken away. It’s been such a part of my life that I’ve counted on, whether going to gigs, watching people I love play, or playing myself in different bands, and that’s my livelihood too. It’s just unexpected and really strange to have something that’s just completely taken for granted taken away and having to reconfigure where you’re at. I guess the good thing is people seem to be reaching out to each other and connecting in that way.
Have you found that you’ve been relying on social media more during lockdown? Has it played a big part in replacing gigs?
MS: It has because I’ve always been really shy on social media and obviously it’s quite a scary place. People can be cruel and people can be kind and you never know what you’re gonna get. In the past I was quite shy of it and I’ve had to really think about it in a different way and just take the positives and connect to those people who really do care about the music and that’s been amazing and unexpected and really something I didn’t have before, something I didn’t really know before.
Do you have a message or any advice for your listeners during the pandemic?
MS: Just be kind to each other and look out for each other. Keep the wolf from the door.
Is it possible to tell me what kind of music you’ll be working on next? Is it likely to be similar to Labyrinth in sound or will you be changing it up a bit?
MS: I never really know what’s gonna come out and I try not to second guess what’s happening. When an idea comes I’m pretty respectful of whatever spirit that is and it’s kind of like you’re just following a thread and it’s not yours, and when you try to make it yours you ruin it, so I try to stay away from that as much as I can.
– Bridie Adams
Listen to A Blaze of Feather’s new album LABYRINTH here.
Featured Image Source: Still via ‘Labyrinth’ A Blaze of Feather // YouTube. Director of Photography: Mickey Smith and Allan Wilson.